With some help from Michael Parkatti, I assembled the Corsi numbers for the Oilers players on this road trip.
If you’re wondering why Chris Vandevelde got sent down with nobody apparently coming off of IR today, that number there probably says it all: I’d guess that last night was the last game he’ll ever play as an Oiler and we can close the books on one of Kevin Prendergast’s most successful draft picks.
The numbers say pretty much exactly what you’d expect: five forwards have pretty respectable numbers for a six game road trip that includes three of the better possession teams in the NHL and has seen Hemsky and Hall both miss at least parts of games. You’ll note that Hemsky and Gagner’s numbers pinking up a bit – they’ve both done substantially better in the Corsi department of late. RNH’s numbers aren’t great but there’s at least an explanation with Hall having missed some games.
The rest of them though: what a wasteland. I’m going to throw up something this weekend but this isn’t a new problem. The Oilers’ bottom six is a disaster and it’s being exacerbated on the road. The numbers for the bottom six guys are just cartoonishly bad, culminating in Chris Vandevelde’s “I AM NOT AN NHLER” declaration of 25% (with Petrell looking on, thanking the good lord that he can kill penalties). You can probably excuse Yakupov because he’s a 19 year old boy but the rest of those guys are either in the heart of their careers or in decline. Four of them – Smyth, Brown, Belanger and Eager – are already signed for next year.
If you pay any attention to the Eastern Conference, you know what a horse Ilya Kovalchuk has been for New Jersey, both last year and this year, playing a ton of minutes for them. It is a sin that eight years of his career was wasted in Atlanta but that isn’t really on him – it’s on the guys who were completely unable to put a decent hockey team on the ice around him. That’s how these teams that get high draft picks and then suck forever do it – they surround the guy with terrible hockey players.
There is basically nothing in the Oilers’ farm system as far as forwards right now and defencemen are a bit of a mystery – it could be two or three years before one of them is ready to play in the top four, if any of them ever are. Things happen. If you had to pick a path that the Oilers were on right now – Atlanta or Chicago, Columbus or Pittsburgh – the smart money’s on the Atlanta/Columbus one. There’s no obvious solution to their problems coming internally and even if Tambo is thrown over the walls of the Bastille to the baying mob come May, 90% of the same people are still going to be making decisions come the end of the June.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org