G29 2015-16: SHARKS AT OILERS

I am sure fans of established teams would look at a three-game winning streak as a nice start, but for fans of the Edmonton Oilers this run is like finding oil on the back 40. Will it continue against Todd McLellan’s old team?

Music! Small victories are big steps, and if you can go through the stats pages and find Edmonton mid-pack in some of these categories, that is some very good news. It is a significant game tonight.

TRAIN IN VAIN, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • 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: 4-7-2
  • Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
  • Oilers in December 2015: 3-0-0
  • Oilers after 28 in 2014-15: 7-16-5, 19 points (-40 GD)
  • Oilers after 28 in 2015-16: 11-15-2, 24 points (-11 GD)

In what will become a month long theme, Edmonton lost G29 a year ago, 2-1 to Anaheim. The total points of December 2014—eight—would be equaled with a win tonight. Lordy. The Oilers have a 21 percent chance of making the playoffs. Another lordy.

standings

A win tonight and Edmonton is two points out of the playoffs. Triple lordy and whisper hallelujah!

Very pleased to see this, Khaira deserved that point based on his own fine play and it more than meets the modern definition of an assist. I mentioned yesterday on the Lowdown that Khaira has arrived in the NHL and done the things we hoped to see from Tyler Pitlick and others. These early NHL games are leaving a very good impression, and no matter what happens when the regulars get back, one suspects Khaira has vastly improved his standing. Where that leaves Bogdan Yakimov is an open question.

FORWARDS IN A BOX, 2015-16

oil forwards over season

There is enough firepower here for six men to clear 2.00/60 by season’s end and I suspect all of Nuge, Eberle and Pouliot to join Leon, McDavid and Hall in the quality room. Yakupov? We will see, Jordan Eberle may get a push when the phenom returns. We have been talking about three scoring lines all week, and while I still think three pairs works in theory, don’t know if it will work for McLellan:

  • Hall—Leon
  • McDavid—Yakupov
  • Nuge—Eberle

The problem, as I see it, is that Nuge’s partner needs to be a two-way player and Eberle isn’t it. So, one suspects McDavid gets a look with Eberle before anything shakes out. If I am betting on a work around for the unicorn trio of lines, it might be this:

  • Hall—Nuge—Draisaitl
  • Pouliot—McDavid—Eberle

And that includes out the Russian, so I think we can safely say the month of January may be a big audition for 14. If Peter Chiarelli wants a rugged winger in the top 6F, one or more of Eberle, Yakupov or Pouliot will be heading out. Bottom line: I don’t see unicorns in Edmonton, don’t see three scoring lines, not in 2016-17.

DEFENSE IN A BOX, 2015-16

OILERS DEFENSE OVER SEASON

I like this list plenty, because the yutes are doing well. The bottom four are candidates to go, along with Eric Gryba. I think Peter Chiarelli wants to see the long range forecast of Reinhart, but Klefbom, Nurse, Davidson and Sekera are going to be here for awhile, for some at least the end of the decade.

What will be added to the top 4D? Aside from Reinhart (I suspect he comes back up soon, possibly with a Fayne trade, although we should not discount a showcase month for Nikita Nikitin) I would guess we see two right-handed defenders, including a substantial player (Hamonic or better) to play with Klefbom. If Todd McLellan has gone this long with Nurse—Sekera we may be looking at the first true pairing of the ”McLellan Oilers” era.

MCLELLAN’S FORMER PLAYERS

  • Logan Couture: ”I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am without Todd and this whole coaching staff.” Source

SCORING AND GOALTENDING, LAST 10 GAMES (5-3-2)

  1. Taylor Hall 10, 3-5-8
  2. Leon Draisaitl 10, 3-4-7
  3. Teddy Purcell 10, 1-6-7
  4. Jordan Eberle 10, 4-0-4
  5. Mark Letestu 10, 2-2-4
  6. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 0-4-4
  7. Benoit Pouliot 7, 2-1-3
  8. Andrej Sekera 9, 1-2-3
  9. Brandon Davidson 8, 0-2-2
  10. Matt Hendricks 10, 1-1-2
  11. Oscar Klefbom 10, 1-1-2
  12. Lauri Koprikoski 10, 1-1-2
  13. Anton Lander 9, 0-2-2
  14. Iiro Pakarinen 10, 2-0-2
  15. Luke Gazdic 4, 1-0-1
  16. Jujhar Khaira 5, 0-1-1
  17. Darnell Nurse 10, 0-1-1
  18. Justin Schultz 5, 0-1-1
  19. Nail Yakupov 4, 0-1-1
  20. Anders Nilsson 9, 1.97 .937
  21. Cam Talbot 1, 4.00 .875

Anders Nilsson was the star of this stretch, no doubt at all. The Hall—Draisaitl pairing found a quality third in Teddy Purcell and that is a very good thing. At the very least, we will see an increase in trade value for the veteran winger.

As this snapshot shows, that Nuge—Eberle line needs to pump up the offense, but it is also true recent games have seen exactly that step being made. Scorers take time to get comfortable and find the range, 14 has been saying he is comfortable for some time and now the results are coming.

TRADE WINDOW OPEN FOR CHIARELLI?

I think we are in the window of opportunity for trade at this point. A few key things have happened through the first 28 games of the season:

  • The players from the previous regime who were not part of the solution (including Nikita Nikitin) have been identified and are gone or going.
  • The previous admin appears to have been incorrect about the NHL-readiness of Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl.
  • Peter Chiarelli has had a chance to evaluate players, and has made his decision on men like Mark Fayne, Anton Lander and Justin Schultz.
  • Todd McLellan knows what he wants to get this team to the next level. I would suggest his list would include more consistent secondary scoring, more physical edge front and back, and more penalty killers. That is a guess.

What is the next step? I think we could see at least one addition in the coming days and weeks. What kind of player will they be looking for?

  • A big forward who can play up and down the lineup, probably a winger but that isn’t a certainty.
  • A right-handed defenseman who has a range of skills and can play the McLellan style (which requires the ability to both stand up the sortie at the blue, win the skating contest back to the puck when it is dumped in on that same sortie, and then identify the best plan of action when arriving at the puck).

WHO are these men? Don’t know. Stylistically, Nathan Horton and Travis Hamonic probably fit in my opinion, but their actual names and their asset cost is beyond me. We should also begin to see Chiarelli add back draft selections lost from the 2015 draft, although the quality of this year’s draft may dictate a prospect return instead.

there will be blood

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun morning with friends, 10 on TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Our friend will give us his insight into a team that appears to be heading north with a full tank of gas and a motor that runs. No idiot lights blinking either.
  • Sean Bissell, Donnan Hockey. An exciting night for Sean, and your Ask the Coach questions.
  • Tom Lynn, Veritas Hockey. Expansion opportunities for players, and we will speak of the young Tikhonov, now a Coyote.
  • Allana Phillips, CFL is for Girls. Eskimos Grey Cup win and all kinds of activity since.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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625 Responses to "G29 2015-16: SHARKS AT OILERS"

« Older Comments
  1. stevezie says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”,

    Yak in an incredibly lovable guy who was at one point in time the best payer in the world for his age, so I’m very happy to keep him.

    But we are four years in and the most generous description of his playis he can play with the eilite, but can’t drive anything on his own. Even then, he was mostly racking up assists with CmcD, not pulling the trigger which was supposed to be his calling card. Stingier dossiers exist.

    I would love to give him an entire season to gel, but if there is one player who’s perceived value could quickly eclipse his actual value, it’s the Yak.

    But first let’s just see. First time in his career he’s had a good centre.

  2. stevezie says:

    Centre of attention,

    Tradition says he gets a shot at his old team on Friday, no?

    It’s all well and good to ride a streak but Nilsson needs a rest sometime, right?

  3. striatic says:

    Lowetide:
    1-2-3 for Caleb Jones tonight. 0-1-1 for Ethan Bear.

    Went to a T-Birds game on Saturday. Bear was pretty good, but Barzal .. jeez .. I’ve seen him play a bunch in previous years and had been hot and cold on drafting him but he is next level in his Draft +1. Leads the league in Assists.

    A bit of a knot in my stomach knowing the Oilers missed him. Haven’t seen a player dominate like that in that arena since back when Neiderreiter would routinely break hearts.

  4. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    stevezie,

    But Yak wasn’t just riding McDavid’s coattails. Would like to see him the rest of the year first.

  5. Centre of attention says:

    I think Nuge has been awarded a goal for a deflection on Paks shot.

  6. stevezie says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”,

    Seeing him without 97 was a sobering experience. That said, I agree that he was a contributor when the two were together. Pou also comboed nicely with them, as he did with Ebs and RNH. I am not as anxious to move Pou as some.

  7. Centre of attention says:

    I think something clicked with Nuge and face offs. 7 games in a row above 50% on the dot. Tonight he was 69%. giggity.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention:
    I think something clicked with Nuge and face offs. 7 games in a row above 50% on the dot. Tonight he was 69%. giggity.

    I think he was floored by the illness, may have been dehydrated too. Either way, nice turnaround.

  9. B S says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”,

    Yeah, people seem to forget that McDavid wasn’t producing much at all until Yak moved to that line. Now, I don’t doubt McDavid’s ability or his competence, and he’ll probably play well with any winger willing to dig the puck out of the corners for him, but Yak was producing at a pt/gm for $2.5 million a year. Put whoever you want on McDavid’s wing but I don’t think they’re going to produce like that for so little cap hit.

  10. Lois Lowe says:

    I watched the Sharks feed and was as impressed as many others here about the quality of the broadcast. Definitely one of the top PBP tandems in the league. As a tier 4 fan, I stream almost all the games and end up seeing more American feeds than Canadian ones. Maybe they were charitable because of McLellan but I was very impressed all the same. On that note, I’m sure Principe is a nice guy, but I cannot stand his schtick. My father, who is a very mild mannered Catholic, routinely loses his mind at the puns and inane gimmicks Gene uses. Maybe it’s a genetic thing…

    I also didn’t read any of this thread until after the game was over, you lot are the definition of bipolar (I’m no different, but it’s hilarious to read through when you know the outcome). I was fully expecting the Oilers to break and am happy that they stayed with the program and were rewarded. They have been in most games, as evidenced by the last three OT/SO wins, but it’s such a refreshing change from turning the game off in disgust halfway through the second period.

    At this point, I don’t see Chia making a move until the team is healthy unless it involves Mr. Fayne (props to whomever dropped that today, it’s much better than the Carly Simon one).

    As for scoreboard watching, well, many here have poor memory (a blessing if you’re an Oilers fan) because we have followed the worst teams in the NHL to see what the lottery odds were going to be. It’s nice to not have to do that before Christmas.

  11. Diesel says:

    I’ve been scoreboard watching every night for 9 years because Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto losses were the only thing bringing me any NHL joy (out of pure spite).

  12. Diesel says:

    On another note, I can watch Draisaitl play the hockey all damn day. He’s beginning to truly think the game like a veteran, and when you pair that with size, speed, and skill… you get: The Professional.

  13. SwedishPoster says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    SwedishPoster,

    Outstanding report as usual, SP. Mind if I quote you? That is first-rate stuff.

    Late answer, I was heading to bed, but ofc you’re free to quote me. It’d be my honour. Wrote it on my phone though and never had time to edit so the language is a bit all over the place.

    And wooot we’re streaking without McDavid!

  14. flyfish1168 says:

    Lander did lots of nice things in last evening game. 3 hits. 2:35 on the PK. 10-1 on the DOT, that is awesome.

  15. Pouzar says:

    flyfish1168:
    Lander did lots of nice things in last evening game. 3 hits. 2:35 on the PK.10-1 on the DOT, that is awesome.

    Yes. Yes it is.

  16. Traktor says:

    Why does Draisaitl wear number 29?

  17. leadfarmer says:

    Traktor:
    Why does Draisaitl wear number 29?

    Because Joe Colborne was born on the 30th and since he’s not quite worthy he subtracted a number and got 29

  18. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    leadfarmer: Because Joe Colborne was born on the 30th and since he’s not quite worthy he subtracted a number and got 29

    Close the thread. Leadfarmer wins.

  19. Pouzar says:

    Looking where Drai resides in scoring and I see Lee F6ckin Stempniak at 22 points in 28 games.
    F^ckin PTO.

  20. PhrankLee says:

    Well that was wow.

    First time in a long time. LT you are so right that Anders has settled down the fans. Has that effect on the team too.

    JJ did well. He blew the coverage on the goal against but will learn that with experience. I think his size really helped the 1 line.

    This bullshit of non calls against Hall is bewildering. I’m a homer? Is it not obvious? Man he gets hacked a lot without consequence.

    Great win. Taylor for captain. Heads and shoulders above.

  21. Water Fire says:

    PhrankLee:
    Well that was wow.

    First time in a long time. LT you are so right that Anders has settled down the fans. Has that effect on the team too.

    JJ did well. He blew the coverage on the goal against but will learn that with experience. I think his size really helped the 1 line.

    This bullshit of non calls against Hall is bewildering. I’m a homer? Is it not obvious? Man he gets hacked a lot without consequence.

    Great win. Taylor for captain. Heads and shoulders above.

    The Oilers need a Lecter who admires Hall – quid pro quo. The kind of guy who you can only stand when he’s on your team. I’d prefer the league call it’s own rules but they won’t and it’s not even close to playoffs. How ugly will it get then?

    Trade Fayne for Marchand!

  22. Pouzar says:

    PhrankLee: I’m a homer? Is it not obvious?

    Maybe? 🙂
    Yes.

  23. PhrankLee says:

    Water Fire: Trade Fayne for Marchand!

    You mean Marchment, maybe?

    I would love to have Marchand, seriously. He is a hell of a hockey player.

    I remember the old Bub Slug comic in the EJ and there was a frame where Kevin McClelland was giving advice to a rookie and he told him if he ever got into trouble to just shoot the puck into the crowd as hard as he could. Ha ha.

    We are standing up for ourselves finally. I like the prospect of that.

    I like it a lot.

  24. Water Fire says:

    I just found out yesterday Justin Bourne got hired to a hockey job and won’t be writing it seems, not that he has been much lately.

    It’s hard for a dedicated hockey blog reader to keep losing the interesting writers that can penetrate the game in a useful way.

    LT if you get offered a job, come to us first and maybe we can work out a crowd source or donation schedule.

  25. Pouzar says:

    Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) :

    Just got a note: Tying goal last night in EDM awarded to Nugent-Hopkins, his 1st in 12 games. From Pakarinen and Eberle.

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