Any signs that things are changing, or is it more of the same?
I was very interested to see a few things in the first game post-Eakins. Whether the team won or lost was not really that important, but the way the players were used was of particular note. Who has really been pulling the strings when it comes to ice time, especially with the defense? There's no better way to find out how MacTavish regards his players than to have him behind the bench. Here's the ice time breakdown of the Oilers' defense, compared to how they've been used all year:
|PLAYER||VS ARIZONA||SEASON AVG UNDER EAKINS|
Very interesting. The ice time totals from this game are skewed slightly compared to season average because it went to overtime, but we can see that Justin Schultz still got a push. However, Schultz also played one of his better games of the season. He showed offensive jump, had three shots, and came close to breaking even in the Corsi battle at even strength.
Brad Hunt continues to find himself high in the rotation despite having just two points in over 140 minutes of ice time. He didn't fare especially well in the possession game, either. He had a 44% Corsi For at even strength in this game, continuing his poor showing by this metric all year. Seems Eakins wasn't the only one who is desperate for this player to work out in the NHL. Square peg, meet round hole.
I love the Brandon Davidson story as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure what he's doing in the NHL just now. He has only played 95 games in the AHL and it's not like this is a make-or-break year for him. He and Marincin need to switch places ASAP.
Ference was bad. The Coyotes had 76 shot attempts over the whole game, and Ference was on the ice for a team-worst 34 of them.
I won't break this group down by ice time, as I didn't notice any major anomalies - and that's somewhat noteworthy in itself. Basically the whole team saw similar amounts of ice as they were under Eakins. If that continues we'll know who was pulling the strings as far as ice time goes, because there were clearly some issues here.
Oddly, MacTavish chose to stick with Luke Gazdic after his gaff on the first Coyotes goal. He only had three more shifts, but it could be argued that he should have been stapled to the bench. Of course, many would say that he shouldn't have been playing at all.
There's something wrong with the top line. I know Nugent-Hopkins scored, but in terms of possession the line got crushed. Hall was 37% Corsi For at even strength, Eberle was 37%, and Nugent-Hopkins was 40%. Hall and RNH were each on the ice for almost half of Arizona's 5x5 shot attempts.
Get To The Net
That shot chart comes from war-on-ice.com. I was just going to post a link to it, but if you didn't click the link you could have been deprived of seeing how truly bad the Oilers are at getting to the scoring areas. Note that there's almost nothing from the slot - just one unblocked shot. And this was against Arizona. ARIZONA. Anybody still wondering why they can't score?