When Do The Oilers Get To The Punchline?

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I have to admit, there’s nothing funnier than the wanton chaos of a leaderless mob of kids swarming around without in what seems like a pretty aimless, and uncontrolled fashion leaving behind a wake shattered windows and the smell of burning garbage. Riots, on the other hand, are not funny at all.

Thus begins the ninth year of the Oilers’ rebuild, and the continued smashing of the window of opportunity provided by three consecutive first overall picks.

With so much other material to work with, I’m a little disappointed that our friends over at Oilers Nation decided to go with the riot theme in their preview of last night’s game.

But I guess disappointment comes with the territory in Edmonton.

As for the actual game, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty, but it was a win nonetheless. Better that than another of last year’s “moral victories”:

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I’ll say one thing about this edition of the Canucks: they may not have the depth at the top end, but they have it at the bottom. And it’s an interesting experiment in whether three third lines is just as good as having a second, third and fourth line. The jury is still out, but we might just be pleasantly surprised.

Now, let’s chat for a minute about the areas of concern.

I’ve seen a lot of rather hilarious chatter in the comments that Canucks Army has gone too heavy on the stats-based analysis, so I’m going to keep it rather simple and deal only with a couple of traditional stats in hopes of keeping the wolves at bay.

There is rightfully a lot of concern over Ryan Miller’s performance so far this season. However, the fact that the Canucks have managed to win more than they’ve lost during despite his less that mediocre performance actually bodes well. 

Why, you ask?

Well, because even if he’s no longer the goalie he used to be, it’s unlikely his long-run performance will drop that far that fast and stay there. Here’s a chart of save percentage and shooting percentage at even strength so far this year:

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Chart and data courtesy of war-on-ice.com

Note where Vancouver is at bottom centre. They are sitting at just under 8% shooting and a league worst sub 0.900 save percentage. To put this in context, by year end the league average shooting will likely be just over 8% and league average goaltending will be somewhere just under 0.920 or so.

So while Miller’s start (and Lack’s for that matter) isn’t exactly encouraging the likelihood is that it will only get better. And as long as the shooting stays around league average, this Canucks’ team should quite comfortably compete for a playoff spot.

And if you think back over the last couple of years, it’s been the offensive side of the puck that has been, er, offensive. So the fact that the Sedins seem to have regained their touch and those three third lines are scoring by committee is actually cause for hope.

Sure, their possession metrics are a worrying sign, but I promised to stick to traditional stats, so I won’t go there.

Suffice it to say that their goaltending is not as bad as it seems, and if the defensemen can get their act together on a more consistent basis, the Canucks should be just fine.

The Oilers, on the other hand…

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…and counting.

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  • Mantastic

    if you want to mock Edmonton well, maybe state that they had 3 consecutive 1st overall picks opposed to 3 consecutive 1st round picks, which many teams have had…

    p.s. riot jokes are always funny.

  • Graphic Comments

    If the Canucks and Oilers played in the Western Conference Canadian Championship series, Vancouver would certainly be the favourite.

    However, Edmonton could offer Hall & RNH for the Sedins, Hamhuis & Tanev and Vancouver would be delusional not to accept.

    And then the Oilers would be the favourites in the Western Conference Canadian Championships even though they’d be no closer to a championship…

    Delusional Canuck fans are in no position to throw stones at Alberta fans reliving past glory.

    At least they have past glory to relive…

    • Graphic Comments

      “It is better to have won and lost than to never have won at all.” — NM00

      Sure they have past glory. But it’s long gone, and now all they’re left with is a hole.

      PS: I would still take the Canucks in the WCCC series. They would win it in a landslide.

      • Graphic Comments

        The past glory is merely a footnote.

        The Oilers are in a better spot RIGHT now than the Canucks because they have the assets to trade if the objective was to win the WCCC (it’s not).

        The same is true of the Avalanche, for example.

        Depth is a lot easier to acquire than the kind of building blocks the Canucks are going to need to contend in what is left of the Sedin era…