HAMMER ON A DRUM

In last night’s game, Oscar Klefbom led the entire team in even-strength minutes (20:16) and the young man’s boxcars (1, 0-1-1 even) were impossibly good based on the final score. He also trotted out an even-strength Corsi % of 66 and that’s impressive even if game state dictated a lot of the sorties. The other side of the coin? A 71% offensive zone start and less control over matchups, which may be a problem with this pairing as we roll along. If this is the No. 1 pairing, do we need to alter the definition? Maybe they’re the No. 1 pairing and Ference—Petry is the shutdown pairing? I don’t know. It’s safe to say the Klefbom—Schultz pairing won’t be the No. 1 duo in the same way Pronger—Smith was a decade ago.

O'Connor

MATT O’CONNOR

Elliotte Friedman was on HNIC last night and mentioned the Oilers continue to pursure goaltender Matt O’Connor. The college player will meet with the Edmonton Oilers later in the month and one hopes the club can secure his services as a pro player. Why? If Edmonton signs a quality goaltender via college free agency, it should mean they won’t spend a bullet on MacKenzie Blackwood or Daniel Vladar.

The offensive potential of forwards in this draft is insane. Edmonton, having three picks in the top 35, could walk away with Dylan Strome, Anthony Beauvillier and Jake DeBrusk if things break right. Massive haul offensively. An absolute franchise changer. What can get in the way? Edmonton’s need for a goalie and their long tradition of taking a defenseman if they have two first round picks (Seriously, you can look it up).

DEPLOYMENT

I’m trying to get a feel for Todd Nelson’s deployment but the first 17 games have had some weird things, like recent injuries to Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot. It’s hard to get mad at the coach when the GM gives him an expansion offense and the captain plays like pure crap then calls out the team. Having said that, I don’t think our new coach is a hard match/zone start demon and that’s going to be bad news on the road. The Oilers have major roster problems and are going to get absolutely fed if Nelson can’t get the Nuge or Gordon lines out there.

I need 20 games to get my head wrapped around this and even then it’s a moving target. That said, I think:

  • Todd Nelson continues to use the 4line as his ZS demon.
  • Todd Nelson doesn’t appear as adept at matchups. Phil Kessel’s most common EV opponent last night? Nail Yakupov. Kessel played 1:09 against Gordon’s line.
  • Todd Nelson doesn’t seem to have a feel for any of his three veterans (Ference, Fayne, Nikitin) and what they can do.

Last night isn’t fair because Hall and Pouliot weren’t in the lineup but there are some deployment issues we need to pay attention to for the rest of the season. I believe Todd Nelson is in fact the next Oilers’ coach (the warmth of the players is a real tell) and he’s doing little (popular) things like playing the hell out of Gazdic. I think he’s here for the long haul and then our next question is ‘does the coach listen to Dellow?’ and I’m thinking the answer is the reports are on the desk. Unopened.

HALL

I spent literally an hour last night talking to people about Taylor Hall. There is a growing sentiment in Oilers Nation that Hall is the problem. If you believe this, please post your thoughts and allow us to counter. We won’t be assholes, promise.

  • Bruce Garrioch: What’s going on in Edmonton? At one point, GM Craig MacTavish was willing to talk about young forwards Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Then, the Oilers pulled them off the marketplace. Source

If we assume the Oilers are not insane, then pulling Hall and Eberle off the market is the right thing to do. If the time comes when an offer is made for either player that satisfies the ask, make your decision then. If the Oilers are shopping Hall, he’s already a reduced value. And having his name out there is silly if you plan on keeping him. If the Oilers’ brass watched the Pittsburgh and Toronto games, they should be painfully aware of Hall’s value. Shopping him is a silly damn thing to do and Daryl Katz should bitch slap the man who put it out there.

Today.

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230 Responses to "HAMMER ON A DRUM"

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  1. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide:
    I’m seeing Marco Roy very good this afternoon. Playing with DuClair and Tkachev at evens, nice two-way play and passing. He’s a good hockey player.

    LT: I take it this Bouchard in net for Drummondville isn’t Keven Bouchard? I saw him make a save a while back, so I’m guessing no, it can’t be Keven.

  2. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Woodguy: Not if he’s making the right play.

    Ok now you’re making me go back to my PVR recording of last night’s game, damn you.

  3. Woodguy says:

    rickithebear:
    People are mad that MacT called Klefbom-Schultz a top pairing.

    They are currently playing as a
    18 min 2nd comp 1.75 EVGA/60 D pair
    Schultz 22 EVP pace 30% Ebs; RNH; Hall; 23% Purcell; Yak
    Klefbom 22 EVP pace 40% Hall;RNH; EBS; 25% Purcell Yakupov

    Keith-Seabrook18 min 2nd comp 2.55 EVGA/60
    Keith 39 EVP 35.3% Sharp; Toews; 27% Hossa; Kane; Saad
    Seabrook 31EVP 32.9% Sharp; Toews; Hossa; 24.9% Saad; Kane

    So it is a joke our 18 min 2nd comp 1.75 EVGA/60 D pair is being referred to as top pairing D.

    But CHI 18min 2nd Comp 2.55 Dpair with the Norris winner is not!

    The MacT hate is crack head embarrassing!

    I do not think of 2nd comp as top pairing.

    But you win a norris facing 2nd Comp 18min a night with a 2.55 EVGA/60.

    2nd comp my ass.

    3rd most TOI vs Crosby and Malking
    3rd most TOI vs. Ovechkin
    3rd most TOI vs. Monahan

    They’re sheltered.

  4. Woodguy says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Ok now you’re making me go back to my PVR recording of last night’s game, damn you.

    Game is over Bruce and Petry has one foot out the door, don’t bother.

    I’m sorry for grinding you on this.

    Taking out y Ference and MacT frustration on you.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Bruce McCurdy: LT: I take it this Bouchard in net for Drummondville isn’t Keven Bouchard? I saw him make a save a while back, so I’m guessing no, it can’t be Keven.

    He appears to be capable, so no, not KevEN.

  6. Bruce McCurdy says:

    OK watched it again. Petry pinched & did indeed get a piece of the puck to disrupt the breakout so not a complete fail. His only mistake was in timing, he & Marincin were fresh but the forwards were gassed after over 60 seconds of tough slogging along the walls. They weregoing to need to change no matter what, instead Gordon got the puck one extra time but coughed it up &’then had no legs for the pursuit.

    It’s a debatable point that is certainly prone to be coloured by “what happened next?” but to my mind that’s a bit of a bad read. Better To fall back & come back at them with a fresh wave of forwards.

    Anyway, all of Gordon, Marincin & arguably Klinkhammer were caught out in the subsequent jail break, so I feel kind of guilty that i gave them all 8’s last night. No wait a minute, those are 3’s.

    Team Fail.

  7. SkatinginSand says:

    Woodguy,

    Before Hall was hurt, he had 10 points in 11 games, very good, but would translate to 68 pts. in 75 games, a game total that is a stretch for him any year. The points also came in a stretch of very soft games, during which he was shut out 4 times. Small sample size, but concerning. I am too lazy to go back and try to find his corgi events during this time, but by eye and memory, teams with good defencemen and backpressure regularly shut him down. Of course, that is why they are good teams, but players that are elite often find ways of producing even in tough situations. Having said that, it is obvious that without him and Pouliot, the rest of the team lays down like little puppy dogs even against the Maple Laughs of the league. Don’t misunderstand me, I would love to be proven wrong, I just can’t see much reason for any optimism about this team or for Taylor consistently providing scary offense against tough opponents.

  8. Bruce McCurdy says:

    While i was in there — thanks again, Woodguy — i looked at a 3-minute sequence where Oilers allowed 3 Clear Cut breakaways, with Pety safely on the bench for the other 2 while our Top Two Defence Pair took centre stage. Or should i say, took Exit Stage Right.

    Bad pinches galore. I get that they were behind, but if last night proved anything it’s that it’s even tougher to come from behind a 5-0 deficit than a 2-0 deficit. Some very poor decision making, coupled with crappy execution. It’s always a recipe for disaster.

  9. Hockeyman 99 says:

    Bag of Pucks: I think as a fan, we almost look at these young players In the same way we look at our kids. We think the world of them. We want the best for them. We give them a ton of latitude and rope. And because of that, we have some blind spots.

    I suspect this rebuild is viewed very differently by fans of this team that watched the Cup teams grow than it is by those who never experienced that on a granular level.

    No one needed to teach Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Lowe, etc. about commitment to team, effort and winning. They were born champions so that competitive fire was in each of them from the start. They simply needed to be pointed in the right direction. Slats brought in some old pros to teach them about professionalism and work habits yes, but he didn’t need to bring in Gary Unger to teach Mess how to work/try. You either have try or you don’t. Effort is not a learned trait.

    This team is young. I can appreciate that and make a lot of allowances for it. But I don’t excuse lack of effort. Not only have we seen it on an almost nightly basis but now they’re admitting as much in nationally televised interviews.

    Prediction. Psychological testing is going to become a huge part of the drafting process going forward. The times they are a changing and not everyone wants to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Draft those who do and you’ll be ahead of the game.

    Your wrong they did need to learn how to win by failing. This team is not the 80s oilers just lacking heart and compete, they have major holes in the roster that obviously weren’t there in the 80s even before they won it all. Lowe and Gretzky’s Islanders locker room walk by story is an obvious example. They were just so good they didn’t struggle like this team. Also Hall captained two memorial cup champions did he not? To quote Kevin Lowe ” I think he knows something about winning”:) Oh and Gretzky never won a cup after Edmonton. It takes more than two good lines.

    Lastly it’s very rare that anyone can get to the nhl without the desire to win and I don’t think our players lack this. I feel its time to strip Ference of the “C” . The team has gone backwards with his leadership and I don’t see that changing. Just don’t do it until we are a lock for 30th 😛

  10. Bruce McCurdy says:

    The questions about the Oilers’ ability to win persisted until about 8:49 PM on May 19, 1984. They were branded “WEAK KNEED WIMPS” in one famous headline, & were repeatedly compared unfavourably to the Islanders in the all important gritensity dept.

    Lee Fogolin was everything to that team that the now OBC is/was hoping Andrew Ference could be for this one. He taught them a whole lot about professionalism & brought more than a little gritensity of his own.

  11. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Tkachev, holy shit. Singlehandedly beats 2 guys off the boards, cuts in front & wires a perfect shot through the other defender’s legs and just inside the far post. Gordie.

    Why can’t we have anything shiny?

  12. Hockeyman 99 says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    Lee Fogolin or Andrew Ference?

    I’m sure Ference only taught them how to compost with worms and call out teammates for your own mistakes, you must have meant Fogolin. I think Andrew really was hoping to set himself up as a team ambassador after his playing days which is great but it only works if the team or the player is great on the ice first.

  13. Auston Matthews '16 says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    Glad to see you’ve found some hockey to watch today!

  14. Hockeyman 99 says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    We have shiny things, it’s just there is no light shining on them in the darkness that is 9 years out of the playoffs and a poorly run team. The only thing that has stopped me from cancelling my season tickets is that they have yet to trade away any of our young talent for magic beans.

  15. prefonmich says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    I think it’s not that we can’t have anything shiny- see Hall, Nuge, Yak, Nurse, Drai… It’s that all things shiny will lose their shine under this management and eventually wear enough tarnish that they will be traded away for pennies on the dollar- see Cogs, Gags, and soon to be (traded that is) our best dman, Petry.
    Tkachev would’ve been nice for free but Omark also seemed like a great idea.
    What we need is not more shiny toys but a group of people who know how to find gems in the late rounds, another group that can support their development to shine them to become the gems they truly are and then another group that can bring them together in pursuit of our former glory- and none of these groups of men should be part of the OBC!

  16. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Hockeyman 99:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    Lee Fogolin or Andrew Ference?

    I’m sure Ference only taught them how to compostwith worms and call out teammates for your own mistakes, you must have meant Fogolin. I think Andrew really was hoping to set himself up as a team ambassador after his playing days which is great but it only works if the team or the player is great on the ice first.

    Key word in my comment: “hoping”

  17. Alpine says:

    The line deployment stuff is a bit tell all. I do get the impression of Nelson being more of a basics, communication type of a coach whereas Eakins was more tactical.

    As far as the leadership thing goes, I can’t help but think Horcoff should have been kept around to be Lee Fogolin 2.0. You won’t find too many players out there more professional than Komrade himself.

  18. prefonmich says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    The problem is Ference was branded something without earning it. ALso, there are so many points of difference between the two just as there are between the two teams. Fogolin claimed in expansion draft while early in best years of his career, Ference UFA in waning years; Fogolin not captained upon entry, we know what happened with Ference; Fogolin a quiet on-ice leader, Ference LOVES to hear the sound of his own voice and cannot lead anything but Reilly’s clear path to the net.
    I respect Ference as a person in the community immensely and I respected MacT as a coach but I wish both of them would do less talking!

  19. prefonmich says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    And they were also ‘hoping’ that Eakins would be their next shiny new thing! See how well both those bets are working out!

  20. The Artist formerly known as "NYCOIL" says:

    Ca$h-Money!:
    I find the “Marner after the first nine games” narrative fascinating.I was under the impression the first 9 games were part of the season and that points counted just as much then as at any other time.

    What are Strome and McDavid’s numbers when you eliminate their worst nine games?Or maybe their worst consecutive stretch of 9 games?I’m not sure how this game works.

    I can answer that for you. Because we are talking about one chunk at the start of his season when he wasn’t getting the same kind of ice time and teammates. Of course you can’t completely discount his first 9 games, but that is very different from discounting his middle 9 games or final 9 games or a random 9 games. It’s not hard to see that a teenager adjusting to a new role may take a bit of time, is it?

    So then when he put up 85 points in his next 29, he was right there with McDavid’s totals and pace, and McDavid had a similar sample size. McDavid’s first couple of games back from injury should be discounted a little, too.

    Fair?

    So 5 pts in 10 games to start the year. Since the slow start Marner is generating offense at a level.comparable to Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid and just shy of Crosby. That is some context, not willfully ignoring bad games.

  21. prefonmich says:

    The Artist formerly known as “NYCOIL”,

    Marner is a pipedream as long as MacT and other current Oilers mgmt is at the helm. Size is the #1 deciding factor for them and Marner does not have it no matter which angle you look from. Convincing posters here should be easier, however…

  22. dangilitis says:

    Alright, if people ignore this or care to disagree, its fine but here are my two cents about last night’s game (and pre-disclosure, I am generally pro-stats):

    The Oilers lost the first period, no question. They should have sunk their teeth into a tired and dejected club. On the other hand, Toronto does have the benefit of experience with HNIC at home, plus a rousing service to get them up to play, too.

    The second period started with inept PP by Toronto. The first 2 calls, by the way, I thought were a bit chintzy. Fasth was very good in period 1, but once that period was over, there was no reason why the Oilers should have been down 2-0 after 10 minutes. Absolutely none, they leaked through him twice and I am pretty sure Ryan Smyth’s shots have more on them than the one Kessel threw at Fasth from long-range, screen or no screen.

    Then the Oilers started trying to trade chances with them, pond hockey style. Unfortunately, instead of Eberle and Schultz burying their chances, Reilly makes Ference look like a pylon at the other end and the game is sealed. Even after that, however, Leafs were letting Yak thread passes through the crease and all sorts of chances on net until the end of the 2nd.

    Then I stopped watching (putting the kids to sleep), thinking I would discover a final score of between 4 to 6 to 1…

    Listen, this team has its problems, but I was far more upset about the Calgary collapse than this loss. Every team gets blown out now and again, heck, St Louis lost to Columbus 7-1. It’s how this team competes when the games are close that drives me up the wall, however, even though I am sure that there are stats that winning the close games are as predictable as winning the blowouts and vice versa.

    My worries for this team are many:
    – Nikitin and Ference. Sell them to Russia, or Switzerland, or Switzerland, just anywhere but on our books. Whoever made the comment about Ference with the C being one of the worst choices is bang-on. You should never even have to contemplate about benching your captain.
    – Schultz becoming the 3rd overpaid defenceman on the team barely capable and often incapable of handling bottom pairing minutes.
    – The potential of trading the 3 forwards who do the heavy lifting, justified by the fact that they are “3rd-4th line wingers” and more money is needed to pay the previously mentioned Three Amigos.
    – Petry leaving for another draft pick.
    – The potential of trading RNH or Hall when both are severely undervalued.
    – The potential of trading Yakupov after being devalued.
    – All that skill they once possessed collectively is gone. We used to have a plethora of options to take a shootout, and speed to burn. Kind of like Toronto’s history. Now we have little, and that is in spite of having taken three 1st picks, plus 3rd, 6th, 7th, 10th, and succeeding Eberle in the last 8 drafts. That excludes Klefbom and Riley Nash, plus all of the early 2nd round picks. One should be able to build a team on 1st round draft picks alone with those kind of fortunes. While I agree that the scouting of late has hit some nice players, the mere optics of owning four top 3 picks, and seven top 10 picks and having no tangible progress to show for it is the epitomy of a perpetual rebuild.
    – Hoping to rebuild the defence by banking on another Bruin defenceman from Edmonton originally joining the fold.
    – Chabot and Eakins lasting well beyond their best before date (which still at the best of times meant slightly foul smelling and with a bit of mold)
    – Fasth becoming the next Devan fucking Dubnyk and then mocking the players on the bench the first time he shuts them out.

    But honestly, what worries me the most – no plans. I actually don’t see a tangible solution to this team’s woes that can be sorted out in the next year, let alone the next 3 years. Frankly, I don’t think MacT has a plan.

    Something from Nothing is a children’s book, based on a Yiddish folktale, of a boy who gets a blanket from his grandfather. Over the years, it gets damaged as it is subsequently turned into a variety of items from a vest to a tie to a handkerchief to a button. It ends when the boy loses his button, and his family tells him that he can’t make something from nothing. However, he goes to his class the next day and creates a beautiful story about this blanket over the years, proving them wrong.

    It’s really a lovely children’s tale, but in the adult world it reads like a tale of the Oilers’ mismanagement of dwindling assets (e.g. Stoll/Greene –> Visnovsky –> Whitney –> nothing, Smith and Lupul –> Pitkanen –> Cole –> O’Sullivan –> nothing, Gagner, MPS, and Barbashev –> Purcell and maybe Debrusk’s kid). We have already talked about this team not having any strengths to deal from. They need to create something from nothing. The only way to do this is from the draft or free agency, where the team has collectively been incompetent.

    The sad truth is that my kids are 6 months old and 4 years living in Calgary. I can’t keep them away from a superior team in their hometown much longer, no matter how I will feel about it. Especially if the Oilers turn nothing into a sad and depressing tale about grown men and women who are continually disappointed by their beloved team.

  23. RexLibris says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Why can’t we have anything shiny?

    I don’t know, the Oilers usually put a pretty good simonizing job on some things around here.

    Or did you mean actually good, shiny things?

  24. Bag of Pucks says:

    Hockeyman 99: Your wrong they did need to learn how to win by failing. This team is not the 80s oilers just lacking heart and compete, they have major holes in the roster that obviously weren’t there in the 80s even before they won it all. Lowe and Gretzky’s Islanders locker room walk by story is an obvious example. They were just so good they didn’t struggle like this team.

    Yep, said as much in my follow up post (below).

    Bag of Pucks: I agree with most of what you’re saying here.

    With the Cup core, they never lacked desire or effort. Their issue was they were so supremely talented offensively, they didn’t fully commit to a two way game and to be fair, it probably cost them a Cup or two.

    Those teams were relentless on the forecheck. They worked hard to score. They lived for it. They had a killer instinct this team sorely lacks. They were also an extremely close knit and unselfish group.

    The 11-0 loss to Hartford gets cited often as proof that those squads suffered from lack of try as well, but that game was a true outlier as was the Miracle on Manchester. Slats boys showed up when it was time to play.

    The one thing they had to learn the hard way was sacrifice. The Islanders taught them it wasn’t enough to play hard, the game demands you play it the right way as well.

    To win the Cup, that means every player completing his assignment, taking a hit to get the puck deep, making a hit to put your linemate in a more advantageous position on the forecheck, blocking shots, committing to team above all else.

    By contrast, this current core has mastered the fly by. It is what it is.

  25. Bruce McCurdy says:

    prefonmich:
    The Artist formerly known as “NYCOIL”,

    Marner is a pipedream as long as MacT and other current Oilers mgmt is at the helm. Size is the #1 deciding factor for them and Marner does not have it no matter which angle you look from. Convincing posters here should be easier, however…

    MacTavish was outspoken on Friday about needing elite level scoring if Oilers drafted a forward. It sounded to me like Marner >>> Crouse by that standard.

  26. prefonmich says:

    dangilitis,

    I agree with many points all summed up as:
    1. We need fresh blood at the top to turn this thing around- there has never been a clear plan through all the rebuilds and there continues to be no clear plan with MacT, Lowe and Howson (someone aptly named them 3 stooges). I don’t know how BUT they need to get this draft right and they need to follow it up with a thoughtful plan- this worries me unless they change the stooges out for some Detroit blood.
    2. It sucks to live in Calgary with young kids- my husband is a typical Calgary fan- fairweather where I am a rabid, diehard, never give in long suffering Oiler fan. Our 6 year old son has turned to the dark side and it kills me as I have nothing left to fight with..

  27. prefonmich says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    You are an eternal optimist which is I guess what keeps you keeping on, but I don’t have that kind of faith in “in today’s NHL size is more important than ever” MacTavish- this is not an exact quote but I remember watching juniors and one of the announcers asked MacT if his time behind the bench convinced him that size was less necessary in today’s NHL and this was his response- and not once has he mentioned Marner’s name in any prospect interviews. I hope to be proven wrong… I will add that if he could take Marner with a later pick he may do that- see Tkachev for trying that but not anywhere in the first round- even Penguins pick if Marner were still there, which he likely won’t be

  28. Bruce McCurdy says:

    prefonmich:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    You are an eternal optimist which is I guess what keeps you keeping on, but I don’t have that kind of faith in “in today’s NHL size is more important than ever” MacTavish- this is not an exact quote but I remember watching juniors and one of the announcers asked MacT if his time behind the bench convinced him that size was less necessary in today’s NHL and this was his response- and not once has he mentioned Marner’s name in any prospect interviews. I hope to be proven wrong… I will add that if he could take Marner with a later pick he may do that- see Tkachev for trying that but not anywhere in the first round- even Penguins pick if Marner were still there, which he likely won’t be

    I’m just citing a different quote than you. But this one seemed to talk of Oilers absutely needing to get scoring first &’foremost if they take a forward.

  29. Gret99zky says:

    I really enjoyed LT’s description of Saturday nights with his family. It reminded me of watching Hockey Night in Canada with my Dad.

    When I asked my 10 year old if he wanted to watch the Oilers vs. Leafs game together he hesitated, trying to soften the blow, and said he would rather do something else together instead. Watch a movie, play Ping-Pong, build some LEGO were his suggestions. Anything but watch his Dad’s team lose again.

    You see, he knows the Oilers suck. He knows they are a last place team every year. His cousins live in Calgary and so he takes a good share of ribbing. He has made the choice not to be a hockey fan in Edmonton.

    I remember when he put his Oiler gear in the donations bag a couple years ago (outgrowing it) and said, “Probably nobody will want this.”

    There’s a part of me that wishes my son and I had the same connection on Saturday nights as my old man and I had. But when the home town team doesn’t win for a decade. There’s not much to build on. C’est la vie.

  30. Bruce McCurdy says:

    dangilitis:
    Alright, if people ignore this or care to disagree, its fine but here are my two cents about last night’s game (and pre-disclosure, I am generally pro-stats):

    The Oilers lost the first period, no question. They should have sunk their teeth into a tired and dejected club. On the other hand, Toronto does have the benefit of experience with HNIC at home, plus a rousing service to get them up to play, too.

    The second period started with inept PP by Toronto. The first 2 calls, by the way, I thought were a bit chintzy. Fasth was very good in period 1, but once that period was over, there was no reason why the Oilers should have been down 2-0 after 10 minutes. Absolutely none, they leaked through him twice and I am pretty sure Ryan Smyth’s shots have more on them than the one Kessel threw at Fasth from long-range, screen or no screen.

    Then the Oilers started trying to trade chances with them, pond hockey style. Unfortunately, instead of Eberle and Schultz burying their chances, Reilly makes Ference look like a pylon at the other end and the game is sealed. Even after that, however, Leafs were letting Yak thread passes through the crease and all sorts of chances on net until the end of the 2nd.

    Then I stopped watching (putting the kids to sleep), thinking I would discover a final score of between 4 to 6 to 1…

    Listen, this team has its problems, but I was far more upset about the Calgary collapse than this loss. Every team gets blown out now and again, heck, St Louis lost to Columbus 7-1. It’s how this team competes when the games are close that drives me up the wall, however, even though I am sure that there are stats that winning the close games are as predictable as winning the blowouts and vice versa.

    My worries for this team are many:
    – Nikitin and Ference. Sell them to Russia, or Switzerland, or Switzerland, just anywhere but on our books. Whoever made the comment about Ference with the C being one of the worst choices is bang-on. You should never even have to contemplate about benching your captain.
    – Schultz becoming the 3rd overpaid defenceman on the team barely capable and often incapable of handling bottom pairing minutes.
    – The potential of trading the 3 forwards who do the heavy lifting, justified by the fact that they are “3rd-4th line wingers” and more money is needed to pay the previously mentioned Three Amigos.
    – Petry leaving for another draft pick.
    – The potential of trading RNH or Hall when both are severely undervalued.
    – The potential of trading Yakupov after being devalued.
    – All that skill they once possessed collectively is gone. We used to have a plethora of options to take a shootout, and speed to burn. Kind of like Toronto’s history. Now we have little, and that is in spite of having taken three 1st picks, plus 3rd, 6th, 7th, 10th, and succeeding Eberle in the last 8 drafts. That excludes Klefbom and Riley Nash, plus all of the early 2nd round picks. One should be able to build a team on 1st round draft picks alone with those kind of fortunes. While I agree that the scouting of late has hit some nice players, the mere optics of owning four top 3 picks, and seven top 10 picks and having no tangible progress to show for it is the epitomy of a perpetual rebuild.
    – Hoping to rebuild the defence by banking on another Bruin defenceman from Edmonton originally joining the fold.
    – Chabot and Eakins lasting well beyond their best before date (which still at the best of times meant slightly foul smelling and with a bit of mold)
    – Fasth becoming the next Devan fucking Dubnyk and then mocking the players on the bench the first time he shuts them out.

    But honestly, what worries me the most – no plans. I actually don’t see a tangible solution to this team’s woes that can be sorted out in the next year, let alone the next 3 years. Frankly, I don’t think MacT has a plan.

    Something from Nothing is a children’s book, based on a Yiddish folktale, of a boy who gets a blanket from his grandfather. Over the years, it gets damaged as it is subsequently turned into a variety of items from a vest to a tie to a handkerchief to a button. It ends when the boy loses his button, and his family tells him that he can’t make something from nothing. However, he goes to his class the next day and creates a beautiful story about this blanket over the years, proving them wrong.

    It’s really a lovely children’s tale, but in the adult world it reads like a tale of the Oilers’ mismanagement of dwindling assets (e.g. Stoll/Greene –> Visnovsky –> Whitney –> nothing, Smith and Lupul –> Pitkanen –> Cole –> O’Sullivan –> nothing, Gagner, MPS, and Barbashev –> Purcell and maybe Debrusk’s kid). We have already talked about this team not having any strengths to deal from. They need to create something from nothing. The only way to do this is from the draft or free agency, where the team has collectively been incompetent.

    The sad truth is that my kids are 6 months old and 4 years living in Calgary. I can’t keep them away from a superior team in their hometown much longer, no matter how I will feel about it. Especially if the Oilers turn nothing into a sad and depressing tale about grown men and women who are continually disappointed by their beloved team.

    Excellent post, thanks for taking the time.

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