The Edmonton Oilers under Todd McLellan have one line firing, a good idea about another one, and then a crossfire hurricane. It’s similar to last year’s “two centers and mud” and this could take awhile. Still, and in fairness, there are circumstances that should be mentioned—including an injured Jordan Eberle and a developing on the farm Leon Draisaitl.
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- The Nuge had some issues (damn stick broke!) but skated miles and continued to remind old people of Dave Keon. That defensive play he made on the back check (and then hauled ass the other way) was one of my favorite moments of the game.
- Mark Letestu is about what we might expect, the possession number isn’t bad considering. I thought Anton Slepyshev was brilliant on his line. Letestu isn’t yet completely known to us, one wonders if there’s some offensive flair in there.
- Connor McDavid spent most of the night with Benoit Pouliot (8:49 5×5, 9-10 Corsi—that pairing is working, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and Nail Yakupov (8:51 5×5, 7-8 Corsi—ditto). His line was even against the Pietrangelo (7-7) and Bouwmeester (5-5) pairing and 8-10 against the Lehtera line. It was a poor night by the plus minus (-3) but I’m pleased Todd McLellan stayed with the trio in practice today.
- Anton Lander got the Boyd Gordon ZS treatment and it was a tough evening. He was 3-11 with Korpikoski and Purcell, 0-5 (!!!!) with Hall and Hendricks. Who did he face? David Backes (2-9)and his band of pirates Jaskin and Upshall. Holy hell. If there’s a center in danger of seeing the pressbox, it’s Lander.
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Hall is finding the range now, after a halting start to the season (pre-season specifically). His 20 shots rank him No. 3 in the NHL and once the shooting percentage (that’s a theme by the way) hits the outskirts of normal, things should look rosy.
- Matt Hendricks is among the last players I would have chosen for the 1line but damned if he’s not helping with the bump and grind. Short term item, let’s agree, but as a wakeup call for the skilled wingers NOT on the Nuge line, this could work.
- Luke Gazdic is playing as well as he can.
- Nail Yakupov got a 100% Zstart and his center got a 57% ZS, so my bet (I haven’t looked) is Letestu or Hendricks were taking the faceoffs in the DZone (correct me if I’m wrong) and then Yak hit the ice. Either way, my only complaint is TOI but he got significant power-play time.
- Benoit Pouliot took some heat online because of coverage issues on goals and that’s fair. Overall, I really like this player and am pleased Edmonton has him as cover for the 2line and insurance on the high-wire act that is our man Taylor Hall.
- Anton Slepyshev was brilliant in several shifts last night. Lordy. Man. Among the things that are easy to forget is this guy’s emergence this fall.
- Lauri Korpikoski had his best game as an Oilers player, scored a goal and faced tough sledding on the Lander line. He got crushed but 20% Ozone starts against the Blues and the Backes line is a special cell in hell.
- Teddy Purcell is a guy who needs some special handling imo, but he can help. McLellan had him on the 1PP unit today, that’s just good business. I know he’s slow, so am I—but we have uses! Teddy will fetch a draft pick at the deadline but can help right now. Seriously.
That’s a program from a 1960s game between Providence and Cleveland (click on it and you’ll see a larger view). When I was a kid, The Hockey News and various summer publications would update me on teams all across North America and various leagues. In my mind, I imagined Wayne Schaab and Larry Mavety and others in action for the Port Huron Flags or the Omaha Knights. I know that’s old timey, but for me an evening following the minor leagues or junior on radio or online feed is a wonderful reminder of the St. Marseille’s and Alton White’s. I’ll update the Bakersfield game as we roll, college games and other items tonight as well.
Sleep well. The Flames are tomorrow.