The Corgi’s were barking and the goalie was a moon in the Salo house in the third (causing a tie in regulation) but the Oilers found a way to win a home game and Todd Nelson is off and running. The Hall line had a nice night (17% ZS and 58% EV Corsi for) and the Gordon line (10-26) did their due diligence with Matt Hendricks scoring a goal during a quick trip up the Rob Roy. The first two periods last night were fabulous and part of me believes they can win tonight, too.
Two periods of Oilers hockey that I didn’t hate. I don’t know how to feel about that.
— Ryan Batty (@ryan_batty) December 31, 2014
They got hammered in the third period but this team rolled lines and had reasonable results through two periods last night. I know it was the second half of a btb for the Kings but it’s still LAK and Edmonton found a way. In a season with so little to enjoy, I’m willing to overlook the Corgi’s (47-66) and point out those two periods at the beginning of the game were rock solid.
This is the kind of future I can get behind. I think this was Klefbom’s best game in the NHL, the play he made at the blueline on the Nuge goal was strong strong strong. If he can improve his consistency during this season Edmonton will have one gigantic arrow in their future quiver to go with Hall and Nuge.
TOI for #Oilers defencemen vs. LA: Klefbom (25:27) / Petry (25:20) Ference (22:15) / Fayne (21:54) Nikitin (11:15) / Schultz (19:34)
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) December 31, 2014
Petry six more minutes than Schultz? Maybe they will sign him! This kind of tracking of minutes is always important, never moreso than during a new coach’s early days. We’re discovering the men Todd Nelson trusts (Klefbom, reunited Nuge line) and can live without (Arcobello, Pinizzotto) along with the group of players Edmonton wants a long look at this season (Pitlick is the best current example).
Roy is exactly what the doctor ordered, that pass to Hendricks was sublime. I also liked Fraser, you can see that MacT would like this guy right off the hop. I didn’t notice a lot of offensive moments but he held the puck and made smart plays when the opportunity presented itself.
Tyler Pitlick and Boyd Gordon did not register an offensive zone faceoff at 5on5 all game. Thats honestly impressive.
— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) December 31, 2014
A very good sign for Pitlick: They’re using him as he should be deployed. I have tracked his entire career since draft day and there was a time when he scored enough we could dream about him as a complementary player offensively—and some of that offense may return someday when the game slows down for him at the NHL level. For now, tough zone-starts and a physical presence on a checking line suit his skills perfectly. This speaks to Nelson’s tweaks, and along with Nuge line being reunited and the power-play improvement are the first signs of the new coach putting his stamp on the team. Combined with the additions of Roy and Fraser, the Oilers are definitely morphing into something else. The concerns? Foot speed of the forwards and early possession results.
- Darryl Sutter on Ben Scrivens having to change the color of his stick tape: “It’s a rule. You have to have white tape on your stick. [Reporter: Did you just notice it then in the shootout?] No. If you check the books, he played for us.”
Sutter isn’t for everyone but I like him fine. That was a good effort for Ben Scrivens despite the Muzzin goal. The number one factor in this disaster has been goaltending, if this young man can pull it out of the ditch there should be some sunshine with the rain in the new year. It’ll be interesting to see if Nelson runs his starter out there again tonight, I think there’s a chance he does. Do you like the additions of tweets? I’m overusing it (new toy) but it looks appealing, right? Let me know.
— Never Forget Bot (@forgetmebot) December 31, 2014
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Craig MacTavish and that’s with the understanding that he’s loyal and stubborn on epic levels. This is the right thing to do but along with the deal for Roy is an admission of failure in roster construction. I think MacT is still learning on the job, this was a crushing lesson that cost him an entire season (along with the goaltending inertia and the Nikitin). I hope he’ll be more ready next fall for tweaking, or at the very least approach balance in his summer roster work. It’s a big damn deal.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, last show of the year. TSN 1260, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Oilers win! Plus Canada-USA.
- Kent Wilson, Flames Nation. It’s probably time for us to think about Gaudreau as a player. Briere? BETTER? We’ll talk.
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects. WJ’s, plus names like McDavid, Zacha, Crouse, Strome, Marner.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. Talk soon!