The Oilers have points in each of their last two games and are 1-0-1 since Craig MacTavish took the elevator back up to the gondola. Todd Nelson seems to be getting a feel for things, the Roy and Fraser bets are looking good but the goaltending will keep this thing grounded for the foreseeable future. We’re past ‘the sea was angry that day my friends’ and into the ‘I was in the path of the tornado, I just didn’t expect the storm would last as long as it has’ portion of the season. The fact we know this feeling, that we know this moment, so well, is maybe the most damning thing you can say about the Edmonton Oilers organization. They should give the fans the Order of Canada.
OILERS FORWARDS IN A BOX, AFTER 38 GAMES
|PLAYER||BOXCARS||PROJ14-15||CORSI FOR %||OZ STARTS||5X5 PER 60|
|NUGENT-HOPKINS||36, 11-13-24||80, 24-29-53||50.8||56.8||2.16|
|BENOIT POULIOT||20, 3-5-8||64, 10-16-26||51.2||62.5||2.11|
|TAYLOR HALL||32, 10-13-23||76, 24-31-55||51.4||55.9||1.82|
|DEREK ROY||28, 1-10-11||72, 3-26-29||51.2||70.1||1.75|
|DAVID PERRON||38, 5-14-19||82, 11-30-41||51.5||62.8||1.72|
|JORDAN EBERLE||37, 7-14-21||81, 15-31-46||51.7||60.0||1.70|
|STEVE PINIZZOTTO||18, 2-2-4||62, 7-7-14||46.8||35.8||1.31|
|TEDDY PURCELL||38, 5-12-17||82, 11-26-37||51.8||59.2||1.28|
|BOYD GORDON||33, 5-3-8||77, 12-7-19||44.5||18.1||1.08|
|LEON DRAISAITL||37, 2-7-9||81, 4-15-19||52.1||79.2||1.05|
|MATT HENDRICKS||33, 3-5-8||77, 7-12-19||47.5||17.4||0.93|
|NAIL YAKUPOV||38, 4-5-9||82, 9-11-20||47.5||71.2||0.78|
|MATT FRASER||26, 4-0-4||70, 11-0-11||50.8||51.3||0.67|
|TYLER PITLICK||14, 1-0-1||49.5||40.5||0.36|
|LUKE GAZDIC||12, 0-0-0||56, 0-0-0||44.9||67.3||0.00|
- Hall—Nuge—Eberle should stay together, seem to be scoring a goal-a-game lately. Make it two and things should roll. Injury has impacted this line but one positive thing is the emergence of Nuge as a genuine stud. TOI through the roof, top 5×5/60, great Corsi and he faces razor blades and psycho killers every shift. Eberle is getting that shot up again, bodes well. Hall still seems a step slow but what a tiger.
- Pouliot coming back (maybe tonight!) opens things up because Derek Roy can play middle and you have David Perron and Teddy Purcell available to round out the line. Nail Yakupov, also in photo.
- Leon should get Nail and Perron (that’s my guess) tonight, this might be his last NHL game until October. I’m impressed with how well he’s handled himself and hopeful the Oilers will do the right thing and add a veteran C to the first-round center they’ll grab (McDavid—Eichel—Strome—Zacha) at the draft.
- Gordon and Hendricks started with Joensuu, went to Pinizzotto and (imo) Pitlick looked like he was warming to the role before his injury. Now? My guess is Luke Gazdic returns tonight and that line drifts out to sea just like Shannon.
OILERS DEFENSE IN A BOX, AFTER 38 GAMES
|PLAYER||BOXCARS||PROJ14-15||CORSI FOR %||OZ STARTS||5X5 PER 60|
|JEFF PETRY||37, 3-5-8||81, 7-11-18||52.1||45.9||0.46|
|KEITH AULIE||13, 0-0-0||57, 0-0-0||51.2||45.2||0.00|
|MARTIN MARINCIN||12, 0-1-1||51.1||48.7||0.33|
|JUSTIN SCHULTZ||37, 3-12-15||81, 7-26-33||50.9||62.8||1.15|
|NIKITA NIKITIN||23, 2-3-5||67, 6-9-15||49.8||54.3||0.52|
|BRAD HUNT||11, 1-2-3||49.1||53.4||0.72|
|ANDREW FERENCE||35, 2-3-5||79, 5-7-12||48.1||43.6||0.48|
|OSCAR KLEFBOM||16, 0-2-2||60, 0-8-8||47.9||47.4||0.42|
|MARK FAYNE||38, 1-4-5||82, 2-9-11||47.4||45.6||0.43|
- Petry shows well here, best Corsi for % combined with some of the toughest zone starts.
- Schultz’ Corsi number is over 50 and he’s really the only offensive option. I understand his defensive foibles are exasperating but without Hunt (also a tire fire) this team doesn’t have a lot of push the river options.
- Aulie has been far better than I worried about him being. I don’t understand the suspension but your wall clock has more logic than the NHL head office.
- Niki Nikitin’s numbers look innocent enough but he’s molasses with suck every night.
- I’ve liked Andrew Ference far better this season than last one.
- Oscar Klefbom is playing too many minutes. I like him but they like him more.
- Mark Fayne is a good defenseman but they may need to get him away from Klefbom. This appears to be the tough minutes pairing now, with Ference—Petry getting the tougher zone starts.
— Michael Green (@GRNDOG18) December 31, 2014
I think that might be the new amateur scouting director of the Edmonton Oilers alongside MacT and Howson. Bob Green has an impressive resume and reputation and with Nicholson’s contacts they should be able to cobble together a strong scouting staff after the draft this summer. Can we do ourselves a favor and blame the correct draft years? The 2007 draft, featuring three first rounders, the 2008 draft—three picks gone because of the Dustin Penner offer sheet—and 2009. Those are the culprits. You can’t fault them for picking Dillon Simpson because Tobias Rieder worked out, that’s crazy. Five years, folks. Blame the 2007-09 drafts for this situation, the Plante’s and the Gagner’s and the Abney’s and the Hesketh’s and even the Lander’s. Not the Klefboms and not even the Simpson’s.
- Jim Matheson: Magnus Paajarvi has the speed and the size (six-foot-three, 205 pounds) to be a regular NHL player, but something’s missing, which is why he’s back in the AHL today. “When he arrives at the puck, he’s not assertive enough,” said one NHL executive. He’s an engaging kid, but it’s not a good thing when the other 29 teams take a pass on a former first-rounder, only 24, with a low wage ($1.2-million cap hit). The Oilers, who traded him for David Perron, considered putting in a claim but decided against it. Source
It’s worse knowing they considered and then passed on him. The Oilers management (Marincin in minors, Nikitin trade, no center, slow to address G, etc) has a growing list of questionable decisions. I can accept it was the day after a waiver claim for Matt Fraser but the truth is this organization could pick up five guys off waivers and still have reasonable candidates to send down/cut. They’re not a very good hockey team, I believe Paajarvi could make it better. ANOTHER opportunity lost.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 1, 2015
Very encouraging news from an independent source. It doesn’t mean the Oilers made a mistake sending him back, in fact should he start next season in the AHL all should consider that a sign of (organizational) maturity. A great defensive prospect is in the system. Music!
The key question now surrounds his ability to learn from his experience (five year’s experience versus one year’s experience five times). The Oilers badly need strong coaching and instruction in the AHL (Nelson may well be here) and if Nurse is in Edmonton then doubly so. Firing Charlie Huddy has cost Daryl Katz millions, I don’t think keeping Kelly Buchberger over him was the right call.
- Benoit Pouliot may return tonight. It’s a big damn deal. I know many believe Pouliot was a poor investment but for me the big winger is a perfect fit with the top 6F as a complementary forward. He can also fill the Moreau role on a quality checking line. Glad he’s back.
- Tyler Pitlick sustained a lacerated spleen in the game against Calgary. That’s a serious issue and we shouldn’t expect him back for some time (and I want to wish him the best in his recovery). Pitlick has suffered concussions, injuries to both knees and various other maladies. It’s really a shame because this is an important audition period for him and the young man did appear to be figuring things out.
- Keith Aulie got two games for that hit in Calgary. It’s a most unseemly decision by the NHL, a league that makes suspension decisions based on how famous the culprit is and extent of injury. Laughable penalty. It’s like Bud Selig runs the NHL. I hope Stajan is okay, that was a crazy pass.
- Anton Lander has been recalled, hope they put him right into the lineup.
- It’s D-Day for Leon today. Once Edmonton plays in this game, the Oilers have to decide if they want to keep him. They’ll do the right thing and send him down.
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU, KID!
I’m not sure who he was talking about, but Andrew Ference was referencing someone in a conversation with Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail. I’m not going to quote the entire article (it’s a worthwhile read and is here) but there’s some iron in the veteran’s words.
- Ference: “If there is a knock here, there was partly a sense of thinking time was development – and it hasn’t been.”
Yes! Now, I’m going to blame the organization for not providing these young men with sound coaching and fundamentals but yes, I think the organization was guilty of thinking that drafting No. 1 overalls was all that was required. I’m going to blame Steve Tambellini for firing Tom Renney, for me that was an addled decision. Veteran coach improved the team season over season and then they change the works again. Very poor move and it cost Katz millions.
- More Ference: “It takes individuals to take care of their own backyard and do everything they can on that checklist of what other people are doing around the league – whether that’s nutrition, sleep, recovery, habits. Other people are doing it, and if you’re not, you’re behind – and you always will be until you decide it’s important to do those things as well.”
Well. Ever been in a room full of people when an authority figure was saying the words to everyone but really talking to you? I have been and it’s a pretty damn effective tool. That’s a very specific message to a young person who is screwing the pooch. No doubt.
The other problem here is that every time you hire a new person in authority, GM or coach, they’re going to go back to the beginning and start all over again—and that’s an excuse in and of itself.
The Edmonton Oilers 2015 are that Twilight Zone episode where people are deathly afraid of Billy Mumy. We’ve long passed wishing it into the cornfield and are just hoping for our own survival. If Bob Nicholson is going to make a change, he better be right. No more former Oilers from the glory days without experience, bring in Paul Fenton or Michael Futa.
And no more damn rebuilds. The threads are stripped and the fans want good decisions and a steady, experienced hand. It’s time to grow up in the front office of the Edmonton Oilers.
LOWETIDE WITH LOWETIDE
Friday! Weekend on the way after not much work all week! 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Bigmouth Sports. World Juniors, Leafs and New Years.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. WJ’s, Oil Kings, draft.
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere icon. Oilers and World Juniors. 🙂
- Paul Almeida, Saturday Sports Extra.
10-1260 via text @Lowetide_ on twitter. Stay tuned!