Thoughts on the Oilers: Winning Streak; Shots on Net; Goaltending; Realistic Expectations

Source: TSN.ca

Source: TSN.ca

Amazing what a three-game winning streak can do. Since the Oilers embarrassing streak of three straight home shutout losses, the team has bounced back scoring 15 goals to defeat the Flames, Blue Jackets and Panthers. In those three wins, the Oilers scored 14 straight goals before allowing one against the Panthers.

Shots, Shots, Shots

The Oilers continue to get more shots on net compared to last season.

The question becomes how good are the shots that the Oilers are taking. Michael Parkatti of Boys on the Bus has been tracking shot quality. His work is well worth reading as shot quality is a critical factor for team success.

The best part about winning is that the Oilers aren’t being mentioned in trade rumors. The majority of the stories being written are about the small things the Oilers are doing well, such as the powerplay and penalty kill.

Goaltending

The other positive of the winning streak is that Devan Dubnyk can continue playing without the chatter of Ilya Bryzgalov taking over. Pretty sure if the Oilers had lost any of the past three games since Bryzgalov joined the Oilers roster, there would be all sorts of content produced about the Russian netminder. I think the signing of Bryzgalov is a good one for the Oilers as they definitely enhanced their tandem. But the additional narratives about Bryzgalov’s character and his run-ins with the media are a bit much. This was quite apparent when he first arrived in Edmonton as very little was asked about his on-ice performance and more about his personality and attitude.

Realistic Expectations

But with all of the positives coming out, there is a harsh reality that the poor start to the season has already cost the team the playoffs. To make the playoffs in the Western Conference, a team would need about 95 points.  For the duration of the season (58 games) the Oilers would need to win games at the same rate as the best teams in the league to make the playoffs. Possible, sure, but the odds are firmly against this roster.

The advanced stats also suggest that the Oilers are headed to their eighth straight year out of the playoffs. Tyler Dellow put together a piece comparing team Corsi rates at the quarter pole of the season and how it’s a fairly clear indication of whether or not a team makes it to the playoffs.

NHL Teams Due to Rise Up, Fall Down Standings – Sportsnet

I can’t say I’m disappointed. My expectation going in to the season was that the Oilers would finish between 10th and 12th place. This was mainly due to the fact the Oilers hired a new coach, started the season with one legit centreman (Boyd Gordon) and that the defense was weak compared to other Western Conference teams.

Recommended Links

Signs of Life – OilersNation

Defense Needed: Apply Within – The Copper and Blue

Of Note: Eakins on Forecheck – mc79hockey

How Devan Dubnyk Got His Groove Back – Oil on Whyte

Get Happy! – Lowetide

Thoughts on the Oilers: Coaching Stability; MacTavish; Quick Wins

Source: The Leafs Nation

Source: The Leafs Nation

Another home, shutout loss this week, which leaves the Oilers at 4-14-2. This team looks to be on pace to reach some all time lows. Brutal.

Coaching Stability

At this point, it would make little sense to fire Dallas Eakins. I agree that if this were any other team, a coaching change would be made. But the Oilers have gone through enough coaches over the past few years, that this would only add to the instability behind the bench.

The Detroit Red Wings, one of the most consistent franchises in professional sports, have always stressed the importance of stability both at the player and management level. Since 1993, the Red Wings have had four coaches. The current coach, Mike Babcock, has been there since 2005.  The Oilers on the other hand have had 10 different coaches since 1993. Eakins is the fifth Oilers head coach since 2008. Factor in the assistant and off-ice coaches, and you have way too much instability for young players to develop.

Think it’s important to remember how each coach brings different tactics, practice plans, etc., and that players always need time to adjust. I’m not defending the horrid start, it really is unacceptable. But a coach does need time to prove what they’re capable of. Too often, the needs of the team are trumped by what the fans want. It’s a difficult balance, but in this case it’s a better decision to let Eakins work things out.

MacTavish

The GM did an excellent job yesterday taking attention away from the struggling roster and coaching staff by holding a press conference. Really, there’s nothing new to report, but he sparked a  ton of useless content regardless. Everything that he said was already known: the Oilers were trying to land a defencemen at the 2013 Entry Draft; future picks will be used to get roster players, likely a defenceman; and this team is terrible defensively.

Oilers vs Flames on Hockey Night in Canada

If fans are agitated by the horrible start, I can’t imagine what a loss to the Flames this weekend will do. This is one of those games that the Oilers can win to calm the angry mob, mainly because it’s Calgary and it’s on Hockey Night in Canada. Doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things but it’s one of those “quick wins” that would appease the fans for a day or two. 

Recommended Links

The Detroit Red Wings and How to be Successful in the Long Run – Forbes

Wings GM Holland says stability, patience key to building winner – Windsor Star

Why firing your coach in a rebuild is nonsensical – Yahoo! Puck Daddy

The Coach – OilersNation