Last night the Edmonton Oilers lost their fourth in a row and no longer have to worry about a poor start—they’re already there. Todd McLellan is a veteran coach and I’m sure he can see what the shortcomings are, but Peter Chiarelli invested in three defensemen (Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart) and they aren’t enough. The season was all about seeing progress and the breakouts looked better for most of last night’s game. Barring a trade, and that’s the ticket, I’m still hopeful we see the following changes:
- A top pairing of Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom.
- Darnell Nurse called up. Soon.
- Fewer minutes for Justin Schultz.
These are themes I touched on this summer: here (point No. 13), here (point No. 1) and here (point No. 5). Schultz has shown in the last two games that he is what we thought he was: A skill defenseman who simply isn’t a good passer. I know many of you don’t feel that way and it gives me no pleasure in saying it—in fact, I feel like it’s picking on him unnecessarily. That said, it’s true. Schultz is somewhat unique, in that he has all of the skills one associates with an expert passer, but is in fact poor at the discipline. Meaning the Oilers have ZERO right-handed blue who can pass that damned puck! Move Sekera over, or Klefbom. It’s the right thing to do.
It’s far too inexperienced and they’ll get killed. That said, there’s a puck passer and mobility on every pairing, and at this point there’s no real reason to keep running Mr. Gryba out there to wave lanterns at runaway trains.
THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
- Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan came in and took everything at face value. The Martin Marincin trade, the retention of Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference, the prominence of Justin Schultz in the lineup. That’s all Craig MacTavish stuff, Scott Howson too.
- It isn’t working and the forensics should naturally send the organization in a very good direction. Culling the herd of Nikitin was a surprising and delightful early item, and the reduction in TOI for Andrew Ference and (recently) Teddy Purcell suggest the world is unfolding as it should. I think we can safely add Eric Gryba into this group and not fret about the future.
LAST NIGHT’S BLUE
A lot of things here, but I also want to send you to a fabulous post by G Money on evaluating defensemen. Very interesting read, recommend it.
- I wondered if McLellan would give Schultz a zone start push, and he did in fact use 19 in that way in the first home game. That’s what Schultz is best at, and the advantage of his outlet passing isn’t much of an advantage at all, to my eye. I feel Klefbom is being wasted in this setup, and would use Reinhart (as suggested above) in that role instead. The rookie has a good shot and can pass the puck.
- Mark Fayne played 11:33 at evens, and 33 seconds on the PK. Ladies, unless he was hurt or blew a shoe, that’s ANOTHER veteran losing his job. Let’s count them off: Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ference, Teddy Purcell and Mark Fayne! Wow.
- Sekera had a bad night, I really think he’s miscast with Fayne. Give him a mobile, effective partner like Klefbom and call them lightning.
- Reinhart and Gryba are not a good pairing. Too similar.
Frame 1: Blues exit def. zone. Frame 2: Blues enter off. zone. You tell me how Korpikoski opened that gap on Schultz pic.twitter.com/ZqhoNRfp20
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) October 16, 2015
I thought he played his best game last night and was shocked to see he played only 5:58. I seriously believe Leon Draisaitl should be in Edmonton, and have suggested in the past Slepyshev should be the guy to go. Scratch that. He needs to play more but for me that was an effective winger last night. I’ll have more on the forwards at five this afternoon.
— Metro Edmonton (@metroedmonton) October 16, 2015
What a beautiful, fantastic photograph. I am in complete awe of the person who took it, capturing a moment in time perfectly. It has the ‘feel’ of old photos with a haze in the distance but the subject is clear and perfect and in classic pose. I’m sure the photographer loved it the moment he or she saw it, and I’ll never know who did it, but thank you so much for being there and taking it. Awesome.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, TSN1260. A busy Friday, including some open line time at 11:05 for you to vent. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. Blue Jays v Royals brings back a flood of memories. We’ll chat about baseball’s brilliant playoffs.
- Antony Bent, FC Edmonton. Season winding down, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the heartbreaking.
- Paul Almeida, SSE. Oilers lose home opener, coverage and speed remain a concern.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Friday, with weekend games against the Flames and Canucks! Yeah, we should talk at 11.