When last we looked in on Tom Gilbert, he and Jason Strudwick were working together like oil and water. But a closer look at Gilbert showed him to be the Oilers best defenseman, at least by the scoring chance metric. The Oilers struggled to find any defensive pairing capable of keep their heads above water for the first quarter of the season, but against Colorado on November 25th, Tom Renney paired Gilbert with Theo Peckham and since that time the two have looked like a capable NHL pairing.
Theo Peckham's scoring chance WOWY shows the effectiveness of the pair.
|#||With Gilbert||%||Without Gilbert||%|
Without Gilbert, Peckham has been beaten pretty badly, but while the two have been on the ice together the Oilers have slightly out-chanced.
The same goes with Gilbert.
|#||With Peckham||%||Without Peckham||%|
The duo has been on the ice for 4 goals for and 2 goals against over the last six games.
And they aren't delivering these results by avoiding the tough competition. Since becoming a full-time pairing, Peckham and Gilbert have faced first or second line forwards 68% of the time, even in Tom Renney's Alberta Waltz matching system.
|Opponent||ESTOI||Opp Line||TOIA (min)||Opp Line||TOIA (min)||Total (min)||% against top two|
All of this comes with the obvious caveat about small sample sizes, but considering the state of the Oilers defense, a victory over a small sample size is worth a second look.