BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

That was a strange hockey game last night. If we tried to make a list of what went wrong, we would have to pack a lunch because it would take all day. Anders Nilsson is going to get the horns today, but my goodness he had a lot of company. Both teams were miserable in coverage, line changes and giveaways. Sometimes the hockey is ragged, last night was such an evening.

THIS FLIGHT TONIGHT, 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: 7-6-1
  • Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
  • Oilers in January 2016: 4-3-2
  • Oilers after 48 in 2014-15: 12-27-9, 33 points (-52 GD)
  • Oilers after 48 in 2015-16: 19-24-5, 43 points (-23 GD)

Not a grand night, but I think we went into the evening with the belief this would be a tough one to win. Suspect any bad feelings this morning come from the feeling of hope those two third-period goals gave us. They are getting closer, but the lack of balance on this roster is real and spectacular.

  • Individual High-Danger Scoring Chances: Leon Draisaitl (2); Zack Kassian (2); Taylor Hall (1); Benot Pouliot (1); Darnell Nurse (1); Iiro Pakarinen (1); Mark Fayne (1); Justin Schultz (1).

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

oilers blue nov 30

  • Sekera—Fayne handled things well, for me Sekera was much better than the Florida game in terms of avoiding mental errors. A solid performance by this emerging pairing, the only quibble for me is their TOI trailed some others.
  • Nurse—Gryba had difficult moments last night, but I don’t think they were the reason Edmonton lost the game. Plenty of blame to go around on this night, this duo gets their share. Nurse is running around a lot now, they need to get that side of his game under control. He is chasing the puck carrier to the moon, and that leaves the slot or another danger area exposed. Not good. When the puck carrier is at your blue line and you are next to him, that means a helluva lot of guys are between you and the goalie. Can’t play defense that way, not with this team.
  • Davidson—Schultz are two ships going in opposite directions. Davidson was +3 during the blitz, we shall not be worrying about him for the next decade—unless his brain gets too big for his head. He was up against a good line and was wheeling a lot in his own end, but tried to make a difference—and often did. Schultz gets a large target for his role on any number of dog whistles, but I was especially unimpressed with his Moses impersonation when parting with Davidson to allow that rat fink Ryan Callahan a free lane to the net (Davidson took a penalty just in time).
  • Just one point for the defense last night, Darnell Nurse shovel-pass to daylight that was more clearing the zone than setting up Mark Letestu.

CENTERS, LAST NIGHT

oil c nov 30

  • Leon Draisaitl and his line had their moments, but also missed opportunities and lapses in coverage. With Nuge out, more has to be given, but I have a very hard time thinking we should expect Leon to provide even greater contributions.
  • Mark Letestu and his trio performed well, ML was brilliant on his shorthanded goal and I thought moved the puck in a good direction. He isn’t fast or terrifically skilled or a lot of things, but he makes the safe play a lot and on this team that is very important.
  • Anton Lander has played 178 NHL games. 71 percent in the dot, great on the PK. He is Erik Condra, without the offense.
  • Matt Hendricks had a tough assignment and aside from the faceoffs (64 percent) there isn’t much to show for all the hard work.
  • The centers scored two goals and that is good production. I think they performed pretty well all things considered. Look, they need Nuge folks, and he isn’t coming back. They were good considering their abilities and experience.

WINGERS, LAST NIGHT

oilers f nov 30

  • Taylor Hall—Teddy Purcell looked good by the numbers and Hall sent a gorgeous pass to Leon for a goal. That said, Hall was -3 on the night and his coach was not pleased, although I think he could have used the Luba defense in a court of law. Purcell was part of the problem on the 0-1 goal.
  • Pouliot—Eberle were part of a line with Hendricks that couldn’t get much going, although I saw Pouliot good in this game (believe it or not). He delays progress like a bugger for the opposition and I like his passing a lot. Jordan Eberle had one of his poorest games, one of those where he seems to be surprised when he gets the puck.
  • Iiro Pakarinen had a helluva game, scoring one, assisting on another, hitting everything in sight and moving up and down the lineup like Casey Candaele in 1987. He was 8-2 with Letestu, 8-4 with Kassian, 3-6 with Lander, 3-2 with Hendricks, 0-1 with Hall, 1-4 with Eberle, 2-1 with Draisaitl, 2-0 with Purcell, 1-0 with Yakupov and 0-0 with Pouliot but did play 28 seconds with him (these are all evens Corsi events).
  • Zack Kassian was damned impressive I have to say. If he keeps doing this, the stink eye I have been giving him (quietly, under the radar, but he knows something is going on) will fade away. I honestly thought he would have spaghetti legs last night but he played well start to finish. Got under Stamkos skin like a Tikkanen. Are we going to like Kassian? Is that how this turns out?
  • Nail Yakupov was not as brilliant as he was in the first games back. Hurt early, he didn’t have the extra gear of the early games, and seemed to be unaware of his role on the winning goal. I really like Nail, but he needs to make that play if he wants to make a difference. Seriously. He should have been back on the play, to the point where the goalie would not lose control of his senses.

NILSSON OIL CAPTURE

ANDERS NILSSON

A bad night for a goalie who hasn’t had a good one in some time. He may need more B-12. He may need a trip to Bakersfield in the next while. Perhaps bring up Laurent Brossoit for a few games? Seems like a plan. Todd McLellan may feel differently. There is pressure here, tomorrow is not promised to Todd McLellan. If he is in this same position next season, the Oilers will be into their second decade of losing and the coach will have spent 18 months trying to get up that hill. No sir.

rnh barons

NUGE

  • Pierre Lebrun: I don’t think Edmonton – in fact I know – they were not shopping him. I don’t think that was a priority for them, was to trade Nugent-Hopkins. But it doesn’t prevent other teams from checking in, because he’s a young center. Source

Interesting. This runs counter to what Mark Spector said less than a week ago (and we discussed at the time):

  • Mark Spector: Chiarelli had no comment on this report, neither confirming nor issuing a denial when reached. And of course, Nashville general manager David Poile chose to deal Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen instead. What it tells us is that Chiarelli sees Nugent-Hopkins as the one player from the Oilers former core that can command the greatest return — yet at the same time is expendable. Source

This Nuge thing has always left me scratching my head, because (as the link indicates) Spector is in fact a credible source. It would be easy for me to write ‘Spector doesn’t know what he is talking about’ but in the time I worked with him that was not the case. At all. Mark Spector has connections, gets major stories, and I do not recall one of them that came back and bit him.

That is what is strange about this story. Spector says Chiarelli had no comment, and I believe him. That tells me Nashville was the source, but the Oilers would have known this story had legs (it has been around awhile) and then chose to do nothing (Lebrun’s verbal seem coincidental to the overall story and how it is playing out in Edmonton). Here is what I think I know:

  • Mark Spector didn’t make this up. He wouldn’t jeopardize his relationship with Peter Chiarelli (Spector has gotten every major story since PC arrived in Edmonton, scooping Jim Matheson, Terry Jones and many others) over this, because it is not a major story.
  • Mark Spector has written on this subject more than once. Whoever his source is, it is a trusted one and I would guess he either has a second source or someone else who heard the same thing.
  • Nashville may have had a reason to get Nugent-Hopkins name out there (selfish ones) in terms of exciting the locals over Seth Jones or perhaps indicating to Columbus there were other suitors.
  • The Oilers did nothing about the story, let it sit out there building, for some time.

I would like to think Peter Chiarelli knows the full value of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a player. I would like to think the organization has an idea about how ridiculous it would be to send him away for defensive help this soon in the careers of Leon and McDavid. I have to tell you that I am not confident of that fact this morning. The way this story rolled out, hung in the air, and was not addressed for a long period tells me either something did happen with Nashville (beyond a simple phone call) or that the Oilers are fine with their center flapping in the wind like one of those big Canadian flags at the highway Husky.

I have defended Peter Chiarelli because of his (mostly) good work in Boston, but the way the Nuge reports have been handled leaves me flummoxed. I think Peter Chiarelli has some things to learn about this market. Perhaps he can ask Mark Spector the next time the two men are in conversation.

KLEFBOM

  • Todd McLellan: “He broke a bone in his knuckle and we thought he’d be back in five days … we look like morons. He got hurt originally on Glen Sather (banner) night. That was like four years ago (Dec. 11). He might be out two months.” Source

Very discouraging. We talked in summer about the lack of balance, and we absolutely discussed life without Oscar or Sekera and what it would look like. That is one reason I have a hard time getting too angry at the defense last night. What should our expectations be? Imagine this team without Brandon Davidson. Balance. Depth. The Oilers haven’t been close to having it on defense since the fall of 2006. Who does this? Only the Oilers.

reinhart bak

GRIFFIN REINHART

  • Scott Zerr: Not once has he had a game where you’d be convinced he’s ready for consistent NHL work. His lack of dominance at this level is very unnerving. If he doesn’t put something together after the all-star break, more in-depth concerns will emerge. Source

This is something to watch, because the verbal from Peter Chiarelli has been that GR is close and that we should see him in the next little while. In the days before Chiarelli, the GM would call up the touted defender and play him, in the hopes he turns it around. What is likely to happen in a case of this kind? If Reinhart can’t perform better than the man he is replacing, the fans are going to turn on him. No. It is better to keep Reinhart on the farm until he is comfortable and delivering consistent performances. When will that be? We wait.

ronstadtlinda1

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy show this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Bruce will explain to us last night’s game. He may need extra time.
  • Kurtis Mucha, Donnan and Vimy Hockey. Get your goalie questions to me, we talk about them at 10:40.
  • Michael Tanier, Bleacher Report. NFL weekend and some recent hirings.
  • Corey Graham, TSN 1260. The Oil Kings try to find consistency.

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

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223 Responses to "BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND"

« Older Comments
  1. Lowetide says:

    russ99:
    I love Yakupov due to his enthusiasm and drive (that Dallas Eakins would have cleaved out of lesser men) and his near elite puck and shooting skills.

    But as with our other high picks, they were always the man in junior and didn’t learn the ins and outs of two-way play and our dunderheaded management rushed them to the bigs so they had to learn on the job vs. the best in the world.

    So I’m not going to rail against Nail, but just continue to say our skill forwards need to learn some lessons in coverage the D-zone and a little more effort would go a long way. And that goes for most of our D too.

    The thing I always go back to on Nail is that he didn’t get Shawn Horcoff for a full season (as Hall/Eberle did as rookies). Hey received Sam Gagner, and itwas a half season.

  2. RexLibris says:

    bendelson:
    I’ll let you folks debate the % fault of Yakupov on the goal last night… but I will say this:

    Nilsson was tentative coming out the net.Very bad.
    He was also tentative, when it finally occurred to him he wasn’t going to get to the puck first.
    Don’t slow up and wave your stick at the player as he passes… dig in Anders!If you aren’t going to get to the puck, then make damn certain you take the player out!Another bad choice.

    Hasek would be very disappointed in that effort, to be sure.

    Now that I think of it, I wonder what Billy Smith would’ve done to Boyle in that situation?

    Or to put it another way, I wonder, after what Billy Smith would’ve done to Boyle, when he would have been released from the hospital?

  3. Lois Lowe says:

    RexLibris:
    russ99,

    This is, in effect, something I had argued for earlier.

    Yakupov was, I believe, coached in a kind of laissez faire style in his junior career.

    In the Kuznetsov article in the Player’s Tribune, he says that Russian vs North American approaches to coaching are vastly different. Yak may be trying to unlearn some of his most ingrained habits.

  4. godot10 says:

    admiralmark:

    I’ll give Reinhart till next season to develop into a top 4 role. Hell ill give him 2 years. But if the decision was made knowing he would take possibly 2-3 more years to develop? Then this was a very poor decision. As the ONLY redeeming reasoning for this move was he could provide more immediate help. I only hope that IF he does become a bust. That Chiarelli/Nicholson have the balls to remove MacT/Howson from the equation. As it stands Bob Green was just another nepotistic decison i’m all too familiar with. Hopefully he’s the one that actually pans out?

    What is wrong with taking two or three years? Barzal was/is going to be a complete non-factor for the next two or three years too. A defenseman drafted at 16 probably would have taken four or five years to be a factor.

    Chiarelli spread up the process of having a cheap capable defensemen in Reinhart precisely when he has to re-sign almost all the expensive players.

  5. OF17 says:

    Does anyone know if Reinhart needs to clear waivers next year?

  6. Lowetide says:

    OF17:
    Does anyone know if Reinhart needs to clear waivers next year?

    No, he is ineligible for waivers next season.

  7. Lowetide says:

    godot10: What is wrong with taking two or three years?Barzal was/is going to be a complete non-factor for the next two or three years too. A defenseman drafted at 16 probably would have taken four or five years to be a factor.

    Chiarelli spread up the process of having a cheap capable defensemen in Reinhart precisely when he has to re-sign almost all the expensive players.

    Nothing. What IS wrong is bringing him up when he isn’t ready. The Oilers took their time with Klefbom, why not Reinhart? Or Nurse, for that matter (although Nurse was one of the six best D this season).

  8. stevezie says:

    I’ll be walking the West Highland Way and then going to the Isle of Skye in MArch, and I can’t wait. Hoping to hot Orkney too at some point.

    Anyone wondering what Rex meant by Glasgow’s well-earned reputation, I’d say this clip describes the city’s personality as well as anything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR3w5Ci-h9M

  9. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide: Nothing. What IS wrong is bringing him up when he isn’t ready. The Oilers took their time with Klefbom, why not Reinhart? Or Nurse, for that matter (although Nurse was one of the six best D this season).

    I think what I’ve learned from Brandon Davidson is that you have to identify and promote your BEST defensemen on the periphery of the NHL.

    The Condors are effectively a competition amongst the young D, drafted across different years or seasoned through college, to battle for ice time to prove that they’re the alpha of the group and most deserving of promotion to the show.

    Klefbom was undeniably the AHL club’s best D to start last season, while Davidson was the best during last years playoffs. Nurse was the best D to start this season.

    It hasn’t been very long, but it’s unnerving to learn that Griffin Reinhart isn’t the team’s best blueliner. I do however believe that he ultimately will be, and when he unequivocally is, I agree that’s when he should get the call up … And if that’s not until 2017 then so be it.

  10. stevezie says:

    Lowetide,
    No, nothing. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready, and it doesn’t mean he’ll never make it.

    Not that it isn’t still a problem. It does seem further proof that they sure saw us coming. The picks put down should have bought more.

    And now, because those assets are spent, and on top of that Reinhart is taking a slot in the order, it’s a little harder to add the Dman we need today. It wasn’t just the picks, it’s the opportunity cost.

    However, if we accept the mistakes of yesterday as having happened and want to just move on positively-an attitude which I endorse- then I agree the team is handling him well. Chia is eating some pride and not trying to force it which is already a step ahead of past managers.

  11. theres oil in virginia says:

    stephen sheps: Jultz is gonna Jultz, unfortunately…

    In other, non-hockey related news I wanted to share briefly another of my tales of life in the south:

    I am happy to report that I did not have to go into work today as the university decided that due to the threat of inclement weather, today would be a snow day. I understand that in Tennessee they lack the infrastructure to ensure safe roadways in the event of snowfall or freezing rain, but instead of waiting to see what happened, they cancelled classes and closed the university last night around 8PM due to what they’re calling a winter weather alert and extreme cold.

    Temperature: -1c (yes… they find that cold here!)

    Expected snowfall: 5cm
    Expected freezing rain: 2-4mm

    Actual snowfall: 0
    Actual freezing rain: trace

    For the most part I hate my current position and, other than being paid in USD, I would give just about anything to come back to Canada, in an academic capacity or otherwise, (and am definitely trying to find my way home) but on ‘snow days’ like this, the south is pretty sweet.

    The culture is sometimes tough to deal with. The university system here has welfare sickness. Nobody works and it infects everyone.

    The issue with the snow is that the school busses go around on some roads that can’t handle a little snow and then they get into big trouble. Snow days are built in to the schedule. Not sure why the University closed though.

    You know we’re slated to (hopefully not) get two feet of snow up here in VA on Friday? I’m guessing you’re going to get some of that storm too.

  12. TheWhiskyKiwi says:

    stevezie:
    I’ll be walking the West Highland Way and then going to the Isle of Skye in MArch, and I can’t wait. Hoping to hot Orkney too at some point.

    Anyone wondering what Rex meant by Glasgow’s well-earned reputation, I’d say this clip describes the city’s personality as well as anything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR3w5Ci-h9M

    I live 20 minutes outside Glasgow. If you need any travel tips, whisky bars/distilleries to visit etc drop me an email thewhiskykiwi@hotmail.com

  13. CrazyCoach says:

    Ducey: Mr. Obvious (whose chief source of authority seems to rest with the fact he is always certain he is right

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  14. CrazyCoach says:

    RexLibris: Or to put it another way, I wonder, after what Billy Smith would’ve done to Boyle, when he would have been released from the hospital?

    Speaking of crazy goalies. I know a cat down south who watched Battlin’ Billy berate a team of bantams for lack of intensity during a shooting drill. Billy commandeered the goalies glove and stick, took to the crease, and yelled at the kids to shoot it as hard as they could.

    That intensity never leaves some players.

    If Billy could bottle that and sell it, he’d be a billionaire.

  15. CrazyCoach says:

    Lowetide: Nothing. What IS wrong is bringing him up when he isn’t ready. The Oilers took their time with Klefbom, why not Reinhart? Or Nurse, for that matter (although Nurse was one of the six best D this season)

    From what I’ve seen, if they can be patient with Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear, the future is very bright for the Oilers D.

  16. sliderule says:

    I read that Scott Zerr is in Bakersfield at least part of the time.

    His report on Reinhart is probably not good news for Griffs future with oilers.

    Remember last year when Willis was filing negative reports on Marinicin..We know how that worked out.

    I would assume Zerr has access to coaches and much like Willis you are getting their view of Griff not necessarily some reporters ..

    If they bring Reinhart up and he performs well what Condors coaches think means nothing.

    If he falters expect a move this summer.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Tampa Bay Lightning Verified account
    ‏@TBLightning

    Jonathan Drouin has been suspended indefinitely without pay after failing to report for tonight’s Syracuse Crunch game vs. Toronto.

  18. oliveoilers says:

    About 20lockquote cite=”comment-496238″>

    stevezie:
    I’ll be walking the West Highland Way and then going to the Isle of Skye in MArch, and I can’t wait. Hoping to hot Orkney too at some point.

    Anyone wondering what Rex meant by Glasgow’s well-earned reputation, I’d say this clip describes the city’s personality as well as anything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR3w5Ci-h9M

    About 20 years ago, a young, gangly 17yo soldier went on a hiking trip, walking the WHW.

    Turns out it was a big pub crawl. Finished the week climbing Ben Nevis. Had my 18th birthday in Fort William where excellent locals took a young sassenach and got him drunk.

    Enjoy!

  19. RexLibris says:

    Lois Lowe: In the Kuznetsov article in the Player’s Tribune, he says that Russian vs North American approaches to coaching are vastly different. Yak may be trying to unlearn some of his most ingrained habits.

    But he was coached in NA from the age of 16 on.

    He did well in his half-season over in the KHL during the lockout.

    No doubt some of it is to unlearn, but I think there’s a lot of hockey sense they are trying to teach him now.

  20. RexLibris says:

    CrazyCoach: Speaking of crazy goalies.I know a cat down south who watched Battlin’ Billy berate a team of bantams for lack of intensity during a shooting drill.Billy commandeered the goalies glove and stick, took to the crease, and yelled at the kids to shoot it as hard as they could.

    That intensity never leaves some players.

    If Billy could bottle that and sell it, he’d be a billionaire.

    Awesome story. Thanks!

  21. stevezie says:

    oliveoilers,

    Will do!

  22. Ryan says:

    godot10: What is wrong with taking two or three years?Barzal was/is going to be a complete non-factor for the next two or three years too. A defenseman drafted at 16 probably would have taken four or five years to be a factor.

    Chiarelli spread up the process of having a cheap capable defensemen in Reinhart precisely when he has to re-sign almost all the expensive players.

    There are some lofty ideals among some at this blog on the magical powers of giving players time to develop or “marinate” with the assumption that more time means more development means which then equates to a top four dman or top six player at the end of the process. This is counterbalanced by the reality that, in this instance, there are no comparables for Reinhart taking two or three years to develop from the time of acquisition that ends in a top four defenseman.

    In short, I’m certainly not arguing against giving Reinhart more time to develop, but I can’t agree with the premise that him taking another year or two to develop shouldn’t raise concern about him potentially never being a top four defenseman in the NHL.

    Either way, I agree with Stevezie that they certainly saw us coming on that transaction.

  23. GCW_69 says:

    godot10: What is wrong with taking two or three years?Barzal was/is going to be a complete non-factor for the next two or three years too. A defenseman drafted at 16 probably would have taken four or five years to be a factor.

    Chiarelli spread up the process of having a cheap capable defensemen in Reinhart precisely when he has to re-sign almost all the expensive players.

    The cap won’t be a problem because if this team doesn’t turn north soon, you think Hall is going to wait around? It would not surprise me at all if Hall asks for a trade this summer and I won’t begrudge him if he does.

    At some point the team needs to draw a line in the sand and say no further. No more falling back (waiting for futures). The time to win is now. Today. In my view that time was last summer.

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