G41 2015-16: HURRICANES AT OILERS

If you were to write a musical score for these first 40 games, it would have to include the highest highs, and the lowest lows—and every note in between. From dog whistles to the fog of wart, it has been remarkable and fatally flawed and the only thing that can save it is a watershed second half and a ringing playoff epilogue. Too much? Of course. Hope dies last.

TRAGED-ED-ED-ED-Y, 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: 7-6-1
  • Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
  • Oilers in January 2016: 1-0-0
  • Oilers after 40 in 2014-15: 9-22-9, 27 points (-52 GD)
  • Oilers after 40 in 2015-16: 16-21-3, 35 points (-22 GD)

If the Oilers win, they would reach the halfway point of the season with 37 points—well short of hoped, but 10 points clear of 2014-15 (Edmonton would fall 4-2 to Detroit in G41). I remember that game, Viktor Fasth stopped a lot of shots but Benoit Pouliot took a spearing penalty late and that was all she wrote. If this thing never turns north, what will we do to mark the occasion? Exactly.

DEFENSE, 2015-16

oilers blue nov 30

  • Brandon Davidson sees his On-Ice Scoring Chance against 60 spike with the additional responsibility of playing with Andrej Sekera. That said, I think he is one of the two best options (the other is Mark Fayne) for the job. If he gets near 30.00/60, the Oilers will have to move on to someone else, but tag he is it. Good player, legit value contract.

  • Oscar Klefbom is the only other defenseman under 25.00/60 in SCA and he is injured. I think Edmonton’s second half relies heavily on his return happening during the early weeks of January. The Oilers don’t give out information freely on injuries but one gets the feeling it will be awhile. Should we start worrying about his injuries? It used to be concussions, but now I try to be amused.
  • Brad Hunt has done well, but I think it won’t last. Could they be showcasing him? I would think Justin Schultz would be the guy for it, but as Sunil Agnihotri pointed out this weekend deployment doesn’t imply showcase.
  • Darnell Nurse has been the subject (here and elsewhere) of conversation lately, he was playing too high in the lineup and Todd McLellan waited a loooong time before addressing it. Nurse is improving in the Rel since, but our man Andrej Sekera is melting with Mark Fayne and or Brandon Davidson. Klefbom needs to come back, because Edmonton’s best defenseman may not be able to hold back the water.
  • The first pairing needs a better second pairing needs a better third pairing. Easy!
  • Edmonton won without Mark Fayne. Who needs him? The Oilers. Despite his SCA number above, his possession numbers remains solid even though he has in fact been facing the tough minutes. I understand he is slow, but good counts too, right? Play the man.
  • After Davidson and Klefbom, all of the defenders have basically the same SCA number. What do we have to say about that? With Fayne playing the tougher minutes, and within spitting distance of the others, I think it makes sense for him to play tonight. I doubt Todd McLellan makes a change after a win.

OILERS CENTERS 2015-16

oilers centers over season

You could live happily with the three sets of numbers that lead off for Edmonton at center. All three men should be over 2.00/60 at 5×5 and could be over 4.50/60 at 5×4 by the end of the season. At some point, the Oilers will move someone off to the wing (Poo has been taking some of the Nuge’s faceoffs lately, maybe our man is having trouble adjusting to the new face-off rules) but for now it is fun to imagine this trio for the next decade.

I wonder if a guy like Kassian makes it more likely they run these guys at center. Hall, Eberle, Pouliot, Purcell and Yakupov are a costly bunch ($23M!), but if you could save a little on Purcell’s contract and bring in (an effective) Kassian? Is $23M too much for your top six wingers?

ARE WE THERE YET?

Okay, so he practiced the other day? What didn’t he do? Did he take part in all the drills, full contact? If he did, we are talking days not weeks, no? What am I missing, hockey people? If he takes warmups tonight, will the Oilers acknowledge it? Will Edmonton fans get the vapors? Will this blog stop posting at 8:30 and 5? Stay tuned!

WINGERS, 2015-16

oil forwards over season

As is the case with McDavid, Leon, Nuge, if you look at the Hall and Purcell numbers, notice the improvement in Pouliot and Eberle (especially 5×5/60) and remember Yakupov is coming back? That is eight men, with a power forward (of some type) on the way. The forwards could be set by the time the swallows come back to Capistrano.

THREE SCORING LINES

  • Peter Chiarelli: “From my experience, the top two lines of each team often neutralize each other and the third line is your tipping point. We have a lot of options. We have three very good centres.” Source (Jones wrote a good article, worth the read)

Would this work?

  • Hall—Draisaitl—Purcell
  • Pouliot—McDavid—Yakupov
  • Kassian—RNH—Eberle

Or do you want to see Eberle with McDavid for a time?

 

  • Hall—Draisaitl—Purcell
  • Pouliot—McDavid—Eberle
  • Yakupov—RNH—Kassian

I watched most of the two games this weekend, and Kassian looked good on the potato feed from Mars. He is certainly fast enough, strong enough, and skilled enough to play a big role in the AHL, and his NHL numbers (per 82gp he is 14-13-27) suggest he has way more skill than previous tries by Edmonton to grab this player. He is not Bill Guerin, and there is still some forgiveness to be earned (not just the stick to Gagner, but the ghastly behavior in the following meetings).

Based on what I saw this weekend, and what we know of this player, as a hockey risk this was a solid bet that could pay off in grand fashion. Another power forward who might be in play is young Kerby Rychel, buried in the AHL but scoring at a nice clip. Aaron Portzline reports on what has been an issue for some time, and young Rychel would certainly be on the radar for Peter Chiarelli’s rugged kind of fellow procurement list.

These things seem to be happening with more frequency, and in Tampa Bay there seems to be a story every few months involving unhappy players. Unlike Martin St. Louis and (soon) Steven Stamkos, young Drouin has limited options. His agent has now gone public on the player’s behalf, and things could get ugly. Edmonton had a similar (although not identical) situation with Nail Yakupov, the difference being the young Oiler always professed his wish to stay. I love Drouin’s skill set and believe he could thrive on the wing in Edmonton. Among the current portsiders, I would rank his potential with any not named Taylor Hall. I think it more likely Peter Chiarelli trades for a Rychel than a Drouin, but love the idea of having his talent on the Oilers. Could you have another small winger on this team? Well, I think the talent dictates you look at it for sure, and Drouin could be productive without being expensive for a few more seasons. Something to consider. As for attitude? Don’t know, but lordy there is a lot of smoke surrounding the Lightning.

hepburn

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

This morning at 10, TSN1260. We have only one hour between the two WJ games, so tune in for two hours worth of discussion in one (I will talk fast, promise). Scheduled to appear:

  • Scott Burnside, ESPN. Jagr, Caps and Kings.
  • Scott Zerr, Oilers Nation. We will discuss Zack Kassian and his mindset entering the last chance portion of his hockey career in North America.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

 

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452 Responses to "G41 2015-16: HURRICANES AT OILERS"

« Older Comments
  1. Soup Fascist says:

    Ice Sage: To be fair, Faulk and Hanafin have better wheels than most

    I am sure I saw Hainsey and Liles on the ice in the faceoff to Talbot’s right after save on Hanifin.

    Two raisins.

  2. Stelio Kontos says:

    gotta keep doing it until the cavalry arrives, but it is still a distant bell with so many games out of hand.

  3. Centre of attention says:

    Yote’s up 2-1 on Vancouver. Can both teams just spontaneously combust?

  4. jm363561 says:

    Great, great game by Sekera. Really pleased he got the goal. When Good Cam shows up we can almost guarantee a win. If Bad Cam could just be kinda average, instead of effing awful, we would be pretty good. Continue to be impressed by the compete level – I can forgive a lot if the heart is there.

  5. striatic says:

    Stelio Kontos: gotta keep doing it until the cavalry arrives, but it is still a distant bell with so many games out of hand.

    The Oilers aren’t yet a playoff team even with McDavid, but who cares. If they are getting points in every other game, at least they are no longer depressing to watch.

    I’ll take that with a side order of hope for next year.

  6. LadiesloveSmid says:

    Talbot up to a .910 on the season

  7. striatic says:

    This win will make the Oilers 17-21-3

    20 games with points, 21 without. At least a vaguely positive result 50% of the time makes the season much more bearable even if they are low low low in the standings.

  8. Hope is a good thing says:

    Seekera: hit of the game, OT winner, skated miles – give Chiarelli some credit here

    Nurse: physical, skated miles, played the 3 on 1 in OT like a stud, shot block of the game late on the PK – how do you send him down?

    Davidson: battles so hard, great motor (any support for “Harley” as his nickname?)

    Talbot: can’t ask for much more… Again, Chiarelli should be breathing a little easier.

    Over the past decade, how often could one so easily highlight the play of 3 D and a goalie for the Oilers? Getting a real good feeling about the second half!

  9. jp says:

    Kitchener: I think it’s safe to call him the starter.

    Haven’t we said that about 4 times so far about Talbot or Nilsson though?

    He’s sure looked great lately. I hope keeps it up and re-signs for a few more years.

  10. Quinlan says:

    I know the Oilers just beat his team but, Bill Peters… really impressive post-game interview.

  11. jp says:

    Hope is a good thing:

    Over the past decade, how often could one so easily highlight the play of 3 D and a goalie for the Oilers?

    Pretty much every other game. Just not usually on the good side of the highlights.

  12. dangilitis says:

    That’s the second time sekera scored on his own rebound on ot, no?

  13. JDï™ says:

    Hope is a good thing: Davidson: battles so hard, great motor (any support for “Harley” as his nickname?)

    He’s much too dependable, and doesn’t leak oil.

  14. dangilitis says:

    striatic:
    This win will make the Oilers 17-21-3

    20 games with points, 21 without. At least a vaguely positive result 50% of the time makes the season much more bearable even if they are low low low in the standings.

    It’s nice that they are now 9-3 after 60 mins and 6-3 in OT for the ROW column, if that ever becomes important.

  15. jp says:

    Stelio Kontos:
    gotta keep doing it until the cavalry arrives, but it is still a distant bell with so many games out of hand.

    There’s sooo much season left. I know the probabilities aren’t good, but there’s loads of time if they play well. Goaltending like that would go a long, long way.

  16. dangilitis says:

    Congrats to iggy even though i can never forgive his 525 goals as a member of the enemy

  17. Suntory Hanzo says:

    JDï™,

    No. Something like Davey is probably the way to go. If Oiler player own nicknames hold true.

  18. Woodguy says:

    In their last 10 games (all situations):

    Cam Talbot .941

    Hendrik Lundqvist .871

    Must be the great Rangers Dcorps….

    Wait…….what?

  19. Suntory Hanzo says:

    Woodguy,

    Whoa…sample size alert! I kid.

    Like that Canuck fan in 2010 that angrily asked me what the Oilers had won in the last 19 years. Odd number to ask…

  20. Hope is a good thing says:

    “Pretty much every other game. Just not usually on the good side of the highlights.”

    Touché!

  21. LadiesloveSmid says:

    Woodguy,

    remember when you said he’d be good?! haw haw

  22. Suntory Hanzo says:

    Quinlan,

    He sounds like a really nice guy.

  23. Suntory Hanzo says:

    JDï™:
    Suntory Hanzo,

    Markets itself: https://kirstyliz.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/davey-and-goliath1.jpg

    well played. Haven’t seen that in awhile. Dark comedy there..

  24. unca miltie says:

    Peters is an Alberta boy, too

  25. stevezie says:

    striatic,

    Put that on a buillboard
    “The Oilers: We’re Not Depressing Anymore!!!”

  26. Younger Oil says:

    Just got home from the game, I only get to go to one a year (if that), so I was pretty excited going in.

    Most boring game I think I’ve ever seen, live or on TV.

    From what I saw, it seemed like my entire section was full of people on their phone the entire time, or talking about anything but hockey.

    Rexall was only two thirds full, if that.

    There were probably only three decent scoring chances all game from either team, and one was off a dump in taking a funny bounce.

    The entire game just completely dies whenever any of our bottom 6 are on the ice, which could be useful in many situations but made the game dreary to watch.

    The team as a whole is just so slow right now, the team needs McDavid and Yakupov back dearly.

    Only players I saw good were Davidson and Talbot, but that said there weren’t many goalies that wouldn’t get a shutout that game.

    Happy the team won, but my god what a boring affair.

  27. Quinlan says:

    Suntory Hanzo:
    Quinlan,

    He sounds like a really nice guy.

    He sounds like a really reasonable NHL coach. When asked about his team’s play the last little while, he based his analysis on facts and didn’t allow himself to be baited into the responses the media was looking for to reinforce their narratives.

  28. slopitch says:

    The Oilers could make the following upgrades in 2 weeks

    Hunt -> Klefbom
    Kharia -> Kassian
    Lander -> McDavid
    Klinkhammer -> Yak

    That’s a stunning set of improvements.

    I was at the game. I’m done with the Lander line. Kharia looks ok but isn’t really making plays. Id give him 40 more AHL games.

    2-3 more weeks. Time to Bettman point our way to the McDavid return.

  29. AsiaOil says:

    Yeah the bottom 6 is beyond mediocre for the most part – but when everyone gets back maybe we can do this:

    Hall RNH Drai
    Pou CMD Yak
    Hendricks Letstu Kassian

    I’m trading Ebs for a dman which we desperately need and the 4th line will be a mess until the summer as everyone else is either too young or just plain bad. Honestly wish we had Gordon back for 4th line center as his salary would at least disappear in the summer (unlike Korpse).

  30. hunter1909 says:

    Younger Oil: Just got home from the game, I only get to go to one a year (if that), so I was pretty excited going in.
    Most boring game I think I’ve ever seen, live or on TV.

    Most of us were watching from television, or online, or by following the scoreboard.
    It must be hard to watch a game like that live.

    I might have seen 10-15 minutes of the game, as kept finding better, more entertaining things to do which are far too dull to list.

  31. v4ance says:

    stevezie:
    striatic,

    Put that on a buillboard
    “The Oilers: We’re Not Depressing Anymore!!!”

    Followed by Rexall billboard: ” Half off all drugs due to decrease in demand!”

  32. Zelepukin says:

    AsiaOil:
    Yeah the bottom 6 is beyond mediocre for the most part – but when everyone gets back maybe we can do this:

    Hall RNH Drai
    Pou CMD Yak
    Hendricks Letstu Kassian

    I’m trading Ebs for a dman which we desperately need and the 4th line will be a mess until the summer as everyone else is either too young or just plain bad. Honestly wish we had Gordon back for 4th line center as his salary would at least disappear in the summer (unlike Korpse).

    As the panel mentioned tonight in quoting McL’s pregame comment of, ‘the top 2 lines in this league often cancel each other out and you require the 3 line to make a difference against weaker comp and pairings.’

    I’d like to see our 3rd line become our 4th, bring up Kassian and run with this:

    Hall – Drai – Purcell
    Pou – Nuge – Ebs
    Kass – McD – Yaks

    Kass can protect the #1s and also provide some grit in the corners on the cycle, which inevitably happens when facing 3rd line grinders.

  33. G Money says:

    Until the injured players are back, wins will happen only when the goalie wins it. Attaandroid, Tal-bot!

    When Klef is back, a merely solid goalie performance will be enough to win.

    When McYak are back, the Oil will be back to their early season state, where the goalies are no more important than for other teams, as the team will regularly be able to outscore the mistakes on D and G.

    These are our Oilers.

    Right now, no better than last year except maybe the goalies. Soon – significantly better up front.

    My standings model had the Oil at 39 points after 40 games, and 82 on the season. I still think 82, because for the same reason I they’re behind the pace early, I think they’ll be ahead of the pace late when the Key Three return.

  34. PhrankLee says:

    G Money,

    I’ve got them at .500 as well for 82 games.

    If they pull it off it represents a HUGE improvement. I’m sure there aren’t many teams that have improved by 20 points over a single season.

  35. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    AsiaOil,

    I think most people are wishing for Boyd Gordon from 2 years ago. He isn’t that guy anymore. He started to look broken down late last year, he plays a very hard game and he’s no spring chicken.

    He has 2 assists on the year.

    Korp has 10 points (6 goals). He’s one of the better producers on our bottom six.

    I know scoring isn’t everything, but somebody that’s not earning $6 million needs to score from time to time, and he’s the only guy on the team that fits that mold.

  36. Pouzar says:

    I see a lot of people putting Kassian in the lineup at LW.
    I don’t think he’s ever played LW in the NHL except maybe in a pinch.
    Not sure it’s wise at this juncture to be introducing that change right now. He’s got enough to keep straight.

  37. Pouzar says:

    Not a good night for the JJ-Lander-Klink line….ugh.

  38. PhrankLee says:

    Pouzar:
    Not a good night for the JJ-Lander-Klink line….ugh.

    I cannot see them sticking with Lander. I’ve mentioned his cult hero status and the endless “linemates” arguments.

    I have cheered endlessly for him and he was fantastic on faceoffs last night.

    He is behind scoring pace set by top end goalies!

    How does he fit into a unicorns scenario?

    I think it’s time to say goodbye.

  39. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    PhrankLee,

    Chicago doesn’t seem interested in dropping Marcus Kruger. He has 1 point in 33 games. Lander has 2 in 40.

    Lander plays center reasonably well, and has scored both at the AHL level and in past periods in the NHL. He’s on the fourth line. He’s young. He’s cheap. He has excelled at the international level numerous times.

    I would understand the “abandon ship” mentality if he was getting up there in age, or too expensive. Right now he’s neither of those things, so having him play limited defensive zone minutes cheaply isn’t the reason we are losing hockey games. He’s not the problem.

  40. kinger_OIL says:

    – While the parity in the NHL helps the Oil this year, it’s really a joke league structurally

    – The Oil are 4 points from the basement, and 4 points from middle of pack, 19th place team

    – The flip side is Colorado: they are 4 points ahead, but + 22 in goal differential

    – Without that 3-1 SO record: yikes…

    Mansion for sale in Edmonton: gawd real-estate agents are fill of sh%te: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/edmonton-mansion-could-yours-7-150000556.html

  41. PhrankLee says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!: He’s not the problem.

    I do not know what the Chicago Blackhawks think.

    I never said Anton Lander is the cause of the problem in Edmonton.

    He needs more offence than this. Period.

  42. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    PhrankLee,

    You said it’s time to say goodbye. If you want to let him go then you think he’s part of the problem.

    I’m saying he’s not on my to do list. His lack of offense this year, given what we’ve seen from him at the AHL, previous NHL, and international levels tells us that there is some offense there.

    He’s cheap. He wins faceoffs. If he doesn’t score on the 4th line I don’t care. It works for Chicago it can work for us.

  43. Pouzar says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!:
    PhrankLee,

    Chicago doesn’t seem interested in dropping Marcus Kruger.He has 1 point in 33 games. Lander has 2 in 40.

    Lander plays center reasonably well, and has scored both at the AHL level and in past periods in the NHL.He’s on the fourth line.He’s young. He’s cheap.He has excelled at the international level numerous times.

    I would understand the “abandon ship” mentality if he was getting up there in age, or too expensive.Right now he’s neither of those things, so having him play limited defensive zone minutes cheaply isn’t the reason we are losing hockey games. He’s not the problem.

    I agree with this. I’ve seen Lander distributing pucks in places to guys who aren’t capable of finishing. As a fourth line Center I am fine with him. It’s Korpse I have issue with. The guy is a boat anchor and he’s signed for another year. The WOWYs for Hendricks/Letestu are mindboggling with this guy. This was a whiff by Chia. When this team is running at full capacity he should be stapled to the press box.

  44. PhrankLee says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!: You said it’s time to say goodbye. If you want to let him go then you think he’s part of the problem.

    I think my position is he is not enough of a solution to keep. There are others with the skills you mention. Just as cheap.

    He looked lost the last couple games on the PP. Has trouble getting to the net front in time to screen the G. He was given PP min to spark him and the PP. That has not happened. I’m not bitter about it. It just is what it is.

    They’ve given him the screening job and he hasn’tt been a thorn in anyone’s side. I’m just ready for something/someone else.

    And though Kruger is kept there are many who are picking up the scoring slack in Chicago. In Edmonton not so much.

    We need more contributions from the guys who aren’t 1 OA or 1st round picks.

  45. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    PhrankLee,

    I’m just not willing to give up on him given his previous accomplishments. I would have less patience if he were older or more expensive.

    I agree he hasn’t been great this year offensively. I’m just saying, given what he’s done previously in the NHL, AHL, internationally, plus his faceoff/defensive ability, PK ability, low price tag, and age…. I wouldn’t abandon ship. At his price he can be the 13th forward for all I care.

  46. PhrankLee says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!: I’m just not willing to give up on him given his previous accomplishments.

    I see your point, Cash. I am always loathe to jettison a player we developed from childhood as well. It is a recurring nightmare with Edmonton, I agree.

  47. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    PhrankLee,

    Holy shit.

    We just had an argument on the internet and it seems to have reached a reasonable conclusion…. and we don’t seem to hate each other for having different opinions.

    I love this site.

    Thanks Phrank for restoring my faith in humanity.

  48. PhrankLee says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!,

    I love it here too. Plenty of monocle sporting neckbeards tilting at windmills in Tilley hats.

    My favorite XKCD cartoon about this phenomenon.

    https://xkcd.com/386/

    And the thanks are reciprocated, Cash.

    Cheers.

  49. Yeti says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!:
    PhrankLee,

    Holy shit.

    We just had an argument on the internet and it seems to have reached a reasonable conclusion…. and we don’t seem to hate each other for having different opinions.

    I love this site.

    Thanks Phrank for restoring my faith in humanity.

    The only thing missing is if you have a group hug and a collective “Fuck you, Bob from Calgary”.

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