On Saturday February 23rd, the Oilers set out on this 9-game road trip with the fate of this season in their hands. After 7 games they’d only managed 4 points and it was looking like the zeppelin was on fire. With the return of Shawn Horcov, the home squad somehow managed to squeeze two wins in a row for the first time since the 5th and 6th games of the season to take 8 points out of the 9 games. Not horrible, and you can’t totally count the squad out yet, even though I probably did just that less than a week ago. Tricky buggers.
The Falling Snow Guys won the Corsi battle 50-40 overall, and actually had the better results in every single period in this one. Like the Chicago game, however, an early lead for the Oilers resulted in an entire game of score effects, so I won’t be too hard on them for this one. I will say that out of 27 periods in this road trip, the Oilers won the Corsi battle in two of them. That’s a bit scary.
The interesting thing is that the shots on net were much closer, with the Avs only ahead 30 to 29. The difference here was the Oilers shot blocking, which you must relent was good not only because of more attempts — Smid’s block off a rebound chance saved a sure goal. I’ll also say that Dubnyk played a very good game tonight, and not just because he didn’t allow any goals against for his first shutout of the year. He was in wonderful position all night, and indeed was making things look easy. It’s frustrating to play against a goalie that seems like he’s owning you without breaking a sweat, so good on him for being scary to play against. He raised his save percentage for the year tonight from 0.914 to 0.919, once again flirting with my 0.920+ prediction.
Tops on the night for the Oilers was the Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky line, who ended 2nd, 3rd, and 1st in Corsi per minute. They were consistent in every period, and in fact made significant gains in the 3rd while the Oilers were defending their substantial lead. Also interesting here is how Gagner was able to post a +2 while his linemates were
both -2 -2 and -4. He had a very impressive game over the first two periods especially, with the two even strength goals and Gagner’s two points being the primary output of that effort. Magnus Paajarvi continued his hot streak with two points of his own, underlined by one of the prettier goals of the year in which he swatted in his own rebound out of midair a la Yakupov.
Not doing so well was the RNH line with a certain Mr. Ryan Jones not exactly imparting much chemistry with RNH or Eberle. RNH ended at -12, good for worst on the team in raw Corsi and in Corsi per minute by quite a margin. Eberle and Jones both ended at -7, which ranked 17th and 15th on the club in Corsi per minute. The 4th line was predictably terrible with Mike Brown, Smytty, and a lab-compiled agglomeration of appendages ending at -7, -6, and -7 respectively. It’s kind of weird to admit I’m looking forward to Eric Belanger coming back.
The player vs player matrix is fairly muted in pastels, but I think you can make some observations here.
- Smid/Petry played very well against the Duchene line, as both men were +5 against him. The same duo were demolished by Ryan O’Reilly’s line.
- O’Reilly’s line actually demolished most of everyone on the Oilers, as he ended up 0 or better against every single Oiler.
- RNH obviously had a tough game, as he didn’t end up against any Av. It seems the Stastny and the O’Reilly lines were responsible for essentially all the damage, as RNH finished -5 and -6 against them respectively.
- The Horcoff line really had their way against the Duchene line, with all members finishing either +5 or +6 against him. They also played well against the Hejda/O’Brien pairing. Take that Hejda, you needless Oiler cast-off!
Ok, so here’s a new version of the player-with-player report. I wanted to use percentages to really get a sense of what’s going on, rather than raw Corsi scores. This shows what percentage of Corsi events the Oilers had while each duo was on the ice. You can tell which ones had small samples size, as they’ll have easy round numbers like 0%, 100%, 50%, 67%, etc. But an 80% means there were at least 5 Corsi events, which I’d call a bare minimum before calling something comically under-sampled. Some people had concerns about me making observations based on small sample sizes, but I want everyone to keep in mind that in the context of one game, EVERYTHING has a small sample size — this exercise is simply meant to be a fun reflection of the facts of each game. To think I’m making grand projections based on 5 corsi events out of hundreds in a season is not intended whatsoever. I’d really appreciate your feedback on this chart in the comments below. Do you prefer this to the old format? Do you want the player-vs-player matrix in this format as well?
So what can we pull from this? The Horcoff line had almost two-thirds of Corsi events while they were on the ice together. For some reason, the Horcoff line did not play very well with the Nick Schultz/Potter pairing, but they were fine with everyone else. Schultz/Potter seemed to be good with the RNH line in a small sample size, whereas everyone else struggled with them.
I could have sworn Ryan Smyth took a few shifts with Horcoff and Hall, but it seems as though no Corsi events were registered for either team in that time.
Justin Schultz and Ryan Whitney seemed to really struggle with the Gagner line tonight, even moreso than the Ryan-Jones-addled RNH line.
Sam Gagner ended -2 with both of his normal linemates Yak and MPS, but was 67% with Taylor Hall and 67% with Ryan Jones which brought his Corsi above his linemates.