Monday Musings…

monday musings

It was another rollercoaster weekend for Oilers fans. You were on a high after Friday’s convincing victory over Chicago, but the winning ride didn’t last long after yesterday’s loss to the Florida Panthers.

We are officially past the halfway point of the NHL season, with only the Rangers, Canucks, Panthers and Blue Jackets not playing 41 games, but we’ve seen 627 of 1230 games played.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here are some thoughts on the first half and some expectations for the second.

  • Six players are on pace for 50 goals. Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, Vladimir Tarasenko, Steven Stamkos, Joe Pavelski and Alex Ovechkin. It is very doubtful all six reach the half century mark. The last time the NHL had six 50-goal men was in 1994 when nine players did it.

    Since the start of the 2003/2004 season, the only western conference players to score 50 goals were: Jonathan Cheechoo (56 in 2006), Jarome Iginla (50 in 2008), and Corey Perry (50 in 2011).

    The East has had fifteen 50-goal seasons in that span: Ovechkin did it five times, (2006, 08, 09, 10 and 14), Dany Heatley (2006, 2007), Ilya Kovalchuk (2006,2008) and Steven Stamkos (2010, 2012) twice, and Jaromir Jagr (2006), Vincent Lecavalier (2007), Sidney Crosby (2010) and Evgeni Malkin (2012) once.

    Stamkos and Oveckin, based on past history, are the best bets to score 50 goals. Pavelski and Nash’s career high is 41 goals, Seguin’s is 37 while Tarasenko’s 23 goals this season is the most he’s ever scored.

    The west hasn’t had two 50-goal scorers in the same year since Teemu Selanne (52 in Anaheim)  and Pavel Bure (51 with Vancouver) did it in 1998. 

    I love goals, so I’m rooting for at least two of Tarasenko, Pavelski and Seguin to reach 50.

  • Sadly, no player is on pace to score 100 points this year. Jakub Voracek is the closest, with 50 points in 42 games. The last time the NHL didn’t have a 100-point scorer was in 2004 when Marty St.Louis led the league with 94 points. The league averaged 5.13 goals/game (6,318) in 2004, and this season teams are averaging 5.36 goals/game (3,363).

    As a fan of offence, I think it is bad for the league when you don’t have a 100-point scorer. Less offence is not good for the game, and the games become harder in the second half of year, usually, so it is very possible we see the leading scorer finish with fewer than 100 points.

  • I mention these numbers because we are hearing a lot of McDavid/Crosby comparisons. McDavid is an excellent player, but he will not score 102 points as a rookie like Crosby did in 2006. In 2006, the NHL brought in the shoot out, but they also clamped down on obstruction. It led to a huge increase in goals, averaging 6.05 goals/game (7,443) an increase of 1,125 goals from 2004.  

    We saw 6,573 goals last season, 5.34/game, and I don’t see anything in how the game is being played that leads me to believe we will see an increase anytime soon. I don’t find hockey nearly as exciting as it used to be. There is way too much focus on defensive schemes and video sessions to allow players to excel offensively. I’m not sure what the NHL can do to change it, but they need to change some rules to increase scoring.

    People need to temper their offensive expectations of McDavid and Eichel heading into next season.

  • Leon Draisaitl has three goals and four points in three WHL games with Kelowna. I expect he finishes the season close to two points/game with the Rockets.

  • OKC is 10-2-1 since Todd Nelson was recalled to the Oilers. Nelson had built a strong foundation and Gerry Fleming has done a great job since being promoted to head coach. The farm team is playing great, but don’t expect many of them to make the jump to the NHL next season. Martin Marincin will be in the NHL next season, but other than Brandon Davidson, Iiro Pakarinen and maybe Curtis Hamilton, I don’t see any skaters who are close to being NHL ready.

    OKC is getting great goaltending from Richard Bachman and Laurent Brossoit. Bachman is a not an NHL goalie, but Brossoit is developing nicely. Bachman has a 2.20 GAA and a .925 sv%, while Brossoit has a 2.43 GAA and .922 sv%. They are basically splittling duties, Brossoit has played 79 more minutes, and next season the Oilers should let Brossoit play 70% of the games. No one should expect him to be in the NHL next year. We need to see how he can handle being a #1 goalie in the AHL first.

  • I noticed much excitement about Nail Yakupov and his two-point game on Friday. The Oilers desperately need to him to keep developing, but no one should get too excited over one game. Yakupov’s effort has never been a concern for me. I think his work ethic is fine most nights. Clearly he is lacking some offensive confidence, and Friday’s game should help him with that, but the area he needs to work on the most to become a productive player is on-ice awareness. If he can improve his puck support and where he goes on the ice, then he could become a solid 2nd liner. Some of that improvement will come from coaching, but much of it will come from the player himself. 

    I’m not concerned he will bolt for the KHL this summer. He wants to play in the NHL, but his progression, for me, won’t solely be about points. Of course he needs to produce, but if he shows improvement in his overall positioning and thinking of the game, then he well could be a consistent 20-goal scorer.

  • Before you scream and yell about Yakupov only being a 20 goal-scorer, keep in mind how difficult it is to be a consistent 30-goal scorer in today’s game. In the past four seasons we have seen 81 players score 30 or more goals. Nineteen did it twice, but only Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Patrick Marleau, Patrick Sharp and Phil Kessel did it three times. Ovechkin scored 30+ in all four seasons. Becoming a consistent and regular 20-goal scorer would make Yakupov a solid second line player in today’s game.
  • The NHL all-star rosters were announced on the weekend and between now and the game we will read many articles on what is wrong with the all-star game. I don’t understand why people expect the game to be intense. Why do you need it to be? It is a chance for fans in the host city to see the best players up close and for the NHL to schmooze sponsors. Just accept the game for what it is. You will never get players to go all out, and you shouldn’t. Would any fanbase want one of their best players hurt in a meaningless all-star game? I sure wouldn’t.
  • The Nashville Predators are implement a new policy making it more difficult for fans of opposing teams to buy tickets to games in Nashville. Is this a good idea? Would you want this in Edmonton? 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • hallsyoilerforever5

    The Nashville Predators are implement a new policy making it more difficult for fans of opposing teams to buy tickets to games in Nashville. Is this a good idea? Would you want this in Edmonton?

    How about the owner stops increasing ticket prices every year, while dishing out his annual apology letter?

  • MattyFranchise

    Make the net 4″ higher, 2″ wider. Force goalies to stand up and move around.

    Goalies are way, WAY bigger than they were even 20 years ago, never mind 30 or 40. Their pads are bigger, their pads are lighter, their pads don’t absorb water, their pads absorb rebounds, their pads re-direct rebounds on their own. A chest protector today is going to stop a 100mph slapshot, absorb a bunch of energy and rebound it at 15mph into a corner. A chest protector in the 80s is going to prevent a 100mph slapshot from breaking your ribs, while one from the 90s will painlessly rebound it out “somewhere”.

    The improvements in sticks do not overcome the massive improvements in goalie equipment, especially relative to the size of the net. A wrister might be 20% faster. A pad today might be 20% bigger, but the difference is that the 20% is a big chunk of the total net size.

  • vetinari

    Gregor, you are absolutely dead-on. NHL hockey is not as exciting as before. Hockey in the Lafleur era and the Gretzky era was so much more exciting. We need to somehow open up this game. We need more end to end rushes and less of this “cycling” the puck.

    • Serious Gord

      Shrink the size of goalie equipment – a lot.

      Call icing on penalized teams.

      Do not end a two minute penalty if a goal is scored

      No offsetting penalties – iOw no five in five when two players are penalized.

      Do not allow player changes between whisTles – only on the fly.

      3-2-1-0 points for regulation win, overtime win, overtime loss, and loss respectively.

      These and othe changes would increase scoring which actually will make for a more open game

          • So, almost like everything you said Gordo?

            Seems a little contradictory and hypocritical.

            Players are bigger faster, stronger, more agile, you can’t shrink the equipment anymore; try to get that past the NHLPA.

            Can you imagine 80’s or 90’s pads on Bishop, Dubnyk or Rinne?

            Give your head a shake.

          • Burnward

            The NHL missed the boat years ago when all of these new arenas were set to be built. They should’ve sat down with the IIHF and lobbied for a ‘new international version’ of ice size that splits the difference between international and NA sizes. 92.5′ instead of 85′ or 100′. One global standard.

          • Serious Gord

            That’s very similar to the finnish league dimensions. It makes sense. And there will be new rinks built going forward. What needs to happen is for the NHL to mandate that all new rinks be built to the new standard.

            there is one wrinkle however:

            in most US stadiums hockey and basketball share the same building. And basketball already hates how big the floor is because of the compromise for hockey rinks as big as they are now. And they will be very resistant to letting that get even bigger. Doesn’t sound like much, but the sight lines in a basketball- only building are far better than in one that supports hockey too. And poor sightlines means lower revenues.

            (I saw the difference literally a day apart – one day watching UCLA play USC in the pauley pavilion and then the clippers at staples centre. the staples centre seats felt like a million miles away by comparison.)

          • That’s interesting, I had no idea the Finnish ice was different.

            And yeah, multi-sport complexes have their issues, but they’re also built for a reason. At the end of the day it still brings in far more revenue than a different building for every sport would.

          • Serious Gord

            Agreed on the need for multi-use but the other users aren’t going to let hockey get even more room (and I suspect that may have been a bit of a driver back in zieglers day. And it looks to me that the redesigned Madison square gardens has some really poor hockey seating in the corners which would make sense from a basketball standpoint. I also wonder what the Nets’ arena which was originally a basketball only facility will look like for islanders hockey.

          • Serious Gord

            Not hypocritical at all.

            All of the things save changing only on the fly existed at some point in the league:

            “Shrink the size of goalie equipment – a lot.” – obviously the equipment is smaller

            “Call icing on penalized teams.” – this was only brought in during the dominant years of the canadiens in the fifties

            “Do not end a two minute penalty if a goal is scored” – as i understand it this too was brought in in the fifties for the same reason

            “No offsetting penalties – iOw no five in five when two players are penalized.” – this was done because the old boy oilers were so powerful 4X4

            “Do not allow player changes between whistles – only in the fly” there was a time when you could not change on the fly. only allowing on the fly changes would really speed the game up – a concession to the need to keep gmes timely and it would make for more imbalanced line match-ups

            The Net dimensions on the other hand HAVE NEVER been altered since the NHL was created. It is the one great constant in the game much as the diamond dimensions are in baseball.

            And sure players in all sports have gotten bigger and faster. But that applies to both defenders and attackers so there is considerable degree of offset. Coaching both ends of the ice has improved too.

            Go look at goalie equipment: gloves don’t need to be as big as they are to still protect, ditto blockers, and sticks. And pads dont’ need to be as wide or deep or as tall. Goalie pants and jerseys are intentionally oversized and could be made stretch fitting (as they are in soccer).

            There is plenty of room to reduce equipment size and not reduce safety – the impediment to change for a long time now has been the NHLPA and the existing goalies who don’t want the changes done because there are several who would be out of a job – big goalies who move positionally block shots rather than move to make a save (cam ward would be a good example) and the teams that employ those type of goalies.

            And yes, i can imagine today’s goalies with smaller but still safe equipment. why can’t you?

    • Romanus

      You are a little tainted from watching the oilers play. I am not being a douche and saying you are wrong 100 percent, but if you watch montreal vs the rangers or someone, it’s different.

      The play of game can be extremely exciting, watching certain teams in the nhl still. We have even seen the excitement the second from last oilers game.

      Sure it’s a different game now days, but we really truly are getting the lions share of poor hockey here.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Florida is a perfect example of how you are supposed to build through the draft. Dale Tallon did it in Chicago and is doing it again. Build from Defense up through the middle and bring in veteran help and leadership to help develop your prospects.
    Edmonton has Petry and Klefbom on their blueline that they drafted. And up the middle Nugent Hopkins. Throw Lander in there, sure. But we don’t have the cup winning attitudes of Dave Bolland or Brian Campbell or Willie Mitchell to help show our young kids how to play a consistent NHL game. Sorry, Ference isn’t enough in that regard.
    Add to this issue, the lack of AHL seasoning that our prospects get, and the result is bottom dwelling for years on end.
    Ask Tatar, Kindl, Nyquist and Mantha if it helps their development. Detroit knows how to develop. Oilers brass, not so much.

  • I just read that Grow the Gold initiative and what a crock of BS, you know what stops visiting fans from coming – WINNING. I have pretty much been a proud tier 1 fan for most of my life and I remember when the Hawks blew and there were you 500 or so old timer fans, yet now they are in the thousands why because THEY WIN while the Oilers do not and subsequently the fans turn around and sell their tickets to Hawks fans.

    I would be embarrassed if the Oilers were this desperate and in fact if I am Katz or any other NHL owner who are propping them up I would stop writing the cheques to them if they are doing this and their building is not sold out.

  • vetinari

    The Predators program works by focusing on local fans over tourists. When Edmonton plays Montreal or Toronto and the crowd is full of Habs or Leafs fans, I don’t think the problem is tourists. More likely, the problem is misguided people who live in Edmonton, and the Predators program would do nothing to stop these delusional fans from buying tickets.

    The only solution is education, with a healthy dose of shame.

    • vetinari

      … what shame is there in being a Leafs or Habs fan? Especially since a good 10-20% of Edmonton’s population comes from those cities? Doubly so when you contrast their records vs Edmonton’s?

      And you think the Oilers have any loyalty to Edmonton? Really?

      They threatened to move to Seattle when the city didn’t throw enough money at the arena. Not when the city didn’t throw any money, just when it didn’t throw enough.

      I don’t owe these clowns nothin’.

    • Zamboni Driver

      There are a handful of tickets available to the general public for the god-awful Edmonton Oilers. For popular games they sell out in about 4 seconds.

      If you are upset at ‘delusional fans’ snapping up all the tickets – do keep in mind it’s season ticket holders making a killing ‘legally upselling’ (not to be confused with scalping) to Leaf/Habs fans.

      (Having said that, there is a good case to be made for Oilers season’s tickets holders for being ‘delusional’ – paying thousands of dollars every year.)

      • Romanus

        We are making a killing? Really?

        I can’t even sell them below cost unless I get lucky. You also didn’t mention the commission Ticketmaster makes on the sale for a second time on the resell.

          • Romanus

            Sorry misunderstood your comment. I usully post tickets at face value but may need try and sell leaf tickets at a higher price. It may make me feel better about all the $ I sunk into this crappy product.

        • 2004Z06

          I personally know 2 guys that have multiple sets of season tickets. They then sell the tickets for the face value of the ticket. Now agreed the last year or two they are having trouble selling tickets for face value, but previously they were pocketing well over 5 grand a year.

          It sickens me when people that have been on waiting lists for years can’t get a set of tix, but these “legal scalpers” can use tickets to generate revenue. I wonder how they report that income to revenue Canada?

          Oilers suck and you can’t make money reselling your tickets this year? It should be illegal!

  • Jason Gregor

    @easybait @Zamboni Driver

    It was a joke. The point is that it is local fans who buy Oilers tickets, not tourists. The people at Rexall who cheer for Toronto or Montreal mostly live here. The Predators program would have no impact on them.

  • toprightcorner

    Gregor, just curious where you got your numbers from?

    Only Nash and Seguin are on pace to score more than 50 goals (54 and 52 respectively)

    Ovechkin has 21 goals in 41 games which is only 42 goals this season.

    Are you using stats based on current trends and since Ovechkin has 7 goals in his last 10 games he is trending for a higher goals per game rate in the second half of the season?

  • vetinari

    The All-Star game has lost a lot for me over the years, even as a shinny game. I watch some of the skills competition and if I catch a period of a game, that’s it.

  • vetinari

    If fans from Toronto and Montreal don’t buy tickets, who am I going to sell my season seats to? Seriously, at this point I’m only going to the games to catch up with friends if I can’t sell the tix for what I paid (most times I can’t get what I paid for them in return).

  • Zamboni Driver

    Its a sad situation when you discount the AHL only contracts ,today there isnt a single NHL forward playing for OKC.

    Close but no cigars are Pitlick and Lander, the rest of the forwards are AHL.-ECL lifers.

    Cutris Hamilton..give me a break!

    Thank you Stu for your work… now get lost.

  • Burnward

    Just because the Oilers have sucked at scoring goals, doesn’t mean it’s a problem for everyone!!!

    Fans in Chicago are probably just fine with the rate the Hawks bulge the twine.

    • Burnward

      In all seriousness though, the hockey we see today is the highest level that’s ever been played.

      If these guys were able to play the game at 80% of the speed of what it is now…the individual stats would increase. It’s impossible to do now with the lack of time and space available.