G28 2016-17: OILERS AT SABRES

Connor McDavid hasn’t had a point in two games, the hockey Gods robbed him of a 5-on-3 and his competitive juices will be on high alert in the House of Eichel tonight. This could be fun! The December record is strong (2-0-1) in the early days, and the gales of November could not put out the playoff fire. It is beginning to look like the Edmonton Oilers will be in playoff contention through at least game 40. Music!

BUFFALO SOLDIER, 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, goal differential -6
  • Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
  • Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
  • Oilers in December 2016: 2-0-1, goal differential +3
  • Oilers after 27, 2015: 10-15-2, goal differential -15
  • Oilers after 27, 2016: 14-10-3, goal differential +10

Edmonton was finding the range one year ago, winning 4-2 over the Buffalo Sabres. At 11-15-2, the Oilers were starting what I thought was their best run of the 2015-16 season. The Oilers are in a good place today, but as always, need to win some games. This week: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Minnesota, home to the Jets. What is reasonable? I will say 2-2-0.

On another note, I suggested 14 points in 14 December games as the reasonable line in the sand at the beginning of the month. This means the Oilers need to hit 40 points by New Years in order to reach a reasonable goal. So far in December, the club has five points in three games, but this road trip—and the busy schedule—could have an impact.

FORWARDS, 2016-17

forwards-5x5-plus-ind-sc

  • This is my favorite player card, but it takes forever to populate.
  • The numbers come from Corsica.
  • Connor McDavid ranks No. 8 league wide in Individual scoring chances per 60 (180 or more minutes). Edmonton has four men currently inside the league’s top 30 forwards. What does that mean? Well, I think a guy like Nuge has not been rewarded for his good work, hopefully regression improves his 5×5/60 scoring number.
  • Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian are currently wingers on a kick ass third line. Perhaps they should stay there?
  • Connor McDavid is scoring 5×5 at 3.25 per 60 minutes. No other Oilers forward is at 2.00/60.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi’s numbers look good, but much of his season has been spent with Connor McDavid. What should the Oilers do with their Finn Fenom? More in a minute.
  • Drake Caggiula is another young player who might need some time in the minors, and I wonder if we see both of them head down to Bakersfield in the coming days. Unlikely, but it might be best for all concerned.
  • Connor McDavid has 23 even-strength points after 27 games. He could post 70 this year (!!) if he stays on current pace.
  • Edmonton has five forwards over 10 points in the first one-third of the season.
  • Patrick Maroon has eight 5×5 goals already.

CONNOR MCDAVID

  • Leon Draisaitl on Connor McDavid: “He’s such an easy player to play with. He always wants the puck and he’s so fast. I don’t really need to talk about how good he is. Hopefully we can keep this going.” Source

The individual scoring chances/60 points out just how much McDavid is driving his line. If you check out Leon, Lucic, Puljujarvi, you see they are not close to being near the top of the list. Now, McDavid is doing so much in terms of creating that all these men have to do is cash, but I feel we are still waiting for 97’s long-term linemates to emerge. Wayne Gretzky had been an Oiler for two full seasons before Jari Kurri came over from Helsinki.

mcdavid-puljujarvi-capture

ABOUT JESSE

I get a lot of emails and dms, many of the things I write about here come from you. I received a fabulous email yesterday and wanted to share it with you. I have edited the original email, the subject matter being JP and his possible involvement at the World Juniors:

  • Rasmus Ristolainen two years ago, and Mikko Rantanen last year, came to the WJs from the AHL. Now Jesse Puljujarvi would be coming from Edmonton directly, and as last years MVP and Champion – the expectations are way higher. There’s a good chance he will have a poor tournament if he doesn’t get enough playing time before that.
  • HE HAS TO go to the AHL right now, and play 5-8 games, then a couple with the Finnish jrs and he is ready. You have to give the kid the opportunity to succeed, not throw him to the wolves.
  • Usually the tournament final is played Jan 5th, exactly a month from now. In one month, by doing the right things, you can affect a guys season a great deal. If everything goes well, Jesse will be back to his normal self again by early January. Isnt that worth a try?
  • We haven’t seen one really good Jesse Puljujärvi shift yet. Every player needs to have his confidence but on top of that every guy has his own thing. Jesse thing is playing. He has to play. He needs to just play, get the messages from his backbone, lick his lips and not have to think too much.
  • The Oilers are trying to prove everyone they drafted a major talent and while doing so, they are way too early getting closer to the situation where Puljujärvi turns into Pääjärvi.
  • It is a bold prediction, but the NHL is a rough league which will expose your weaknesses sooner or later. But its also a league where strengths are used to advantage more than anywhere else. Right now the Edmonton Oilers need to think this through with smarts, in order to utilize the strengths.
  • One more thing. You can not send a top pick to the AHL his second season. Look what happened to Pääjärvi, who scored 15 goals or something his first year. Second season sent to the minors and he was done like steak. You can only send Pulju to the minors this year, right now. If his game is not together next year and you do it then, you will kill his confidence. Do it now, it may strengthen his psyche. It’s now or never.

This struck me as very interesting for all kinds of reasons. JP is not playing enough in the NHL, while also being on the NHL roster, and that is bad. He could be playing in Bakersfield, but the organization seems hesitant to send him down, I assume thinking he is making progress between games. At some point the WJs decision will be made (for all we know the club has decided to keep him) but a trip to Bakersfield for five games seems a good idea. I especially like the point about not being able to option in his second season. Thoughts?

DEFENSE, 2016-17

oilers-defense-and-corsirel

  • All numbers via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
  • Matt Benning ranks No. 6 in the entire NHL in CorsiRel, something I believe reflects very well on this rookie’s play. I know CorsiRel no longer holds high value for many in the analytics community, but for me this is a strong indication of the quality of Benning’s play.
  • Oscar Klefbom’s player card looks terrific, he is posting offense and his CorsiRel is also strong. The downside? Todd McLellan has him playing a secondary role after early struggles. Even more disconcerting? Klefbom’s replacements at the top of the depth chart are struggling badly. I sincerely hope this is addressed in the coming days (and by that I mean today).
  • Andrej Sekera is such a fine player, he delivers strong play up and down the lineup and makes his partner better. Sekera helps Kris Russell’s possession number, and recently has been rock solid with rookie Benning. MacT’s best free-agent move.
  • Adam Larsson should be paired with Oscar Klefbom. I can’t see another reasonable conclusion based on math and visual.

chiarelli ma

TRADE WINDS

We have heard chatter about Matt Hendricks and Benoit Pouliot in recent days, interesting that two LWs seem to be in play. Nothing new to report, but I did want to remind you that the Oilers (traditionally) offload players while on road trips. I am sure there are reasons for it, we will see what this day brings.

NHL EQUIVALENCIES

With the Top 20 rankings occupying a lot of my time, I haven’t had a chance to look at the 2017 entry draft. Come January, that will change and we will discuss names like Tippett and Yamamoto. One thing I can pass along, and it does relate to this year’s Top 20, are the current NHLE’s for Edmonton’s prospects. There are some solid numbers, and some of those from unheralded sources.

Forwards (per 82gp)

  1. Tyler Vesel 13-27-40
  2. Jujhar Khaira 18-14-32
  3. Aidan Muir 4-22-26
  4. Tyler Benson 7-16-23
  5. Aapeli Rasanen 5-15-20
  6. Bogdan Yakimov 7-12-19
  7. Joey Benik 11-0-11
  8. Kyle Platzer 0-10-10
  9. Jaedon Descheneau 0-10-10
  10. Mitchell Moroz 3-5-8
  11. Graham McPhee 0-7-7
  12. Patrick Russell 0-7-7
  13. Evan Campbell 2-4-6
  14. Jere Sallinen 5-0-5
  15. Braden Christoffer 2-3-5
  16. Greg Chase 0-4-4

Two college men finally getting ice time are showing well, although Aidan Muir’s season has been sidetracked by injury. I imagine Jujhar Khaira’s next recall is going to stick and don’t count out Tyler Benson for an extended look fall 2017. If Bogdan Yakimov returns to North America, where will he reside? California or Alberta? Some disappointing totals for the AHL kids, we will spend more time on that in the coming days.

Defensemen (per 82gp)

  1. Matt Benning 19-20-39
  2. Ethan Bear 9-12-21
  3. Caleb Jones 2-18-20
  4. David Musil 3-12-15
  5. Joey Laleggia 2-12-14
  6. Jordan Oesterle 6-7-13
  7. William Lagesson 2-9-11
  8. Filip Berglund 0-9-9
  9. Ziyat Paigin 0-8-8
  10. Griffin Reinhart 0-6-6
  11. Matthew Cairns 0-6-6
  12. John Marino 2-3-5
  13. Dillon Simpson 3-0-3
  14. Ben Betker 0-3-3
  15. Vincent Desharnais 3-0-3
  16. Markus Niemelainen 0-2-2

I included Benning just for fun, he played only two games before being called to the NHL. Jones and Bear look promising in their final WHL seasons and there is a David Musil sighting on the scoring charts.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

Lots to talk about this morning, beginning at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. What to do with JP, reasonable expectations for the week and the defensive pairings look a half bubble off plumb.
  • Scott Cullen, TSN. Scott’s power rankings will make you smile, we will talk of Connor and the Hart.
  • Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. Can anyone catch the Cowboys?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.

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426 Responses to "G28 2016-17: OILERS AT SABRES"

« Older Comments
  1. Alpine says:

    OmJo,

    Yeah i just read that. I’d find Chiarelli’s talk of tracking stuff encouraging if he wan’t coming to completely the wrong conclusion. Hopefully his infatuation with Russell is more based around the fact that he thinks he’s a useful depth option, and not a core guy.

  2. russ99 says:

    kooler:
    Hall on Larsen hit.

    With the exception of Markstrom and Granlund every single player on the ice should be forced to watch the play over and over again until they understand the stupidity of starting a brawl behind an unconscious body.Total disregard to the health of Larsen….both teams should be held accountable especially the Jersey players rushing in.

    Hall should get a suspension only for the excessive nature of the hit. Lost a bit a respect for Hall tonight because he was in control of the situation and made the wrong decision.

    I’m with you, that was just ugly.

    How many of his teammates kicked him in the back of the head? Insane.

    And that dipshit Devils fan in the front row should be banned for a time as well, I’ll never understand the fascination of taking a photo of an unconscious hockey player. Got to the point Markstrom had to put a stop to it.

    Hall lowered his shoulder, he’s getting suspended,

  3. Lowetide says:

    Greg Chase and Ben Betker get their first goals of the AHL season, Condors up 3-2 late.

  4. Diablo says:

    Hendrickson lol – damn spell check!

  5. Professor Q says:

    russ99: I’m with you, that was just ugly.

    How many of his teammates kicked him in the back of the head? Insane.

    And that dipshit Devils fan in the front row should be banned for a time as well, I’ll never understand the fascination of taking a photo of an unconscious hockey player. Got to the point Markstrom had to put a stop to it.

    Hall lowered his shoulder, he’s getting suspended,

    Looked to be two Canucks and three Devils who kicked him in the head, and one who stepped on his chest/arm.

  6. kgo says:

    russ99,

    Hall’s not getting suspended…Hall is a stick waiver, he went into that collision with ZERO intent to injure. Larsen made himself incredibly vulnerable and Hall didn’t even turn and launch, go watch Downie hit Mcmammond and compare/contrast.

    Kinetic energy is 1/2 mass times velocity squared…Hall is a 200lb bullet of a stick waiver, when he accidentally colides with someone they’re gonna get hurt….Remember when he snapped Brodin’s collarbone in the AHL during the lockout?

    https://www.youtube.com/v/_nJjuGmpf1c?fs=1

    Major props to Markstrom and Grandlund though for trying to protect Larsen, sad that the other neanderthals didn’t have the presence of mind…

  7. kooler says:

    treevojo,

    Larsen had his head down and was in a vulnerable position, Hall had control but not going to argue…. I can go either way on a suspension or not….really its not as important as Larsen’s health and the actions of grown men.

    As parents and coaches teach our kids to take a knee if anybody gets hurt so it’s hard to watch these guys jump in to engage in a brawl….that situation could of gone very very wrong, Larsen is very lucky.

    Firstly, I hope Larsen is ok, but I hope this is a talking point for tomorrow and some sort or protocol can come from this.

  8. Diablo says:

    Russell seems to be the new whipping boy – if things hold true to form, then it won’t be long before he’s moved on.

    Wonder if anyone any in the MSM will call out Tmac’s dumb timeout and bizarre lineup decisions. I include having Letestu in OT against MIN and keeping Jesse up but not playing him much, and sending down our best centre in the dot. Just really strange decisions lately.

    Still 4 points in 4 games – the fact that this team is still picking up points despite these questionable decisions is impressive in its own right.

  9. kgo says:

    kooler,

    Protocol? Lucky? Either way? I couldn’t disagree more…. Don’t get me wrong I hope Larsen completely recovers. However…

    ZERO chance Hall gets suspended…Larsen couldn’t have been more unlucky in this situation….Larsen couldn’t be more responsible for his own demise either….thank fuck it wasn’t a 4th line grinder coming around the net at him.

    What protocol could you expect to arise?

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    Remember when we had Taylor Hall and were excited about the prospects of two elite line drivers?

    Good times.

  11. Bruce Wayne says:

    PunjabiOil:
    Remember when we had Taylor Hall and were excited about the prospects of two elite line drivers?

    Good times.

    Seriously. I recorded the game and skimmed trough it after the Oilers blew it against the Sabres. Hall was absolutely dominant, creating chance after chance. Devil fans are very, very, lucky to have stolen him.

    As to the hit, who knows if he will be suspended, the NHL doesn’t follow its own rules, so I’m going to say it depends on the mood in the room. Whether he should be suspended or not, on the other hand, is crystal clear. The hit wasn’t late. It didn’t target the head. It wasn’t a blindside. It was as clean as an open ice hit can be. The Vancouver broadcast didn’t say a single bad thing about it.

    If you think it was a bad hit, well you need to take a deep, long, look in the mirror.

    Now I’m going to go read the thread and see who is on the list.

  12. Bruce McCurdy says:

    kgo: Larsen couldn’t have been more unlucky in this situation

    What about if somebody had stepped on his face or neck in the fracas? That would have been more unlucky.

    Your statements bear far too much certitude given the chaotic nature of the situation.

  13. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide:
    Greg Chase and Ben Betker get their first goals of the AHL season, Condors up 3-2 late.

    Condors blow 3-2 lead late. Even later than Oil. Tying goal came at 19:50 of the third, then they too proceeded to lose 4-3 in overtime. Like parent club, like farm club.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Bruce McCurdy: What about if somebody had stepped on his face or neck in the fracas? That would have been more unlucky.

    Your statements bear far too much certitude given the chaotic nature of the situation.

    My wife was yelling at the television (this was a replay), absolutely alarmed by the sticks and skates flying around. Lordy.

  15. kooler says:

    kgo,

    A big hit is one thing but when a players unconscious …..there has to be a code of conduct in the NHL that acknowledges this situation, if there isn’t this should open some discussion.

    Hard to say if Hall with get anything….sure looked like he lifted and turned his shoulder into his head.

  16. Bruce Wayne says:

    Alpine:
    OmJo,

    Yeah i just read that. I’d find Chiarelli’s talk of tracking stuff encouraging if he wan’t coming to completely the wrong conclusion. Hopefully his infatuation with Russell is more based around the fact that he thinks he’s a useful depth option, and not a core guy.

    The quotes from Chiarelli on the stats he uses are what people who don’t understand statistics (citing meaningless numbers out of context) say to make themselves sound smart. The quotes alone are strong evidence of incompetence, as if we needed any more.

    Spector also gave us these nuggets.

    “Edmonton goalies have a .949 saves percentage while Russell is on the ice at even strength — 17th among NHL defencemen who have played 300 minutes this season. That number is tops on Edmonton, meaning the quality of shots Russell has surrendered this season are inferior to virtually every other Oilers defenceman. (The team’s save percentage overall is .915.)

    • Russell’s PDO — the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage — is best among Oilers regular defencemen at 104.1. That ranks 10th in the NHL among regular D-men.”

    It takes a strange kind of brilliance to misunderstand the evidence so completely that what you think it says and what it actually says are the opposite of each other.

    There is something macabre of watching this whole thing unfold.

    Spector is pretty clearly connected, s

  17. Bruce Wayne says:

    The aftermath of the hit was horrifying. The blame there stems from the ridiculous new code that clean hits must be followed by fights. Vancouver’s goon was 100% responsible for that mess.

  18. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide: My wife was yelling at the television (this was a replay), absolutely alarmed by the sticks and skates flying around. Lordy.

    scariest situation I have seen in quite some time. ugly with the potential to be a lot, lot uglier.

  19. kgo says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    Like when Hall’s face was stepped on in warmup? he got a few dozen stitches and tried to play in the 2nd period but the cut kept bleeding through the bandages…

    People forget that every time the net is crashed there is the potential for a Clint Malarchuk moment. Hockey is dangerous and violent at the best of times…it gets much much uglier at the worst of times…Think Malarchuk…Zednik…Moser…all innocent and horrific plays, then compare this to Maki, Brashear, Bertuzzi.

  20. kgo says:

    kooler,

    It’s not hard to say, Hall was bracing for impact, and was likely surprised at Larsen’s vulnerable posture. I would bet my dominant thumb that Hall won’t receive any supplemental discipline.

  21. kgo says:

    kooler,

    Hey Kooler,

    I’m too lazy to check, but I bet you defended Wideman’s hit on the linesman last year. How’s my aim?

  22. kgo says:

    kooler,

    You’re right though, regardless of how the player is rendered unconscious, that reaction was embarrassing.

  23. meanashell11 says:

    Perfectly clean hit by Hall. Thank God Larsen did not get further injured.

  24. Crazy Pedestrian says:

    And of course Calgary won again last night… they now have the same amount of wins as us and only two points back (albeit playing one more game) after that terrible season start…
    go figure…

  25. JDï™ says:

    https://streamable.com/jhgs

    There was one pretty bad skate to the head afterwards.

  26. Chachi says:

    Bruce Wayne

    Spector also gave us these nuggets.

    “Edmonton goalies have a .949 saves percentage while Russell is on the ice at even strength — 17th among NHL defencemen who have played 300 minutes this season. That number is tops on Edmonton, meaning the quality of shots Russell has surrendered this season are inferior to virtually every other Oilers defenceman. (The team’s save percentage overall is .915.)

    • Russell’s PDO — the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage — is best among Oilers regular defencemen at 104.1. That ranks 10th in the NHL among regular D-men.”

    It takes a strange kind of brilliance to misunderstand the evidence so completely that what you think it says and what it actually says are the opposite of each other.

    None of these are quotes from Chiarelli. It is funny that Spector would write a column about advanced stats and clearly still does not have a grasp on what PDO means.

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