THE WAITING

In 1979 fall, the NHL welcomed (ironic word, if you remember the WHA expansion draft) four new teams: The Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. In one fell swoop, the senior league embraced youth and speed and ended the careers of countless legends. My favorite players, like Phil Esposito, looked old and slow next to the new crop of youngsters, who had been artificially held back from playing in the NHL due to WHA raids of Canadian junior leagues.

Last night reminded me of 1979-80. Watching teenagers fly past legends like they were a house on the side of the road was shocking then, and it was noticeable last night. The Edmonton Oilers may not beat these Anaheim Ducks in a playoff series, but some of those Anaheim veterans are facing an ‘also in photo’ spring.

The first period of last night’s game was as fine as I’ve seen this team play in a decade. As one might expect, the second period was no Rembrandt and the third period included some false starts, missteps and special teams angst. Through it all, this team found a way. Edmonton needs a better PK and secondary scoring needs to show up more often, but they won the possession battle and were the better team through three periods.

 BREAKDOWN, 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: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
  • Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
  • Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
  • Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
  • Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
  • Oilers in March 2017: 9-3-1, goal differential +15
  • Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-0, goal differential -1
  • Oilers in April 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +1 
  • Oilers after 78, 2015-16: 30-41-7, goal differential -41
  • Oilers after 78, 2016-17: 44-25-9, goal differential +32
This is now ridiculous. Edmonton wins No. 44 and wins the possession game, the shot clock and (in overtime) the game to grab first place in the Pacific Division. It’s like the Topanga Cowgirl who comes every night: Anticipation is its own reward.

 WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL

  • At home to: Anaheim (Expected:1-0-0) (Actual: 1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Kings, Sharks, Canucks (Expected: 1-1-1)
  • At home to Canucks (Expected: 1-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 3-1-1, seven points in five games
  • Current results: 1-0-0, two points in one game 
Last night was the biggest test (in terms of opponent) for the rest of the regular season. I don’t think they’ll sweep, but our line in the sand is reasonable. At this point, the Oilers would have to stumble badly in order to miss the century mark.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT 

  • Klefbom-Larsson went 17-8 in 16:43, a sparkling night in possession. Larsson got an assist and he was unusually involved in the offense, flying several sorties during the evening. Klefbom also engaged, but it is less shocking to see him do it. Larsson went 13-8 with Connor McDavid in 8:18 (10-7 for Klefbom), and 3-1 with Nuge (5-2 with Desharnais). Went 12-7 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves, a very dangerous line. A very fine job by this pairing.
  • Sekera-Russell went 17-12 in 16:28 together, the second straight game of solid possession for this duo. Went 10-7 with McDavid line and 9-5 with Nuge, those two centers making up about 15 minutes of Sekera’s 5×5 TOI. Went 12-4 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves, 9-6 against Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg. Effective. Sekera had a gigantic goal-mouth chance but Holzer effectively blocked him away from the puck.
  • Nurse-Gryba went 16-14 in 11:22 together, Nurse going 4-2 with Larsson over a couple of minutes. Went 13-4 with McDavid, 5-4 with Nuge and 3-6 with Desharnais. Nurse seems to be making another step in terms of puck carrying and we’ll see if that adds to the offense.
  • Cam Talbot made some fantastic saves to keep it close, stopping 16 of 18, .889. His save on Corey Perry late was a massive moment in the game. 40 wins ties Grant Fuhr!
  • Numbers via NaturalStatTrick, NHLcom and Hockey Stats.ca.

MCDAVID LINE

  • What a night! Outstanding possession numbers, married to 2-4-6 as a line! 20 shot attempts, they drove to the net all night long.
  • Went 19-11 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves, 17-9 against Lindholm-Manson and 16-8 against Fowler-several  (including Vatanen and Bieksa). I’m not sure if Randy Carlyle was juggling his pairings for 97 or just trying to find two defensemen who could get possession, but it was a scramble for sure.
  • This trio may pass 90 goals on the season this week.

NUGE LINE

  • The three men listed here now have 51 goals on the season. Lucic scored No. 19 last night, not far from his predicted total for the year. How he got there (PP) is the story.
  • Eberle damned near scored on that backhand, and he did get some looks last night. I know this line has to produce but they seem more productive lately (although the numbers are not where they need to be).
  • Line went 11-4 against Fowler, 2-5 against Bieksa and 8-3 against Vatanen.
  • Lucic scored a huge goal last night, one of the major surprises for me about this season is his 5×4 success. He now has 22 PP points (13-9), previous high was 14 (in 2010-11).
  • The penalty on Nuge that led to the 2-1 ANA goal was a poor call on a nothing play.

DD LINE

  • Although they didn’t score, I thought this line improved game over game. Lots of subtle plays.
  • Line went 4-1 against Ritchie-Vermette-Perry, 1-5 against Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg. There was no pronounced matchup against any one pairing for this trio (as one would expect).
  • Pouliot did good work on the PK (the second PP GA should have been a penalty against ANA) and he was forechecking like a demon.

LETESTU LINE

  • Line didn’t play much together, as Matt Hendricks didn’t see a lot of ice after his penalty.
  • Line went 4-2 together, Letestu jumped up with Kassian (5-0) for a time and Caggiula (2-1) spent some time with Kassian, too.
  • Line went 4-2 against Ritchie-Vermette-Perry.
  • Anton Slepyshev may see action in the coming week.
  • Caggiula once again did enough to get noticed, including a key penalty drawn late in the game.

MCDAVID INTERVIEW

Is here. The beauty of Scott Oake is that he’s incapable of asking a boring question, so the answers tend to have a air of freshness about them. I’ve seen Connor McDavid interviewed dozens of times now, this is the best one. Louie Debrusk fits in well here, asks more traditional questions that work better because the Oake queries are so unusual.

PULJUJARVI SCORES!

Jesse Puljujarvi scored the first goal in the Condors victory last night, his offense so far in the AHL impressive enough to look comfortable placed against previous teenage scorers:

  • Mikko Rantanen (age 19) 52gp, 24-36-60 1.15
  • David Pastrnak (age 18) 25gp, 11-17-28 1.12
  • Jesse Puljujarvi (age 18) 33gp, 11-14-25 .758

Rantanen is six months older (well more than that, but in relation to their draft day) than Puljujarvi, I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest JP could duplicate Rantanen’s number if he played in the league this coming season. It’s more difficult to make a direct connection to David Pastrnak, who aligns in terms of age and was more productive in the AHL.

STANDINGS

It’s too early for beer at my house, so I’m going to Irish my coffee this morning and spend some time looking at this beautiful table. Music!

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226 Responses to "THE WAITING"

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  1. russ99 says:

    You can’t discount Larsson’s value to the team.

    Outside of his tough, effective play, if we didn’t have Larsson, that means every other defenseman is batting one place higher in the lineup. Taking on tougher opposition, playing more and tougher minutes. And arguably being less effective on both ends of the ice,

    He’s been a rock for us.

    I know the Corsi guys hang on to the idea of signing Demers instead, but even if he signed with us which I still doubt, there’s no way he could have taken the workload that Larsson has with similar defensive effectiveness and coverage for Klefbom when he needs it.

    Not to mention his difficult season in Florida.

    For sure McDavid and Talbot have played a large part in our success this year, but it’s a team game. Without the contribution of other players (not always goal-scoring based contributions) we wouldn’t have been so successful.

  2. treevojo says:

    LadiesloveSmid:
    Second line centre is scoring at 1.28 5v5 P/60 and the bitterness from the Hall trade comes from ego? Team was obviously going to be good, how good was the question. I don’t think as good as they could really be without Hall.

    I assume this was in response to this post.

    “The Hall trade debate will wage on forever for one basic reason.

    EGO

    FTFY”

    It’s funny that you assume I meant that only one side of the debate is carrying on because of ego.

  3. frjohnk says:

    Looking at the top 3 lines as we head into the playoffs. Cant look at the 4th line as there is not enough data with the revolving door of wingers. But with that said, at 5 on 5, our 4th line for the part is a below average 4th line.

    TOI
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 499.27
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 291.83
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 113.43

    CF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 52.75
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 49.91
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 45.67
    SF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 54.15
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 50.56
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 46.02
    Scoring Chance For%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 62.36
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 44.83
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 44.12

    Sh%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 10.95
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 3.68
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 11.54
    GF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 60
    JORDAN.EBERLE MILAN.LUCIC RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 38.46
    DAVID.DESHARNAIS ZACK.KASSIAN BENOIT.POULIOT 66.67

    1st line shows up elite compared to other lines in the league in many spots. Like elite elite. When they are on the ice, the team scores at a goals for/ pace of 3.6.

    2nd line. Not so good. They are basically breaking even in corsi and shot share, but heads are caved in when looking at scoring chance and goal share. Goals for per 60 is 1.02. Ouch. But it should be noted the shooting percentage is 3.68% when these 3 are on the ice.

    3rd line. Small sample size of 113 minutes. Heads caved in most places except goal share. PDO of 106.6 helps.

    If the 1st line gets stopped, this team is toast.

    I did notice that Maroon-McDavid-EBERLE line had similar fantastic numbers in 139 minutes which were basically in the ballpark of Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl

    CF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 52.75
    JORDAN.EBERLE CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 55.56
    SF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 54.15
    JORDAN.EBERLE CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 53.42
    SCF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 62.36
    JORDAN.EBERLE CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 59.68
    GF%
    LEON.DRAISAITL CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 60
    JORDAN.EBERLE CONNOR.MCDAVID PATRICK.MAROON 64.29

    Its too late in the season to try it but I believe that switching Drai and EBERLE would give us two elite lines.

  4. leadfarmer says:

    Professor Q: Why? With the protection in the Expansion Draft, low cap/cost, and the potential that was underrated by many, yes, it would have been crazy to trade him.

    Especially in the Nurse/Klefbom, Draisaitl, and Puljüjarvi for Subban trade.

    Ok that trade is absolutely nuts. Please provide a link to anyone that supported that trade.

    Just because someone said they would be ok with trading Nurse for a good RHD defenseman when we had 0, doesn’t mean they were willing to just toss him into any deal.

  5. Georges says:

    Lowetide: I love balance, but believe we ca agree that getting balance doesn’t necessarily mean trading Taylor Hall. Among the problems that created include a now massive hole in the ‘LW under 29’ department and a 2line that can’t get to 50 percent in possession.

    I’ve said this before, I like Adam Larsson, and he did come with some nice extra items like a very good contract and an impressive filth/60 no one told me about. I have said previously you can lose a battle and win the war, and in a very real way that’s what Peter Chiarelli did this season.

    That remains unsatisfactory for many people, who seem to want something more from me. I can only tell you I thought it was a terrible trade, expressed it on the day it happened, and have not changed my mind.

    All of which has nothing to do with my opinion of Adam Larsson or has impacted the pure joy I feel over this Oilers season. All of the things I have said can be true and can co-exist. Seriously.

    That’s fair. I had no opinion on the trade when it happened. I wasn’t really looking at NHL data at the time. My estimate of Hall’s standing among NHL forwards is clearly well short of other folks on here. I get the sense they feel we traded Malkin or Seguin for Larsson. I believe we traded Okposo for Larsson. As the season has played out and I’ve tracked the numbers for NJD and watched the Oilers play, I’m now convinced it was an excellent trade, but, if the data changes or the results change, I’m entirely open to changing my mind. I get the sense you don’t need to convince me or be convinced by me. I hope we can co-exist.

  6. v4ance says:

    Honest question: Did we need Lucic to be team tough?

    Were Nurse, Gryba, Kassian and Maroon, not enough to get it done?

  7. Georges says:

    digger50: You are a good poster but in regards to the Korpse – yeah he is really bad.

    Sad!

  8. Rocknrolla says:

    It’s a beautiful day in oil country gentlemen!

    Basking here still as I look at the standings, art Ross race, Leon, the gif of mcdavif and maroon laughing on the bench, McJesus jumping into the arms of Drai’s for the winner, connor thanking the fans and saying he feels like the team can beat anyone in the loud post game gazzola interview….

    I mean, just so happy for this team! How hot are we going into the playoffs?? Keep it going boys!

    And if you have not watched the PulParty goal video above, do it…lovely that’s coming down the pipe. How long has it been since a guy with a right shot had his stick in the air, calling for the pass and rifles the one timer. MUsic!

  9. flyfish1168 says:

    v4ance:
    Honest question:Did we need Lucic to be team tough?

    Were Nurse, Gryba, Kassian and Maroon, not enough to get it done?

    JMHO. I believe we needed a 2nd player that is tough and skilled enough to play top 6 besides Maroon.

  10. npanciroli says:

    I posted this a week or so ago and time for a new update.

    Larsson (+20) now surpassed Ulanov (03/04, +19) for best plus minus total in a season since Norm Maciver (91/92, +20 in 57 games)

    Only other real competition was Ryan Whitney’s amazing year that got cut short.

    Larsson is now top 30 in the league in +/-

  11. frjohnk says:

    What does the team look like if the Hall Larsson trade happened in the summer of 2015 instead of 2016 and the rest of the team stays the same? ( ie. same injuries, lots of AHL players playing and only a few NHL players correctly slotted?

    These would be the forwards listed in TOI Larsson would have played with last year

    1DRAISAITL, LEON
    2EBERLE, JORDAN
    3LETESTU, MARK
    4NUGENT-HOPKINS, RYAN
    5KORPIKOSKI, LAURI
    6HENDRICKS, MATT
    7YAKUPOV, NAIL
    8POULIOT, BENOIT
    9MCDAVID, CONNOR
    10PAKARINEN, IIRO
    11LANDER, ANTON
    12KASSIAN, ZACK
    13PATRICK MAROON
    14GAZDIC, LUKE
    15KHAIRA, JUJHAR
    16KLINKHAMMER, ROB

    A team that has Letestu, Korpikoski and Hendricks in the top 6 of ice time along with a D core that is well below average ( even with Larsson) would not change anything from what happened last year.

    It is the sum of all parts which include less injuries, better depth, growth from young players.

    And I say this noting that I have changed my stance on the trade * but with an asterisk.

    If I was GM and had the chance to get Hall back for Larsson.

    I wouldnt.

  12. treevojo says:

    v4ance:
    Honest question:Did we need Lucic to be team tough?

    Were Nurse, Gryba, Kassian and Maroon, not enough to get it done?

    Honest question: Did we need Mcdavid to be a skilled team?

    Were klefbom, Sekera, Draisaitl and Nugent Hopkins, not enough to get it done?

    If you are going to be a tough team why not have the toughest?

    If you are going to be a skilled team why not have the most skilled?

  13. Pouzar says:

    npanciroli,

    I wish I were here for the Ulanov days. I loved that diabolical summabitch.

  14. Professor Q says:

    leadfarmer,

    That was the proposed trade between Edmonton and Montréal at the draft. Not that anyone here proposed or outright supported it. Might have been, though.

  15. Chachi says:

    Pouzar:
    npanciroli,

    I wish I were here for the Ulanov days. I loved that diabolical summabitch.

    His team picture always looked like the Grim Reaper had just quit smoking and was not pleased about it at all.

  16. Professor Q says:

    Georges: That’s fair. I had no opinion on the trade when it happened. I wasn’t really looking at NHL data at the time. My estimate of Hall’s standing among NHL forwards is clearly well short of other folks on here. I get the sense they feel we traded Malkin or Seguin for Larsson. I believe we traded Okposo for Larsson. As the season has played out and I’ve tracked the numbers for NJD and watched the Oilers play, I’m now convinced it was an excellent trade, but, if the data changes or the results change, I’m entirely open to changing my mind. I get the sense you don’t need to convince me or be convinced by me. I hope we can co-exist.

    At the time, it was also Nuge for Jones or Johansen for Jones.

    I know that Nuge is a bit under Hall in value, but I believe that Larsson is above Jones in value. And of course once Jones was off the table the price for RHD league-wide went up.

    That’s why, at the time, I argued for patience and assessment of league perceived value and trade costs.

  17. leadfarmer says:

    Professor Q:
    leadfarmer,

    That was the proposed trade between Edmonton and Montréal at the draft. Not that anyone here proposed or outright supported it. Might have been, though.

    Well I might be wrong but the only thing that was leaked that had legs was once Pulparty was left on the board trade talks fell apart. Otherwise Chia keeps his cards close to his chest. That trade really could have been anything.

  18. Professor Q says:

    leadfarmer: Well I might be wrong but the only thing that was leaked that had legs was once Pulparty was left on the board trade talks fell apart.Otherwise Chia keeps his cards close to his chest.That trade really could have been anything.

    Two different perspectives:

    http://edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/nhl/cult-of-hockey/cult-of-hockey-why-the-oilers-should-have-made-the-subban-trade-not-the-hall-deal

    And:

    http://edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/nhl/cult-of-hockey/95-glad-edmonton-oilers-didnt-trade-leon-draisaitl-plus-for-p-k-subban-on-montreal-canadiens

  19. treevojo says:

    leadfarmer: Well I might be wrong but the only thing that was leaked that had legs was once Pulparty was left on the board trade talks fell apart.Otherwise Chia keeps his cards close to his chest.That trade really could have been anything.

    Here is an article that has quite a few different rumours in it from prominent names.

    https://www.google.ca/amp/edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/nhl/cult-of-hockey/was-edmontons-best-deal-of-last-summer-the-one-oilers-gm-peter-chiarelli-refused-to-make/amp

  20. treevojo says:

    Lol

    I guess I was a touch late to the party.

  21. The Original JDI says:

    Chachi: His team picture always looked like the Grim Reaper had just quit smoking

    Could definitely benefit from the velvet treatment!

  22. Dee Dee says:

    The playoff success plan is pretty simple:

    1. Goalie stands on head and stops everything
    2. Someone scores a goal

    The team that executes this plan the best, wins.

    Montreal has a 3rd step:
    3. Get the game to overtime and then win it.

    Fun times ahead!

  23. Chachi says:

    The Original JDI: Could definitely benefit from the velvet treatment!

    That would be scary and awesome.

  24. haters says:

    It’s nice to see people finally starting to understand the value of players like Larsson and Russell. Regardless of how good your team is the game will be played at best 45% of the time in your own end. At very best . Closer to 50 tbh. You need people who know wtf they are doing there. It doesnt translate well in these fancy stats that have become popular recently.

    Big ty to Pete for having the courage to make these unpopular moves and get us back to the show.
    Maybe the nerds can put away their stats sheets and watch the game like the rest of us and enjoy it !!

    Go oil !!
    God bless Mcdavid

  25. The Trade Guy says:

    RNH is a damn good complimentary center on an offensive line where your winger drives the line. What I’m saying is New Jersey needs to trade for RNH.

  26. BONE207 says:

    Stephen Sheps

    On this blog we see that all the time, as regulars, lurkers, first timers and old-timers making occasional visits all contribute to the blog in different ways, sometimes playing the wise (‘look what the numbers and patterns tell us’; ‘what does it all mean?’); the wicked (‘Something something Hall trade something something, despite knowing correlation does not equal causation – man it’s fun to poke the bear… no, not you Ricki, but the proverbial bear’); the simple (‘what’s a Fenwick?’; ‘I’d really like to learn what these fancy words represent, but Imma still trust what my eyes tell me’); and the one who doesn’t know what to ask (‘1st time long time, I got nothing but dear lord I love this place; What’s your favourite Neil Young record?’)

    Stephen…there is a 5th group (maybe more). I find myself competent to understand the mathy parts, Not so negative as to dwell in a bat cave, read regularly and add when I find the time as well as know enough music (not Neil Young) to add there as well.

    I mostly enjoy the joy, frustration, Ricki’s grammar challenged postings and pitchfork parties. Liquor, music & hockey. If LT would bring back the women, I’d never go to work.

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