No Good Reason To Scratch Magnus Paajarvi

Paajarvi should be in the lineup every night.   Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Magnus Paajarvi ended up scoring the game winning goal in Saturday Night’s five goal comeback against the Avalanche.

Not bad for a guy who was scheduled to be a healthy scratch until ten minutes before the puck dropped. Paajarvi wasn’t scheduled to play at all on Saturday, and he would’ve remained a scratch until Lennart Petrell took a puck to the melon during warmups, and remains day-to-day.

So why was Magnus Paajarvi getting scratched?  You’re telling me that the bottom six on this team was completely booked up without a room for Magnus Paajarvi?

Before Petrell’s injury, the bottom six looked like this

SMYTH / BELANGER / YAKUPOV

EAGER / VANDE VELDE / PETRELL

  • Nail Yakupov is slotted in at 3RW.  While I’m not elated he’s on the third line, it’s got to feel good for him to get onto the right side with some regularity.  The guy’s going to see power play time, and I don’t think anyone’s going to hold 64 out for 91.
  • Let’s assume Lennart Petrell doesn’t get clocked with the puck in each warmup.
  • Ryan Smyth got back in the lineup after being held out of the Dallas game.  Smyth is a better player when he’s playing on the wing, and not filling in down the middle.   Smyth has been on a bit of a penalty taking binge as of late (five minors over his last two games played), and while I’m not enthused by that, he was rewarded with two assists (including the primary assist on the game winner).
  • Which leaves us Ben Eager.  We all know what Ben Eager is particularly good at.  I beat up a lot on Darcy Hordichuk, and that’s not because I think Hordichuk’s a bad guy, it’s just that he offers little to the table when playing around 90 seconds on the fourth line.  Detractors would say that he’s there to ‘protect the kids’, and can’t point to a single time that this happened.  As a matter of fact, you’d have to consult the hockeyfights.com database to find Hordichuk’s last fight (much less his last fight victory).But, back to Ben Eager. At first blush, Ben Eager looks to have a home on the fourth line. Guy plays more than a couple of minutes a night, which was my big complaint with Hordichuk. No use in dressing a scarecrow if the crow ain’t on the ice. Next question: what does he do on the ice? Block shots? Effectively use his “physical presence”? PK? PP? Score goals?That last one was to see if you’re still awake.Let’s consult some numbers.

    Screenshot courtesy Gabe Desjardins’ Behind The Net

For every sixty minutes of 5 on 5 ice time Ben Eager has, 44 shots are allowed.  To quote Stephen Morrissey, that’s criminally vulgar.  Only one who has him “beat” is Darcy Hordichuk, who through eight minutes of ice time somehow found his way to project out to more shots allowed. 44 shots is over twice the number of shots allowed by Chris Vande Velde.

Add to the fact that Eager doesn’t PK, he doesn’t PP, and I’m not too sure he’ll be dropping the mitts anytime soon after what happened in the first game this season.

Before you think I’m dumping all over Ben Eager, his last game wasn’t too bad.  He did draw the penalty that led to the Oilers game winner that was scored by Magnus Paajarvi.  He also had four shots, which if it isn’t a record for Ben Eager, it’s got to be close.

There’s no good reason to scratch Magnus Paajarvi.  Not on this team.

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Topics: Edmonton Oilers, Magnus Paajarvi

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