The real shame of this season is losing Nail Yakupov’s momentum. The Oilers started the season with (really) no skill centers and have yet to provide the young man with a consistent, healthy and creative center. It’s completely galling, and I say that with a great deal of respect for the MacT/Eakins combination. The other three kids (Hall, Nuge, Ebs) are imbedded as cluster members, but the young man Nail is a rank outsider. Not good. That needs to change.
Remember when Shawn Horcoff helped Hall and Eberle back in 2010? He gave good counsel and helped carry the load until the training wheels came off and the sorties got easier to push and defend. Yakupov is getting Sam Gagner this season, and the numbers are kind of amazing compared to their respective plus/minus:
- Nail and Gagner together: 50.1
- Nail without Samwise: 45.3
- Sam without Yak City: 45.6
This is 5×5 Corsi for% courtesy Extra Skater. Yakupov is 1-2-3 -10 in his last ten games, an absolute shame for such a talented young player. He’s getting the same powerplay minutes as one year ago, but the Oilers with the man advantage currently are a help to no man. I think Yak and Nuge should be the feature players with the man advantage. Starting tonight. At the very least it’ll put the fear of Gord in a few people. Yak’s last goal came from an outstanding shift with Taylor Hall, who set him up wonderfully. Maybe give him 5 games with Hall or Nuge, get this Russian rocking.
Barons enjoyed a 2-0 win last night, Richard Bachman is quickly becoming the story in goaltending this season. His boxcars shine shine shine in both Edmonton (3, 3.02 .916) and OKC (11, 2.35 .929) and he’s certainly young enough (26) to have a career. I ranked him #28 on my top 40 winter list, but he’s playing extremely well in front of a team that can make goalies look shaky. Last night was the first SO of the season for the Barons.
Jonathan Willis has a terrific write up about the game here, and has nice things to say about both Martin Gernat and David Musil. I’m happy for both young men, hope they continue to develop along with Marincin, Klefbom, Davidson and the others. A guy like Fedun—his time is now—might beat all the kids to the NHL, but surely at least a couple of these young men are going to have productive NHL careers.
Curtis Hamilton (in photo from last night, courtesy Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved) played on a line with Tyler Pitlick and Ryan Martindale. I’m reminded of the ‘Bulldog line’ around the turn of the century, and how they all came up together under rookie coach Craig MacTavish, fall 2000. Brian Swanson, Michel Riesen and Daniel Cleary played about a dozen games together that season before Riesen and then eventually Swanson fell away, leaving Daniel Cleary to an NHL career that continues to this day. The Oilers badly need a Cleary from that group, suspect if it happens young Pitlick will be the answer. Willis tweeted out the Fenwicks last night, and the ‘2010 line’ was doing well, as was the Gernat-Klefbom and Marincin-Musil pairings. Good to see.
The first big star in St. Louis Blues history was Red Berenson, he walked all over the expansion division after coming over in a trade during the 1967-68 season. Berenson was traded for the man in the photo (Garry Unger) who Glen Sather tried to acquire around the expansion draft. The price? The draft pick that turned into Mark Messier. Slats would eventually pick up Unger for a more reasonable price (7th round pick in 1981) and the skilled C would play for the Oilers for parts of three seasons.
I’ve always enjoyed watching the Blues, they weren’t on television much during the early expansion years and I’m still trying to catch up. I could probably tell you something mildly interesting about each era of the Blues, but can say without hesitation that this era (the one we’re in now) is the best Blues team I’ve seen. I’m not sure about their goaltending, but they are ready for a deep run everywhere else—and they may come calling to Edmonton at the deadline.
I don’t really have much to say about this edition of the Oilers. Their goaltending killed them but is no longer the problem, their powerplay is a comedy and their record a tragedy. If they weren’t the Oilers I’d read a book instead.