How do you tell an impossibly patient fan base that they need to exercise more patience? Its hard not to be sympathetic with Edmonton Oilers fans right now. They have endured at least three separate rebuilds, which varied in degrees of futility. An off-season of expenditures and the furthered development of a few of their young superstars at least created an avenue for the Oilers to finally emerge from hockey darkness. Then, the team ran off a 7-19-5 start to the season, and here we are again, talking about the draft lottery in December in Edmonton. The team fired head coach Dallas Eakins on Monday morning, likely for the same reasons that applied in Ottawa – the front office felt or feels as though that coaching has been a drag on the collection of talent, and that the current roster should be outperforming its 0.61 point-per-game pace. Whether its a defence of Eakins or a defence of MacTavish, though, theres one thing to consider about this years Edmonton Oilers team – theyre better than teams in the past. Its extremely important to note a couple of things here: one, the bar has been set so pitifully low, its hard not to be better; two, this isnt suggesting that the current team is any good – just simply an improvement over teams of yesteryear. First, lets look at the score-adjusted possession numbers for the Oilers since the 2008-2009 season. One would assume that this years team, who has won just one of their last sixteen games, would be one of the franchises worst in recent history. 50% is break-even here, signaling a team that basically controls possession as much as their opposition does over the course of a season. As you can see, Edmontons been abysmal for seemingly forever. But, this years team is probably the first team thats not getting absolutely smoked at 5-on-5. And remember, we care about possession because (a) its a repeatable skill; that (b) is a strong predictor of future goal-scoring (and, consequently, winning hockey games). A quick look at this graph, and its hard to ignore that the teams made definitive improvements for the first time at controlling play from a territorial aspect. Its still ugly, but less ugly than what were accustomed to. So, how exactly is an improving possession team getting absolutely slaughtered in the standings? Thats tied up in the percentages. Lets look at Edmontons PDO over the years. Remember, PDO is simply the sum of the teams shooting percentage and save percentage, expressed as a whole number like 1000. 1000 is where most teams regress to long-term, because both shooting percentages and save percentages are primarily luck-driven, or largely out of the teams control. Ive chosen to use a 25-game moving average to smooth out wild game-to-game fluctuations. Ive also provided a vertical cut-off line to signal the start of the 2014-2015 season. As you can see, theres really no pattern here. The teams probably spent a bit more time under the 1000 mark than above it, primarily because the goaltending has been so shoddy for years. But, for the most part, PDO bounces around in Edmonton like it does everywhere else. I know this because I look at the last five low points – identified for your convenience through those red-colored arrows – and watch PDO continually regress back to the league average. However, whenever a number is absurdly low – as is Edmontons 9670 PDO right now – I think it always warrants further investigation. I have heard the shot quality arguments the same as anyone else, that the goaltending simply cant be that bad, and that the team is quite possibly hanging out the goaltender to dry. Heres a third graph/table to consider: hexagonal bin plots provided by War on Ice to illustrate shot distance against and shooting percentage against Edmonton this season. Intuitively, one would think that if the team was hanging the goaltender out to dry, there would be a surplus of shots against from dangerous areas. On both graphs, you have red and blue bubbles. Red is bad – on the left graph, it means a higher than average propensity of shots are being generated from that area, and on the right graph, it means a higher than average propensity of shots are being scored from that area. Blue is good – on the left graph, it means a lower than average propensity of shots are being generated from that area, and on the right graph, it means a lower than average propensity of shots are being scored from that area. I dont think this is a cut and dry argument – its one way to look at things. But, in this one way to look at things, I think you want to point the finger at poor goaltending. Thats not to say the defense has been good – again, we know Edmontons still a negative possession team, and theres a very real possibility that some of the regular skaters are negatively influencing scoring through poor defensive play. That said, on our ‘defensive graph (left), we see an Edmonton team thats actually done OK at limiting scoring chances in the low/middle danger areas in front of the crease. On the other hand, look at the right graph – Edmonton goaltending has stopped shots at a subpar rate at every area of the ice, including those of shots taken from outside of the scoring chance area. In summation: (1) Edmontons likely improved this season; (2) The teams improvement is being masked by brutally unfavorable percentages; (3) It is possible that subpar talent in net is partially contributing to the teams ugly PDO. And, unfortunately, (4): Edmonton, as a proximate result of the miserable start under Dallas Eakins, will miss the post-season. Again. 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Arizona Diamondbacks Jerseys .com) - The Grand Slam season will get underway Monday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where a new champion will be crowned this year.NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Despite never leading until the end, the Colorado Avalanche got out of Nashville with a win over the Predators. Gabriel Landeskog scored two goals in regulation and then netted the winner in the shootout to lead the Avalanche to a 5-4 victory on Tuesday night. Cody McLeod and Nick Holden also scored for Colorado, which ended a three game losing streak. With the shootout tied 1-1, Landeskog beat goalie Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot from the right side. Roman Josi and Matt Cullen each had two goals for Nashville, which had a two-game winning streak snapped. Nashville has lost six consecutive home games. Josi scored the games first goal at 3:33 of the opening period. After Holden overskated the puck in the neutral zone, Craig Smith carried it into the Avalanche end on the right side and missed wide with a shot from the circle. The rebound came to Josi at the left point, and the Swiss Olympian beat goalie Semyon Varlamov with a slap shot. "I think we started pretty slow," Varlamov said. "The Predators had so many chances to score. We played better in the second and third periods." Josi struck again at 9:49 of the first. Inside the Colorado zone, rookie centre Calle Jarnkrok won a faceoff back to Josi. From the centre of the blue line, he beat Varlamov with a wrist shot, aided by a screen from Gabiel Bourque, who was stationed just in front of the net. Jarnkrok has posted an assist in his first three NHL games. He also scored Nashvilles lone goal in the shootout. Landeskog cut the Nashville lead in half with 54 seconds remaining in the first with a wrist shot from the low slot that beat Rinne on the stick side. "Paul (Stastny) and Nate (MacKinnon) made great plays in the corner to get the puck to me," Landeskog said. "I was alone in the slot and I managed to get my stick out and find an angle to get it far side. I think that was a big one, but at tthe same time we all regrouped in the second and came out hard.dddddddddddd" Until then, Nashville had controlled the first period. The Predators outshot Colorado 13-3 in the opening frame. Nashville finished with a 33-28 shot advantage. "It could have been easily three or four nothing for them after the first period," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "Sometimes its nice to win a game when you are not playing well. That was the case tonight." Colorado tied it at 8:41 when an unchecked Landeskog beat Rinne from the high slot for his second goal of the game. The Avalanche captain set a career high with 23 goals. Nashville regained the lead at 14:43 of the second when Cullen beat Varlamov from in tight with a wrist shot high to the short side. "It felt like one of those games where you deserve to win it by the way you played, but you need to give a lot of credit to their team," Cullen said. "They have a lot of dynamic players that can just go out and scored a goal right away. Its unfortunate the way that it ended up, but for a lot of the game, we felt good about things." After McLeod tied it at 12:25 of the third, Cullen and Holden traded goals 44 seconds apart late to force overtime. "On the fourth goal, we carried it through the neutral zone instead of making a real firm play, we just sort of threw it in the middle and they came back and transitioned and threw a puck at the net there that got by Pekka," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We didnt lock it down. We didnt make strong plays when we had those leads." NOTES: Nashville D Seth Jones missed the game with concussion-like symptoms. The rookie was the only Predators player to be in the teams first 72 games this season. ... Bourque has assists in three straight games. ... Nashville is 19-0-4 when leading after two periods this season... The Avalanche had no power plays for the second time this season. 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