5 Questions: Flames at Oilers

Ryan Batty, an editor and writer at SBNation's Copper and Blue answered a few questions I had for him- and supplies what is probably my favorite "5 Questions" so far.

1. What's the worst part of being an Oil fan?

Honestly, it's the feeling that the rebuild will never end. The Oilers have been rebuilding for eight years (more generous interpretations say that the team was retooling starting with their drafting of Sam Gagner and rebuilding starting with Taylor Hall, I think that's nonsense) and, take a look at the standings, not a hell of a lot has changed. The rebuild has allowed the franchise to acquire some elite level talent, which is great, but the scorched earth approach that was deemed necessary to acquire those players has left the team in a tough spot when it comes to finding a supporting cast, and you can't win in the NHL without a supporting cast. I've been a season ticket holder for eight years and the Oilers have missed the playoffs in each and every one of those seasons, and when I look ahead to next spring I have trouble imagining a situation where it won't be nine straight season on the outside looking in. I'm really starting to lose hope and that's a lousy place to be as a fan.

2. Is there any cause for hope in the near future?

How Craig MacTavish has made moves, and more specifically handled the team's goaltending problems this season, gives me a little bit of hope. Every move MacTavish has made hasn't been a winner, but when I look at the moves he's made I see a balance of risk/reward that I like. With Tambellini a problem had to exist for multiple years before addressing it was even an issue, MacTavish doesn't operate like that. Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera struggle, in comes Ilya Bryzgalov. Then Dubnyk is sent packing and Ben Scrivens joins the team. Now Viktor Fasth is here and Bryzgalov is plying his trade with the Wild. It seems to me that MacTavish is identifying problems and acting quickly to address them, but in addressing his roster deficiencies he's not taking on an excessive amount of risk. Sort of a slow and steady approach, and in a cap world I think that's a good way of going about making changes. He's still got a lot of work to do but at least he's shown a willingness to try.

3. What would it take to make you a Calgary fan (i.e. a reverse Dellow)?

Not going to happen. I was actually born in Calgary, and I lived there again for grades five and six as well, but I'm an Oilers fan through and through. I don't even wear red because I would hate to be mistaken for a Flames (or Stampeders) fan. If the Flames and Leafs were to meet in the Stanley Cup Final, I would happily cheer for Toronto. Actually I'd cheer for the building to collapse.

4. What player is criminally underappreciated in Edmonton?

Ales Hemsky. Or at least he was, now it's Jeff Petry who carries that torch. Petry is a very good defenceman and fans should see that but they don't because they're blinded by the how terrible the defence is in its entirety. If Petry was the Oilers 2D he'd be fine. If he was the team's 3D we be laughing. Unfortunately he's shouldered with the load of being the Oilers' number one defender and then there is a Grand Canyon sized gap between him and the next best defender. On this team he simply has to do too much, and it's very difficult to succeed in that role. And he doesn't hit enough. I don't know why this is so important to some but it is. This same thing was a "problem" with Tom Gilbert and grit is again rearing it's ugly head with Petry.

5. Who's the fancy stats star in Edmonton?

Before the season started I would have bet money that Taylor Hall would be the answer to this question, but he's struggled to generate shots this season for some reason. I don't think it's a problem with him, but rather something that is happening when he's on the ice, whatever it is though it needs to be fixed. That's not the question you asked though, to answer that I'm going to give you two names, one who is in Edmonton and one who isn't. In Edmonton you've got Jeff Petry. He's got the highest percentage of defensive zone starts among the Oilers defenders, and still comes away with one of the best Corsi percentages. He plays a simple, subtle games, and it's one that shows up nicely in the fancy stats. Not in Edmonton is Mark Arcobello. In his limited time in Edmonton this season he's played with a rotating cast that's included some good players and some not so good players. But whatever the situation, he managed to post some very nice numbers. He's currently trapped in Oklahoma City trying to get the Barons into the playoffs, but there might be an NHL player inside that tiny body of his.

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