The Edmonton Oilers won their third game in a row last night and the city is officially in a good mood. A lovely fall run of good weather, the Oilers beating down a decade of demons and the new golden boy providing shock and awe in prime time. It’s a party!
Pretty great look at McDavid’s body work on his goal against DET. Reminder: He’s 18-years-old. pic.twitter.com/shXTiETATd
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 22, 2015
Buddy did a nice job of interfering (Detroit did double and then some, so I don’t want to hear it) and then gaining clearance, and the deke was sublime. I suspect we’re in the Brett Callighen—BJ MacDonald era for 97’s linemates, but Nail Yakupov appears hellbent on hanging around for a long time. We’ll talk about 10 in a minute, but that was his finest game last night in the NHL imo. Man.
I took a selfie when I watch McDavid score goal tonight. Not bad for 18 years old 🙂 pic.twitter.com/8VZdCuMLzQ
— Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) October 22, 2015
Jaromir Jagr. I expect Chiarelli will trade for him at the deadline in 2018 for the Stanley run. I kid. Probably. The Oilers have had insane talent for some time, courtesy all those first-round picks. Connor McDavid is on another planet and seven games in I think we all know that’s true. It’s also correct to say we don’t have the enormity of the situation collected and assessed in our mind’s eye, but we’re getting there. Do his skates touch the ice?
LAST NIGHT’S DEFENSE IN A BOX
- Oscar Klefbom was exceptional last night, especially at evens. I like the visual and the numbers back it up, plus McLellan (imo correctly) has him doing PK instead of PP. Terrific talent. I think he’s going to be a 25-point man, but the defensive kicker will make him extremely valuable. So mobile.
- Andrew Ference was in a very good spot, playing with the McDavid line (7-4) for five minutes. Big time Ozone start and a possession number under 50, but with all that he had his best game in awhile. He might even get another start on Friday. Passing was off and he did have wobbly moments.
- Mark Fayne had a solid night, I thought he was slow to react on the goal (do something!) but the plays he made were the mark of reliable defensive defender. I remain concerned about his being paired with Sekera and am hopeful McLellan tries something new soon. Ovie coming to town tomorrow might be a good time to do it.
- Eric Gryba is growing on me. He’s the kind of player you have to watch for a time to appreciate, but he’s exactly what Chiarelli talked about in the summer. Good positioning, punishing checks and he was able to cut down sorties several times.
- Justin Schultz had a very good game. He had several effective defenses on stretch passes and most of that came from standing up on the play and tight coverage. His speed is a real advantage defensively and he broke up passes a few times. Really liked his game. He got an assist, that’s important because the offense also has to be there. Specific good moments included defending Z down low and forcing him to dish off, and helping Klefbom when it looked like Tatar was going to beat him and find clean air to the net.
- Andrej Sekera was effective despite the numbers above. Played 8 minutes against the Nyquist line and got ripped 5-10 in 5×5 Corsi events. Despite those numbers, I liked his coverage (even on the GA he was making good bets, Fayne imo was the culprit on the play) and he moved the puck well when given the opportunity. Along with Klefbom, the most complete defender on the roster.
LAST NIGHT’S CENTERS IN A BOX
- Connor McDavid has this habit of sussing out the situation before impacting a game. He was effective but not impactful early in the game, and then late in the first period did a blue bayou past a shocked Detroit defender. After that, it was golden, like he’d proven it to himself and he crashed through whatever false ceiling held him back. From that point on, he was breathtaking. The goal was sensational, the backchecking a sublime chaser, and the play where he somehow avoided a check and still kept possession? I’ll call that one impossible.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played 8.5 minutes against Z and fought him to a 6-6 draw. Skated miles, effective everywhere although the points didn’t come on this night. I believe that line would have cashed but the third winger is an issue for sure. W’s TOI: Klinkhammer 6:25 (6-8 5×5 CF events); Miller 6:45 (1-1); Letestu 38 seconds (3-0).
- Mark Letestu had another good game, scored a goal and could have had two but couldn’t cash on a gorgeous pass. I’ve heard ‘McDavid should have shot the puck’ and ‘Letestu isn’t skilled enough to cash there’ and both pov’s are wrong imo. It was a fast play, Letestu was skilled enough to get a shot off, and he missed. It was a good play that almost cashed, there’s no sin from either man.
- Anton Lander was more effective than the numbers above show, the third goal could have been his (although he didn’t touch the puck). He had the puck on his stick more 5×5 than in the recent past and he was around the puck more. I think he’s finding the range, should result in some points ahead.
LAST NIGHT’S WINGERS IN A BOX
- Benoit Pouliot had a good game, including an assists on the McDavid goal. He’s not as smooth as his linemates in terms of passing and vision, but he’s no slouch (two of his assists this season are highlight worthy) and brings other elements.
- Taylor Hall skated miles and had a ton of shots, not as many electric chances as in recent games. Nine minutes against the Z line is tough sledding and as mentioned above I don’t think that line has found a RW yet. Eberle can’t get back soon enough.
- Nail Yakupov was splendid. Two assists, confident, he was all over the ice and impacting play in all areas. I think it might have been his best NHL game. Before the evening began, he spoke to Gene Principe and it was heartening to see him confident, smiling and having fun. This is a business sure, but young Nail has spent some tough nights at Rexall, fun to see him being rewarded for hard work. Credit to Todd McLellan too, sometimes communication needs a different voice and the difference in Yak’s game is impressive. He still has some coverage issues, but that was a splendid game.
- Rob Klinkhammer is the best available option for the Nuge line it appears. He doesn’t bring enough offensively in the role but helps in other ways and I suspect we’ll see him Friday night. His speed is the big part of what he brings and he’ll battle for sure. Klink, Hendricks—that kind of player—is certainly on Peter Chiarelli’s shopping list. Add some skill to Hendricks and that’s the ticket.
- Anton Slepsyshev needs to adjust the sights on his rifle, but I love his speed. Shows up way more often in the frame than his TOI would suggest reasonable.
- Lauri Korpikoski’s numbers show what a nightmare the Nyquist line is these days, he had a much better night than the numbers suggest. Made a nice pass on Purcell’s goal and skated miles. He’s still a bit of an enigma, veterans don’t ice the puck as he did at the end of the game, but maybe he’s trying to do too much. He certainly is around the play a lot, that’s a good thing.
- Andrew Miller wasn’t noticeable often last night, he does have good speed and did use it to shut down lanes (against Z in the neutral zone iirc). Oilers need to give him a few games to settle in.
- Teddy Purcell scored a goal and was part of the Nyquist murders—but as with linemates Lander and Korpikoski, Purcell had to bend but did not break. 4-7 in six minutes against Nyquist isn’t horrible and once again we see the value of having veterans. He isn’t sexy because of the skating but is useful because of his skill and experience.
Cam Talbot was the first star in the game I saw. He is calm, effective, aggressive and owns a .920 SP for the Edmonton Oilers. Goalies are voodoo, a man got fired in Columbus the other day because of another collapse in the net by a perfectly good stopper. Credit to the Oilers (and Woodguy) for identifying the right man to target. They should probably start talking about numbers for a contract.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Edmonton’s three-game winning streak, Yak, Corsi, heavy on the puck.
- Jeff Hauser, Radio Hauser. The song remains the same in the NFL power rankings.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Sports. Fabulous AL series goes at least six.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Yakupov, changes in Columbus, panic on Shaganappi Trail.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. 90 minutes.