LEARNING TO FLY

Todd McLellan was rewarded with a hard day’s night after an exhausting Friday practice. The boys of Thursday emerged as able men two days later and posted a strong game in enemy territory. As you might expect, the coach was pleased.

  • Todd McLellan“We didn’t start well, but there’s a lot of things we worked on in practice that showed up in the game today. We’ve got to be happy with that. We’re disappointed that we couldn’t close it out. We’ve got to learn to do that as a team.” Source

That Friday practice might have robbed their legs early, but the Oilers had long stretches where they were the better team. If Edmonton had been able to pull out the victory, I would have defended it as a worthy result. As it is, we’ll count this in the ‘learning to fly’ category as a young team gets its wings.

DEFENSIVE STORY LAST NIGHT

def oc 3

  • This is sorted by Corsi for % and the fancy numbers come from hockeystats.ca. A solid performance for Griffin Reinhart by eye is matched by the math, as he and partner Eric Gryba played up the road apiece in terms of ZS and TOI. I wonder how many times this season we’ll see Gryba play more EV minutes than Mark Fayne? One thing about Reinhart we need to remember: He’s a rookie. If we make sweeping statements about what he cannot do, let’s remember he’s very likely to improve in all areas when the game slows down for him. I’d like his passing to be more concise and creative and I do think the young man needs to keep his feet moving more when in possession.
  • Justin Schultz capped a splendid pre-season with another solid outing, skating miles and looking pretty damn good. I did see a few online blaming him for the OT goal (saw some blame for Hall too, btw) but for me 19 played it well. If I could pinpoint one thing he’s done this fall, it would be attention to detail. His passes are now crisp, he doesn’t shoot the moon as much and he hauls ass when the situations dictates. That’s a substantial amount of improvement and credit to him.
  • Sekera is a little rusty and it showed again last night but we have to keep in mind all of his mates are new as is the coach, so a period of adjustment is likely. I like his skating ability and calm feet, suspect he’ll be up and running full throttle in no time. Expert passer, we saw more of that last night, too. I’d like to see him on the power play more (Oilers got only one I believe).
  • Brandon Davidson was solid save for one or two wobbly bits, One of those blasted Sedins picked his pocket on the second goal and it cost him. Beyond that, good skater, looked to be in good places and I think he performed well. I said at the beginning of camp that Andrew Ference was No. 7 on the depth chart but it could be No. 8 if Davidson is in the rotation.
  • Mark Fayne tried to stand up at the blue line a couple times and got burned, he’s a guy who needs to have very good positioning and last night his sights were a little off at times. I like his game but he may not fit this team’s makeup—especially considering Gryba’s game is so similar. Not sure how this turns out, to be honest. The Sekera—Fayne pairing is functional and rational, but I believe Sekera—Klefbom may be more effective. Even Sekera—Schultz had its moments when together in pre-season. This player could be traded for a more complete, mobile defender at some point. The Gryba add (imo) means the RH side has two pure defenders with questionable puck skills and average (at best) skating.

CENTER STORY LAST NIGHT

cen oc 3

  • Nuge was wonderful last night, despite the OT GA. Skated miles, set up the first goal and scored the second. To my eye he faced the Sedins (piss cutters gonna piss cut) and they’re the devil but he hurt them too. If you’re sawing off the Sedins, well, that’s a good night. We’re not yet peak-Nugent (he is 22 so we’re a couple of years away) but what a sublime talent. I dock him for the OT goal, the man he was marking scored the goal, but 3-on-3 is damned difficult and the Oilers had a chance (via Nuge) seconds before.
  • Mark Letestu hasn’t found his spot yet, I think that might be the issue. He had a good game in a complementary role but he doesn’t appear in the story as often as the wingers on his line. Not really sure what it’s about, we’ll need to see him more to identify his traits.
  • Connor McDavid is incredible. He and his linemates started in the dungeon and battled their opponents to even, that’s a fine evening by any stretch. I wish we had been able to see more PP time last night, suspect he’s going to be famous for those moments. Paul Almeida and I talked about his two-way game yesterday and watching McDavid without the puck is very satisfying. He’s 18, mind. On the road, McLellan curiously used this line for the toughest ZS’s. I’d love to know why, possibly a test for the St. Louis trip.
  • Anton Lander was a hair late couple of times but (like Nuge) has been doing all the right things and not even Datsyuk is perfect. Really like the player he’s turned into at age 24. You can see him emerging in the Reasoner/Horcoff mentor role now, such an impressive person and player.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are beginning to look frightening at center after years of being frightful at center.

WINGER STORY LAST NIGHT

win oc 3

  • Eight fascinating stories from last night, beginning with Gazdic and McLellan’s handling of him. The enforcer played 10 minutes of mostly uneventful hockey where he forechecked and got 14 seconds on the power play. He didn’t hit anyone though and gave the puck up at regular intervals. Every policeman sortie an offensive ZS, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. McLellan should run for office.
  • Teddy Purcell made a nifty pass to Nuge for his goal and I thought he was mostly effective on that line. TP isn’t a speed demon but he’s smart and for me is not a major issue—especially with Eberle out. There may come a time to deal him but I like his presence on this young team.
  • Taylor Hall looked dangerous all night, his line had the tough ZS and some wonky bounces but there was plenty going the other way too. He’s taking quite a beating on twitter for the OT goal but to my eye that was Nuge’s man and Hall was never in the transaction. Haters gonna hate, and I do think Hall has some rust, but he’s coming around and there’s magic on his line.
  • Benoit Pouliot is coming on now, the big bull can feel it and the combination of size, skill and general prickishness is delightful. Enjoy this hockey player, and if you’re the guy who is bitching about not having one of these types, recognize what’s in front of you. Quality.
  • Nail Yakupov is in his ‘young hearts, fun free’ phase under Todd McLellan. I think the coach may have said something like “why don’t you go out and forecheck tonight, and force the play, Nail” because Nail goes out and forechecks a LOT. I like it, good use of his boundless energy. I love him on his current line, one tiny complaint: Hit the net young man.
  • Lauri Korpikoski lost a battle on the 2-2 goal (I think it was him) and that kind of disappointed me, but let’s remember he’s a veteran and is finding the range in a new town. That moment there, where he didn’t cover? That’s what he’s paid to do properly. I do like his overall ability, he does work the defense in the other end and skates well.
  • Leon Draisaitl was quiet to my eye, might have had something to do with that shot off his foot (foot? leg? tree trunk?) early in the game. I believe he’s earned an NHL position but we’ll have to see.
  • Anton Slepyshev had another solid night, damn near cashed on a nifty exchange with Taylor Hall. He’s in the right place at the right time. He’s physical, in the game (three shots last night) and getting chances. Todd McLellan mentioned last night he liked the young Russian’s game. When does he fade?

PREDICTED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

  • Goal (2): Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson
  • Defense (8): Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz, Griffin Reinhart (R), Eric Gryba, Andrew Ference, Brandon Davidson (R)
  • Center (4): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid (R), Anton Lander, Mark Letestu
  • Left Wing (5): Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Lauri Korpikoski, Luke Gazdic
  • Right Wing (4): Teddy Purcell, Anton Slepyshev (R), Nail Yakupov, Matt Hendricks

I’ll have something up at 10:30 or so if we see anything shaking on waivers or a trade, otherwise it’ll be a 5pm post and a discussion about roster decisions. I have Ben Scrivens and Rob Klinkhammer heading out based on TC, wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Nilsson and Slepyshev are the actual demotions. We’ll discuss at 5pm unless the Oilers change the day.

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70 Responses to "LEARNING TO FLY"

  1. frjohnk says:

    Really liking Yaks game, think he will bust out this year, but two issues

    Yak still having trouble exiting the zone on RW.

    And he cant hit the net.

    Call him “wild thing” and get him some friggin glasses.

  2. Zack says:

    Lowetide, you forgot to add the video!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1VQ_3sBZEm0

    Don’t think it was your intention, but it works. Also love the Foo Fighters.

  3. stephen sheps says:

    Zack:
    Lowetide, you forgot to add the video!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1VQ_3sBZEm0

    Don’t think it was your intention, but it works. Also love the Foo Fighters.

    is it just me, or was our venerable host referencing Tom Petty rather than the Foo Fighters?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5BJXwNeKsQ

    frjohnk:
    Really liking Yaks game, think he will bust out this year, but two issues

    Yak still having trouble exiting the zone on RW.

    And he cant hit the net.

    Call him “wild thing” and get him some friggin glasses.

    I think we had a discussion last year about Yak needing to take his shot from 100% power down to like 95% in order for the accuracy to improve. But agreed, get that boy some glasses!

    I’m not seeing the zone exit issues you are, but if you and Willis (who referenced the same thing in the CoH game review) both noticed, it’s probably true. Loved his game last night regardless. More structure, and he’s becoming a demon on the forecheck.

  4. p3rsonman says:

    Agree on Hall – saw lots of hate for him last night, but to my eye he was creating chances as usual. He’s always been a slow starter mind you.

    Just wish he wouldn’t fall down so much!

  5. Klima's_Bucket says:

    stephen sheps: Zack:
    Lowetide, you forgot to add the video!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1VQ_3sBZEm0
    Don’t think it was your intention, but it works. Also love the Foo Fighters.
    is it just me, or was our venerable host referencing Tom Petty rather than the Foo Fighters?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5BJXwNeKsQ

    I was thinking he was referring to Pink Floyd…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCB_INs2E24

  6. stush18 says:

    Really by my eye, I thought gazdic and gryba had great games last night. I thought gryba was much more effective than fayne.

    Can we just name nuge captain? Seriously nothing against hall or Eberle or mcwhatshisname, but nuge has been driving play since last year , and he seems to come up clutch more often than not. I know people here will hate me for saying that, because it’s not a quatifiable Stat, but whatever it takes, he has it.

    If I’m naming a captain, I want someone who is good on the forecheck, backcheck, and I prefer the captain being a center anyways, as they’re usually more involved in the play.

    Also I’ll blame Schultz for the goal, although it’s my fault anyways. After the nuge goal I said “shit, I wanted to see what the Sedins could do with 3×3”

  7. Walter Gretzkys Neighbour says:

    LT – Agree with almost everything but still think this team needs to recognize that when you finish your check physically instead of the “waving stick veer off” tactic that seems so popular, you can slow down the opposition and create space and time for your teammates to operate in.

    It seems to me that the reason every single D the Oilers ever have look sooooo slow because they are constantly forced to face opposition forwards and trailing D moving at full speed since they have been left free to power up due to zero physical contact.

  8. godot10 says:

    I think Slepyshev has had a better camp than Draisaitl, and is pro ready. I can see them sending Draisaitl to Bakerfield for more seasoning. More minutes, more playing time for him there in all situatioins. I’d like to see him dominate in the AHL.

    Korpikoski moves to LW with Lander and Yakupov, and Klinkhammer to the 4th line. They have the players to send Draisaitl down.

  9. Lebeau says:

    LT. Agree with Davidson being the 7th d-man and oilers starting with 8 on the roster. I would start with Nilsson in bakerfield and let him have few starts and he should be ready if the other two struggle.

  10. Gret99zky says:

    Hunter, put me down for 84 pts. Thanks.

    Also, I was thinking Pink Floyd as well. 😉

  11. Bag of Pucks says:

    Walter Gretzkys Neighbour:
    LT – Agree with almost everything but still think this team needs to recognize that when you finish your check physically instead of the “waving stick veer off” tactic that seems so popular, you can slow down the opposition and create space and time for your teammates to operate in.

    It seems to me that the reason every single D the Oilers ever have look sooooo slow because they are constantly forced to face opposition forwards and trailing D moving at full speed since they have been left free to power up due to zero physical contact.

    Couldn’t agree more. Oiler Fs traditionally treat the neutral zone like a no contact zone. Still a lot of MacDonalds play park ‘structure’ in their game but it looks like they’re making progress positionally.

    The OT goal is a perfect example where a succession of individual missed assignments add up to the loss. Pouliot is gassed and takes a SLOW line change when Van is threatening with clear possession. Hall is slow to get down ice and lacks urgency to defend. Schultz hesitates and misses the opportunity to prevent the chip pass. And Nuge doesn’t trust Schultz to stay on the deep F so he moves away from his man at the worst possible instant.

    As TMac is fond of saying, LOTS of teachable moments there for every Oiler on the ice.

  12. Woodguy says:

    I had one tweet last night that sums up my thoughts on RNH:

    Woodguy ‏@Woodguy55
    RYAN-NUGENT-I-OUT-SCORE-SEDINS-LEMAIRE-KEON-HOPKINS

    The Oilers have not had this complete of a player since Weight, and I think RNH is better without the puck.

    He was unreal all night on the forecheck and backcheck with his quick movements from excellent edge work causing the Dys fits.

    Also,

    To my eye he faced the Sedins

    It started out that way, but Desjardin moved the Sedins away from RNH after Nuge stopped two sorties in their tracks by stripping Daniel and Hall/McD were starting to dominate Horvat’s line after a slow start.

    Here’s the EDM C’s TOI and CF% vs Henrik as per naturalstattrick.com

    RNH – 7:12 – 70% (7-3)
    McD – 4:50 – 37.5% (3-5)
    Lander – 2:17 – 66.6% (2-1)
    Letestu – 1:32 – 50% (1-1)

    RNH the Pisscutter.

    Having RNH being able to do that and then McDavid as the other option…….man……..that’s the things Championship teams are made of.

    I’m so freaking giddy to watch these guys play and play and play.

  13. Bag of Pucks says:

    godot10:
    I think Slepyshev has had a better camp than Draisaitl, and is pro ready.I can see them sending Draisaitl to Bakerfield for more seasoning. More minutes, more playing time for him there in all situatioins. I’d like to see him dominate in the AHL.

    Korpikoski moves to LW with Lander and Yakupov, and Klinkhammer to the 4th line.They have the players to send Draisaitl down.

    Klinkhammer has outplayed Draisaitl in your estimation?

  14. Woodguy says:

    godot10:
    I think Slepyshev has had a better camp than Draisaitl, and is pro ready.I can see them sending Draisaitl to Bakerfield for more seasoning. More minutes, more playing time for him there in all situatioins. I’d like to see him dominate in the AHL.

    Korpikoski moves to LW with Lander and Yakupov, and Klinkhammer to the 4th line.They have the players to send Draisaitl down.

    I think you degrade the offence too much that way.

    DrySaddle might see the AHL this year, but imo not until Eberle comes back.

    Agreed that Slappy is a player and looked like a NHLer last night. Usually in the right spot with and without the puck.

  15. flyfish1168 says:

    Yak was a demon on the fore and back checking. Zero shots on net and two big misses is not going to do if he wants to be a 20 goal scorer this year. Saw his problem existing zone, might be he was to far from the boards and also poor pass to him where he lost battle.

  16. DBO says:

    Woodguy,

    Slepyshev is NHL ready. A couple of pro seasons in the ahl or the khl helps for sure. Dr. Drai looks ok. The thing for him is that he is defensively responsible so he can be trusted enough and still contribute if the offence is lacking. He definitely has a 30 day competition to show he belongs. I think if both him and Sleppy struggle, then they both go down once Eberle is back.

    The question may be is Slepyshev that much better then Korpikoski right now? Or do you send him or Draisatl down and allow Klinkhammer into the lineup and Korpikoski with Hall and McDavid to back them defensively.

  17. dustrock says:

    Sleppy also gets the benefit of playing with Hall & McDavid. I’m not convinced about the Lander line with Drai, think he has better chemistry with McDavid.

  18. Rondo says:

    I was listening to the sports radio in Vancouver last night after the game, the host said McDavid was invisible for the 2 games against Vancouver. Wow

  19. Czar says:

    Last night shows the coaches are getting through to the team and building something here, another brick in the wall.

  20. Dicky94 says:

    Really liked Shultz game last night. One thing I have noticed is he will actually take a hit now and win the puck battle. Last year he would have fired it up the boards creating chaos in the defensive zone. I think he may have a future with the Oil if he keeps it up all year.

  21. godot10 says:

    Bag of Pucks: Klinkhammer has outplayed Draisaitl in your estimation?

    No. I think it is better for Draisaitl and the Oilers medium term if he goes to Bakersfield till Christmas.

    Draisaitl is not clearly better than Korpikoski would be on the 3rd line. I’d rather Draisaitl get 20 minutes a night in all situations in Bakersfield till Christmas.

  22. Woodguy says:

    Dicky94:
    Really liked Shultz game last night. One thing I have noticed is he will actually take a hit now and win the puck battle. Last year he would have fired it up the boards creating chaos in the defensive zone.I think he may have a future with the Oil if he keeps it up all year.

    I noticed that too.

    I tweeted about it when I saw it:

    Woodguy ‏@Woodguy55
    Jultz ate a puck! Jultz ate a puck!! Hossana!!! Hossana to the highest!!

    Saw him pretty good last night.

  23. gd says:

    Last night was so encouraging, because they looked like a real NHL hockey team and that was with Connor playing his least impactful game of the preseason.

    -while I don’t know if Hall/CMD is the best fit, if they keep back-checking the way they have, with their speed, they can sure minimize the defensive issues for their line.
    -Schultz playing solidly all preseason has me really hopeful, that as long as Klef is healthy, that is a legit top 4 pair. He looks like a real NHL dman and seems now like he can be at least a reasonable facsimile of Yandle.
    -Gryba/Reinhart are a legit 5-6 dman pair and will be okay for the first half of the year, other than how weak our top 4 are.
    -Nashville is definitely a team to watch, from a trade point of view. They have looked pretty mediocre in the preseason. The Weber/Rinne contracts/ages put them in the win in the next two years mode. If they get off to a bad start, I’ve got to think an Ellis or Jones trade might be available, as long as some of the Oilers forwards have a McDavid/TMc bump in production.
    -I think Korpo looks like a solid pickup. He seems to have come as advertised and can move up and down the lineup as necessary. I also have no problem with Letestu. He’s not great, but he is a legit NHL C and he is paid appropriately.

  24. Gret99zky says:

    Re: Hall

    Sometimes he pushes the river and sometimes he fights the current.

    When he dives for loose pucks or is down on the ice waving his stick at the opposition/puck it often looks desperate, not smart.

    Example: he full body lunges for the puck at the Canucks blue, trying to get it back to a defender, but instead pushes it to a Canuck forward leading to a 3 on 2 with him on his belly. Instead, stay on your feet, start skating, and take a man.

    Hall is mostly smart. But, as movies have taught us, there is a difference between “mostly smart” and “all smart”.

  25. Woodguy says:

    DBO:
    Woodguy,

    Slepyshev is NHL ready. A couple of pro seasons in the ahl or the khl helps for sure. Dr. Drai looks ok. The thing for him is that he is defensively responsible so he can be trusted enough and still contribute if the offence is lacking. He definitely has a 30 day competition to show he belongs. I think if both him and Sleppy struggle, then they both go down once Eberle is back.

    The question may be is Slepyshev that much better then Korpikoski right now? Or do you send him or Draisatl down and allow Klinkhammer into the lineup and Korpikoski with Hall and McDavid to back them defensively.

    I think its good that Korpikoski give you an option like that, but TOI is the way to read the coaches mind.

    Slappy has a skill set that Korpse doesn’t in terms of scoring ability and that’s probably why he’s getting all the reps up there.

    I think Gazdic showed last night he can be responsible in that 4th line spot and may have eaten Klinkhammer’s lunch.

    If the Oilers can move Ference then its a moot point.

    Its his presence that makes 8 Dmen required and therefore only 13 F.

    Move Ference and both Klinkhammer and Dry make it along with Davidson as 7D.

  26. Kitchener says:

    Theory to explain McD’s zone starts: it’s all about the rush.

    Hall said something over the past few days in interview about his line being dangerous on the rush, and we’ve all seen 97 accelerate through the neutral zone to a surprise breakaway. My guess is that McLellan is betting on something like this: “4 + 97 = defenders don’t want to get burned on a breakout, so they back up too far and yield the ice zone by zone until the puck is ‘safely’ in their end without having yielded a 2 on 1 or worse.”

  27. Sugar Reijo says:

    Rondo:
    I was listening to the sports radio in Vancouver last night after the game,the host saidMcDavidwas invisible for the 2 games against Vancouver.Wow

    Wow is right. That’s a 50%-off LensCrafters promotion just waiting to happen.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Kitchener:
    Theory to explain McD’s zone starts: it’s all about the rush.

    Hall said something over the past few days in interview about his line being dangerous on the rush, and we’ve all seen 97 accelerate through the neutral zone to a surprise breakaway.My guess is that McLellan is betting on something like this: “4 + 97 = defenders don’t want to get burned on a breakout, so they back up too far and yield the ice zone by zone until the puck is ‘safely’ in their end without having yielded a 2 on 1 or worse.”

    Great point. I also think McLellan is building a team where every line could take a defensive zone start without worry. He mixes and matches for sure but also rolls four when possible. Absolutely thrilled with McLellan and Chiarelli.

  29. Gret99zky says:

    LT- Your opening night roster has 4 rookies (R) on it. How comfortable are you with that?

    Myself, I would rather see only two (R) to begin the season.

  30. Kitchener says:

    Anyone else spot a unicorn last night?

    1) RNH goes head to head with opposition’s #1 line and still scores.
    2) McDavid.
    3) 10 + 29 on the soft parade, constantly a threat to out-skill their opponents.

    Not every line is clicking on every shift, but there is firepower galore on three out of four shifts. Highly entertaining and likely to lead to a few 8 goal outbursts.

  31. GCW_69 says:

    Argggghhhh!

    Every time a try to post here via an Android device I get a timed out error. It’s driving me crazy. It will let me go back and try again, but if you push the back button sometimes it takes your back to home and your post is lost.

    Any way, if we are predicting the oilers points totals, put me down for 75. The defence still blows, team speed is an issue, and the goaltending still scares me.

  32. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide: Great point. I also think McLellan is building a team where every line could take a defensive zone start without worry. He mixes and matches for sure but also rolls four when possible. Absolutely thrilled with McLellan and Chiarelli.

    The Edmonton Oilers – An Actual NHL Hockey Team

    Its been too long.

  33. Woodguy says:

    GCW_69:
    Argggghhhh!

    Every time a try to post here via an Android device I get a timed out error.It’s driving me crazy.It will let me go back and try again, but if you push the back button sometimes it takes your back to home and your post is lost.

    Any way, if we are predicting the oilers points totals, put me down for 75.The defence still blows, team speed is an issue, and the goaltending still scares me.

    Just hit the refresh button and it will post.

    Works on both my phone and PC.

  34. böök¡je says:

    Woodguy:
    If the Oilers can move Ference then its a moot point.

    I think you mean moo point.

  35. Lowetide says:

    Gret99zky:
    LT- Your opening night roster has 4 rookies (R) on it.How comfortable are you with that?

    Myself, I would rather see only two (R) to begin the season.

    If the rookie earns it, let him play. All four of these men earned it imo.

  36. godot10 says:

    Gret99zky:
    LT- Your opening night roster has 4 rookies (R) on it.How comfortable are you with that?

    Myself, I would rather see only two (R) to begin the season.

    McDavid is not an ordinary rookie.

    Davidson has 2 full years of AHL seasoning (most of this 3rd was lost to the cancer diagnosis) Reinhart, a #4 overall, with one full year of AHL seasoning.

    Slepyshev has played 2 full seasons against men.

    They are not raw rookies.

    Draisaitl, who is not technically a rookie, is the one that I have questions about, and that I think needs to start in the AHL.

  37. GCW_69 says:

    Bag of Pucks: Klinkhammer has outplayed Draisaitl in your estimation?

    I don’t think that’s the question. I don’t want Draisaitl playing Klinkhammer minutes. The question is, will Draisaitl develop into a better NHLer taking whatever minutes are available on the Oilers or taking to line minutes on the farm to round out his game? I am still of the belief that he would benefit with some time on the farm. This is a lost season anyway, why rush the kid?

  38. Sugar Reijo says:

    Funny how the Esks win yesterday felt more like a loss and the Oil’s loss felt like a win.

  39. Woodguy says:

    Kitchener:
    Anyone else spot a unicorn last night?

    1)RNH goes head to head with opposition’s #1 line and still scores.
    2)McDavid.
    3)10 + 29 on the soft parade, constantly a threat to out-skill their opponents.

    Not every line is clicking on every shift, but there is firepower galore on three out of four shifts.Highly entertaining and likely to lead to a few 8 goal outbursts.

    I’m so freaking thrilled.

    Chiarelli and McLellan eat free if I see them.

    Also,

    I tweeted this last night:

    Woodguy ‏@Woodguy55 1
    All, playing Yak w/ Lander against easier comp will results in more goals than with RNH against the best in the NHL.Its ok that Yak is there

    I was harping on Yak’s inability to exit the zone with possession last year and it sounds like its still a work in progress.

    This is why playing 3RW with Lander while still getting 2PP time is perfect for Yak.

    Softer comp should result in more goals for.

    Softer comp should result in less goals against.

    A happy Yak is a happy Yak and I think McLellan has put him in a spot where he can succeed.

    “Unicorns! — They’re what’s good for you!”

  40. Woodguy says:

    böök¡je: I think you mean moo point.

    Like a cows opinion. It doesn’t matter.

  41. GCW_69 says:

    Woodguy: Just hit the refresh button and it will post.

    Works on both my phone and PC.

    Thanks. Will try it.

  42. sliderule says:

    Hall just doesn’t seem to have any defensive instincts.He comes out of box and instead of looking to cover the open man he drifts to the side of the puck carrier.Nuge could have covered but Hall had time.

    Tmac has the forwards getting back and collapsing to slot but for craps sake find a man to mark..

  43. Woodguy says:

    GCW_69,

    This is a lost season anyway, why rush the kid?

    Didn’t watch the game eh?

    Even if the Oilers don’t make the playoffs (I have them at 94pts, which is just outside the playoffs) this team is going to learn how to be an effective NHL team this year.

    They are going to continue to perfect McLellan’s systems and have his style of hockey become a reflex which will allow them to play at a higher tempo because they don’t have to think.

    That is when they are going to become formidable (that and when they get a real 1RD)

    That’s not a lost year.

  44. Lowetide says:

    Well men, we’re about to find out about Nikitin. WHERE does he go?

  45. GCW_69 says:

    Lowetide: If the rookie earns it, let him play. All four of these men earned it imo.

    That assumes pre-season is an effective measure, but is it really? Chiarelli recently said pre-season comp isn’t like the first ten games, which isn’t as tough as the next ten, and so fourth. Even dominating in pre-season still leaves questions. Given this is a lost season, why not take the conservative route and start Draisaitl and Slepeshev in Bakersfield?

  46. stephen sheps says:

    Lowetide,

    in a perfect world? Omsk, Tax free rubles vs riding the bus in Bakersfield? If not for my (probably irrational) fear of Russian built planes, I know where I would go.

  47. Pouzar says:

    “Anton Lander was a hair late couple of times but (like Nuge) has been doing all the right things and not even Datsyuk is perfect. Really like the player he’s turned into at age 24. You can see him emerging in the Reasoner/Horcoff mentor role now, such an impressive person and player.”

    Meh. F6ckin useless. Gone by Dec.

  48. Lowetide says:

    Oilers draft picks who look like they’ll make an NHL team (by year)

    2008 (1) Eberle
    2009 (1) Lander
    2010 (3) Hall, Marincin (Tor), Davidson
    2011 (3) Nuge, Klefbom, Rieder (Ari)
    2012 (1) Yakupov
    2013 (1) Slepyshev
    2014 (1) Draisaitl
    2015 (1) McDavid

    Five men outside the first round (Lander, Marincin, Davidson, Rieder, Slepyshev)

    You have to wait five years, more if you’re an Oilers pick and management changes every spring.

  49. ashley says:

    What an interesting preseason this has been.

    A couple of discussion items brought up above here:

    1) Though I’m not totally certain, I think LT’s post about Yak hitting the net was referring to last night. Yak hits the net far more than the average hockey player. This is one of his best skills. His shot is hard and accurate. One game does not erase several years of evidence.

    2) RNH is truly amazing. Where is his ceiling? Could he be top 10 league-wide? In terms of value (defensive minded, smart center who can play with skill and score) he might be go as high as a top 5 talent in the league. Not that high yet, but he just keeps getting better. Can you imagine him on a line with McDavid? It might be better than Federov/Yzerman. That’s what I’d throw out there for 3v3 in OT.

    3) Reinhart continues to impress. I am embarrassed by the way we welcomed him to our city, something this roster was so badly in need. He is a rookie, and will make mistakes, but he sure looks a lot like a pro already out there. We could use another like him.

    4) Lander has turned out much better than expected. Credit to LT who steadfastly wrote 2 posts a month about Lander for the past 6 years and was even asked once why he always posts about Lander. A good eye for talent. When was the last time we had such quality on the third line? Marchant-Grier?

    5) It’s hard to believe we were projecting Fayne as a first pairing defender. That’s the beauty of a new GM/coach. He has no attachment to the previous regime’s mistakes, and Fayne wasn’t cheap. His fancystats plummeted on the Oilers and was probably playing too high up the depth chart and without a talented partner. No wonder the Oilers keep fumbling. They tend to have an entire backend of third pairing Dmen. I think he highlights the danger of relying solely on player corsi. There are team/partner effects from Jersey that need to be considered when valuing this player.

    6) It looks like this new regime is not afraid to let players earn positions. If Slepyshev earned the spot, give it to him and roll with 3 rookies.

  50. Lowetide says:

    GCW_69: That assumes pre-season is an effective measure, but is it really? Chiarelli recently said pre-season comp isn’t like the first ten games, which isn’t as tough as the next ten, and so fourth.Even dominating in pre-season still leaves questions.Given this is a lost season, why not take the conservative route and start Draisaitl and Slepeshev in Bakersfield?

    If the Oilers plan on keeping these men and Landering them, I agree. Suspect McLellan is going to play them in prominent roles.

  51. Lowetide says:

    Scrivens on waivers. And there you go.

  52. stephen sheps says:

    Woodguy 2/2

    Well done, sir. Well done.

    I can’t help but feel for Ben, though. He was put into an impossible situation (Tire Fire era Oilers) and battled hard every night. He seems like such a good guy and was genuinely happy to come home to play for the Oilers. I hope somebody (like perhaps New Jersey as mentioned yesterday) takes a flier on him to be a backup in the NHL rather than be forced to take the role of mentor/backup/spot starter on the Condors.

  53. GCW_69 says:

    Woodguy:
    GCW_69,

    This is a lost season anyway, why rush the kid?

    Didn’t watch the game eh?

    Even if the Oilers don’t make the playoffs (I have them at 94pts, which is just outside the playoffs) this team is going to learn how to be an effective NHL team this year.

    They are going to continue to perfect McLellan’s systems and have his style of hockey become a reflex which will allow them to play at a higher tempo because they don’t have to think.

    That is when they are going to become formidable (that and when they get a real 1RD)

    That’s not a lost year.

    I did watch. I saw some good things, but not enough. This team is still going to struggle when the competition gets turned up. That was the Canucks for bleeps sake, a team no one really thinks is going to make the playoffs.

    I don’t see the defence as good enough. I am concerned that offensively they lack finishers. The goaltending is still a question mark.

    I don’t think Leon or Sleppy need a full season in the minors, but 40- 50 games while McLellan gets his systems ingrained in the veterans is a good thing in my view. Let the kids come learn the system at the NHL level after working on it again AHL competition for a while and they have veterans to show them how it’s done.

    And I don’t see this team anywhere near 94 points this season. Somewhere between 75 and 82 is more like it.

  54. Drew says:

    p3rsonman:
    Agree on Hall – saw lots of hate for him last night, but to my eye he was creating chances as usual. He’s always been a slow starter mind you.

    Just wish he wouldn’t fall down so much!

    I guess we all interpret things differently, when he was falling i was reading it as he was all in on TMac’s coaching and was making every effort to attack the puck carrier

  55. Caramel Obvious says:

    People are down on Hall after last night’s game? That’s strange, he played great. Controlled the puck down low and created many chances while giving up very few. What else do you want?

    The D on the other hand looks brutal, lots of giveaways and poor puck control across the board. Out of that group I thought Reinhart looked pretty good.

    How is 3-on-3 less of a gimmick than a shootout? If they would just award three points for a win that would take care of so many problems without introducing terrible new ideas.

  56. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide:
    Well men, we’re about to find out about Nikitin. WHERE does he go?

    The ECHL … before he quits and retires in January

  57. John Chambers says:

    GCW_69,

    Vancouver was a 100-pt team last season. I don’t see how they’re not in competition for a playoff spot as their roster is nearly identical to its springtime version.

  58. Drew says:

    Walter Gretzkys Neighbour:
    LT – Agree with almost everything but still think this team needs to recognize that when you finish your check physically instead of the “waving stick veer off” tactic that seems so popular, you can slow down the opposition and create space and time for your teammates to operate in.

    It seems to me that the reason every single D the Oilers ever have look sooooo slow because they are constantly forced to face opposition forwards and trailing D moving at full speed since they have been left free to power up due to zero physical contact.

    I thought Gadzooks played a very controlled fore-check not over committing and being caught out of position. He almost looked like a hockey player that happens to fight, not a fighter trying to play hockey.

  59. RexLibris says:

    Woodguy: I’m so freaking thrilled.

    Chiarelli and McLellan eat free if I see them.

    Also,

    I tweeted this last night:

    Woodguy ‏@Woodguy551
    All, playing Yak w/ Lander against easier comp will results in more goals than with RNH against the best in the NHL.Its ok that Yak is there

    I was harping on Yak’s inability to exit the zone with possession last year and it sounds like its still a work in progress.

    This is why playing 3RW with Lander while still getting 2PP time is perfect for Yak.

    Softer comp should result in more goals for.

    Softer comp should result in less goals against.

    A happy Yak is a happy Yak and I think McLellan has put him in a spot where he can succeed.

    “Unicorns! — They’re what’s good for you!”

    Here’s what I wrote in the Oilers RE on FN:

    I think McLellan is going to use the first two lines to draw out the best the opposition has. He really has no choice. Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle, McDavid and Hall, those pairings are going to get the opposition’s attention. I think McLellan then hopes to sneak in Lander and Yakupov for some offensive chances and keep the Hendricks line in his back pocket for when things get hairy. It looks like three scoring lines, and certainly there’s enough draft pedigree to suggest it, but the execution is critical and if things don’t work then it falls to Letestu, Korpikoski, Hendricks and Klinkhammer as the veterans to try and settle things.

    It is the only reasonable thing to take from the roster, but is ONLY possible because of McDavid. No other 18 year old rookie centerman can get slotted in to the 2nd line by a competent GM or coach and expect to be able to hold his own.

  60. Woodguy says:

    GCW_69,

    That was the Canucks for bleeps sake, a team no one really thinks is going to make the playoffs.

    The Dys has 101pts last year and EDM was not even a month in with the new coach and system and I think EDM outplayed them.

    That means something.

    Its a new day.

  61. Pouzar says:

    Dicky94: One thing I have noticed is he will actually take a hit now and win the puck battle.

    Saw him eat the puck a few times now. Sometimes it’s the only option till you can buy time and find something better. It’s a very good sign for him.

  62. RexLibris says:

    John Chambers:
    GCW_69,

    Vancouver was a 100-pt team last season. I don’t see how they’re not in competition for a playoff spot as their roster is nearly identical to its springtime version.

    They stole a lot of points off the Oilers last season and are faced now with a less-effective forward group, older offensive leaders, and the same goaltending duo who, last night notwithstanding, showed some terrible numbers both in basic sv%s and goals allowed by danger areas.

    Interestingly enough, the blueline looks to me to be one of their best opening-night assets with Tanev, Edler and Hamhuis.

  63. flyfish1168 says:

    Caramel Obvious:

    How is 3-on-3 less of a gimmick than a shootout?If they would just award three points for a win that would take care of so many problems without introducing terrible new ideas.

    I agree. this 3 on 3 reminds me of open pond hockey alumni’s play for charity. I would love to see 3 point win in regular time and 2 points in OT

  64. RexLibris says:

    Nikitin clears waivers.

  65. Gret99zky says:

    Caramel Obvious:

    How is 3-on-3 less of a gimmick than a shootout?If they would just award three points for a win that would take care of so many problems without introducing terrible new ideas.

    It spreads the blame for a loss around. 4 guys might be guilty, not just 1.

  66. Pouzar says:

    Man I hope Klinkhammer makes it. I thought he was excellent in WPG and he’s had some solid possession games overall. Not a fan of losing him especially for Gazdic.

  67. Pouzar says:

    flyfish1168: I agree. this 3 on 3 reminds me of open pond hockey alumni’splay for charity. I would love to see 3 point win in regular time and 2 points in OT

    This. But it won’t happen. They’ll introduce arm wrestling first.

  68. Woodguy says:

    There’s a new thread.

  69. russ99 says:

    Klinkhammer is too valuable vs. the west and on the road. I’d bet Davidson goes down instead.

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