The worry is, the Edmonton Oilers hit the ice Thursday and look like the same addled bunch we saw a year ago October. You remember that crew, the ‘comedy on ice’ swarm brigade that provided the most memorable goal in Joffrey Lupul’s career—he was so alone he could have had a five course meal—and the Devan Dubnyk “I can’t stand up for falling down” moment against Winnipeg. That’s the worry.
THE TRUTH SO FAR
The visual this fall has been pretty good. Here are, via HockeyStats.ca, are the 5×5 Corsi for numbers for the preseason games tracked involving Edmonton this preseason:
- Sunday Sept 21 Calgary v Edmonton. EDM36 CAL40 47.3% (this was the Calgary home game)
- Sunday Sept 21 Calgary v Edmonton. EDM43 CAL 38 53.1% (this was the Edmonton home game)
- Wednesday Sept 24 Winnipeg v Edmonton EDM41 WPG42 49.4%
- Monday Sept 29 Winnipeg v Edmonton EDM28 WPG47 37.3%
- Wednesday Oct 1 Arizona v Edmonton EDM51 ARI35 59.3%
- Thursday Oct 2 Vancouver v Edmonton EDM33 VAN27 55.0%
- Saturday Oct 4 Vancouver v Edmonton EDM35 VAN35 50.0%
- Overall—EDM267 OPP264 50.3%
The Oilers are pretty damn good so far in the Corgi’s, and the kids on Saturday were playing a pretty NHL bunch. These are good signs, ladies and men.
And yet, the Oilers haven’t plugged all the holes, even the obvious ones. Leon Draisaitl will get his 40 points, and Mark Arcobello will play a full season, but is there anyone on the planet who truly believes the club did everything it could have at center? I say that knowing Craig MacTavish did a lot this summer, and we talked this morning about it taking another summer to get this team playoff worthy. It remains a true curio that the team stopped this close to balance in 2014 summer, though.
Nikitia Nikitin practiced today, that’s a very good sign. If he can go Thursday night, I’d estimate the starting 6D to be:
with Brad Hunt and Oscar Klefbom taking a seat. If the Oilers don’t play Nurse opening night, I would expect a long period of time for those 9 games to elapse. If he does play, expect soft minutes and plenty of offensive zone starts, meaning Andrew Ference will likely play with Jeff Petry to give the middle pairing a chance to survive what should be heavy lifting and tough ZS. Nikitin—Fayne will be the top pairing, don’t see much chance of that changing since Marincin is in the minors.
TIME FOR YOUTH TO TAKE OVER
I’m seeing a few “Taylor Hall and his young crew have failed in the past, now they really need to step up” stories, and want to once again reiterate that the problem isn’t the department of youth. These kids aren’t perfect, but can anyone reasonably argue that the learning curve for rookie Nuge had a bigger impact than Steve Tambellini choosing Cam Barker as his showcase FA addition summer 2011? “Time for Hall to man up” completely misses the point! Hall HAS been a man since he was a kid! The crap trotted out behind him has been the problem all down the line. Man, I hate that argument. Taylor Hall is a piss cutter, and that’s a fact. Good on him for getting the “A” today, I’ll bet money he gets the “C” this time next season.