The Edmonton Oilers aren’t a very good hockey team and they’re doing things that hold them back and could be fixed today. Things like Luke Gazdic in the lineup over someone more able to read the developing play one night ago that resulted in the tying goal for the Coyotes. It seems like a small thing—come on man, it’s just one play—but for a team that has lost most of the one-goal games (and a couple more empty netters) they’ve been in this season, the devil is in the details. Luke Gazdic is not George Laraque, or even Zach Stortini, we’ll see how long it takes MacT to recognize it. He saw it last night, we have it on tape.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, MARTY REASONER?
Craig MacTavish as a coach had some really smart hockey players. Guys who would leave the puck in a good spot and cycle it, who would try to create offense off the forecheck and who skated miles and miles just to ride the other man out of the play. As a GM, he’s been able to find wingers who fit the bill (I’d argue Perron, Pouliot, Hendricks) but only one center (Boyd Gordon) and he needs another.
He doesn’t have centermen like Michael Peca and Marty Reasoner—but Boyd Gordon can cover some of that and given time he’ll find his
Sakic Reasoner. I wonder if Arcobello ends up being the Reasoner. He’s certainly the obvious choice on this roster.
The major blessing for the center position moving forward? Ryan-freaking-Nugent-Hopkins. He’s just so splendid and getting better. A center depth chart with that kind of two-way ability at the top is going to have some impact at both ends of the ice.
RIGHT-WING MINUTES (EVEN STRENGTH)
I saw Tyler Pitlick good last night (thought he was on the PK for a time, but he wasn’t) and always like to check and see if the coach saw him good, too. Now Pitlick’s playing time has been a bit all over lately, with time on the top line and the bottom line sometimes happening same game. Here are the EV minutes from last night’s game for RW’s:
- Jordan Eberle 15:31
- Tyler Pitlick 13:27
- Teddy Purcell 12:49
- Nail Yakupov 12:47
Pitlick played 11:37 at even strength in his last game under Dallas Eakins, Yakupov (15:22), Purcell (16:27) and Eberle (17:17) all getting miles more. The Oilers rolled four lines at even strength last night (did the same on blue too, pretty much).
- Todd Nelson: “I saw a lot of positive things tonight. We have to focus on that and move forward.”
Nelson is familiar with most of the roster, he coached all the kids during the lockout and would certainly have a great deal of knowledge about men like Oscar Klefbom, Mark Arcobello and Pitlick. One of the few men he wouldn’t have seen a lot at ice level is Nail Yakupov, it’ll be interesting to see how the Russian is used when Pouliot returns in the new year. I thought the power play had some jump but that’s probably just the mind’s eye. They didn’t score enough to win the game and did have a little PP window there to get something done. The best things you can say about Nelson’s debut? They got one point and finally some goaltending. Small victories are big steps.
OILERS FORWARDS IN A BOX, AFTER 32 GAMES
|PLAYER||BOXCARS||PROJ14-15||CORSI FOR %||OZ STARTS||5X5 PER 60|
|BENOIT POULIOT||20gp, 3-5-8||75, 11-18-29||51.2||62.5||2.11|
|NUGENT-HOPKINS||30gp, 8-12-20||80, 21-32-53||52.1||58.6||1.98|
|IIRO PAKARINEN||5gp, 1-0-1||93.8||1.86|
|JORDAN EBERLE||31gp, 6-12-18||81, 16-31-47||54.0||62.4||1.83|
|DAVID PERRON||32gp, 5-10-15||82, 13-26-39||51.8||67.4||1.71|
|TAYLOR HALL||26gp, 8-10-18||76, 23-29-52||53.4||58.7||1.70|
|TEDDY PURCELL||32gp, 4-10-14||82, 10-26-36||54.7||61.5||1.25|
|STEVE PINIZZOTTO||14gp, 1-1-2||64, 5-5-10||43.9||22.9||1.19|
|BOYD GORDON||27gp, 4-3-7||77, 11-9-20||47.1||16.3||1.11|
|NAIL YAKUPOV||32gp, 4-4-8||82, 10-10-20||48.7||74.9||0.93|
|LEON DRAISAITL||32gp, 2-5-7||82, 5-13-18||52.4||80.6||0.90|
|MARK ARCOBELLO||32gp, 5-4-9||82, 13-10-23||49.9||67.6||0.88|
|MATT HENDRICKS||28gp, 2-3-5||78, 6-8-14||47.3||13.0||0.68|
|TYLER PITLICK||8gp, 1-0-1||58, 7-0-7||52.3||46.4||0.68|
|LUKE GAZDIC||11gp, 0-0-0||61, 0-0-0||454.||66.7||0.00|
- Hall has taken a dive since our last look, he’s not pissing a drop offensively. He was more involved last night, I’d bet on him 100 times out of 100. Injuries do seem to have slowed his speed and that’s a major item. Hopefully short term.
- Nugent-Hopkins really has taken a nice step this season, he’s effective across the board. Still some experience needed but this is a tremendous talent.
- Eberle’s not quite right, don’t know what it is.
- David Perron should be on the top line.
- Teddy Purcell shouldn’t be here, the Oilers blew that big time. Gagner leaving needed to be followed up with a veteran center with offensive ability. Look at the Leon and Arco zone-starts and then look at their 5×5/60. So MUCH opportunity is being wasted here, it’s damn galling.
- Nail Yakupov. Wow
OILERS DEFENSE IN A BOX, AFTER 32 GAMES
|PLAYER||BOXCARS||PROJ14-15||CORSI FOR %||OZ STARTS||5X5 PER 60|
|OSCAR KLEFBOM||10gp, 0-1-1||60, 0-6-6||53.3||48.2||0.33|
|KEITH AULIE||12gp, 0-0-0||62, 0-0-0||51.6||48.8||0.00|
|JEFF PETRY||31gp, 3-3-6||81, 8-8-16||53.3||42.9||0.34|
|MARTIN MARINCIN||12gp, 0-1-1||51.1||48.7||0.33|
|MARK FAYNE||32gp, 1-4-5||82, 3-10-13||49.6||48.0||0.53|
|NIKITA NIKITIN||22gp, 2-3-5||72, 7-10-17||50.3||55.0||0.53|
|JUSTIN SCHULTZ||31gp, 2-10-12||81, 5-26-31||50.7||62.0||0.93|
|ANDREW FERENCE||29gp, 1-1-2||79, 3-3-6||48.8||43.4||0.24|
- This is ranked by Corsi for 5×5.
- Jeff Petry remains the team’s best player on defense.
- Klefbom shouldn’t see the minors again.
- Justin Schultz is going to have good boxcars this season but it won’t tell the story.
- Mark Fayne is a good hockey player.
- Andrew Ference recovered from last year, I think this is a reflection of the player.
- Keith Aulie has been better than I thought he’d be.
- Brandon Davidson hasn’t played enough to make this list, I’ll have him on the next list.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM OFFENSIVELY?
Simply put, Taylor Hall is the pillar of 5×5 scoring for the Edmonton Oilers. When he isn’t scoring, the Oilers are pretty horrible and getting worse. When we talk about the center depth chart, I’ll often get pushback like “well their possession numbers are good” and that’s certainly part of the equation. The next question becomes “what are these men doing with all that good possession?” and comes the answer ‘not much’ and that’s the issue right there.
Craig MacTavish bet on a kid and a long shot and called it good. If you look at the offense being delivered by Leon and Arco, and then factor in the wasted talent on the wing, you have the offensive story in 2014-15. We’ll see how long it takes MacT to recognize it. He saw it last night, we have it on tape.
The cat photo at the top isn’t the balance photo I’ve been saving, for me it’s a matter of principle now—you’re not going to see it until we’re all drinking that free bubble up and eating that rainbow stew. Craig MacTavish knows this roster is bad and I bet you he knows he can fix some of this today. If you look at the blue above, these men are posting reasonable possession numbers. The forwards are too, although that fourth line is badly needed (come back, Boyd Gordon!) to make this thing rattle and hum.
Craig MacTavish knows the problems on this roster:
- Goaltending (although Scrivens seems to be getting traction finally)
- The center position (stubborn stubborn stubborn stubborn stubborn stubborn MacT)
- Marginal talents like Luke Gazdic playing significant minutes
I respect Craig MacTavish and think he’s a smart guy but there are some things about this Edmonton Oilers team he created that are fatally flawed. If we see Martin Marincin recalled and Brandon Davidson sent down; if we see Iiro Pakarinen or Anton Lander or even Curtis Hamilton recalled and Luke Gazdic sent to the pressbox; if we see some life in the power play; if we see David Perron or Jordan Eberle join Hall and Nuge on the top line; if we see a concerted effort to get Nail Yakupov some significant power play time—then I think we can talk about Craig MacTavish as a legit option as GM moving forward. Until then, I remain convinced the Edmonton Oilers need a new general manager in the summer.
I believe Craig MacTavish has the courage of his convictions. Perhaps he misplaced them in all the excitement. Now would be a very good time for him to recall the things that Fernando Pisani provided and elevate those things in his own organization. Intelligence, hard work, skills, giving full full full value for ‘it’s what you leave’ and making this Oilers team a bright light instead of a dull dim bulb.
Craig MacTavish can do it. I know he can.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN 1260, 10 this morning. It’s been a crazy week today we try to put things in perspective.
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. The last 72 hours in Oilerville have been crazy. The voice of reason helps us suss it out.
- Mike Ringrose, Dir of hockey ops for Vimy Hockey. Verifying what you see with Corsi/Fenwick/possession stats.
- Jeff Chapman, Copper and Blue. Jeff will talk about the wisdom or another rookie coach and what the Oilers should do for the rest of the season and summer.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. We’ll talk baseball and an incredible “Stuff your Stocking” giveaway on his show. You have to hear what he’s giving away.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!