Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have a story to tell about their Oilers days—call it ‘To Hell and Back’, with more hell and very little back—and I think most of us would like to see a happy ending. Maybe they won’t win Stanley together at the new building, but a turn north in year six wouldn’t go amiss.
GOOD DAY SUNSHINE, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
- Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
- Oilers in December 2015: 2-0-0 (WOOT!)
- Oilers after 27 in 2014-15: 7-15-5, 19 points (-37 GD)
- Oilers after 27 in 2015-16: 10-15-2, 22 points (-13 GD)
Last night was an unlikely victory, I think that is probably a fair description. The Oilers were never in the game, as you will see in a minute, but they won it because Anders Nilsson had some kind of weird B12 issue a couple years back and the hockey Gods decided we needed another gift between the pipes. Hopefully we will see Edmonton build a defense before the Swede goes mad.
There is a window here where Edmonton could close the gap. The last two games (both wins) and last 10 games (4-4-2) suggests enough positives for Edmonton to hold their own, perhaps turn north. This week (Buffalo, San Jose, NY Rangers) could see them begin the climb. This morning, Edmonton is out of the basement and No. 27 overall. And they may have a goalie.
Love these seats. pic.twitter.com/VZb6YM475A
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) December 5, 2015
OILERS BLUE, LAST NIGHT
Today, we get to talk about shuffling and just how stubborn this blog’s author can be. Here we go;
- Darnell Nurse is making mistakes by the dozen, but you have to acknowledge the situation. He played 20 minutes and 7:12 was against Benn’s line with about 7 minutes against Spezza. 42 percent against that? He spent 15:14 with Sekera and 3:17 with Schultz. It is coming, people, like a thief in the night. The Lowetide blog also endorses the penalty. He is 20. 20.
- Justin Schultz went 3-8 in 4:44 with Gryba but was better elsewhere. He is not a natural defender, it is foreign to him, like me with those damn bags they have at the grocery store for tomatoes. I can never get sides to separate, drives me mad, and then my wife comes over and does it in three seconds. I anticipate a change in pairings (more in a minute, hold back your water) and suspect JS will get Klefbom or Nurse. He is an unusual player, his shots are from Laredo sometimes, he seems to place them or they land on the moon. It is goofy, and I don’t like it.
- Oscar Klefbom performed acceptably on a night when survival was success. He played against one of the best lines in the NHL, but played only 3:45 with Fayne and they were split after going 2-11 Corsi events together. He was fine with Gryba—I hate this pairing—going 8-9 in 10:53. We may see that again on Sunday.
- Andrej Sekera had a strong evening despite the numbers, lordy I love those veteran blue. We won’t give him credit in five years, but he is an enormous help to Nurse in these early days. Had some nice headman passes and skated miles in each corner of his own zone. Really getting his game together now, this is a good NHL player.
- Eric Gryba is like a song in your head that you cannot lose. Jeans On, by David Dundas, that kind of song. He played as listed above, and this was one of his better games, but for me the big man is getting far too much playing time. Did Todd McLellan have a Gryba in San Jose? Ah yes, Douglas Murray, I forgot.
- Mark Fayne is a good NHL player but I don’t think he is a Todd McLellan-type and I know he isn’t a Peter Chiarelli type. I have mentioned those things before, but they had nothing to do with last night. Fayne was a day late and a dollar short in every sortie he saw against Dallas. Blew a shoe, hocked a loogie, it was bad as bad can be last night. He will find a chair Sunday.
- That said, I will defend him as one of the four best options on this team right now. Brandon Davidson may change my mind, Eric Gryba won’t and I suspect we are about to find out about Justin Schultz, again. I think Fayne is gone, only a matter of time. He is NOT so bad as to be the No. 5D on this team, let alone No. 7.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lander-Gazdic played with Khaira until Todd McLellan decided to JFJ him. I forgot Brad Winchester played for McLellan in SJS until I got a DM mentioning it last night. Anyway, the 4line looked good with Khaira or Purcell—Pakarinen didn’t play with Lander last night according to War-on-Ice.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Hall had a 7-11 run together after the big man replaced Jordan Eberle, and this line was involved (along with Eberle) in one or both goals. I like Khaira but this isn’t going to last based on his offensive resume. Why do Oilers coaches do funny things? Hall is a sublime talent, impact player entering the prime of his career. Facing one of the strongest lines in the NHL, he popped a goal, hammered a defender, skated miles.
- Pakarinen-Nuge-Eberle was pretty solid compared to the other lines, but there was little thunder. Purcell was also on this line a lot (Scotty Bowman used to have games like this one, dump the slow and push the fast. He would make up his mind in the first five minutes, that’s how Reggie Houle saved the end of John Ferguson’s career). Nuge made a few nice plays his wingers couldn’t cash, Eberle is coming out of his slump, Purcell would be a good winger if Poo can’t go.
- Korpikoski-Letestu-Hendricks are starting to tighten and part of it is some nice forechecking by Korpikoski. The line has had a nice run, hope they continue to be productive. That was a very good line they faced last night.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 3, 2015
Nilson now has a .921SP and .925SP at evens, good for No. 19 overall at evens. He is winning the job outright, but at some point Talbot will have to play. I suspect it will take a loss though, unless the young Swede is exhausted. The acquisition of Nilsson for Liam Coughlin will be a major story of the offseason should this continue.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 5, 2015
Music! Lordy. Do you remember the last game against them? Splendid effort by Nilsson, now they have to figure out how to keep that structure for longer. Things that are a worry;
- Forwards appear to have found a soft area up the middle. Several breakdowns right through the middle of the ice.
- Mark Fayne is not good at that standup the forward thing McLellan prefers. It probably gets him traded, sooner than later.
- The power play with Justin Schultz lacks a hammer.
Greg Chase 1g 1a +2; Dillon Simpson 1a +3
— Vaughn Woodruff (@conkanen) December 5, 2015
A big win for the Condors last night and some of the young pros had solid nights. Bogdan Yakimov returned and had an assist, Griffin Reinhart played well based on reports and the offense was driven much of the time by actual prospects. Good result.