The Edmonton Oilers got off to their usual soggy 0-1 start in Los Angeles, and added another GA just to make things criminal. Back at home, as tired Edmontonians fell in and out on sleep, the youngsters were trying to dig themselves out of another deficit. A couple of goals by defenders (Nurse and Klefbom) in the second period made things interesting but this team cannot get out of its own way these days. HDSC: 5-7 in a truly dull game, where coverage issues were the theme of the day.
GETTING IN TUNE, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-6-1 goal differential -11
- Oilers after 18, 2015: 6-12-0, goal differential -11
- Oilers after 18, 2016: 9-8-1, goal differential -1
We are looking at a hardy candy Christmas, and the Edmonton Oilers will once again spend another season learning the lessons of balance. Is it time to panic? No sir. Is it time to take a long look at needless bets like the one this team made at RW? Oh yes, I do think so.
DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
- No matter what the numbers say, the real issue for Edmonton last night was coverage, defense and forwards. Hockey is a lot about position and (lack of) space given to opponents, and this Oilers team is as loose as Crazy Horse at the Fillmore right now. My goodness.
- Sekera—Larsson (yes, that is correct) played 10:19 together and went 12-7. Sekera—Benning were 3-2 in 4:46 as well. Klefbom-Larsson were 9-5 in 7:27. Sekera made a sweet play to rob Jordan Nolan of a clean breakaway shot, Larsson needed to close the seam on that 2-0 goal (that is my opinion, your mileage may vary).
- Klefbom-Larsson were 9-5 in 7:27, Klefbom—Benning were 5-3 in 4:12.
- Nurse—Benning went 11-3 in eight minutes and Nurse—Gryba were 5-7 in 8:10. Nurse was high event both ways, which happens with youngsters. Scored a goal and beat the jailer on another but that puck slipped past the yawning cage. I won’t point the finger on the first goal, but he lost his man on goal two and that is a reflection of youth—he will get there in time. Gryba had a poor night to my eye, and looks like the coach left him behind a few times based on TOI. Needs to make quicker, better decisions and that was made clear on the first goal.
- It was a jumble in terms of pairings and opponents, lord lord what a blender. Sekera was 6-6 against Carter, Adam Larsson was 7-10 against Carter, Darnell Nurse was 4-5 against Carter, Eric Gryba was 2-5 against Carter, Klefbom was 4-4 against Carter and Benning was 5-0 against Carter! The mind boggles.
- Nurse and Klefbom scored the goals last night.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic—McDavid—Puljujarvi did a lot of fine work but could not cash. I expect we will see this trio again, maybe even Saturday. Lucic had some starific looks late, 97 was dishing like a bandito, but he (Lucic) does not have a sniper’s eye. The mannish boy had some good moments, too, the teenager has mature skills defensively. No points from the line, six shots from the trio. McDavid went 13-5 against Doughty, 6-6 against Carter. It has become cool to rip Lucic these days, for me the big winger had a good game, won battles and had some impressive looks.
- Maroon—Nuge—Eberle had some chem, as you would expect. Six shots for the line, and two points—and ladies, that is like pouring water on parched desert soil. They needed it. Nuge went 8-5 against Muzzin and 5-2 against Nick Dowd. Eberle called his shot on the 3-2 goal, appearing to identify clear danger before the faceoff, but unable to insert himself into the jailbreak that ensued.
- Pouliot—Draisaitl—Slepyshev played well (JP also spent some time on the line) and Leon made a great rush from his own end on the Nurse goal. The big center is going to have to do that from time to time, as the passing game appears to have fallen away during this slump. Helluva rush, two shots for the trio and they have to be better. The line went 6-5 against Carter.
- Kassian—Letestu—Pitlick didn’t play much, perhaps due to the stray bullet turnover on the first goal. I think this group should play more. This team is really burning the top end without letting the bottom end breathe. I wonder if that is part of the slump for McDavid.
CORSICA 5X5/60 (FORWARDS)
- Connor McDavid 2.45
- Tyler Pitlick 2.20
- Jordan Eberle 2.06
- Patrick Maroon 1.96
- Mark Letestu 1.58
- Leon Draisaitl 1.55
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.54
- Anton Lander 1.53
- Zack Kassian 1.45
- Benoit Pouliot 1.13
- Milan Lucic 0.93
- Jesse Puljujarvi 0.81
- Anton Slepyshev 0.70
Todd McLellan doesn’t sound overly worried about the offense, and I agree with that opinion. Connor McDavid did not have a good performance last night, and in fact his 5×5/60 number is reaching a point where we should expect a strong recovery in the coming games. His Corsica.hockey 5×5/60 a year ago was 2.67, that should be his line in the sand for this year.
IS IT TIME TO PANIC?
No. Seriously. Calm your tits. This is a marathon not a sprint and based on the lack of balance we saw leaving the train station it was pretty clear that an easy playoff slot was a distant bell. There has been real progress, as reflected (Nov 18) in the year over year Pacific Division standings:
- Los Angeles Kings 18gp, 12-6-0, 24 points
- San Jose Sharks 18gp, 10-8-0, 20 points
- Vancouver Canucks, 20gp, 7-7-6, 20 points
- Arizona Coyotes 18gp, 9-8-1, 19 points
- Anaheim Ducks 19gp, 6-9-4, 16 points
- Calgary Flames 20gp, 7-12-1, 15 points
- Edmonton Oilers 19gp, 6-12-1, 13 points
- Anaheim Ducks 18gp, 9-6-3, 21 points
- Edmonton Oilers 18gp, 9-8-1, 19 points
- San Jose Sharks 17gp, 9-8-0, 18 points
- Los Angeles Kings 18gp, 8-9-1, 17 points
- Calgary Flames 18gp, 7-10-1, 15 points
- Vancouver Canucks 18gp, 7-10-1, 15 points
- Arizona Coyotes 16gp, 5-9-2, 12 points
No team in the division this season is in the same kind of peril the Oilers were experiencing in 2015-16, but the bottom three teams need to dig themselves out and in a quick hurry. For the Oilers, this 2-7-1 record over the last 10 games hurt them but did not bury the season. Small victories are big steps.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Connor McDavid is in a slump and Cam Talbot lost the plot a little while back, but those two men will have better 10-game stanzas and Edmonton’s complementary group should be able to cobble together better production, too. Consider the totals from the last 10 games:
- Connor McDavid 10, 0-7-7
- Jordan Eberle 10, 2-5-7
- Patrick Maroon 10, 4-3-7
- Leon Draisaitl 10, 2-2-4
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 2-2-4
- Tyler Pitlick 10, 2-1-3
- Darnell Nurse 10, 2-0-2
- Milan Lucic 10, 1-1-2
- Andrej Sekera 10, 1-1-2
- Oscar Klefbom 10, 1-1-2
- Mark Letestu 10, 0-2-2
- Matt Benning 9, 0-2-2
- Adam Larsson 19, 1-0-1
- Anton Lander 9, 1-0-1
- Jesse Puljujarvi 8, 0-1-1
- Benoit Pouliot 10, 0-0-0
- Eric Gryba 9, 0-0-0
- Zack Kassian 8, 0-0-0
- Anton Slepyshev 5, 0-0-0
- Kris Russell 3, 0-0-0
- Taylor Beck 1, 0-0-0
- Cam Talbot (1-6-1) 8, 3.14 .891
- Jonas Gustavsson (1-1-0) 2, 2.54 .896
The top line is posting crooked numbers and there is a pulse from Nuge and Leon—even Lucic chimed in a little. Mr. Pouliot needs to hammer a few past the goalie here in the coming days, perhaps Saturday will be splatterday. It has not been a good 10 games, men. It is absolutely possible now for this team to be on the outside looking in on American Thanksgiving. An easier schedule awaits next week, but these Oilers have been flushing hard and easy points at a rapid clip this November. Same as it ever was, it seems, but I remain convinced there is more iron in this group and a better story to tell. Peter Chiarelli could go us all a favor by acquiring a Pisani. Today.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A big weekend ahead and lots to talk about, it all starts at 10 this morning on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. The trials of these Oilers, CFL playoffs and Gretzky on the Simpsons.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Things are looking up a little for the Oil Kings, still miles to go.
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. PointCounterPoint this week includes questions like is it time to panic? and can the Eskimos go in through the out door on the way to the Grey Cup.
- Don Landry, CFL.ca. Divisional finals weekend, Calgary v Edmonton for Grey Cup? In Toronto??!!!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!