The Edmonton Oilers are 3-7-0 after 10 and many fans have that old sinking feeling. Dallas Eakins rolled through the first 10 games at 4-5-1 before the money ran out and the engine blew. Eakins was 4-5-1 in October, and then 2-9-3 in the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald November before the team gave up in December (2-8-4). I don’t think we’ll see that happen this season, but I do understand why Oilers fans would feel that way, and I don’t think it’s crazy to have that funny, familiar, awful feeling again. If you’re looking for positives, you’ve come to the right place—beginning with Scott Cullen’s power rankings this morning.
"The real preventable (goals) are the ones that are killing us right now." Coach McLellan following the #Oilers 4-3 loss in Minny
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 28, 2015
The Oilers seem to have a period each game (of about 45 seconds based on last night) where they lose the melody and it costs them. If you check online you can find tweets and posts that point blame at damn near every defender who played last night, and the truth is this group isn’t good enough to skate in a playoff game. Darnell Nurse was fun to watch but he’ll need lots of pro sorties before he can be counted on every shift—it’s a tough damn job.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 28, 2015
I think Peter Chiarelli probably plans to have Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Griffin Reinhart and Darnell Nurse as part of next year’s top six D—meaning RH puck movers (one for sure, maybe two) are coming to town. Hell, maybe we even saw him last night. One area they need to add: complete blue. Look, the reason you’re mad at Gryba and Fayne this morning is that they can’t skate with Dallas and Washington and Minnesota. And you’ll be mad at Schultz and Sekera the next time Edmonton faces a heavy team—one of the big reasons for that? Lack of a complete defenseman. Klefbom and Nurse have the skills to play a wide range (don’t know about PP) but that’s a couple of years away. Help is coming. Trade now, sign summer. One of the two. Or both.
Here's Gryba right before the attempt to clear the zone from behind the net with a slap pass. pic.twitter.com/R8W0sb2Emd
— Romulus' Apotheosis (@RomulusNotNuma) October 28, 2015
- “We’ve been together(as a team) for 2 months…I can live with mistakes but not the same ones over and over again.” (quote via Gerta Rauss)
SACRE BLEU, LAST NIGHT
- Brandon Davidson was part of some devastating moments in the game but he delivered what can be expected, and I think McLellan used him properly. He faced the Coyle line 5:39, going 2-5 (5×5). No sense hammering him on the GWG, he was ‘also in photo’ but the die was cast long before.
- Eric Gryba made a goofy decision on the fourth goal against, no idea what he was thinking. Vapor lock, it’s certain he knows better. Gryba also killed his wide receiver early in the game with a suicide pass across the middle. War-on-Ice has him playing five minutes against all three of the top Minny lines, struggling only against the Coyle trio. If Reinhart can return Thursday, that’s probably a good adjustment for this pairing. Travis Yost nailed it about this player: He can defend, but can’t move the puck. Very limited.
- Darnell Nurse played 7:25 against the Parise line and the Oilers battled to 7-7 5×5 on the sorties. It was a good first effort, got a goal, a rebel yell and I hope another game to show he belongs. It was nice to see his Dad interviewed (family was at the game) that’s a night to remember. It would have been nice if they could have held the lead to make that the winner. I remain convinced, and have stated many times, he is one of the six best defensemen in the organization now. If they’re asking me, the play here is to allow Nurse to play games in the NHL until he struggles two games in a row. If he doesn’t do that all season, music! If he does, then the lessons need to be learned away from Rexall. This young man is manna from heaven, folks. Todd McLellan: “thought he played a good game… a solid contributor tonight” (Gerta again).
- Andrej Sekera struggled last night to my eye, needs to make quicker decisions. Played 7 minutes against the Koivi line (8-9 5×5 Corsi events) and wasn’t crisp with his passes. I do think fans are being way to hard on him, the last several games have shown a veteran’s calm when he is out there. Needs to hurry up a little is all, and I think he needs a more mobile partner.
- Oscar Klefbom was my pick for best defenseman, some disagreed based on comments in the GDT. He and Nurse formed the only mobile tandem of the three and the puck was moving north often when they were out there. Picked up an assist on the Nurse goal. 5-7 in 7 5×5 minutes against Parise.
- Mark Fayne tipped a goal and was also in photo for some severe moments. The Wild are not a good matchup for him, he simply doesn’t have the speed to contend against them. I suspect he’ll be heading back to the EC at some point, maybe in summer. Oilers need him to be better.
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- Connor McDavid is a splendid hockey player, the mind struggles to fathom peak McDavid. I’m enjoying the hell out of this. 5-1 v the Coyle line, seems everyone got to see everyone last night.
- Anton Lander finally got out of the ZS doghouse but the line couldn’t cash. They were 4:21 2-5 against the Parise line, but 14-7 the rest of the time. Man needs a goal. And better linemates. He was 62% in the dot, kind of eating Letestu’s lunch there lately. I think he might have been a little quicker on the GWG but hesitate to fault anyone based on the initial tomfoolery.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to take a beating in the comments section here, but to me he’s Dave Keon and that’s all there is to say about that. 6:09 and 5-5 against the Parise line. RNH is the hill I die on, folks. There’s no good reason to trade him, not know not for the next decade. He was shy on the offensive side last night, seems to be trailing the rest of the class in that area. Then again, he’s the only gifted forward who doesn’t get much time with McDavid 5×5 so there’s that, too.
- Mark Letestu is the incredible shrinking man, playing piddly bits of the game. I think he should be playing a more prominent role, but 43% FO put him behind Lander and the kid last night.
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Taylor Hall was flying last night, 1-1-2 and could have had more. Played a lot, as McLellan found a way to run his three best wingers an absolute ton. 8-4 v Parise but 2-8 v Koivu last night.
- Benoit Pouliot was 7-5 v Koivu and 5-8 v Parise, who for me was better than his linemates last night. Pouliot’s presence on the McDavid line is effective, he needs to change his number—I keep thinking it’s McDavid because of the number.
- Nail Yakupov had a good night (6-9 v Parise but they fought the good fight against Koivu) and was rewarded with an assist on an ‘all No. 1 overall’ goal. On pace for 72 points (!!!) this season. Still, he does goofy stuff, brought the puck into the Oil zone when the blue were leaving, isolating himself for no reason because of it. Also passed to absolutely no one at least once.
- Rob Klinkhammer’s injury might be a knee, but we’ll find out more in the next 48 hours. Matty has some things on the injury here and it appears that RW on the Hall—Nuge line is ‘Spinal Tap drummer’ dangerous this season.
- Teddy Purcell isn’t going to show well in games against the fast trains, simply can’t keep up. I think he’s at a career crossroads now, the need for speed is so pronounced Edmonton might be his last NHL stop. Great skills that he does have, though.
- Lauri Korpikoski has me scratching my head this season, he seemed so effective in his career for a long time but appears to be in the ‘I’ll just skate around for 60 seconds without actually doing anything’ stage of his career. Most players get it over with as rookies, Korpikoski is unique I’ll give him that. Took a big hit on a dumb pass by his defenseman but did return. A vexing player.
- Anton Slepyshev didn’t play much but I liked him when he was out there. You can see what McLellan likes about him, do worry that this might not be the right way to develop the player.
- Iiro Pakarinen was a positive despite the Corsi totals. Scored a goal, has enough skill to get into good places (as he did on his goal) and I hope we see him more this season.
SCHULTZ AND GETTING BETTER
I’m noticing sides forming in the “Schultz camp” or the “Fayne camp” as bloggers and commenters alike look to lay blame. The fact is most Oilers defensemen are going to be exposed depending on opponent. Edmonton’s defense (for the most part) either can’t defend against speed, can’t win battles against heavy teams and stop the cycle, or both. Last night was probably both, but the real problem is too many one dimensional players. That’s why Darnell stood out in a good way, he can beat you so many ways—or at least he should be able to when fully ready. Look, I’m not smart enough to know if thrusting Nurse into the NHL now is a bad thing for his overall development, but have cheered for teams who pushed Mike Ivie and Sam Gagner into the majors so respect the concept of too much, too soon. I honestly don’t see it with this player. That said, Larry Robinson played over 100 games in the NHL 1971-73 and it didn’t seem to hurt him 1973-1992, so there’s that.
Offensively, this team is going to kick out the jams and leave nothing but the bones many nights, you can see it coming. Connor McDavid was touched by God himself, you can see it now and if you look real close you can see what he will be down the line. Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and the power of his thunder who can understand.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Today on the show (10am, or whenever Eric is done rambling on about Klopp), TSN1260:
- Jesse Spector, The Sporting News. The Kansas City Royals are involved in another classic World Series.
- Tim Fragle, Vimy Director. We’ll talk about making things easier for younger players—modelling rinks based on size and age of player, and possible benefits.
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Oilers last night, Oilers without Schultz and the impact of the headman pass on their overall game.
- Corey Graham, TSN1260. The Oil Kings are having an interesting season.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. 90 minutes (depending on Klopp talk)!