Hasten Down the Wind

The Edmonton Oilers corrected their season with a 1-1-1 road trip, now it’s time to come home and win some games at Rogers Place. The club has five points after eight games and it appears this year’s script is going feature the team coming from behind to win the day. Or not. Points lost in October can dash hopes in the spring and that’s a fact. I think Peter Chiarelli owes it to his team to add some help, we’ll see if he agrees in the coming days.

PIKE’S PEAK, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in October 2015: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in October 2016: 7-1-0, goal differential +12
  • Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-1, goal differential -9

A little of this is strength of schedule, Edmonton has been playing some good hockey teams this year. Still, there was some wobble in net early and now the team can’t score goals. The Western Conference does not forgive, should the gales of November come early.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM 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: 0-3-0)
  • On the road to: Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 1-1-1)
  • 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: 2-5-1, 5 points after eight games games

For the first time since opening night, the Oilers covered the bet during an October chapter. Despite a faltering start to the year, two wins on home ice against Dallas and Washington would mean the month is merely disappointing, less than devastating. If the team can play as well as they did last night at home, I think they can do it.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Klefbom-Larsson were 14-13 together Larsson was 5-4 with Darnell Nurse and Oscar went 5-2 in three minutes with Kris Russell. I liked the Swedish pairing, Oscar’s assist was a nice pass. The top pairing played mostly against Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary, going 15-10. A fine game.
  • Nurse-Russell went 10-9 in 10:24, Nurse had the best Corsi for 5×5 among blue at just over 60 percent. Went 12-3 against Rust-Malkin-Kessel, I think that might have been Nurse’s best game. Terrific passing, calm feet, re-set well, I liked him a lot. Important to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves, but last night Nurse played top four minutes effectively. A plethora of smart people have told me privately Nurse is extremely unlikely to do that consistently in his career. I don’t know that Nurse will or won’t but he did last night. We’ll keep tracking this as the year goes along. Nurse wasn’t riding McDavid’s coattails either, going 7-10 with and 13-3 without (mostly with the Nuge).
  • Auvitu-Benning were on the ice for the first GA and were not good (although they were 2-1 in HD SC). Went 9-11 Corsi and 4-10 in shots while not having an answer for the Penguins when they were wheeling. Peter Chiarelli needs to give his coach a little more on defense.
  • Cam Talbot was the Oilers’ best, stopping 42 of 44. His save percentage has climbed all the way to .915.
  • Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Maroon-McDavid went 22-12 together and hosted a plethora of right wingers. If I didn’t know better, it looked like the coach was sending out an s.o.s. or doing the Billy Martin*. Any way, Letestu (8-4), Yamamoto (4-4), Draisaitl (9-5) Kassian (3-1), Ryan Strome (3-0) and Drake Caggiula (1-5) joined the party on 97’s line. McDavid was 10-2 against Malkin, 9-11 against Crosby. My lord Jesus this young man is special.
  • I love Kailer Yamamoto as a player but he isn’t cashing those 10-bell chances. He’s a doppelganger for Leon as a rookie (or vice versa, I can never remember) but we may be one year away from delivering magic consistently. Helluva young player.
  • Lucic-Nuge-Strome went 9-10 (Looch) and 13-10 (Strome) with RNH. Trio went 6-7 against the Malkin line and 5-3 against the Crosby trio. I liked the line most of the night, save for 93’s two galling passing giveaways and Lucic missing the net on 3-on-3 in overtime. We’ll talk more about that play in a few minutes.
  • Caggiula-Draisaitl went 11-8 together and 3-4 with Kailer Yamamoto as the most common winger. The Caggiula-Yamamoto combination went 7-6, no idea  who was playing center for what segment.
  • Pakarinen-Khaira-Kassian 2-5 in less than five minutes, Kassian got about one minute with McDavid and looked fine. This trio played less than half of the third line, McLellan was running up that hill.

*Billy Martin couldn’t get his Detroit Tigers out of a slump, so one day he decided to pull the batting order out of a hat. The result? His slugger hit leadoff and his shortstop (Eddie Brinkman) who couldn’t hit a lick was cleanup. They won, with the guy batting fourth getting it done. Source

MILAN LUCIC IN OVERTIME

There is a long history of coaches doing unusual things, so Lucic in the 3-on-3 may have been a hunch or maybe another winger blew a shoe. I don’t think running ML in a speed situation is a good idea, would rather see Patrick Maroon in the role. I’m not anti-Lucic, but putting him on the ice in that situation isn’t going to produce good results. The internet is drunk with people finding fault with the big man, but I’ll suggest the coach is the culprit in this instance.

LEON AT CENTER

I was on the Post-Game Show with Dean Millard (TSN1260) last night, he asked me where I thought Leon Draisaitl should play Thursday night. Answer? 2C. That’s my opinion. Now ask me where I think Todd McLellan will stick Leon. Answer: 1R. The general manager needs to go get some speedster who can score. The price could be painful, maybe Slepyshev, who might be a solid solution given the opportunity. That’s what a bad start to the season gets you and why balance is an important goal in summer.

WHAT IS IT?

We seem to have reached one of those damnable moments where we can make statements of certainty but cannot agree on their importance. What’s more, we know our views on solutions are unlikely to match the views of the organization.

  • The Oilers are shooting in awful luck.
  • The Oilers don’t have enough quality forwards on the roster.
  • The club needs another defenseman.

All of these statements are true but I’m not sure any of them individually means the Oilers will miss the playoffs. I think CMD could outscore a lot of mistakes if Cam Talbot continues to play well, and that was enough to make the postseason a year ago. One of the things that seems to be happening on this blog and elsewhere is a progression to a few different conclusions:

  • The Oilers roster is woefully short of good enough, the bet on youngsters has been a miserable failure.
  • The general manager didn’t do close to enough over the summer.
  • The coach bleeds points via decisions like Milan Lucic playing 3-on-3.

Ask my opinion on all three. The answer? Yes, all three points have merit to a greater or lesser degree. Now ask me if I think it will impact the employment of Peter Chiarelli or Todd McLellan. As is the case with the Leon at center question above, my opinion and the reality of the situation are miles apart. Peter Chiarelli is going  to write his own script and that’s as it should be for any general manager. The pressure on him is enormous but he was also at the helm during the 103-point season one year ago. Can he fix this team in time?

WHITEY

When Whitey Herzog took over the St. Louis Cardinals they were a middling team without much personality. He traded enormously popular Ted Simmons (a tremendous hitter and a good not great catcher) while bringing in a plethora of speed, defense and pitching.

  • Retro Simba: Herzog, who doubled as the Cardinals’ general manager, traded 13 Cardinals and received 9 players in return in 3 deals, with the Padres, Cubs and Brewers. The biggest stunner was the last one: popular catcher Ted Simmons, the soul of the team, was traded with pitchers Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich to the Brewers for pitchers Lary Sorensen and Dave LaPoint and outfielders Sixto Lezcano and David Green. Source

Herzog had taken over one third of the way through the 1980 season and actually left the team as manager to scour the minor league system mid-season in an effort to get a head start on the 1981 campaign (Red Schoendienst took over the day-to-day managerial duties). That winter, Herzog hit on most of his trades, adding Darrell Porter (free-agent catcher who could handle a pitching staff), Gene Tenace (who came over in an enormous trade with San Diego), Bruce Sutter (who was an unhittable closer). In December 1981 he added Ozzie Smith (the best defensive shortstop of his era, possibly ever), and a couple of months previous to that fleeced the NY Yankees out of Willie McGee.

Whitey traded the most popular Cardinals player (Simmons) on December 12, 1980 and won the World Series on October 20, 1982 (Bruce Sutter with the save). On the night he won, Cardinals fans didn’t give a hoot about Ted Simmons (who went 0-for-4 in that game batting cleanup for the other team, the Milwaukee Brewers). It all happened just this way.

CHIARELLI

Last night, on this blog, people were so upset about the overtime loss in Pittsburgh the name Taylor Hall resurfaced and we boxed that around for a time. That’s going to happen when a team inside the Stanley Cup window starts 2-5-1 and that’s the only real danger for Peter Chiarelli. As mad as some fans were (and are) about some of his trades, winning the Stanley Cup will wash away all sorrows and we’ll dance away the heartache on the day. On the night he wins Stanley as Oilers general manager (should it happen) a small percentage of fans may bring up the name Taylor Hall in a derisive fashion, but who on earth will care?

You have to do the things required to put yourself in position. Win. So far this season PC’s plan isn’t working. The faith shown in players like Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula and Jesse Puljujarvi is not bearing fruit. I think Peter Chiarelli is as aggressive in his own way as Whitey Herzog back in winter 1980. I don’t know if the correct answer is cutting bait on some of these youngsters in their new, more prominent roles, or if it’s better to stay the course.

I do know that Peter Chiarelli’s front office houses all kinds of strong personalities and lack of success is poison for any front office. Will we see Wayne Gretzky as the Oilers next general manager? A return of Kevin Lowe? Craig MacTavish? You can laugh if you wish but all three men are inside the organization at this time and all three men have shown a desire in the past to hold the highest jobs in the game.

I think we’re miles from a crisis in the Oilers front office, to be honest. A 2-5-1 start can easily be overcome and the goaltending is correcting in a big way. The year Herzog took over the team, St. Louis had 72 wins. Two years later, 92 wins and the World Series. The year Chiarelli took over the team, Edmonton had 70 points. One year later, 103 points. This year? Five points in eight games. There’s urgency here and I’m not certain the solutions are going to come from inside the organization. What would Whitey do? He’d make a move to help his team. Today. Right now this minute.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, we’re bringing the high heat from the opening pitch! TSN1260, scheduled to appear:

  • Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Is this about quality, depth, luck, bad bets, a quiet summer or all of the above?
  • Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. World Series Game One was splendid as October baseball shines like a diamond.
  • Don Landry, CFL.ca. Eskimos the hottest team in the CFL (again) but how far can they go in the playoffs?
  • Guy Flaming, The Pipeline Show. If CHL players are allowed to compete for roster spots in the Olympics, will they be competitive? What does this do to the World Juniors and to the CHL clubs these men won’t play for over an extended period?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. We’re loaded!

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216 Responses to "Hasten Down the Wind"

« Older Comments
  1. Pink Socks says:

    Bag of Pucks:

    This is the beauty of being a GM hater when it comes to trades. Because we can never prove there were other viable trade options, you can just blindly insist there must’ve been despite obvious market conditions to the contrary. Cos that’s what a Harvard man would do, right? He’d ignore obviously better trade returns just to spite the team’s web pundits. lol

    A true statement indeed.

    A) There is no way to know what the other trade options were.
    B) GM’s generally want to keep their jobs, so the trade with the best value is what they will choose

    And most importantly:

    C) The final option if unsatisfied with the return on players is to do nothing. And the definition of insanity is….

  2. Pink Socks says:

    digger50:

    I think the train of thought of, “how good is the team without inherited players” is flawed because there is no way to know what moves would have been made with a different roster.

    I am more than fine with Hall for Larsson, fine with Eberle for Strome, especially taking both moves with the understanding that cap space is also value. But I am not so blind to see that Reinhart was a bad move, Russell was peculiar albeit necessary considering the D corps, and Lucic also was too much money for too much term.

    Some will defend PC to the grave and some will vilify him for every decision. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

  3. gogliano says:

    Side: Come on, Cassandra needs his narrative to stay alive. What else will he do when the Oilers start winning again? One gets bored staying in the shadows, waiting for a losing streak to occur so they can blame Chiarelli and Lucic for everything wrong with the world.

    Yeah but what if Lucic is the cause of the bad luck, like some sort of cosmic bad luck deity?

  4. Bag of Pucks says:

    Woodguy v2.0

    It’s not “numbers” vs “eyes”

    It’s “eyes + numbers” vs “eyes” vs “numbers”

    FTFY

  5. OmJo says:

    McSorley33:
    Woodguy v2.0,

    My Mom couldn’t stand Eberle and I wasn’t a big fan either, but its like arguing style over substance.
    *************************************************************************************************
    Your Mom is very astute.

    Ryan Rishaug and others ( I believe)pointed out Eberle’s trade value to be near zero.

    Same with Ryan strome.

    Hence the marriage.( trade)

    Now, I am not going to lie that I don’t miss Ebs offensive output now.

    My issue with the Eberle trade wasn’t that it was an Eberle trade. I wasn’t his biggest fan on the team.

    My issue was that Chia traded him when his value was at an all time low. If you’re going to trade him, don’t do it in June following a piss poor postseason performance.

    If they planned on trading him sometime in the season, put him back on McDavids line and boost his value. He produced almost the same as Draisaitl did with McDavid. Honestly that would have been a win-win in hindsight. First, Eberle would have far more trade value than Strome and Draisaitl likely wouldn’t be making 8.5M a season.

    We’re essentially doing the same thing with Nuge. Playing him with Lucic and Strome and then will end up trading him for pennies when the time comes. Lucic is a 5v5 offense boat anchor. Nuge isn’t good enough to counteract the negative impact Lucic and Strome will have on his offense.

  6. Pink Socks says:

    OmJo: My issue with the Eberle trade wasn’t that it was an Eberle trade. I wasn’t his biggest fan on the team.

    My issue was that Chia traded him when his value was at an all time low. If you’re going to trade him, don’t do it in June following a piss poor postseason performance.

    If they planned on trading him sometime in the season, put him back on McDavids line and boost his value. He produced almost the same as Draisaitl did with McDavid. Honestly that would have been a win-win in hindsight. First, Eberle would have far more trade value than Strome and Draisaitl likely wouldn’t be making 8.5M a season.

    We’re essentially doing the same thing with Nuge. Playing him with Lucic and Strome and then will end up trading him for pennies when the time comes. Lucic is a 5v5 offense boat anchor. Nuge isn’t good enough to counteract the negative impact Lucic and Strome will have on his offense.

    To play devil’s advocate; if Eberle’s numbers are pumped playing with McDavid, the last thing the team would want to do is trade him when the team is having success. It’s a tough balance trading a player who’s stock is rather volatile.

    Regarding RNH, even though the cap is tighter next year, I don’t think RNH needs to be moved. There is $16.5m is space next year with a $3m bump in the cap. We lose Korpikoski and Fayne’s salaries, and I don’t see a way where Nurse, Benning, Maroon, Slepy, Caggiula, and Letestu get anywhere near $16m.

    Nurse – $3.5?
    Benning – $2m max
    Maroon – $4m max
    Slepy – $1.5m
    Caggiula – $1.5m
    Letestu – $2m

    That’s $14.5m, I think fair numbers though Nurse may go up if he continues this play. Strome likely walks. I just don’t see the necessity in moving RNH next season; and the year following should provide additional space and Russell enters “the buy him out to eat the salary in a likely lockout year” stage.

  7. Side says:

    gogliano: Yeah but what if Lucic is the cause of the bad luck, like some sort of cosmic bad luck deity?

    Then we shed him and enjoy the following 164 point season!

  8. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Bah. What a painful thread!

    Again for the umpteenth time my problem is not with trading Hall or Eberle. It’s with what they were replaced with.

    Hall + Eberle gone, 12m out
    Lucic + Larsson + Strome 14m in.

    Larsson is the only one pulling his weight. Then you spend 4m on a depth D like Russell.

    That’s my issue. Not with trading those guys but with the replacements.

  9. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    If I am Chia I am calling McPhee.

    Fayne + pick + prospect not named JP, Bear, Yamamoto or Jones for Shipachyov.

    Run some skill out there.

    Maroon-McDavid-nuge
    Lucic-Drai-shipachyov
    Jokinen-Strome-caggiula
    Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

    All will be forgiven, Pete. While you’re at it, grab one of their depth D as well.

  10. leadfarmer says:

    Woodguy v2.0:
    FLA DMen last year:

    Cool thing about FLA is the QoC was almost perfectly even across everyone except Kindl

    PlayerRelT CF%
    MARK.PYSYK1.84
    AARON.EKBLAD1.65
    ALEX.PETROVIC0.51
    KEITH.YANDLE-0.47
    MICHAEL.MATHESON-1.7
    JASON.DEMERS-2.06
    JAKUB.KINDL-3.48

    Is everyone piling on a -2 RelCor player?Really? Do you want the list of Dmen who played greater than 30% vs Elites and had a -2 RelCor?Its pretty long

    PlayerRel GF%
    KEITH.YANDLE5.25
    MARK.PYSYK4
    ALEX.PETROVIC0.97
    MICHAEL.MATHESON0.42
    JASON.DEMERS-1.12
    AARON.EKBLAD-7.58
    JAKUB.KINDL-10.75

    Everyone is convinced he’s dogshit with-1.12 GF%?Do you know what that means? You think 50% of Dmen in the NHL are done.Remember when you said he was “done”Well half the league is done.

    PlayerRel xGF%
    MARK.PYSYK2.26
    ALEX.PETROVIC1.41
    MICHAEL.MATHESON-0.11
    AARON.EKBLAD-0.17
    JASON.DEMERS-0.71
    JAKUB.KINDL-2.4
    KEITH.YANDLE-2.52

    xGF% is similar to DFF%.Same thing.About even.The horror, the horror.

    Now that he’s putting up better numbers you say “but they’re a shit team!!!!”

    How about these Relative numbers from a Dman on shit team?

    Rel CF% -3.12
    Rel GF% -13.68
    Rel xGF% -5.67

    That’s a first pairing Dman on a team with one whole more win that ARI.

    He must be the dog shittest of the dog shit Dmen ever eh?

    Veteran dman getting passed by young dmen that desperately needed a steady hand is what you are telling us. Him and Kindl bottom 3 no matter which metric you use although Kindl is dead last. Sure he can recover. I don’t get why anyone is defending that he had a tough season. Metrics tell us that, Florida fans tell us that. Him getting traded one year after signing that contract tell us that.

    Coyotes are a mess. A big fat mess. Any numbers from that team this early are so damn messy I wouldn’t put much stock into them. He does get top 4 time although if he couldn’t beat Clendening, Connaughton or Schenn that would be a huge problem

  11. Pouzar says:

    Simon Boisvert‏ @simonsnake70 2h2 hours ago
    More Simon Boisvert Retweeted Darren Dreger
    He’s a good passer with good vision. But he’s had a hard time adapting to smaller ice surface and pace of play. KHL is a different league.

  12. Jaxon says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Justin Schultz says hi. (from Lalaland, after the Caggs elbow in the mush).

    I crapped on Benning pretty hard in my game grades last night, but looking at the game highlights with fresh eyes this morning I see a terrific contribution by him on the Yamamoto miss, dishing the puck to McDavid, driving the net front, occupying the d-man & goalie & narrowly missing scooping the puck home himself before it ever got to Yamamoto.

    To your larger point. Good puck skills & blunders are far from polar opposites. Just look at the league leaders in giveaways any season, as has been discussed on this blog many times. Giveaways are something of a proxy for possession, counterintuitive as that seems. A cost of doing business if you will.

    Trick is not to have to high a ratio of one to the other.At a certain point the cost of doing business becomes too exorbitant. We don’t need the next version of Jim McKenny, thanks all the same.

    Fair enough. I wish the Oilers could have unlocked Schultz’s game and used him properly. It would be nice to have him as the 2nd RHD right now. As for Benning, puck skills and giveaway king are things to consider. But my initial point was about who to use in a 3-on-3 overtime situation. With the extra room out there, those players with puck skills and extra time may be less prone to giveaways. It is a faster game but also gives the players more space. A giveaway king in 5-on-5 may not be a giveaway king at 3-on-3 and those puck skills may come in handy. I think I had him as the 4th best option at 3-on-3 meaning he’d probably never see ice time, especially once Sekera is back as that would move him to 5th and I could easily be convinced that Larsson’s underrated puck skills put him ahead of Benning. In other words, Benning is kind of a non-factor in the discussion.

  13. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Pouzar:
    Simon Boisvert‏ @simonsnake702h2 hours ago
    More Simon Boisvert Retweeted Darren Dreger
    He’s a good passer with good vision. But he’s had a hard time adapting to smaller ice surface and pace of play. KHL is a different league.

    How do you adjust when you get 10 minutes a game on the 3Rd line as a skill guy. Such nonsense. On a team like Chicago or even with Lucic he’d be solid

  14. OmJo says:

    Pink Socks: To play devil’s advocate; if Eberle’s numbers are pumped playing with McDavid, the last thing the team would want to do is trade him when the team is having success.It’s a tough balance trading a player who’s stock is rather volatile.

    Regarding RNH, even though the cap is tighter next year, I don’t think RNH needs to be moved.There is $16.5m is space next year with a $3m bump in the cap.We lose Korpikoski and Fayne’s salaries, and I don’t see a way where Nurse, Benning, Maroon, Slepy, Caggiula, and Letestu get anywhere near $16m.

    Nurse – $3.5?
    Benning – $2m max
    Maroon – $4m max
    Slepy – $1.5m
    Caggiula – $1.5m
    Letestu – $2m

    That’s $14.5m, I think fair numbers though Nurse may go up if he continues this play.Strome likely walks.I just don’t see the necessity in moving RNH next season; and the year following should provide additional space and Russell enters “the buy him out to eat the salary in a likely lockout year” stage.

    Fair point. What I meant was if they commited to trading him in the summer, to try and pump and dump him in the playoffs. Worst case scenario he plays good enough you decide it’s better to keep him and are left with a good veteran RH RW for a season until Yamamoto or Puljujarvi are ready to take over. From my understanding the cap space we saved in the deal isn’t really being used (yet) and Strome is well… Yeah.

    I agree, I don’t think he needs to be moved either. I personally don’t want us to trade him. I just feel like he’ll be the next to go. Why? Just a hunch.

  15. OmJo says:

    Pouzar:
    Simon Boisvert‏ @simonsnake702h2 hours ago
    More Simon Boisvert Retweeted Darren Dreger
    He’s a good passer with good vision. But he’s had a hard time adapting to smaller ice surface and pace of play. KHL is a different league.

    Who’s this in reference to, Shipachyov?

  16. Gret99zky says:

    OmJo,

    Pump and dump never works.

    Not with this team.

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