USA TODAY Sports
THIS, is how not to coach with a lead.
Monty Python gave lessons in how not to be seen. Ralph Krueger should give lessons in how not to coach with a lead. He did it again and it's getting tiresome. Logan Couture owning the Oilers is also getting tiresome.
SJS take Corsi 57-48. NSchultz +6, Ebs +4, Smytty +3. Hemsky -13, Hall -10, Horcoff/Fistric -9.— Michael Parkatti (@mparkatti) March 21, 2013
Possession Report via Boys on the Bus
Ralph Krueger talks all about the physical play of the bottom line and praises them for it. So Nail Yakupov went out and took a run at T.J. Galiardi. Tommy Wingels jumped in, but Yakupov wouldn't be deterred and went after Brad Stuart as well. If nothing else, the Tatar is pain to play against. But there was more. His touch pass to Sam Gagner on the power play in the first was beautiful. Yakupov's release is fast when shooting and when passing.
Sam Gagner scored on the power play, but that's not why he's here. His work in killing off Nick Schultz' penalty in the second was fun to watch. He pulled off a nice stick lift on Patrick Marleau (I think, could be wrong this) and then hustled to the corner to retrieve a puck and get it out of the zone. His PK numbers aren't sustainable, but his play is. All of a sudden he has a talent for the PK.
The two Oilers that seemed to be everywhere tonight were Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle. Paajarvi was all over every zone and played one of his best games in the NHL. He drew a penalty, he set the screen on the Gagner goal and used his size in battles, even taking on Douglas Murray on the boards. He back-checked, he was in the right place to break up passes. It's interesting to see fans of other teams react to how good Pajaarvi is, and that happened on Twitter tonight. Eberle, on the other hand was most apparent in the neutral zone and offensive zone. He made a number of slick plays and passes that may not have resulted in anything, but he was controlling play when he was on the ice.
Ladislav Smid had two shots on goal! Through the first 20 games of the season, the shot-shy defender had 5 shots on goal. Through the last 9 games, he has 10 shots on goal!
He may have scored a goal thanks to a complete defensive and goaltender breakdown, but Ryan Jones was again the most frustrating player on the ice. He just floats. If he was on your rec league team, you'd end up fighting your own teammate.
Sam Gagner had another sub-40% evening in the faceoff circle.
Devan Dubnyk looked shaky tonight. He certainly has to stop Tommy Wingels goal, but he kicked out a few big rebounds and blocked two into traffic. He was also beaten cleanly twice and rescued by the post both times.
Mike Brown skated around a puck to make a hit which led to Mark Fistric getting hit because he had to rush to play the puck.
This might be the first time I've ever put Taylor Hall in this category. Hall did his best Ryan Jones imitation tonight, basically falling a lot. It works from time to time and Hall gets the call. But he's falling so often now that he's taking himself out of the play from time to time as well.
It's time for the nightly review of Ralph Krueger's shortcomings. Where oh where do we start? Let's start with putting the fourth line Mike Brown - Ryan Smyth - Lennart Petrell on the ice with the 3rd pairing Ryan Whitney - Mark Fistric with 10 minutes to go and a 1 goal lead? Krueger could've changed to Paajarvi and Yakupov, but chose to send out Brown and Petrell instead. He had the Schultz combination available to him, but came back with Fistric and Whitney. You've got a one-goal lead in a game you really need to hang in a playoff race and you're icing these black hole quadruplets? The ensuring shift was great fun. Ryan Smyth and Mark Fistric were battling away on the board while Mike Brown stood nearby to watch. Ryan Whitney hung out in the slot, not guarding much. And while the goal was a soft one from Devan Dubnyk, the sequence leading to the goal was predictable.
Then there's the handling of Nail Yakupov. Yakupov's big hit on Galiardi came with 6:17 to go in a tie game. It was his last shift of the game. He was replaced with Petrell for the first two Gagner shifts after the benching, then Jordan Eberle. Krueger wants physical play, commitment to defense, yet benches Yakupov directly after the big hit. He's admitting that the line he's putting on the ice isn't going to score by putting Petrell out there with them and more than that, the Petrell line is going to give up more shots than it attempts.
Another weird decision, and I don't want to read too much into it, is his placement of Lennart Petrell on the first PK pairing. Maybe he wanted to have Ryan Smyth out with Sam Gagner for faceoffs, but Petrell shouldn't be the first choice when Smyth is rested, which he was. The Oilers were short-handed tonight for 2:38. During that time, they gave up 5 shot attempts. Petrell was on for 1:49 of that total and all 5 shot attempts came with him on the ice. That's a -165/60 shot attempt differential. Ryan Smyth and Sam Gagner were on for the other :49 seconds and gave up zero shot attempts. Petrell has a reputation for being a good penalty killer, but he's not actually good short-handed - Paajarvi is a better option at all times, as is Smyth. Krueger could even try Taylor Hall - he would be hard-pressed to be worse than Petrell on the PK. I guess we can take solace in the fact that Mike Brown and Ryan Jones weren't out.
The Copper & Blue Three:
★★ - Jordan Eberle
★ - Paajarvi