The loosest rock and roll band worth paying attention to was probably Crazy Horse, around 1970. Neil Young and the band surrounded about 10 songs (one is here) and gave them a sound bashing over a couple of nights at the Fillmore while someone was recording. I love it to death, but it’s an acquired taste and you’d definitely want to tighten things up in the studio. By the way, the actual loosest rock and roll band in history is Alice Cooper, whose demo of “Eighteen” is unlistenable (it was on youtube but they shot it because it was too cruel to make people listen).
After playing a sound Game One against Calgary last week, the Edmonton Oilers have turned into Crazy Horse. Any team containing Connor McDavid is worth watching, but even then this group is testing the limits. Let’s hope this isn’t a winterlong experience.
- Todd McLellan: “We’re not near competitive enough. We’re not out-working teams & structurally, we’re about as loose as we can be.” Source
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-2-0, goal differential -1
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OCTOBER
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- At home to: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Carolina (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Washington (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-3-2, 12 points in 10 games
- Current results: 1-2-0, 2 points after three games
There’s no reason to panic based on the team’s record, an early stumble can be easily overcome. The actual product is a concern though. After getting to even last night, the Oilers gave up two jaw-dropping goals in a quick hurry. One featured a risky play by Leon Draisaitl that left him out of position and a defensive pair (Kris Russell and Matt Benning) who backed in so deep Nikolaj Ehlers could smell Cam Talbot’s breath before he rifled home the game winner. No one had a chance to settle before the team’s five best players played ‘one day late and a dollar short’ on the fourth marker of the evening by the Jets. The six men on the ice for that goal (CMD, Leon, Maroon, the Swedes and Talbot) are the heart of the order, but they were Nadir’s Raiders on that play last night. Todd McLellan mentioned after the game that the team’s stars needed to be superstars every night, I think that fourth goal may have inspired the quote. Absolute zero moment.
- Klefbom-Larsson were the best pairing based on number, but the second Ehlers goal saw both men slow to recognize danger. The game was in the balance at the time and it was a significant moment. One of the things we may see this week is a shuffle on blue, hard to argue this pairing should stay together after a sleep walk moment like that one. Klefbom was 13-10 in scoring chances, even on a tough night he seems to be able to find a way out of the blue and into the black.
- Nurse-Gryba were high event (2 goals for, 1 against) together, Nurse picking up a nice assist on the Nuge goal and Gryba hit a post. Nurse was 7-13 in scoring chances, worst on the team. His possession numbers were reasonable (again) but SC and HD scoring chances are a concern. That’s important to keep in mind as we are likely to discuss the young blue moving up to second pair this week.
- Russell-Benning were in trouble for much of the night and it’s clear the young righty is having a difficult time with this trip up the depth chart. There is no internal replacement for RH side, meaning we could see Nurse-Russell on Saturday. Despite the mess, they were 8-8 in scoring chances. I don’t think this pairing remains together Saturday night.
- Cam Talbot saw five goals get past him, stopped two breakaways and many point blank chances. We can fault him but the real problem is the sheer number of 10-bell chances he is facing. Natural Stat Trick had it at 10 HD chances for Winnipeg in all disciplines, I’d say that is low.
- Source is NST.
- Maroon & McDavid played with Leon, Yamamoto and Kassian on their RW last night. It will be interesting to see what Todd McLellan comes up with for the next practice (probably Wednesday). I’m not certain there’s an ideal fit, but Kailer Yamamoto is the most skilled and Anton Slepyshev will be the least expensive next summer. It’s also possible they just run with Leon again Wednesday.
- Lucic-Nuge-Slepy had their moments (Nuge scored!) but gave up a lot of chances. Lucic had four giveaways according to the score sheet, bet it was more although I didn’t count on the fly. He takes off like an 18-wheeler 10 deep at a light and for some reason spends a lot of time stationary in the defensive zone. Need to fix that, and I think he might need Leon as his center. They have chem. Slepyshev didn’t look quite 100 percent but I liked his game fine.
- Jokinen-Strome-Kassian did okay by the numbers (7-6 in scoring chances) but Strome’s line is always so passive. Kassian was placed on this line to angry up the blood but it didn’t take—they tamed him!
- Pakarinen-Letestu-Yamamoto were fine but didn’t play together much (3:37). Yamamoto stepped up (3:22, 3-1 corsi for 5×5 with McDavid) and made some plays. I don’t think he’s going to stay but this was a positive game for him and shows progress. I still think he’s the most skilled RW not named Leon Draisaitl on this roster—and that’s not a good thing for the Oilers.
OILERS 5X5/60 SCORING AFTER THREE GAMES 17-18
- Connor McDavid 3.75
- Leon Draisaitl 2.70
- Patrick Maroon 2.67
- Zack Kassian 1.60
- Kris Russell 1.55
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.54
- Milan Lucic 1.50
- Darnell Nurse 1.30
OILERS 5X5 SCORING AFTER THREE GAMES 16-17
- Zack Kassian 4.21
- Connor McDavid 3.86
- Kris Russell 3.74
- Leon Draisaitl 3.41
- Tyler Pitlick 2.80
- Jordan Eberle 2.74
- Benoit Pouliot 2.49
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.56
- Patrick Maroon 1.54
- Milan Lucic 1.39
- Andrej Sekera 1.33
- Oscar Klefbom 1.25
- Adam Larsson 1.24
I think this is relevant, even though we are just three games into the season. A year ago, nine forwards and four defensemen had posted crooked numbers on the 5×5. This year, six forwards and two defensemen. That’s an entire set of five players who are missing from the score sheet. You can say Edmonton was running luck early and isn’t getting any right now, and you can also say the McDavid line is the only trio who showed well in both seasons. Both of those statements may well be true, but the Oilers need more secondary scoring at the 5×5.
I don’t think the Oilers are a bunch of layabouts and don’t believe they have forgotten how to play the game. The things I value (as time goes on, fewer people who read this blog do value these things but that’s okay, I’m stubborn enough for all of us) suggest this team has most of the formula in place.
- Corsi for 5×5: 56.82 (No. 6 NHL)
- Fenwick for 5×5: 57.94 (No. 4 NHL)
- Shot Share 5×5: 56.80 (No. 4 NHL)
- Scoring chance for 5×5: 53.89 (No. 4 NHL)
- HD scoring chances for 5×5: 56.67 (No. 8 NHL)
- Goal Share 5×5: 45.45 (No. 19 NHL)
How can this be? Well, there are a few reasons generally associated with this malady. Most of the time, you can blame the goalie and be on solid ground. Cam Talbot has had some wobble early, but he’s also stopped several breakaways and countless point-blank shots. I’m absolutely not going to bury him over this start.
For me, the culprit is puck handling in the defensive zone. The Oilers are making tragic decisions all over hell’s half acre in their own zone, and it is creating chance after chance for opponents. Last night, Milan Lucic was along the boards in his zone, saw his center hovering, and sent a tip pass toward his man. However, the Jets had a man hovering too, and he was closer and heading in a great direction for his team. Bang! Lost possession and we’re in the zone for another 30 seconds unless there’s a goal.
Have a care! This is basic hockey and every guy on the ice knows it. I don’t look forward to hearing about how lazy and stupid this team is over the next several days because they aren’t either of those things. What are they? Too cute, I’d say. That first game was close enough to perfect that we know they have it in them.
Even down a man on defense and struggling to find something that rhymes on RW offensively doesn’t excuse lack of execution in the defensive zone. The Edmonton Oilers aren’t making things easy on themselves, but as they stand here today this group is far better than they’ve shown since the weekend began.
WHY DID THEY LOSE????
- It’s possible to have good numbers and get noticed for negative things—single moments and events can have super importance while being exactly single moments and events. Such was the case last night.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We’re back and have (mostly) slept off the turkey. It begins at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Jon will break down last night’s game and give us the solution. Seriously.
- Derek Taylor, TSN. What a CFL weekend! Eskimos win a game after I said “book it!”, which is the toughest victory in sports!
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Oh, those Oilers and OH MY those Leafs! Plus MLB playoffs.
- Corey Graham, TSN1260. Edmonton Oil Kings are off to a strong start, we’ll explore the reasons.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!