Well, damn. Darnell Nurse is going to be out for 12 weeks and that is a lot of development time. We know (boy, do we know) from Oilers history that losing precious months of development in the early portions of a career can have major implications. The problem, of course, is that few players avoid injuries, and in the case of Darnell Nurse, his style of play lends itself to issues in this area. Godspeed, young man, we will look forward to your return.
SAILED THE OCEAN BLUE, 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: 3-1-3, goal differential +2
- Oilers after 31, 2015: 14-15-2, goal differential -9
- Oilers after 31, 2016: 15-11-5, goal differential +9
The Oilers are +18 in goal differential year over year, but only five points clear of their record of one year ago. I think that indicates the hockey Gods owe Edmonton a few points, but after Sunday’s game, best not to bring it up for a time. In G32 one year ago, the Rangers would win 4-2 to start a rough three-game run. Tonight’s episode: The Columbus Red Hots.
- This is 5×5 boxcars via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and the WoodMoney DFF and v. Elite minutes. I have posted per game (v. elite) and the table is sorted thusly.
- The ‘big three’ are close together in TOI per game, and Sekera has the best DFF percentage—but we are still building toward a more representative sample size. Based on TOI per game, we should get there by game 50 or so for Edmonton.
- Oscar has some nice offense here, he is 9-23-32 in his most recent 82 NHL games. That is a nice set of boxcars, Mr. Klefbom.
- Matt Benning’s DFF shines like a diamond, but we have to remember these are early days. Fantastic first chapter, though.
- I counted the average TOI by hand, on the back of a Funk & Wagnalls, so there may be some small issues there. I am pretty sure about the big number, though.
- Looking at the group as a whole, the one number that strikes me is Klefbom’s TOI total. I know he has struggled, but increasing the minutes of the Swedish duo is probably the play here, now.
- This article quotes Pierre Lebrun as saying Peter Chiarelli wanted to let this team roll for a time, after all the changes. However, it also quotes Lebrun as saying if defensive consistency continues to elude the team, we could see a move.
National Sarcasm Society: Like We Need Your Support
I never tell you what to do, because I consider you a friend. Read this. Please.
- Same sources for this look at centers as above.
- Connor McDavid is in Greek God territory across the board.
- Leon is looking good here, and four minutes/51.4 and 1.92 suggests he has found a way to succeed without Taylor Hall. His splits wowy McDavid (1.47 5×5/60 with 97, 2.03 5×5/60 without) imply we are looking at a difference maker—if not (yet) a river pusher. One of the things Peter Chiarelli was surely betting on when trading Hall was this result. We are not halfway into the season, Draisaitl appears to be arriving.
- I didn’t post a thing on RNH yesterday, hoping to raise some interest in the player from you. It worked, and so let’s have a discussion on Edmonton’s young veteran.
- Comparing anyone to Connor McDavid is difficult, but based on WoodMoney the title of No. 1 center is rail thin for Nuge based on the latest information. That is basically co-star billing to my eye in terms of elite opposition. If my ciphering is correct (for some damned reason seconds and minutes were a mountain for me last night), we are talking 11 seconds a night—small difference.
- With the two men in a flat-footed tie, the 5×5 boxcars and the DFF percentage favor 97 mightily—this is a supreme beating. Now, that shouldn’t be a surprise, really. However, it does point out something we didn’t know based on Corsi for observation. Nuge is 1.35/60, and at 45 percent against the tough opposition—these are both subpar numbers.
- RNH’s Corsi for 5×5 percentage is 51.6—that is the number (for me) that tells his value—but the DFF, in 165 minutes and counting, tells us he is the only one of the quality Cs who is below the water line.
- If DFF is correct, then Nuge is below average in scoring and in possession—and this cannot stand. I think Edmonton may need to alter his role on the team, either easing the load or giving him two checking wingers and sending him into battle as a shutdown center.
IDEAS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT NUGE
Some of this is luck and shooting percentage, but we are approaching the halfway point of the season and at some point the Nuge needs to start producing. I have read various solutions (playing him on LW with McDavid or Leon, moving Pou-Nuge-Eberle back together—McLellan has done this) but one that I haven’t seen is this: Make the Nuge line a de facto checking unit ala the Moreau—Marchant—Grier trio.
Playing Jordan Eberle on RNH’s line suggests offense, but the RW is not a strong two-way option. Pouliot could certainly fill the Moreau role, and the Oilers should be able to acquire a Mike Grier in the coming weeks. Arizona, Colorado and possibly Dallas might be open to a trade soon (or now), and if the Oilers are running Nuge on a tough minutes line anyway? Right?
If Nuge is going to face the toughs, he has to either flourish in possession or score well, or both. Fair? Otherwise, he is a very young Shawn Horcoff from the dark hours of last decade. Maybe the Nuge line goes off in a big way tonight and we never speak of this again. Or maybe not. If the Oilers are going to make the playoffs, RNH needs to be productive in one role or another.
BRANDON DAVIDSON RETURN?
Not so long ago, Brandon Davidson was one of the truly impressive young defensemen on the Oilers roster. A ridiculous foul on opening night caused him to miss 30 games (and counting), but he could draw in tonight against the CBJ. Rob Tychkowski of Postmedia released a story last night, so I won’t quote it because it is fresh. I would encourage you to click the link, some fantastic quotes from Davidson about the injury and his current state of mind. Really good read.
- Bob McKenzie: “You know what? And I would caution any fan in Edmonton who’s getting frustrated because he’s not maybe made the immediate impact a lot of people thought he was going to make. He’s still a blue-chip prospect and some guys take a little longer to adjust and find their range in the NHL. I don’t think there’s any question Puljujarvi is going to be a real good pick and I would be surprised if, years from now, the Oilers fans aren’t still really excited he fell to 4 for them.” Source
There is a growing amount of concern over Jesse, and I get that, the young man needs to play hockey games. That said, there is plenty of time. So far this year, JP has played in 22 games, and his player card is pretty damned good for what it is:
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.77 (4th among regular Fs—200+ minutes)
- 5×4 points per 60: 2.66 (in 22 minutes)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 54.5
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: 2.5
- Shots on goal/percentage: 39 shots/2.6%
- Boxcars: 22, 1-7-8
- Information via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference.
That is really good, you know. Now, you might say it is because of his centers (JP is 1.80 5×5/60 in 100 minutes with Leon, 3.08 5×5/60 in 78 minutes with McDavid) but that is going to be his job someday soon—and he isn’t horrible in the role now. My RE for Puljujari was 65gp, 14-14-28 .431, and he is on pace for 58, 3-18-21 .362 and that is on 12 minutes a night. I think the AHL is fine for JP, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. He has been posting some good numbers, especially considering age, experience and gigantic changes in his life over the last six months.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, TSN1260. Heavy on the Oilers content, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Deploying Nuge, adding a RW or a RHD, and should Edmonton make a rental move at all?
- Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst. A quick look at the 2017 draft, and a discussion of the Oilers’ top prospects and their progress.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are revving up for a hellua Art Ross race, and how long can Edmonton stay with with the California Three?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!