Divisional Games

I didn't get to see the game last night, but i heard it was a good one. I started this post before the game because I've been disappointed about the Oilers ability to play teams in their own division. We play these teams 32 times, and if you can play 4 teams well all season you get rewarded with a lot of wins (assuming hockey gods are fair). Clearly we are not doing this. I compiled a list of how the players have done against their division and outside the division. These are purely raw numbers from the NHL site and do not account for empty net goals and stuff like that. Its just meant to be a brief overview.

Stats should be up to date (click for larger view). What do we see? Penner and Gagner are surprisingly more effective against divisional opponents, with Gagner's only two goals coming against Calgary and Penner being the only plus player. Horcoff has been very consistent in either category, he's having a great year so far. On the other end Hemsky has not been able to do what Horcoff has: play against our division. His numbers drop against the Calgary's and Colorado's etc..I consider these to be tougher games to play, our division is one of the best in the league (aside this team) and teams usually play division opponents a lot tougher. If Hemsky is going to be our best player, he needs to be our best player against every team. Using Ryan Getzlaf as a comparable (who just got slightly more money than Hemsky did, and is 2 years younger) we can look at his offensive stats. In 9 games outside his division, he has 9 points, and in the 10 games against divisional opponents he as 12 points, clearly producing across the board. His division includes the Sharks, Kings, Coyotes, and Stars. The Kings and Coyotes being the lesser two but are only a combined 5 games under .500. Cogliano is just impressive. Good numbers and they are almost identical in either category.

Another thing that stands out is our checkers. Guys like Sanderson, Reasoner and Brodziak have been getting killed in the +/- area (a combined -20). This could be the teams greatest weakness, a lack of an effective checking line. Our team is unable to stop the other teams best players, and its showing. Sanderson has never been known as a strong 2-way player, Reasoner is more of a 4th liner, and Brodziak is a rookie. Our division is beating us like a rented mule with a bad leg because players like the Sedin Sisters dominating us in the offensive zone.

Oh and our record against the NorthWest? 4-8-1. Against the rest? 4-4-0. Bones and Assholes can't heal fast enough.

An interesting note, Stortini is a minus player in exactly one game. Limited minutes but interesting nonetheless.



An interesting article in the Journal today on the Oilogosphere. Good read for those interested in getting to know the various bloggers in the "sphere".



Sour Milk

I was reading the sun a few days back and there was an article about how the Oilers made a big mistake trading for Roloson instead of Biron back in '06 (remember?). Thats a difficult statement to make, first of all your assuming that the Biron trade was there to be made which could likely not be true due to the Sabres wanting two goalies for a cup run. Secondly your assuming that what we give up for Biron won't be more than draft picks. Thirdly, if we did have a different goalie or gave up more than draft picks would this team have still gone to the finals? Honestly I don't change a thing in case I never get to live the experience of that run. Roloson wasn't what carried this team to the cup (See: Pronger) and Jussi played well in his absence, but I have to say that he did a great job and I'm glad he was on this team.

Now in the "what have you done for me lately" category, the 07-08 Oiler goaltending issues. The Oilers have not received the caliber of goaltending they have been expecting, from either Roloson or Garon, and the third worst team GAA of 3.38 (behind T.O. and ATL) at least implies it could be better. But Roloson is 38 and Garon is not a future starter in this league (contrary to some preseason speculation). So what is the future for the Oilers goaltending? We have two legitimate prospects in Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk with Glenn Fisher and Bryan Pitton a distant (and unlikely) reality. Heres a look at what JDD and Dubnyk have done in the past two years of pro:

JDD: 07-08 5-2-2 2.41 GAA .920% in 10 gp
06-07 22-12-3 2.47 GAA .908% in 40 gp

DD: 07-08 1-3-0 3.18 GAA .914% in 5 gp
06-07 2-1-0 2.94 GAA .855% in 4 gp (AHL)
24-11-7 2.56 GAA .921% in 43 gp (ECHL)

At first there are some positive things to take out of these stats. Dubnyk had an excellent 06-07 season, even being an allstar in his league. JDD has put up decent GAA in the AHL over the last two years, and is have a good season so far this year (though limited action). There are also some negatives to take out of it. JDD's SV% last year was 21st in the AHL, and if your looking at your future starter that is clearly not good enough, especially on the WBS Penguins who were a good playoff team. As for Dubnyk, how many goalies do you know starting in the NHL the last few years that have ever played in the ECHL? I'd actually be interested to know, but i bet you i can count with half a hand. Lets compare them to their draft class.

JDD was drafted in 2002, so lets look at the goalies drafted that year in the first two rounds along with any others that have NHL experience.

Of the three goalies taken in the first, two are starters and Toivonen has had an up and down career, but spent some time as Boston's starter before ending up in St. Louis behind Legace this year. In the second, Harding had a spectacular AHL career and is now an NHL backup being considered for the future starting role. Leneveu has been an average AHL starter and not succeeded in the NHL but he does play for Phoenix. Stephen and Daigneault have had similar progression to JDD and then Norrena was a decent NHL starter last season (2.78 .904 in 55gp for Columbus) only to lose his job this year to one of the hottest goalies in the NHL.

Clearly if JDD is going to become a candidate for a NHL starting role his should have shown greater progression by now. This is his fourth pro season and no one has him penciled in for NHL duties. As for Dubnyk, there is less expectation of him playing NHL games (being 2 years younger than JDD), and it may be too soon to lay judgment on him but lets look at how the goalies drafted in the first round of 2004 have done for themselves.

6. Al Montoya - up and down pro career in his first season (played 2 ECHL games). Good year last year as AHL starter.
14. Devan Dubnyk - first year pro in the ECHL was all star and played well. Got shelled in his 4 AHL games that year. Playing average this year. I suspect next year will be his defining year.
17. Marek Schwarz - This is the man that brings a lot of the debate, he was rated higher than Dubnyk and many believed was the better goalie. Been a decent AHL goalie (good GAA not good Sv%) and got into 2 NHL games last year.
26. Cory Schneider - college player playing his first year of pro, bad in the 5 AHL games he's played.

From my opinion Dubnyk is 3rd on this list. Both Montoya and Schwarz have established more at a higher level then Dubnyk; whom we have yet to discover if he can play at an AHL level. Based on the progression of some great young goalies (Ward, Harding, even Toivonen) we can't expect Dubnyk to become an NHL starter. These goalies went from junior to the AHL and had immediate success at this level. Dubnyk has not played very many games but has not won the starting job either, especially from goalies like Deslauriers who have not been stellar.

As it is now I don't see a goalie in our system who will have the ability to take over after Roloson retires and the Garon experiment fails. This team has spent valuable picks on goalies in 02 and 04 without success. We've reached our hand into the goalie fridge and not gotten what we wanted.


What else is on TV tonight?

So I skip the rest of class to get home to see the third, and its already 5-2 Wild. I would trade a healthy Pitkanen for Smith straight up. Straight fucking up.


Chest Pain

Two heart breakers in a row, tough time to be an Oiler fan. Few things about the game tonight that caught my attention. I once believed Grebeshkov could be a player in this league, that ended tonight. Early in the first its a 2 on 2 rush for the Preds and Grebs takes Gilberts guy, leaving his guy wide open for a nice shot that Grebs recovers barely by laying his stick on the ice to tip it. Then we can talk about the two goals he was on the ice for. Has talent but seriously lacks hockey sense. The experiment of him and Gilbert as our answer to the other teams best line needs to stop. Very good post at IOF that backs up the idea Grebeshkov doesn't belong. If anything makes for a good read for us stats junkies. I liked the game Gilbert brought tonight, and if he wasn't babysitting the Russian Pylon he'd have been better than -2 tonight. MacT's post game comments? "If you can't score you can't get scored against. Especially if your trying to make a living in the NHL". Souray can't come back soon enough.

TOI for the Oilers D tonight:
Gilbert - 27:05
Grebeshkov - 25:40
Staios - 25:00
Smid - 19:23
Tarnstrom - 18:41

I don't understand MacTavish's hate on for Tarnstrom; plays a solid game (as he has most games) yet can't be a consistent starter and ends up with the least amount of ice time on a night when Grebeshkov clearly struggled. Are we playing the rookies hoping to turn them into players next year or the year after? or are we trying to be competitive and at least give the fans something to cheer for? Better question: Does MacTavish even know? is Lowe on the same page cause he's signing guys to win now (Penner, Souray).

Team toughness is an issue for this team. We have more skill then they do but got pushed around, specifically our defenceman. This is only proven by out injury parade on the back end. Our D is getting pushed around and our forwards weren't hitting anything. Losing Roy contributed but we need to be better in this area. We had the goaltending and we had offensive pressure was decent, we just fell apart defensively for a couple minutes. Also the kids weren't a factor tonight aside from a good rush from Cogs and some crease crashing by Gagner.

This team is not a playoff contender and if we are trying to turn the rookies into future players who contribute to wins, games like tonight will be as regular as a Raisin Bran diet.

I'm starting a campaign:

Vote for '08