G21 2015-16: OILERS AT CAPITALS

It all goes by so quickly. Connor McDavid looks like Opie’s older brother, like the middle kid on My Three Sons, like the kids who hung around with my son playing PS or Xbox on any given weekend when the entire gang was in high school. A few years down the line? Maturation, and for Oilers kids, extreme frustration. Turn north, Mr. Chiarelli, it’s the right thing to do. Make your trade on this road trip count, address the blue, bring clarity to the muddy 3 and 4 lines. Godspeed.

OILERS EARLY, SEASON OVER SEASON

  • Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
  • Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
  • Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
  • Oilers in November 2015: 3-4-1
  • Oilers after 20 in 2014-15: 6-12-2, 14 points (-25 GD)
  • Oilers after 20 in 2015-16: 7-12-1, 15 points (-8 GD)

Game 21 a year ago? A loss. A 7-1 loss that featured your basic Blackhawks nightmare (Toews, Kane, Hossa) and it was a miserable evening. Click if you like, I’d pass.

OILERS FORWARDS IN A BOX

oil f's after 20

I don’t have to tell you about the pairs (Hall-Leon, Nuge-Eberle, McDavid-Yakupov), that’s what we’re all talking about everywhere. It’s also true that McDavid-Eberle is an interesting possibility, suspect Todd McLellan would like to run that for about 20 games. One thing we should probably talk about in December? Who gets the final spot on the skill lines:

  • Hall—Draisaitl—Purcell
  • Pouliot—McDavid—Yakupov
  • ???—Nuge—Eberle

I’d say Hendricks has the inside track at this point, but a strong run during December by Pakarinen or 10 Bakersfield goals from Slepyshev (scored yesterday, plus iron) could make things interesting. I’m still not buying three scoring lines or unicorns, but you can see the talent here when everyone’s healthy. Fun future ahead I expect, McLellan’s teams are usually highly watchable and this is a can’t miss group.

lander ferguson

We’re ‘after 20’ and it’s kind of fun to guess about who might make the cut and who isn’t going to, plus I’ll add a third category for possibles:

  • Mortal Locks (8): McDavid, Hall, Nuge, Draisaitl, Eberle, Pouliot, Yakupov, Hendricks
  • Down the Line (3): Lander, Gazdic, Miller
  • Call me Maybe (6): Purcell, Korpikoski, Pakarinen, Slepyshev, Klinkhammer, Letestu

I’ll tell you one guy on the cmb list who could find his way back: Teddy Purcell. He’s playing very well and has moved way up the table in some important categories. Skating really well, too. After 20, the one guy who went from my mortal lock list to down the line? Anton. Man, hurts to say it but he has the same issue as Magnum PS: Offense.

It goes without saying that one of the mortal locks could get moved out for a defender, so I’ll list ‘inner circle’ untouchables as McDavid, Hall, Nuge, Draisaitl and stop it there. In Gods we trust, all others could be catching a bus in Brooklyn just like the Duke did decades ago.

OILERS BLUE IN A BOX

oil d's after 20

The information for these items comes fro BTN (5×5, 5×4, Rel), HockeyAnalysis.com (5x5CF) and War-on-Ice (On-Ice SC). I think we were all reminded of their exceptional value the other night, that’s a lot of work brought to our collective doorsteps free of charge. Let’s run the ‘after 20’ for this bunch.

  • Mortal Locks (3): Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse
  • Down the Line (2): Gryba, Ference
  • Call me Maybe (4): Davidson, Fayne, Schultz, Reinhart

Among the call me maybe’s, I’d pull back Fayne then Davidson then Reinhart, but understand many would not have that order. Davidson is a fascinating player in this group, literally no idea if he’s as he looks. I think the Oilers have 62 more games and he should be in most of them. Seriously. Need to find out. My inner circle for blue rhymes with the mortal locks above.

grebs

SHOWCASE

Since forever really, an Oilers road trip meant showcasing some player or another. You head east with 23, and come back with the rights to Denis Grebeshkov. Any spike in playing time might be a tell, or sudden insertion into the lineup, tips the hand of our local GM. Justin Schultz will be activated on this trip and I do wonder about Mark Fayne’s future in Edmonton—he would have value out east and is playing well now (or at least most of us believe he’s playing well). If I’m making a list of ‘most likely to be traded on this road trip’ it would go like this:

  1. Justin Schultz
  2. Mark Fayne
  3. Eric Gryba

in that order. The Fayne-Gryba item is real in my opinion, once Schultz gets back Todd McLellan may move Sekera back over, but he’s been good with Nurse and if that duo continues to play well someone is going to sit. Gryba’s being a feature player on the third pairing may tip PC’s hand about the future (meaning it’s one of the two other guys listed). If Fayne’s TOI spikes, or Schultz is activated and plays 23 minutes, we may have our answer. Peter Chiarelli isn’t going to pay Justin Scultz $5 million a year. Seriously. The return? Well, it could be a better RH defenseman but I don’t think Chiarelli is done with the forwards yet.

WHAT WILL PC BE LOOKING FOR?

I think his shopping list is threefold. There’s a vagueness about the 3 and 4 lines, and Chiarelli’s Bruins didn’t have a vague line ever. Rugged, responsible and with some offensive acumen, that’s the idea for PC’s support lines. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Edmonton returned with a Chris Kelly ‘Swiss Army knife’ or a bigger winger with some jam and a little more offense than Klinkhammer or Gazdic. This is far from the Chiarelli final final.

  • RH defenseman with a range of skills and the ability to wheel. Steve Staios in his prime, maybe a little faster.
  • A Pisani type for the third line, but a physical Pisani with speed. I don’t think the Oilers are completely satisfied with depth wingers not named Matt Hendricks.
  • A replacement for Anton Lander. It’s coming, or he’s turning it around, but the longer we go the more likely it comes.

Leon is showing he can push the river, and added to Hall that line should be able to roar with Toby Petersen along for the ride. Leon the Point Farmer delights the eyes because we’re not used to seeing a giant standup freezer on skates move so quickly, but he can and he does at both ends of the ice.

Added to the other insane talents, one of these pairs (with their third man) should see the soft underbelly of NHL teams, and honestly the third pairings and fourth lines on some of these teams is amazing. I mean like ‘the Edmonton Roadrunners starting lineup for tonight’ amazing. Shock and awe await, as German Engineering makes his way around the eastern seaboard. If the Oilers win the lottery next spring, with all of this talent, Ed Snider starts his own league. Book it.

kelly

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

This morning at 10, TSN 1260. NO IDEA what we’ll talk about!!!!!! Scheduled to appear:

  • Scott Burnside, ESPN. Trade winds and panic in some NHL boardrooms as the season drifts away.
  • Brian King, NonStopSportsPicks. King has been saying the Eskimos were a Grey Cup favorite since early in the season, damned if he didn’t call it right.
  • Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue, The SuperFan. Oilers hit the road with an obscure starter in goal, three rookie blue in the everyday lineup and a third line center who makes a punch and judy look like Babe freaking Ruth. Ah, kids. You never stop worrying about them.
  • Andrew Bucholtz, 55-Yard Line. The Eastern Final was a classic, do the Eskimos have anything to fear fro the Redblacks? Henry Burris was a rookie in this league before Ralph Brock, what could go wrong?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. See you on the radio!

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428 Responses to "G21 2015-16: OILERS AT CAPITALS"

« Older Comments
  1. Pouzar says:

    Ryan: Hey bud, you’re skating on thin ice.

    One more Lander HS and you lose our bet.

    What are the particulars? I thought the bet was if he was gone by Jan?
    I gotta write this sh!t down

  2. spoiler says:

    Got sweet-talked into cooking so had to watch the rest of the game on delay…

    Some thoughts, or approximations thereof:

    1. Seems to me back in the day our coach, whether MacT or Eakins or whoever, would have played the other goalie because this one got lit up and pulled last game.

    Nice acknowledgement by TMac that the prior Washington loss was on the team, showing his faith in his netminder and giving him an opportunity to even the score.

    Other than the best shot by either team, an absolute laser from the dot that picked the very top right corner, Nilsson was full value for that faith.

    2. I’ve spent a lot of time watching 88 these past few games, wondering what has made the difference to his game. We’ve all heard the story of him working on his shot, taking 300 a day (try hitting 6 buckets of golf balls every day), but that’s a pretty minor dimension of his game.

    What blows me away about his game is the speed and correctness of his decision-making. He makes so many smart, quick plays for a player of his limited NHL experience that I think there might be a very big brain hiding under that helmet.

    He’s an Elder Rook, coming out of the E-Z Bake the moment LT’s 5 year timer started to beep, so we have to temper thoughts about his upside, but wow, what a great stretch of games.

    3. With regards to the powerplay no doubt the Oil are going to rely on it heavily for success, but besides the absence of Collar McBroken and our alleged QB Just Jultz, that 4 minute jobbie lacked one of our best point shots, KBomb while he recovered.

    Special teams are funny things, they run hot and cold, and to think the 22% success rate (or whatever it is) is divvied up evenly game-by-game, or even week-by-week is absolute madness.

    Was it part of the story tonight? Sure it was, but so was finish in general. Besides the countless Hall opportunities, the 2 on Oh damn, the 2 on 1, there were quality chances from Purcell, and Ebs had one point blank from the slot, where he’s usually money.

    Monte Carlo this game 1000 times and I bet the Oil win more than 500 of them. And that’s what people have to remember about hockey. Variance (luck) is a cold-hearted bitch and you have to play the same game many times to completely remove her effect from the result.

    It’s not this loss that’s the problem; it’s the earlier losses that made a win tonight much more important.

    4. I haven’t had a chance to scope GMon’s Numbers yet, but I did note the comment above about Trotz going PvP and Dr. Drai subsequently picking Backstrom up, turning him upside down, shaking his lunch money out and then spending it on banana splits with an extra cherry on top down at the local DQ.

    The match-up that was the real problem for the Oil was Kutsisnutsoff, whose line hemmed in Letestu and Yak several times. Yak is still having moments of brilliance confounded by moments of lost in space. I’m concerned.

    The 4th line struggled too whenever Gazdic was on the ice and I wonder if the Big Turk will get 25 games this year. Still, and even though the Caps scored on the play, the backcheck to his crease by Pakarinen to prevent a moments-earlier stone-cold scoring chance was a thing of great delight. The structure and the commitment to that structure looks light years from the Filthy Way we were seeing earlier this season. Better than Nelson had them playing too, although there’s been some turnover on the roster and development within to be fair to him.

    5. I thought this was the best game for Sekera handling, passing, shooting the puck since pulling on the OilDrop crest. If he’s like this for the rest of the season, I will be a happy basement camper.

    Don’t give up hope, our beloved Oilermen! Keep playing with this structure, smarts, and commitment and the wins will come. Monty Carlo sez so.

    ______

    Thinking of Samwise Gangee tonight, hope he’s okay.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Everaabudddiessss funnaaaaa.

  4. Ryan says:

    Pouzar: What are the particulars? I thought the bet was if he was gone by Jan?
    I gotta write this sh!t down

    I found the link, wow. Good thing your handle works better for Google than mine. 🙂

    It’s three HS not two, so it’s going to be more exciting.

    http://lowetide.ca/2015/07/30/re-15-16-anton-lander-secondary-modern/comment-page-1/#comment-438062

  5. Pouzar says:

    Ryan: I found the link, wow.Good thing your handle works better for Google than mine.

    It’s three HS not two, so it’s going to be more exciting.

    http://lowetide.ca/2015/07/30/re-15-16-anton-lander-secondary-modern/comment-page-1/#comment-438062

    COME ON LENIN!!!

  6. Tire Fire says:

    spoiler: It’s not this loss that’s the problem; it’s the earlier losses that made a win tonight much more important.

    Excellent comment.

    Shame it’s a loss, but this is sure starting to look like a good team. I’ve stopped regretting picking up tickets to next Monday’s game…

  7. Ryan says:

    Pouzar: COME ON LENIN!!!

    Now if I had only thought to add having zero points as one of my terms… 🙁

  8. spoiler says:

    G Money:
    Shot data up.

    https://oilersnerdalert.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/g20-2015-11-23-oilers-at-carpitals-shot-and-distance-data/

    The Hall/Drai line was ridiculous.RIDICULOUS.I heard tell that WSH was deliberately going power vs power and matching Ovechkin to Hall/Drai.

    The Caps only took one slapshot the whole night? Just the goal? That’s got to be fairly unusual, although Ovie has that half-slapper and who knows how the NHL codifies that.

    Gryba’s ice time is noticeably less for this game.

  9. Pouzar says:

    Ryan: Now if I had only thought to add having zero points as one of my terms…

    So if I knock him in the kneecaps is that still a win for me?

  10. Ryan says:

    Pouzar: So if I knock him in the kneecaps is that still a win for me?

    If he gets injured and plays less than 30 games (by the end of Dec), we agreed all bets are off. Cue the IR. 🙂

  11. AsiaOil says:

    No need to be down now as the QoC to this point has been nutty (only 4 games against teams below .500) and they are almost always very competitive at home or on the road. I predict that there will be a need to temper the excitement after Christmas when they start to beat up on the chumps with regularity. But we clearly still need to upgrade RD and get a vet goalie to go along with the Swede if Talbot doesn’t come around PDQ.

    Look I want Talbot to do well – but if he’s still not performing by January – then I try get Bernier from TOR for Talbot and a cap dump like Nikitin or Ference. Worst thing would be to overpay in money or term an under-performing Talbot just because he’s UFA next summer. I’m not totally negative on the guy – but maybe people should stop and consider the proposition that Slats is neither stupid nor charitable when trading. If Talbot is not performing, and if we can get something of value back from the investment (like Bernier), then we should seriously consider it.

  12. v4ance says:

    spoiler: The Caps only took one slapshot the whole night?Just the goal?That’s got to be fairly unusual, although Ovie has that half-slapper and who knows how the NHL codifies that.

    Gryba’s ice time is noticeably less for this game.

    Unfortunately, his two minor penalties meant he was sitting for some period of time.

    Gyrba’s paradox: Is it better to go 5v4 without him on ice or 5v5 with him ON the ice?

  13. admiralmark says:

    v4ance: Unfortunately, his two minor penalties meant he was sitting for some period of time.

    Gyrba’s paradox:Is it better to go 5v4 without him on ice or 5v5 with him ON the ice?

    I’d say it’s exactly the same.

  14. Bruce McCurdy says:

    v4ance: Unfortunately, his two minor penalties meant he was sitting for some period of time.

    Gyrba’s paradox:Is it better to go 5v4 without him on ice or 5v5 with him ON the ice?

    Gryba’s EV Corsi tonight was +21/-8, best of any Oilers defenceman.

    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of the narrative.

  15. Yeti says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Gryba’s EV Corsi tonight was +21/-8, best of any Oilers defenceman.

    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of the narrative.

    Agreed, although it was far from a great game he played despite the favourable corsi. Notably, JW ranked him worst of the Oilers D as much for the poor penalties and gravity of the chances he did give up.

  16. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    I see that some people didn’t want to agree with me to not lose their minds when the Oilers lose the game.

    Terrific effort on the road against a very good team with a very good goalie.

    I want to bet big on the Oilers here.

    P.S. read Alzner’s post game comments. The Caps were very impressed with the Oilers.

  17. Lackadaisical says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:

    P.S. read Alzner’s post game comments. The Caps were very impressed with the Oilers.

    Good call, thanks for the suggestion.

    Yeah, a certain poster really tried to “live up to his name” last night. I appreciated the message, but it’s hard to take someone seriously when they come out with such an aggressive verbal posture.

    Nice work as usual guys, didn’t get to take a look until now. Those charts are looking slick G!

    I thought we had a good game by eye, numbers make it look even better. I don’t know why anyone is tense going into these games. We’re a better team than we expected to be, in terms of actual play if not the record. Some really nice development from unexpected places, flashes of things to come.

    Hockey is enjoyable again! Don’t let those who were overly optimistic bring you down with them, and don’t let the cynics take away your hope. We have an actual NHL team for the first time in years, with great things to come! Hallelujah!

  18. Pouzar says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”: I see that some people didn’t want to agree with me to not lose their minds when the Oilers lose the game.

    I don’t get it NYC. I’ve admittedly been losing my mind about the goalering but I was tickled pink watching that game last night. Just Wow. We need a more apt nickname for the dominant one aka Drai. It’s a process folks and the visual looks pretty f6ckin good. Results are last sometimes unfortunately.

  19. Pouzar says:

    Lackadaisical: Yeah, a certain poster really tried to “live up to his name” last night. I appreciated the message, but it’s hard to take someone seriously when they come out with such an aggressive verbal posture.

    I thought I was reading HFOil post game thread.

    7-4 = 1-0??? Really???

  20. PhrankLee says:

    That was a very strong road game.

    I cannot understand expectations. Even if we had every piece in place this year, and we do not, we would be in this boat.

    Maybe our fanbase has CFProngeritis. Thinking…” If we just add one piece we will win all the gamez..”

    There are needs on each and every hockey club. We just happen to need both bodies and full buy in from those still here.

    The most important thing the Oilers could do for themselves is improve to .480-.500 this year. Over 82 games.

    We are NOT going to add a RHD and suddenly become conference champs. We need to get into the range of respectability, then out of the basement, then start treading water, then and only then we swim/turn North.

    By the way a flooded basement is no fun to swim around in.

  21. Pouzar says:

    Oilers now 14th in CF% 5on5 but I don’t think the Jersey game is in here.

    http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/teamstats.php?disp=1&db=201516&sit=5v5&sort=CFPCT&sortdir=DESC

  22. PhrankLee says:

    Pouzar: I thought I was reading HFOil post game thread.
    7-4 = 1-0??? Really???

    I engaged that poster early in the game but got no response. I laughed at those comments. Like they chose to not score on the PP. As if it were a matter of personal or team philosophy. As if they were skating around and thinking about the esoteric and wondering if it was really worth scoring while on the man advantage.

    Like they were saying under their helmets..”I mean.. why bother? It’s tied. We don’t “need” to score…”
    Lol.

  23. PhrankLee says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Gryba’s EV Corsi tonight was +21/-8, best of any Oilers defenceman.
    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of the narrative.

    I chuckled at the dispair at his not scoring. I mean he was there and he hit the net.

    It was an excellent save.

    But he did everything we needed him to do in that situation and he still got crapped on.

    I dislike folk hero status. Klefbom gets a lot of slack that is irritating. Gryba played well last night. He did very well with what he has and that’s a coach doing his job.

  24. frjohnk says:

    Gene Principe is to blame for the loss. In the 2nd intermission he said that there were only two teams who have shut out the Capitals this year and the Oilers were only 20 minutes away from being the 3rd.

    That was the kiss of death.

    Thanks Gene.

    That was a great road game played by the Oilers.

    Nilsson played great as well.

    Defense other than a couple of tire fires, which against that team can be expected, played great.

    Holtby was amazing. Should have picked him in my draft.

  25. jimmers2 says:

    PhrankLee,

    I thought that Gryba got off a good shot. It was on the net and Holtby made a great play. No doubt Gryba wishes he picked another spot just a bit further from the glove but there wasn’t much time and his hands aren’t Eberle’s. He did his job.

  26. Woodguy says:

    spoiler:
    Got sweet-talked into cooking so had to watch the rest of the game on delay…

    Some thoughts, or approximations thereof:

    1.Seems to me back in the day our coach, whether MacT or Eakins or whoever, would have played the other goalie because this one got lit up and pulled last game.

    Nice acknowledgement by TMac that the prior Washington loss was on the team, showing his faith in his netminder and giving him an opportunity to even the score.

    Other than the best shot by either team, an absolute laser from the dot that picked the very top right corner, Nilsson was full value for that faith.

    2.I’ve spent a lot of time watching 88 these past few games, wondering what has made the difference to his game.We’ve all heard the story of him working on his shot, taking 300 a day (try hitting 6 buckets of golf balls every day), but that’s a pretty minor dimension of his game.

    What blows me away about his game is the speed and correctness of his decision-making.He makes so many smart, quick plays for a player of his limited NHL experience that I think there might be a very big brain hiding under that helmet.

    He’s an Elder Rook, coming out of the E-Z Bake the moment LT’s 5 year timer started to beep, so we have to temper thoughts about his upside, but wow, what a great stretch of games.

    3. With regards to the powerplay no doubt the Oil are going to rely on it heavily for success, but besides the absence of Collar McBroken and our alleged QB Just Jultz, that 4 minute jobbie lacked one of our best point shots, KBomb while he recovered.

    Special teams are funny things, they run hot and cold, and to think the 22% success rate (or whatever it is) is divvied up evenly game-by-game, or even week-by-week is absolute madness.

    Was it part of the story tonight?Sure it was, but so was finish in general.Besides the countless Hall opportunities, the 2 on Oh damn, the 2 on 1, there were quality chances from Purcell, and Ebs had one point blank from the slot, where he’s usually money.

    Monte Carlo this game 1000 times and I bet the Oil win more than 500 of them.And that’s what people have to remember about hockey.Variance (luck) is a cold-hearted bitch and you have to play the same game many times to completely remove her effect from the result.

    It’s not this loss that’s the problem; it’s the earlier losses that made a win tonight much more important.

    4. I haven’t had a chance to scope GMon’s Numbers yet, but I did note the comment above about Trotz going PvP and Dr. Drai subsequently picking Backstrom up, turning him upside down, shaking his lunch money out and then spending it on banana splits with an extra cherry on top down at the local DQ.

    The match-up that was the real problem for the Oil was Kutsisnutsoff, whose line hemmed in Letestu and Yak several times.Yak is still having moments of brilliance confounded by moments of lost in space.I’m concerned.

    The 4th line struggled too whenever Gazdic was on the ice and I wonder if the Big Turk will get 25 games this year.Still, and even though the Caps scored on the play, the backcheck to his crease by Pakarinen to prevent a moments-earlier stone-cold scoring chance was a thing of great delight.The structure and the commitment to that structure looks light years from the Filthy Way we were seeing earlier this season.Better than Nelson had them playing too, although there’s been some turnover on the roster and development within to be fair to him.

    5.I thought this was the best game for Sekera handling, passing, shooting the puck since pulling on the OilDrop crest.If he’s like this for the rest of the season, I will be a happy basement camper.

    Don’t give up hope, our beloved Oilermen!Keep playing with this structure, smarts, and commitment and the wins will come.Monty Carlo sez so.

    ______

    Thinking of Samwise Gangee tonight, hope he’s okay.

    Fabulous post!!

  27. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Yeti: Agreed, although it was far from a great game he played despite the favourable corsi. Notably, JW ranked him worst of the Oilers D as much for the poor penalties and gravity of the chances he did give up.

    Yeah, he’s limited, sometimes tries to do too much anyway, but plays with aggression and enthusiasm and contributes things to the team that few others bring. Yet there is a large groupthink that says the guy irredeemably sucks, to the point suggestions are made that the Oilers are just as well off shorthanded as they would be even strength with this player on the ice.

    As an Oilers fan I root for the team including all the players. I get they all have strengths and weaknesses but I tire of one-sided viewpoints that only focus on the latter, especially when they are constantly echoed until they gain some sort of local acceptance within the comments section.

    Which is why I will sometimes take the opposing viewpoint and go to bat for Ryan Jones, Justin Schultz or Eric Gryba. Not that I think they are great, just that sometimes the vitriol goes overboard and they need somebody to take the other side and find the positives.

  28. v4ance says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    Bruce, In my post, did I ever say Gryba irredeemably sucks?

    We have enough healthy defencemen that I just believe he was not one of the 6 best options against a faster team like the Caps.

    In a game where it was a tight goalies duel, a marginal player on the depth chart shouldn’t be excused for taking 2 of the 3 penalties on the team.

    Gyrba had a good corsi for the night but I seem to remember him playing a lot with the Drai/Hall combo in the first.

    It’s nice to cheer on the underdogs but sometimes, the reason why they are considered underdogs is because they are marginal players and you’re cheering for them to somehow become average players. I’d prefer that we get and played average players myself.

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