(For those unfamiliar with the metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed). The players are organized according to their jersey numbers.)
Games Forty-Two through Eighty-Two, January 13 to April 11
Missing Games 81 vs Calgary and 82 at Calgary
21 = Potulny and 21* = Kotalik
If you would like a point of reference for this discussion, the results for the first half can be found here. A good place to begin is probably up at the top. Horcoff and Hemsky weren't getting killed out there and they had a wide variety of linemates so it's possible that they struggled to find chemistry with one another. On the other hand it's possible that they just didn't play as well. They were a combined +35 in the first half and a combined -32 in the second half at EV. In order for the team to make that up they would have needed others to pick up the pace.
And that brings me to Sam Gagner who did indeed pick up his scoring pace (21 points over his last 18 games, apparently). That article would seem to reflect the general sentiment: Gagner played better in the second half. These results tell a vastly different tale: +24 in the first half and -22 in the second half. It shows how much goals and assists colour the vision of those watching the games. It also shows how little luck/confidence/variance cares about whether or not you're outplaying the other guys.
These results also show the importance of starting well. Sheldon Souray managed a +9 in his first segment to get the good feelings rolling. Over the first half he was a respectable -9 taking on the toughs. In the second half? -37. Leading the team in goals doesn't hurt either of course but I do think that the very nice first half helped him from being ravaged too badly by the fans. The positive in all of this is that these results are probably not all his fault. Taking on the toughs with Steve Staios isn't a winning assignment. Staios continued his terrible results posting a -75. This pairing is where the loss of Visnovsky was felt the most. You can also see it in Grebeshkov's play, although you need to split pre and post Visnovsky to see it: -10 without Visnovsky and +35 before he went down. The defence missed Visnovsky big time.
Speaking of the defence, Smid still kind of sucks. Or at least, he isn't ready to drive third pairing results. His -47 looks bad. Any step he can be considered to have taken forward with his -12 in the first half seems to have been retraced here. That is, unless his step forward was punching people more. He did that consistently. I don't think it's time to give up on Smid, but the Oilers had better be able to get him to sign cheaply. How much demand can there be for offensively stunted defensive defencemen that can't handle third pairing duty and don't PK? Anything more than 1.5M is a loss in my books.
So that's the theme really. Nobody did well in the second half. The first unit special teams (giving Hemsky and Souray a quick look-over for the PP and Souray, Staios and Horcoff for the PK) seem to have done a bit worse but it's hard to tell without the ice time. Still, fewer chances on the PP and more allowed on the PK isn't a recipe for success. The only people to improve were Ethan Moreau (-54 to -42), MacIntyre (-4 to -3), Pisani (-22 to -11), Strudwick (-26 to -24), Stortini (-19 to -18), Brule (-12 to +4), Gilbert (-13 to -11) and Schremp (-5 to not playing). Brule's jump was a very small sample. The only others that are impressive are Pisani who cut his differential in half playing a lot more games and Gilbert, the only one of the blueliners to weather the Visnovsky storm and come out ahead of where he started. The team leader for scoring chance differential this half? Lubomir Visnovsky (we miss you), Denis Grebeshkov (sign him!) and Dustin Penner (MacT told me not to comment).
Next up is the full year results.