One of the decisions Peter Chiarelli made early in the season—the Darnell Nurse recall—saw Griffin Reinhart sent to the minors. Now, Reinhart’s demotion may have had a lot to do with Leon Draisaitl’s emergence (and bonus dollars on the books for those two men, and Connor McDavid), but it turned out just that way. In last night’s game, Griffin Reinhart played far better than Darnell Nurse—and maybe, just maybe, that means AHL time for Nurse next season and a similar, Reinhart-route to the NHL. Those minor league games have value.
DAY AFTER DAY, 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: 4-5-2
- Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
- Oilers in February 2016: 4-8-2
- Oilers in March 2015: 5-6-3
- Oilers in March 2016: 6-6-0
- Oilers after 76 in 2014-15: 23-40-13, 59 points (-68 GD)
- Oilers after 76 in 2015-16: 29-40-7, 65 points (-40 GD)
Oilers got hammered by a barrage of hits (some illegal, surely) in the third period before Zack Kassian, Reinhart and a few others put the boots to various Coyotes. Now we’re on to California and wrap up a good lottery position. I liked the team last night, truth to tell. Strike that last remark.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Two: Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- One: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Andrej Sekera, Griffin Reinhart, Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl
- Oilers tied the IH-DSC battle 10-10.
OILERS DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Reinhart—Oesterle looked good for much of the game—notice they did not see the Hanzal line as top opponent—and could have cashed a goal if luck had been on their side. Reinhart had two good chances, one glorious, and Oesterle played well and moved the puck creatively. He got crunched a time or two, and both men got walked by Tobias Rieder on a GA that was a lot about poor execution. Young defense. Who knew? Oesterle caught my eye on the power play, got those pucks through.
- Sekera—Fayne played the toughs and won the possession battle, and I saw them mostly good. Fayne had some quality defensive moments, Todd McLellan used him like a 5 and I suspect that is what he will be next season should he return. I think they was one of the four best blue last night and it wasn’t close. Sekera got an assist on the PP, but he started wobbly with the passing and had some very confusing moments with the biscuit. A rare vapor-lock evening at times, he got an assist and was half of the tough-minutes pairing. He was also 0-6 with Nurse.
- Nurse—Clendening were not good, and I think it is probably reasonable to suggest the Oilers are not helping Nurse with more NHL time. He has been outplayed by Griffin Reinhart—a lesser prospect—for at least some games now and the season ending numbers are going to favor the Oil Kings defender. Nurse was 2-10 against Hanzal, 1-7 against Vermette, and we’re on the California where the centers are giant redwoods. I remain a big fan of Nurse’s future, but his present is tough to watch, and he should be in Bakersfield.
- We know prospects don’t develop in a straight line, so let’s agree we could be talking about these two men (Nurse, Reinhart) in a completely different way a year from now. One thing I will say: We can (once again) see the reason Chiarelli added a 21-year old defender for the picks. He needed more in the young pro cluster, and the recent performances for the top 10 picks (D division) confirms the wisdom of the move (if not the value of the trade).
OILERS CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Hall—Nuge—Draisaitl had some good things going on until the injury to RNH. The trio totaled four high-danger scoring chances, and Hall will probably have that late chance running through his mind all day. I thought all three men played hard, not as smart as you would hope. They did face the Hanzal line, but also the Stone pairing—there was an opportunity there, to my eye. Nuge injury contributed, but opportunity missed. Nuge didn’t take a faceoff, Leon was 50 percent. Oh, one more thing: If you are the one calling Taylor Hall a cancer, please leave the forum. You are not welcome here.
- Pakarinen—McDavid—Eberle did some great things. McDavid was 17-7 against OEL, he cashed two points (both on PP) and had five of the line’s 10 shots. Eberle scored the first goal, and the trio had three high-danger scoring chances. McDavid was 35 percent on the dot.
- Hendricks—Lander—Kassian played well, posting some good possession numbers. Lander did not win the faceoff battle (38 percent) and curiously did not play much on the PK (25 seconds). Every time his skates cut ice as an Oiler now, you have to wonder if this is the last game he will play with the club. Hendricks worked like a bugger, led Oiler forwards in PK time and gave max effort. Zack Kassian answered a six-pack of Coyotes hits with a substantial collision of his own.
— SensChirp (@SensChirp) March 23, 2016
If the Ottawa Senators are willing to do business (as their owner has suggested) then Peter Chiarelli needs to get on that phone and keep talking until something gets done. I cannot believe they would trade Erik Karlsson, so let’s not even entertain the thought. Up front? Mika Zibanejad, Mark Stone, Curtis Lazar, hell I have always liked Zack Smith! Wonderful news for NHL teams if Ottawa is going to tear it down. Get in there, Pete!
ERMAHGERD HOW DID TAYLOR HALL MISS THAT?! *faints* -bm #oilers
— OilersNation (@OilersNation) March 23, 2016
In the olden days, they would say a scorer (or a batter) was ‘snake-bit’ when enduring a run like Taylor Hall has in the back half of the season. Part of this is the power play—the big train doesn’t run through Hall anymore, the scoring train runs from McDavid now—and part of it is surely the slumping (and loss of that extra step) by Leon Draisaitl. The verbal now has Hall being a negative, a problem, and that my friends is exactly as crazy as it sounds. Whenever this conversation comes up, I like to list Pete Rose’s batting averages over a 10-year period beginning when he was 27:
10 WAYS TO IMPROVE NEXT SEASON
- Shoot the guy who approved the schedule. What a mess. Insanity personified. Give the guy the same sporting chance he gave the Oilers: Six bullets in the chamber, good luck!
- Better health. Admittedly this is a lot about lighting candles and hoping for average luck, but good lord this has been a terrible year for the maladies.
- Four actual defensemen. Opening night 2005-06, the Oilers pairings were Pronger-Staios; Ulanov-Smith; Cross-Bergeron. Quality, experience, range of skills. The following opening night? Tjarnqvist-Smith; Smid-Staios; Bergeron-Greene. The Oilers start the conversation on defense every fall from a position of weakness, and that is before the injuries. It is one reason why trading Mark Fayne is madness in my opinion. Experience has value.
- Fix the power play. Fix the power play.
- Find a righty shooter to go with Eberle and counter all those lefties.
- Start the season with one rookie.
- Pray for Oscar.
- Don’t do anything crazy like trade Taylor Hall.
- Do NOT fire the damned coach.
- If you are going to trade with Columbus, you better be right.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy day, TSN1260, 10am. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Wednesdays with Bruce are always enjoyable, even when the Oilers have lost the night before.
- Scott Zerr, Oilers Nation. Condors played last night, some emerging stories from California.
- Callum Fraser, Silver Seven Sens. Ottawa’s owner said some unusual things, what does it mean?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon.