Justin Schultz looked good by eye and by math last night. Justin Schultz looked good by eye and math last night. He received lots of positive words after the St. Louis game, but for me the Nashville game was far better. Before we get to the numbers for the blue, a few things:
- Lots of people all over Sekera for the first GA last night and he certainly did stickhandle himself into a corner. That said, Mark Letestu needed to offer support there (staying high, making sure Edmonton wasn’t outnumbered by Preds). You can blame Sekera and that’s fine, but it’s also true the rest of the team has to be better in terms of positioning and awareness there.
- I expect it’s going to be a very difficult year for Andrew Ference, wrote about it here. The only thing that may change? Ference may end up playing fewer than 28 games. There’s no defense of the mistake by the former captain last night, so I will offer none. When a veteran makes a rookie play, well I guess that must be hockey’s circle of life. The contract ends summer 2017, Edmonton can buy him out next summer. Todd McLellan will have to decide how many games the veteran will see in the coming months. Not an easy situation on either side of the equation.
THE BLUE LAST NIGHT, IN A BOX
The ZS’s didn’t really have a dungeon last night, but the Klefbom—Schultz pairing faced the toughest and came out above 50%. Sekera was in fact used in a strong OZone role and I like that adjustment—for me that’s good usage, although would have thought Schultz was the more obvious choice. Ference—Gryba were solid by the numbers and Gryba impresses me as a guy who can actually defend (he has no offensive potential at all, however). Ference we discussed above.
THE CENTERS LAST NIGHT, IN A BOX
Nuge was splendid last night, I’m loving his progress as a player. He’s not perfect, and when he makes a mistake it’s back of the net because Oilers, but he’s an excellent NHL center. McDavid got the push (like he should) and for me there’s simply too much there to worry about two games without a point. When he breaks out, he’ll probably score two extra to make up for the last two games. DO NOT WORRY about Connor McDavid, he’ll be fine. The Lander and Letestu lines had tough nights.
I wanted to highlight McDavid’s night because it may have seen a turning point for Todd McLellan and his search for hockey chemistry. Remember, McD was 59% overall 5×5 Corsi for %.
MCDAVID LINEMATES LAST NIGHT
- Nail Yakupov 8-4 .667 Corsi events (6:23 EV TOI)
- Benoit Pouliot 8-6 .571 Corsi events (8:38 EV TOI)
- Lauri Korpikoski 5-5 .500 Corsi events (4:42 EV TOI)
The McDavid—Yakupov chemistry may kill Don Cherry, but we’re going to have to risk it. The young Russian looked effective and rapido out there, with the added appeal of Hall emerging on the Nuge line with nine shots. These things take time to develop and never say never with regard to Hall—McDavid, but Don Cherry may be wise to start looking at the Kingston phone books for the “Yakupov” surname. MUST be a connection!
WINGERS LAST NIGHT, IN A BOX
People are all over Purcell, but he made a splendid pass to Hall for the point blank last night, should have been a goal and will be when Hall finds the groove. I think McLellan will run Hall with Nuge and Purcell until Eberle gets back, and would be shocked if we don’t see McDavid with Yak and Poo next game.
Which brings me to Slepyshev. I think we may see him sent to Bakersfield in the next few days, with Leon Draisaitl a possible recall. TC impressions can fool people and I think it’s wise to allow this young man to find his game. I felt at the time the right call involved keeping Draisaitl and sending out Slepy and the handling of Anton Lander compels Peter Chiarelli to make this move.
Edmonton is between a rock and a hard place with Andrew Ference, but there’s no such barrier for a Slepyshev—Draisaitl swap. That should happen today.