I actually attended last Saturday’s game versus the Blues in person at Rexall. After witnessing my third straight loss, I decided not to come home and write a game report, opting instead to go out drinking and dancing with my wife. I can tell you that we had a hell of a lot more fun doing that than we did at the Oilers game. It just seems like poetic justice that the Oilers lost 3-0 that game in an entirely harmless performance. They may have got hammered on the shot clock in tonight’s rematch in St.Louis, but they reigned down fire all over the Blues in a 3-0 victory of their own. Shame about all those Oiler fans who dropped hundreds of dollars on the wrong game.
The Oilers again had fewer Corsi events in every single period tonight, though they improved in each period and saved their strongest performance for the third with a 3-0 lead. Now we know that in order to win games in regulation, the Oilers need 3-goal third period leads instead of just two. Write that down coaching staff!
Khabibulin put in a fantastic effort in this one, providing the prototypical ‘stolen’ game that ill-informed Oilers fans have been asking for. He stopped all 43 shots sent his way, compared to the Oilers making 3 of their 19 shots count. It was very reminiscent of a game earlier this season against the Blue Jackets that Devan Dubnyk stole after being outshot 40-14. Overall this seemed like a much better game than that one, but from a possession standpoint it really wasn’t. One particular sequence set this game in carbonite — Khabibulin stopped a breakaway in the second period with a fantastic right pad save, which the Oilers turned around immediately on the rush that Eberle eventually cashed with a trademark top shelf Saturn V wrist rocket. If Khabi lets that in, this game is 1-1 and entirely different. Instead, it was 2-0, and soon to be 3-0 for the Oilers. Yes, hockey is random, where key plays can make massive micro-differences in each game.
If Mike Brown has a fireplace mantle at the hotel he’s surely rented for the month, someone should send him a copy of this table and get him to frame it for display on said mantle. He led the team in Corsi per minute tonight and Corsi percentage, just edging out his linemate Smytty in both categories. They played some low-event minutes and didn’t get caught in the ever-familiar slaugherhouse scenario that our fourth line usually finds itself in.
Taylor Hall, Eberle, and RNH also reunited to put up decent numbers at even strength — they were 5th, 6th, and 9th in Corsi per minute. More importantly, Hall and Eberle had three point nights while RNH cashed a couple of (much needed) points of his own. This line may not have killed possession tonight, but they did well against one of the tougher teams in the league and capitalized on their chances when the Blues made mistakes. I’ve been a proponent of this trio for essentially the entire year, and have expressed frustration in these pages at their continued estrangement. It’s a happy coincidence that they broke out massively upon their reunion, but I hope Coach Krueger puts his finger on the subliminal message here. (PLAY THEM TOGETHER!!!&#$^@%).
The worst Corsi per minute marks belonged to Ryan Whitney and Corey Potter, ranked 18th and 17th respectively out of 18 skaters. Way too many times it seemed like the Blues could create scoring chances at will while these two were patrolling (or at the very least, occupying space in) the Oilers’ defensive end. It’s not just Whitney’s physical limitations that create issues here, he cannot seem to read plays properly and choose his positioning to suit. I’m not sure if any scouts are in the house, but I certainly hope some team has the Oilers’ equivalent of a guy looking at hockeyDB saying that he loved him in college.
For a game in which the Oilers got out-attempted so badly, it’s not surprising to see a lot of red on this chart. But Petry and Smid seemed to have an efficient game, ending in the green against dangerous forwards like Andy McDonald, Patrik Berglund, and TJ Oshie. They kept most other matchups in the moderate negatives.
Gagner, Hemsky, and Paajarvi had rough games from a possession standpoint tonight. Gagner saw decent amounts of most of the Blues lines, but ended especially deep in the red against Tarasenko/Sobotka/Perron.
The Schultz’ didn’t turn things totally around, but didn’t get as killed as they did in the last game. Small moves.
Here’s a slightly altered player-vs-player corsi per minute chart. Our 4th line seemed to do decently against the Chris Stewart line. The top line performed well against Pietrangelo, though they seemed to run into problems against some AHL guy named Wade Redden.
Ryan Jones pretty much got owned against everyone, except Pietrangelo. Wait, what?
Petry/Smid seemed to gell with the top line and the 4th line, while not doing so hot with the Gagner line. But then again, Gagner ended in the red with every single defenceman, so nuts to that theory. Hemsky/Gagner/Paajarvi form a handy 3 by 3 square of fail in the bottom right of this table.
Ryan Smyth had another commendable game, this time putting up the only deep green pairings with Smid and Petry — no matter which line he was taking a shift on, those three made some hay.
Horcoff had the unsympathetic task of toting Ryan Jones around all night and their performance in possession suffered for it. Ryan Jones is quickly approaching Eager/Petrell/Belanger levels of incompetence this season, and really has no reason to be taking shifts with players like Yakupov and Horcoff. As a fourth line guy who kills penalties I could see his worth, but his game seems to have slipped since his eye injury.