The Oilers are five games below .500 just a dozen games into the season. If they're going to turn this thing around, they need to start winning yesterday. Here are a few things they can do in order to maximize their chances at leaving the City of Angels with a win.
- Stay out of the box. Holy Gods of War, Ryan Jones scored a goal yesterday afternoon to put the Oilers up 4-3 in the middle of the third period. This was going to happen, the Oilers were going to put an exclamation point on a comeback that saw the Oilers trail 3-1 at one point. #BecauseOilers, the team took three consecutive minor penalties in the last ten minutes of the third period, surrendering two goals in the process. Oilers are averaging 12.4 PIMs per game, making them one of the top ten teams in penalty minutes taken per game this year. Phoenix's power play is humming along nicely at 20% on the year, exactly the same as LA's. Stop taking penalties.
- Solid netminding from Devan Dubnyk - So Jason LaBarbera has been demoted for Richard Bachman. I'm not sure how much of this is due to LaBarbera's last two goals in the Phoenix game (if you didn't see them, take every besmirching thing said about Dubnyk's questionable goals so far this year, now add vomit). Since the loss on Long Island, Dubnyk has been 'better' (although that isn't saying a whole lot). He'll need to be really good today.
- Shots! Hey the Oilers aren't getting killed in the shot department this year. They're allowing about 30 shots per game, which isn't bad considering they allowed about ten per cent more than that last year. 30 shots allowed is a better number than half the league. The problem (other than allowing four goals per game) is they're taking less shots (28.5 shots taken per game) than they're allowing. 1.5 shots per game on average doesn't look like a whole bunch, and if the Oilers are winning some close games, it's even less of an issue. The Oilers have three wins in twelve games, so it's a pretty big issue. More shots might even help out Edmonton's power play, currently at just under 13% (24th in the league). Can you believe there are six teams with worse power plays than Edmonton right now? Even more impressive, how does Anaheim only have a 6.8% conversion rate?
- take less than twelve minutes in penalties,
- yield less than four goals,
- shoot more pucks, score more goals.
And then BAM!, Stanley Cup.
Did I miss anything?