Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Maybe The Oilers Will Hire Him?

It was a bit of a shock this summer when the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl announced that they were hiring former Edmonton Oilers coach and general manager Craig MacTavish as their head coach for the 2019-20 season. MacTavish's best season in the NHL as a bench boss came in 2005-06 when he guided the Oilers to a 41-28-13 record, but surprised the hcokey world by getting his squad to the Stanley Cup Final where they eventually would fall to the Carolina Hurricanes. His most recent full season of coaching saw the AHL's Chicago Wolves fall in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs following a 42-27-7 season.

Today, Lokomotiv announced that they were firing MacTavish after just eight games of play in which the team went 3-5-0. The team recently dropped their last two contests against first-place Vityaz and Jokerit by 3-2 and 4-1 scores, respectively, prompting the team to make changes after finding themselves in 11th place in the 12-team Western Conference. Clearly, something wasn't working.

In MacTavish's defence, he didn't exactly get a solid effort from the goaltender who Edmonton drafted in the third-round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The 21 year-old Ilya Konovalov had played four games, amassing a record of 0-3-0 with a 4.48 GAA and an .867 save percentage - numbers that should have him playing in the VHL, not the KHL. Alexander Lazushin, the other half of the tandem, has been decent with a 3-2-0 record in seven games to go along with a 2.30 GAA and a .919 save percentage, but it is pretty clear that Konovalov didn't do MacTavish any favours with his play.

On the blueline, former NHLer Staffan Kronwall is pulling down a -6 while posting zero points while no other defender is worse than a -3. Defenceman Rushan Rafikov is the best defender in terms of offensive production with four points, but Nikita Cherepanov is the only plus defender out of all the blueliners who have played more than three games.

Ty Rattie, Anton Lander, and Stephane Da Costa have been playing well offensively, but this team ranks third-worst in power-play percentage (11.1%), is tied for third-worst in shots-on-goal (223), 13th in home shooting percentage (8.72%), and 8th in road shooting percentage (9.80%), and 12th-overall in shooting percentage (8.97%). If you're not getting a decent number of shots-on-goal, your middle-of-the-pack shooting percentage means little because this team simply isn't generating enough offence to score enough goals. Through eight games, they've only lit the lamp 20 times - 2.5 goals-per-game - meaning they'd need exceptional goaltending to earn more wins than losses. As shown above, that's not happening.

As they say in sports, the GM can't fire the team, so Craig MacTavish's Russian adventure has ended before it really got a chance to begin. Alexander Ardashev will take over in the interim as Lokomotiv looks to find a new coach quickly. Eight games literally is zero time for a coach to really get settled into his routine with his team, but the Russian pro league only cares about wins and losses.

Back to Edmonton? We'll see soon.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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