The Oilers come into St Louis for the second game of a Back-to-Back on the Road. Maybe they got some sleep last night, maybe they didnt after routing the Stars in their building for the first time since 2006(!).
Last night’s game was great to see. Hall came back, Dubnyk played well, Gagner fought, Hemsky had 3 points, and the team scored 4 times at even strength.
It was a shame that Jagr broke the shutout for Dubnyk but maybe you dont feel too bad when a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer is the one doing it. If it was some mucker on a cheesy goal it would take the wind out of the sails a little more. Dubnyk was named the game’s 1st Star and looked no worse for having sat longer than he probably should have over the last week, making 33 saves on 34 shots. It showed a lot of character from him to play the way he did. Goalies are weird and can be temperamental (no one has ever accused Dubnyk of that though) and I didnt agree with the team choosing back to back starts for Khabi.
Hemsky somewhat quietly had a 3 point night as he scored on the PP and assisted on the Gagner goal and the Petry goal. It will come in due time but I expect RNH will have similar nights where his totals come up in bunches relatively quietly at first. He must be nursing an injury because something is wrong.
The Blues have been in a bit of a Free Fall for the past month. At Home they went 1-5-1 in February and the bodies keep hitting the floor. A few days ago they lost McDonald in practice and yesterday they played without the entire line of McDonald-Steen-Tarasenko because of injury. After such a promising start they have really hit the skids. A Win in regulation over the Blues would see Edmonton tied in points with St Louis (And Right back into the mix for the Playoffs).
I hope Jones is good to go for tonight’s game. Jones has been a welcome insertion into the lineup. He brings speed and a nose for the blue paint. The Benn CrossCheck/Cheapshot looked pretty vicious and Jones was down for a while in pain. I imagine he woke up this morning with one hell of a bruise because of it. It was a bullshit play but I dont know when the last time the NHL ever suspended anyone for a crosscheck that wasnt to the face or part of a Boarding penalty. He isnt going to be suspended and I really dont think he should be either. If Hall did that to somebody after he felt they ran the Goalie we would applaud him. He took a major for it. Punishment over until the next game.
Oilers Keys to the Game, Five on Three Edition
I’ve taken to calling this formation “The Big X” because I dont know what the Oilers call it. The other name I have for it is “ineffective”. The Oil have used this all year and there are quite a few things Dead Wrong about it.
1) Two Behind the Net
There are two elite players who are now behind the icing line. In the picture above its RNH and Eberle. These two players will get the puck and pass it back and forth a few times, accomplishing nothing because the penalty killers are happy to let them spend as much time as they want behind the net. That, of course, is because it is damn near impossible to score from that position. The Oilers are taking their two man advantage and throwing it away. There are only 3 Oilers on the ice in a position to score a goal.
2) Its VERY static.
They stay in that horrible X formation for way too long. The Penalty killers dont have to move or engage anybody because they are happy to give the Oilers the Perimeter. Look at that photo. Where are the Stars? All in front of the Net preventing the only guy in a high percentage location from getting the puck. Play with your rubber disc behind the net all you want Oilers. Even if the Oilers give it to the guys on the Point there is still only Gagner in front of the net creating traffic.
3) Where is Yakupov?
The kid was stapled to the bench for much of last night’s blowout win for reasons that havent yet been released. The Oilers have a 5 on 3 Powerplay, a situation that screams “One Timer Opportunities” and the player with the best shot is drinking a juicebox on the bench (Provided by Nuge’s Mom). The Oilers have a weapon that is under-utilized in Nail Yakupov. I understand that good things will come in due time as far as Yak in concerned, but he is a world class shooter right now as it is. He needs a chance on that Unit.
The 5v3 Power Play has had 7.3 minutes of Time on Ice and produced only 2 goals. In terms of shot creation they create 74.1 shots per hour on the 2 man advantage. Compare that with the 138.7 that the Maple Leafs create (I chose the Leafs because they have played a similar amount of time on the 5v3). That Power Play Unit is not up to par and it is largely due to the coach’s formation. Time to fix this.*
Puck drops at 6:08 PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet. Game On!
* Stats courtesy of www.behindthenet.ca