Thoughts on the Oilers: Shot differentials under Nelson; Keeping Fasth; Pre-Pronger Era

Anaheim Ducks v Edmonton OilersWith Nelson behind the bench, the overall perception of the Oilers has improved as they’ve started winning games. Even though Nelson has only won three in regulation since Eakins was fired, there’s a general sense of optimism that the team just might start turning it around. Unfortunately, they’ve been getting outshot quite regularly, which never ends well for a club.

2014-15 Oilers Shot Differentials (5on5)
Coach Games % of shots shot differentials
Eakins 31 49.4% -18
MacT/Nelson 5 45.1% -23
Nelson 16 45.0% -71

The team is getting the wins, but it shouldn’t hide the fact that the club is still weak in a number of areas. I’ve liked Derek Roy’s play and hope the Oilers can either sign him or at least be inspired to seek out a legit NHL centerman. The defence is still in need of an NHL player or three. And the goaltending, which hasn’t been awful as of late, will likely get revamped for the 2015 season.

Glad to see Fasth getting some starts.  He’s looked pretty good, especially the other night against Pittsburgh when the rest of the team played terribly for the majority of the game. His 5-on-5 save percentage (adjusted) has been respectable  in 2015. Whether that’s because of the head coaching change or the new goaltender coach is anyone’s guess. Thought I’d break it out by coach and goalie coach.

Adjusted Save% (5on5)
Head Coach Scrivens Fasth
Eakins 90.28 88.97
MacT/Nelson 89.55 66.96
Nelson 90.68 93.25
Adjusted Save% (5on5)
Goalie Coach Scrivens Fasth
Chabot 90.03 86.97
Schwartz 90.59 91.00

Source: War on Ice

The team is leaking shots at an alarming rate, so Fasth will have to continue standing on his head to bail out his team. He should be the guy the team goes forward with, but will likely be shipped for a draft pick at the trade deadline. It’s also encouraging to hear the Oilers are pursuing goaltender Matt O’Connor, who has played extremely well at the college level. Just wish we had, you know, developed our own goalie.

Definitely hoping the Oilers can beat the Leafs in Toronto on HNIC. Not because I dislike the Leafs, who are actually fun to watch with guys like Kessel and Kadri on their roster. But because of the positive attention the Oilers will get in the biggest media market. Oilers win and they’ll receive lots of praise for winning under the new coach and the prospects coming down the pipe (with lots of links to Nurse’s performance at the World Juniors). The Leafs on the other hand will receive negative coverage for not rebuilding soon enough like the Oilers (hah!) and point to the tough decisions Shanhan and company will have to make at the deadline. Fluff pieces are nice once in a while.

Edmonton Oilers (1990-2014)

Edmonton Oilers (1990-2014)

I’ve been looking back at some of the success the Oilers had before this nine year drought. One thing that stands out is how well the teams were built even before the 2005-2006 season, and how good they were at generating shots. People can quip that the 2006 run was a fluke or that it was all Pronger. Their regular season was outstanding from start to finish. Had the goaltending been stronger before Roloson showed up at the deadline, they would’ve finished much higher than 8th. But the few seasons before the lockout, the team was generating shots and holding their own against some of the best teams in the league. They missed the playoffs, sure, but the team was getting some very nice production from all areas of the roster. No idea if it was the ownership change, or the management structure, but something altered the way this team evaluates professional and amateur players. The Oilers made some excellent trades in the early aughties, but haven’t been able to replicate that success under Katz. Here’s hoping the promotion of Bob Green can make an impact.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to listen or read Jason Gregor’s interview with Ryan Smyth. Smyth’s personality came through really well on the radio making the whole interview exceptional. He’s not the most polished guy when he talks about the game, but you can tell from his interview why he was revered in Edmonton. The guy had a tremendous career and really connected well with the community. Think it’s only a matter of time before someone hires him for a player personnel manager role.

Recommended Links

Are the Barons Developing Enough NHL Talent – Lowetide

You can’t trust *some of* the people who cover the Edmonton Oilers – Oilersnation

It’s Been Nine Years – Copper and Blue

Trade Talk: Save the damn puck edition – The Oilers Rig

Ryan Smyth – The Generational Player

Pretty memorable night this past weekend. In case you missed it, here’s the highlight from the game.

I’ve never experienced anything like that and I don’t suspect many other have. Almost makes you forget about the disastrous season.

The funny thing is, Smyth has been on the team for three years since his return. Yet we didn’t pay much attention to him, mainly because he was playing a reduced role. We knew he was on the team, but I don’t think anyone really, truly appreciated his accomplishments until this past weekend.

Smyth really did define an entire era for the Oilers. For me personally, he was the face of the franchise, that generational player every team desperately searches for. Around the time I really started following the Oilers was when Smyth was just starting his legacy. Losing him is losing a big part of the Oilers fan experience.

Reflecting on his career and following the #94memories discussion on Twitter, it’s crazy to think that every significant event I’ve experienced as an Oiler fan, he was there.

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Thoughts on the Oilers: Veteran experience needed

Source: Edmonton Journal

Source: Edmonton Journal

It continues.

The Oilers lost, as expected, to two quality teams on the road recently, but got a win against the Lightning last night at home. Next up are three games against legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Let’s hope they can squeeze out a win to keep things (somewhat) positive around here.

Veteran experience

The Oilers did an impressive job over the offseason acquiring much needed experience to the roster. Adding guys like Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon and David Perron through free agency and trade to fill specific roles gave some hope that the team could compete this year. Had an additional piece been added to the defense and had all centremen been healthy, this team could have had a legitimate shot at competing for a wild card spot in the West.

Unfortunately, this team is struggling and desperately needs some experience in the line up, even if it means moving out the younger prospects.

On top of all of the losing, fans have also placed a ridiculous amount of hope and expectations on young players. It’s so easy to do since we don’t know much about these prospects and let our imaginations and expectations trump reality. And it’s too easy to dismiss veteran players because their experience and performance is well documented, leaving it easy to judge and come to conclusions.

Hemsky

With the Olympic rosters about to be announced, Ales Hemsky was asked about his chances of making the Czech Republic roster. The Edmonton Journal article, with a very misleading headline, really emphasizes how Hemsky’s role has changed, which I think is great news for the Oilers.

“I have a different role on this team now,” Hemsky said before the Oilers were defeated by a combined score of 10-3 by the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks. “I’m playing a different role than I have before so I don’t have as many points as I’d like, and I’m playing a different style, and that’s fine, but it may affect what they think.”

            Update: Hemsky Named to Czech Olympic Team – Lowetide

Regardless of the speculation, it would make no sense at this point to deal him for prospects. The Oilers need actual NHL players rather than potential players at this point. If moving him is part of a deal to land a defenceman or experience in the top lines, there should be no hesitation. But removing NHL players from a team desperate for NHL wins makes absolutely no sense.

Recommended Links

Re-sign Ryan Smyth? That’s a no brainer. – The Copper and Blue

Mambo Cogliano: Ducks forward signs four year extension  – Puck Daddy