© 2013 Michael Parkatti Napalm

Game Notes: Oilers/Flames Apr 3

I’m not even quite sure what to say here.  I have a few old Oilers annual guides from the 80s that I like to leaf through from time to time.  If you check out game reports, you’ll see lopsided drubbings pretty regularly as you turn each page over.  There are two obvious reasons as to why that was: 1. it was the 80s, 2. the Oilers were a very good team.  The Oilers have pulled off some pretty spectacular victories in the last few years, but it always kind of felt like those were not intended to happen, flukey.  From the very first shift tonight it felt as if this game had something different — some kind of desperate, unhinged ability being struck across the skulls of the Flames. The Oilers were good, and they were trying their asses off shift after shift.  It didn’t hurt that they were playing a near-AHL quality lineup, but I hope you’ll forgive us Oiler fans after our mundane hibernation versus the Sutter-era Flames.  This rivalry hasn’t been close since 2003 — a full decade of domination by the Flames.  This game was a full-throated revival of a franchise and fanbase alike.  It ended 8 to 2, and vaulted the Oilers into 8th place in the Western Conference, if only for a day or two. But I hope another crazed hockey fan a few decades from now leafs through this year’s annual guide and wonders in his head what it must of felt like to watch this particular game live.

Fla1

For the 4th time this season, the Oilers had more Corsi attempts at even strength than the opposition with 45 events to Calgary’s 40.  This was entirely on the strength of a very complete first period in which they out-attempted the Flames 20-13 but left the period tied 2-2 on the scoreboard.  That score obscured a very thorough effort by the visitors, with the RNH line starting a performance of Harlem Globetrotter-like dominance against anybody the Flames could ice against them.

I’m actually kind of amazed the Flames stuck with Joey MacDonald throughout the game to suffer eight goals against.  It’s not like he can walk off the bench and ask for a trade, but that’s pretty cheap from a goalie’s perspective.  Was he at fault on *any* goal against?  It was a Carnival shooting game for the Oilers, setting up open nets and connecting on ridiculous one-timers.  On the other end, Deven Dubnyk was unlucky to let in his first two shots against, but shut the door from that point on.  He made a key save after the Oilers got up 3-2 when a dump-in took a weird bounce and ended up in front of his net — Dubnyk lunged like a stuntman back to the net to make a key save and preserve the nascent lead.  It was reminiscent of CuJo’s desperation save in round 1 of the 1998 playoffs versus the Avs on another weird dump-in play.

Fla2

Smid and Whitney had almost mirrored performances: Smid was +10 with 21 events for and 11 against, Whitney was -11 with 10 events for and 21 against.  Neither man played very much with Hall’s line — Smid played 4.7 mins out of 18.5 with Hall, Whitney 2.6 out of 17.1.  But the results were very dissimilar.  The Oilers D-men have all had their ups and downs this year — Petry/Smid have played better this year, but are putting together a decent run right now.  Justin Schultz seems to be very high event right now by earning another point but also being on the ice for and involved in both goals against — he was also -4 on the night, good for 15th on the team in Corsi per min.  Whitney had even more points (2), and had an even worse Corsi (-11, last).  The Oilers are in a weird position where their two best offensive dmen are also their two biggest liabilities defensively.

As dominating as Hall/RNH/Eberle were, they didn’t pull away from either the 2nd or 3rd lines in terms of raw Corsi.  Fully 6 forwards were tied at +5 for Corsi tonight, including the entire first line, Gagner from the 2nd line, and Jones/Yakupov from the 3rd line.  Yakupov played less than 2 of his 13 minutes away from Horcoff, but there was an intense difference in their nights based on that divergence.  Let’s have a look:

Fla3

So Horcoff was +3 with Nail Yakupov, but -4 with Petrell in 2 minutes of icetime, -5 with Mike Brown in 2.3 minutes of icetime, and -1 with Smytty in 1.3 minutes of icetime.  On the other hand, Yakupov was +2 with Sam Gagner in about 48 seconds of icetime.  So, they played decently together, and had much different results away from each other.

Taylor Hall was +7 while playing with Jordan Eberle most of the night, but was -2 while playing with Brown for exactly one minute.  I’d be interested to find out what necessitated that shift together.

Most negative here was Whitney and Justin Schultz teaming up with the 4th line.  Well, in only 3.9 minutes of icetime together, Whitney and Justin Schultz were an incredible -8 together.  Considering their infamous history, I just do not understand why Krueger would still try this pairing out.  They don’t work. Please stop it.  Justin and Nick were +1 in over 13 minutes together.

Fla4

All in all, a pretty pastel-coloured player vs player chart, without many extreme scores.

The first line did well vs the Flames best defenceman in Giordano, with Eberle especially strong at +7.  Petry was zero or above against every Flame, with Smid only in negatives versus Anton Babchuk (?). Alternatively, Ryan Whitney was only in positives versus one Flame, Glencross, who just so happened to play Justin Schultz to a -6.

Otherwise, this is one of the most boring charts of the year.  Just looking at this I’d imagine you’d never guess the final score was a full-value 8-2 ass kicking.  It’s almost funny that one of the rare Corsi victories ends up being a laugher.

But the Oilers needed this one.  Sportsclubstats now says they have a 42.1% chance at the playoffs, with two more very important games in the next 3 days.  If the Oilers can somehow keep this streak going, I wonder if it tips them over 50%.

One Comment

  1. Northof51
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 9:48 am | #

    I’m certainly behind the value of advanced stats and am a big fan of your Corsi analysis Michael, but the Oilers’ recent results seem to be validating those who value standard boxcars. As you’ve illustrated, Whitney was our worst defender last night, yet he finishes with a Gordie Howe and goes even +/-. Some fellow fans have even praised Whitney’s game of late and again last night.
    Meanwhile, over in St. Louis they have pummeled teams at evens, but can’t get the production (or goal tending) they need to separate themselves from the pack.
    It just all seems ridiculous that in a game we win 5-2 at evens, that we didn’t really dominate the possession game. Maybe the Oilers just aren’t a possession team? Kind of (I repeat, kind of) reminds me of the 05-06 run where we were effective keeping the play on the d-zone boards before we’d breakout and put one away.

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