• Game Notes: Los Angeles at Edmonton

    by  • January 25, 2013 • Uncategorized • 2 Comments

    Terry Jones, July 2, 2013, after Yakupov scored a goal in a shootout at rookie camp:

    Wow, that was awesome. But don’t do it again.

    Nail Yakupov put on a spectacular exhibition to complete his excellent Edmonton adventure, combining skill and showmanship to bring fans to their feet in Millennium Place in Sherwood Park.

    They cheered him wildly but then, as they left the final day of Edmonton Oilers’ prospects camp, you could hear them saying “Gee, I sure hope he doesn’t do that stuff in the regular season.”

    Yakupov ended up winning it going last, electing to go with a quick snap shot. And he upstaged even himself by dropping to his butt and pretending to paddle a canoe.

    “I had a lot of fun with the fans. It’s exciting. I’ve never seen that before. It was great,” he said of the scene the fans provided in Sherwood Park.

    When asked if he’d carry his act over the the regular season, Yakupov’s answer illustrated the joy of hockey he clearly has in him but indicated, I think, that fans need not fear he’s planning on being the clown prince of hockey.

    “If you score goals, you celebrate,” he said.

    “But not crazy like that.”

    It was crazy how the crowd enjoyed the show immensely and then debated it all the way to the parking lot.

    Note: I seriously doubt people were talking about whether or not Yakupov’s ROOKIE CAMP celebration was appropriate as they headed out to the parking lot, but so be it.

    Terry Jones, January 25, 2013:

    Controversy about Yakupov’s celebration? It was real. I hate football endzone jobs, but when you score with 4,7 left in your third game…

    That win may prove to be memorable in Oilers history. It Yakupov does a celebration like that in a 7-1 blowout, that’s different. Pure joy!

    It’s like watching Archie Bunker come to love and accept his gay grandson.

    * * *

    Of note on the PP: I wrote during the summer about how pretty and effective San Jose’s zone entries were on the PP. The Oilers kind of had a sort of chaos + Hemsky thing that they used and San Jose obviously just runs set plays to gain the blue line. It’s always dangerous watching a bunch of film and then watching games, because you might see things you just weren’t noticing before but it looks to me like the Oilers have added some structure to their game. I mentioned after the Vancouver game that Hemsky’s goal had come off a structured looking play in the neutral zone, with four Oilers kind of moving up the ice and to the left, while Hemsky tore down the boards and was in full flight, with the Canucks defenders going the wrong way when Gagner gave him the puck.

    This is probably the best picture of it.

    You can see Smyth slowly cutting across the blue line, Hemsky coming up behind Gagner and then another player – Yakupov? – at the far side of the ice. The player on the far side of the ice prevents the Canucks from clogging things up too much because Gagner’s got the pass over. Smyth and Gagner are pulling the defenders on Hemsky’s side towards the middle.

    I’m more convinced that this is a thing after noticing it again last night. It actually most stuck out when Hemsky made a very un-Hemsky play on the PP. He was kind of in the Gagner role, skating through the neutral zone with the puck on the PP. Having watched him for years, I’d guess he tries to gain the blue line himself oh…90% of the time. Instead, there’s this sort of peculiar moment where you can almost hear the gears grinding in his head as he uses heretofore unused synapses and he turns to his left and gives the puck to Gagner, who wasn’t really in his field of vision. It sure looks like it’s something that they’ve been told to do; positive sign, I’d say.

    * * *

    Anyone else notice Ralph Krueger pulling the goalie with two minutes to go in the game because the Oilers had a PP? I’m not up to date on the goalie pulling practices of all teams around the league but it struck me as something that at least some coaches wouldn’t have done. I also suspect it was probably the right play – I wrote about this at length when Craig MacTavish called for a stick measurement late in a game on Teemu Selanne in 2008-09 and got it wrong. My thinking at the time:

    I caught a bit of Bob Stauffer and Dan Tencer after the game and Tencer, oddly, suggested that he figured the reward wasn’t worth the risk. He also suggested he’s got some facility with odds. I can’t reconcile those two statements. As I understood his reasoning, he didn’t think that the risk of the Ducks having an empty net to shoot at and no risk of icing made any sense and he preferred the relative safety of the Ducks having to risk an icing to get the empty net chance.

    Tencer’s premise kind of strikes me as insane. If you accept that the goalie was coming out regardless, the question is how much risk is added by the Ducks being able to shoot at the empty net from the wrong side of centre without risk of an icing. Given that they’re going to be down two men and not have time to take aim, I don’t see this as being a serious issue. In any event, in this situation, a coach should be willing to take on more risk in exchange for a higher potential of a goal. The goal against costs you virtually nothing, as a loss is almost certain.

    At the time of that post, I figured the probability of a goal in two minutes of 6v5 as being about 15% and the probability at 6v4 as being about 34%. It’s a big difference. I’m glad to see Krueger took the risk there, although there’s probably an argument that he should have been more aggressive still.

    * * *

    The Kings had two lines that were a cut above the rest, so I looked at things from that perspective: ES TOI against Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards. It was kind of a scrambly game as far as ease of line matching goes, due to the sheer volume of penalties. I found this to be a hopeful sign though. My thinking is kind of that the Horcoff line should be spending as much time as possible against the other team’s better lines. I kind of suspect Krueger is using the early season to see who can do what and figure out how he should run his bench – it would explain his professed lack of concern about the line matching early on. The most exciting thing about all of this is that Colby Cosh noted on Twitter that the RNH line was a positive in the Corsi last night; this, despite going toe to toe with the Kopitar and Richards lines.

    Exciting times.

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com

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    2 Responses to Game Notes: Los Angeles at Edmonton

    1. January 25, 2013 at

      Tyler, I’ve been reading your blog since the ’09 season and I’m glad to see you excited!

      This series of posts reads like someone who’s found signs of intelligent life on Mars. Your search for signs of intelligent life within the Oilers organization has been equally as elusive till now. :)

      I had the game on during a social event and unfortunately missed much of it. How did PRV do on the line with 94 and 10?

      I’m kinda glad it sounds like Kreuger is testing out the RNH line against other team’s best comp. When that line can outscore tough competition, winning gets far simpler.

      I’m so used to the ‘loser move by a loser organization’ type posts, so I’m happy to see you’re having more fun as a fan of the team.

    2. Bruce McCurdy
      January 25, 2013 at

      67% of 14 minutes >>> 67% of 6 minutes.

      Performance of RNH line was an eye-opener last night. Hall & Eberle were a little off their games, their moves weren’t working or the shots weren’t getting through or they bobbled the puck at the wrong moment, but they were dominating possession and driving play, and they certainly had ther chances.

      RNH had a wonderful game; played 24:23, & was all over the ice / all over the puck. Made some terrific plays on the backcheck & won some amazing puck battles along the wall. Had a goal disallowed, and of course set up the winner in OT with a beauty pass.

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