The Edmonton Oilers won two games in one night against the Calgary Flames, while also winning two games in one night against the Calgary Flames. The games themselves offered the viewer miles of ineffective play and all of the scoring seemed to get bunched into the third period (I’m not complaining). These are early days, but Leon Draisaitl and Griffin Reinhart appear to be well on their way to opening night gigs under the big top. And Connor McDavid? Fast train, big brain, young legs, skill forever. Holy crap.
Two games and lots of scoring by the centers (3G, 3A) and that’s a nice surprise. The Edmonton game didn’t deliver a boxscore so I’m not sure it’s an official game, but if you see anything please pass along.
DEFENSE EV TOI
- Oscar Klefbom 16:09
- Andrew Ference 15:18 (EDM)
- Justin Schultz 14:43
- Mark Fayne 14:20 (EDM)
- Andrej Sekera 13:54 (EDM)
- Brandon Davidson 13:45 (EDM)
- Jordan Oesterle 13:34 (EDM)
- Eric Gryba 13:23
- Nikita Nikitin 12:59 (EDM)
- Griffin Reinhart 12:55
- Joey Laleggia 12:49
- Darnell Nurse 12:39
Interesting numbers. The Oilers used all twelve defensemen a lot but the AHL D (Davidson, Oesterle, Laleggia, Nurse) all got plenty of time. Based on what I’ve read, the Calgary game had a lot better defensive structure and it looks like Reinhart played well. Todd McLellan mentioned Nikita Nikitin (quote below) but beyond that I’m not sure there was much to say about the Edmonton crew. First game of pre-season, looked like some chaos and missed assignments. They’ll need some Archie Bell and the Drells.
FORWARD EV TOI
- Connor McDavid 13:40 (EDM)
- Jordan Eberle 12:47
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 12:24
- Taylor Hall 12:19 (EDM)
- Leon Draisaitl 11:20 (EDM)
- Benoit Pouliot 11:03
- Anton Lander 10:38 (EDM)
- Matt Ford 10:25 (EDM)
- Andrew Miller 10:14 (EDM)
- Greg Chase 10:03
- Phil McRae 10:01
- Tyler Pitlick 9:58 (EDM)
- Nail Yakupov 9:56 (EDM)
- Anton Slepyshev 9:56
- Matt Hendricks 9:55
- Bogdan Yakimov 9:50
- Rob Klinkhammer 9:50
- Mark Letestu 9:37
- Ryan Hamilton 9:37 (EDM)
- Jujhar Khaira 9:34
- Teddy Purcell 8:43 (EDM)
- Lauri Korpikoski 8:41
- Josh Winquist 8:22 (EDM)
- Luke Gazdic 8:04 (EDM)
In watching the EDM game it did seem to me that the McDavid line (Hall was hurt mid-third and Leon popped up and replaced Purcell) got a bit of a push. McDavid had the legs and Leon did too, no surprise a veteran NHL coach would put them together. When we talked about Leon going to the wing, the original thought was “right side” and Todd McLellan’s thoughts below reflect that line on thinking. Where does this put Nail Yakupov?
- Todd McLellan: “I look at Leon Draisiatl, and in my opinion Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid are going to be #1 and #2 centremen in our organization for a long, long time, they’re that talented and that good. Not that Leon isn’t… But career-wise, he might love to be on one of their wings and playing in the top six rather than maybe being that third-line centre. I think it’s really unfair to peg him there, but we have to look at it from that perspective. [The defensive] responsibilities as a winger are somewhat less, his boardwork is quite good, and one of the things that impressed me the most about Leon is his ability to play on his backhand. Joe Thornton has incredible eyes and makes incredible passes on his backhand. For a young man like Leon, he did the exact same thing at our summer development camp, which is something I wasn’t aware of.” Source
We’ve talked about this before, and I received considerable push back. The reality is that we’re early days, Draisaitl may still end up in Bakersfield. However, the more you stare at the roster without Leon and then imagine his size, speed and passing ability, I’ll bet money the new coach is arguing for him behind closed doors. Where does that put Nail? Possibly a tough spot, but McLellan likes offensive players and Nail has many unique qualities. He’s a rugged winger with a hammer and the Oilers don’t have many shooters on this team. He made a subtle little play on the Leon goal, bet McLellan noticed it as much as the goal. The real play here is to deal Purcell. Today.
Beauty pass by Connor, beauty finish by Leon! pic.twitter.com/VBcySQuo0L
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
What a fabulous pass by McDavid, he was splendid all over the ice last night. I think we’re going to need some new words to describe him, folks. Subtle little pass to Leon and he’s in alone, took about .025 of a second. It was a flick, really. He also seems to be in the right spot a tremendous amount, probably because he’s always moving. This is a young player, but he can forecheck, backcheck, pass like a demon and oh my that pass to Leon.
THE RAILROAD DON’T RUN NO MORE
In the moments after Darnell Nurse fought Mount Smith, the camera caught Bob Hartley saying goodbye to at least a little bit of the Flames intimidation game. It’s been hammering the Oilers senseless since CFP left town and it’ll take a lot more than two rookies fighting in a pre-season game to make it go away. I don’t condone fighting, it will be a good day when it’s outlawed, but the Oilers are going to need to stand up to Calgary if they’re going to pass them—and last night, they started as they mean to go.
TODD MCLELLAN’S WORDS
- “It was first of all, a win. That’s important for our group. It was a win where we came from behind in the first period, mentally for is that’s important.”
- “I thought we got better as the night went on, I thought we were a little tentative, a little ragged early.”
- “We saw some things both positive and negative that we were working on we have evidence now we can go to the players now.”
- “We are in such an infancy stage right now, we have a lot of work to do in a lot of different areas.”
- “The great thing we’ve done here now is create competition in the net.”
- “The right side is a strength if he’s going to play on the wing.” (Draisaitl)
- “His skating looks strong right now.” (Draisaitl)
- “We all focus on his offense, but he’s responsible [defensively]. I felt good about his penalty-killing. I didn’t know I was going to use him, but as the night went on, we used him and he was good positionally. When you have legs like that, you can recover from errors a lot quicker, and he has the ability to do that. But he’s not flying all over the place in the D zone, he stops, he slows down, he understands he can get back to full speed quickly. He was very responsible defensively tonight. We’ll see where it goes from there.” (McDavid)
- “I thought he looked dangerous when he had the puck and I thought he played well on both sides of it. He had a couple of good scoring chances, and we got what we expected for Day One.” (McDavid)
- “I thought his game matched ours, he got better as the night went on.” (Nikitin)
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A rocking show this morning, hope you can join me and Lt._Eric. 10am, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk about last night’s game and the Leon-Nail situation. Jon is all the way out in Petticoat Junction so we hope the phone works!
- Jeff Hauser, SB Nation. Early NFL stories, it’s been a tale of two weeks. Seahawks, Eagles, JETS! Broncos.
- Jesse Spector, The Sporting News. Blue Jays have too much pitching now and they always had the hitting. Plus Cubs, Mets.
- Brian Swane, Edmonton Sun. Eddies going for it, Golden Bears football improving, Oil Kings ready for their season.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!