It’s sure been a cold, cold winter
My feet been draggin’ ‘cross the ground
And the fields have all been brown and fallow
And the springtime takes a long way around
-Jagger, Richards, rumored Taylor
Each fall, late fall, there’s a moment when you realize it’s here for another long, cold winter. I’ve no complaints, love this city, raised my children here with a lot of help from good people. But that feeling, not quite panic but definitely boxed in, is something I acknowledge and then battle every year when it’s too late to pack up and run. So, you find things that make you happy, that fill the time, make you feel alive. Last year, it was the Oilers, for the first time in one forever. This year, we’re coming to a moment when we realize it’s here for another long, cold winter. We’ll find things to occupy our time—gallows humor, talk of alcohol and beautiful women, the draft and, at some point, what went wrong. This season is hanging by a thread, this northern town about to let out a primal scream. Perhaps the men from town can’t fix this after all. We’ve seen this team and it isn’t good enough, no need to wait on them this time. It’s already been a cold, cold winter, and we’ve only just begun.
PIKES PEAK, 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 October 2017: 3-6-1, goal differential -11
The Oilers struggled through the whole month and it’s pretty clear help is needed. The encouraging signs from last night did not occur in Edmonton, but rather in a Toronto studio (where Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman discussed Peter Chiarelli making a trade), California (where Jesse Puljujarvi had nine shots on goal) and on the calendar (there are no more October games on the schedule). Edmonton went 5-7-2 in November 2016, this year’s club will have to be far better than that if they are going to have any chance at the playoffs.
WHAT WAS DELIVERED 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: 0-3-0)
- 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 1-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-3-2, 12 points in 10 games
- Current results: 3-6-1, 7 points after 10 games
The only game during the month where everything seemed to rhyme was Game One. After that, it was goaltending and then special teams, and it was secondary scoring and poor coverage. Honestly, I’m glad it’s over. That wasn’t an enjoyable month of hockey. At all.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Benning went 20-8 together, including 10-3 shots. That included 9-2 Corsi events against Vrana-Backstrom-Oshie, an impressive total against a strong line. That trio didn’t score a point, and spent about six minutes against Nurse-Benning.
- Klefbom-Larsson had a tough night, I’m going to point the finger at Oscar. Trio was 17-19 Corsi and 0-3 in goals, all of these numbers are 5×5. Went 10-10 against Kuznetsov-Ovechkin-Smith-Pelly, but all three goals against came against the line. High skill for sure, but we don’t see a night like that often from the Swedes. The first goal against what a ghastly display by Klefbom, but Larsson had some saloon door moments as well. Klefbom is playing hurt and the pairing is playing a lot, both less than ideal.
- Russell-Gryba went 6-17 together, there were very few competed passes and a lot of turning and backing up. I don’t believe this is a good pairing.
- Cam Talbot stopped 25 of 31 shots. The fourth goal against was a killer, he has to have it. Similar to the third Vancouver goal in Game Two. I’m a big believer in Cam Talbot, but he needs to make like Joe Jackson and Look Sharp!
- Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon-McDavid-Draisiatl went 16-21 (LD) and 13-21 (PM) with 97. They scored the first goal, a beauty that involved all three men working in tandem. High skill trio. Faced Orpik-Carlson (15-18) most, along with the forward group of Vrana-Backstrom Oshie (McDavid was 9-12 against Backstrom). Edmonton’stop line outscored Washington’s 1-0 at evens. The only complaint I have about the trio is they need to shoot more, they had nine but could have had 15 or more.
- Lucic-Nuge-Strome were key in Larsson’s goal and Strome set up Lucic a couple of times. Lucic had three high danger chances, didn’t score on any of them. Went 20-13 Corsi but 1-2 GF-GA, they spent nine minutes against Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Smith Pelly, but were outscored 0-2.
- Caggiula-Letestu-Kassian went 6-12 (Kassian) together, outscored 0-1 at 5×5. Kuznetsov line chewed them up 1-10 Corsi and scored a goal.
- Jokinen-Khaira-Slepyshev went 13-6 (Slepy) and 11-5 (Jokinen). It’s a good 4line, with Khaira coming on a little as he gets comfortable. Six shots! Went 5-4 against the Lars Eller line. Slepyshev is going to catch up, I don’t know that anyone will notice.
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING
In doing these post-game postmortems, trends begin to appear. This year, “reasons” come to the fore and seem to rotate. Penalty killing, power play, defensive lapses, wobbles in goal. The alarming part of it? There’s so many things that need to be fixed, the mind boggles. When you have this many issues on a roster, there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn. They’re not good enough. Incredibly, despite employing Connor McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers are a team in the National Hockey League.
- Nick Kypreos: “The fact remains they’re disappointed in the Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle deal. I think they’re not married to even keeping Strome if they can move him. I think they probably would. The question is: Would he bring anything in return of significance? But no question it’s a priority for (Oilers GM) Peter Chiarelli to find some scoring on the right side.” Source
The most encouraging part of the evening came from the big enforcer, with something that looked like inside knowledge. Unlikely this leak came from Chiarelli, although he is surrounded by former management people who had leaks during their time at the helm. NK is generally associated with the player side, perhaps the news came from that side.
Either way, it’s encouraging. The Oilers aren’t good enough as they stand here today but there’s too much talent to simply abandon. Perhaps we see Jesse Puljujarvi and his nine shots on goal recalled, or the power play finally gets untracked after a shuffle. The season lies bleeding here today, Peter Chiarelli must step in and make a deal. One final thing: If you’re thinking Ryan Strome and “something” will get you Chris Kreider, the “something” is going to be a substantial piece. Peter Chiarelli owes it to his team to lend a helping hand.