G45 2015-16: OILERS AT SHARKS

by Lowetide

In the last five Oilers games, Darnell Nurse has played 20:39, 21:30, 22:51, 18:59 and 25:37 for the Edmonton Oilers. Given veteran alternatives like Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne, Oilers coach Todd McLellan prefers Darnell Nurse to play the most minutes. Proof: in the game against Arizona, Nurse played five more minutes than Andrej Sekera. NHL coaches don’t do that by accident—and that is a fascinating development. Is it possible to fast track development by feeding a rookie major minutes?

ALMOST SATURDAY NIGHT, 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: 2-2-1
  • Oilers after 44 in 2014-15: 10-25-9, 29 points (-50 GD)
  • Oilers after 44 in 2015-16: 17-23-4, 38 points (-23 GD)

In G45 last season, Edmonton received a two-goal performance from Benoit Pouliot but the Lightning got two goals in the third period to win by one. I would be shocked if they win tonight. Seriously. If they win, Hall scored four or Talbot stops 70. The Sharks are in a zone.

OILERS DEFENSE, THIS SEASON

DTOI OIL

I sorted this by even-strength time-on-ice, because it shows McLellan’s preferences in the largest game state. For me, the big quibble is over Fayne (he is No. 7 among regulars, I would have him top 4D) and the number of minutes Nurse is getting. How many rookies have averaged 19:23 a game at even strength since 2000?

  1. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota 2012-13 (19:53)
  2. Jamie McBain, Carolina 2009-10 (19:51)
  3. Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton 2014-15 (19:47)
  4. Darnell Nurse, Edmonton 2015-16 (19:23)

Andrej Sekera is my defensive MVP to this point in the season, probably would have been Klefbom without the injury—and Brandon Davidson should get some votes. Nurse? His possession numbers and SCA/60 are improving since being taken off of the Sekera pairing, but those major minutes are a major curio for me. Is this a good idea?

OILERS SCORING (DEFENSE) LAST 10 GAMES

  1. Justin Schultz 10, 3-1-4 -2
  2. Andrej Sekera 10, 1-2-3 -3
  3. Nikita Nikitin 3, 0-0-0 +2
  4. Brandon Davidson 6, 0-0-0 -4
  5. Brad Hunt 6, 0-0-0 Even
  6. Mark Fayne 7, 0-0-0 +3
  7. Eric Gryba 9, 0-0-0 Even
  8. Darnell Nurse 10, 0-0-0 -3

Ouch! You would think a headman pass from one of these gents would have cashed, but no sir. Among the goals and assists here, 3-1-4 came at even strength. Edmonton’s defense may be allergic to the forward tape-to-tape pass. Seriously. One thing favoring Nurse? Shots. Leads defensemen in these 10 games with 21 shots.

CENTERS, 2015-16

oilers centers over season

Oilers have great depth at this position the moment Connor McDavid returns. One of the things we can probably talk about is roster makeup for next season. Of course there is a chance PC trades Nuge (I am doubtful), but if that happens you can bet a veteran C will be part of the patch at this position. Leon and McDavid hammered opponents in the first half when here and healthy.

CENTERS, LAST 10 GAMES

  1. Leon Draisaitl 10, 1-5-6 -2
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 0-6-6 +3
  3. Mark Letestu 10, 3-1-4 -5
  4. Anton Lander 10, 0-0-0 -1

After Leon’s exceptional play during the first portion of the year, this looks frightening. It is, in fact, terrific production for the (should be) rookie. RNH is getting his points, and I am encouraged that five of those assists have come at even strength. He needs that 5×5 number to climb toward 2.00. Letestu scored all three of his goals at even strength, that is impressive.

WINGERS, 2015-16

oil forwards over season

Taylor Hall’s numbers have been fire all year, but he did not play well in Chandler—expect a rebound game. No. 4 looked indifferent at times and angry at others on Tuesday, not a mature game from him. Jordan Eberle is coming on now, he and Pouliot are feeling it and Leon helped them find clean air in the desert on Tuesday. I wonder if we see them as a trio again tonight, I am hopeful.

Nail Yakupov may be back tonight, Edmonton will have to send someone down or IR a player. We are reaching a point now where decisions have to be made, and that could mean a trade. Based on the chart above, my candidates for demotion/IR are Rob Klinkhammer and Luke Gazdic.

WINGERS, LAST 10 GAMES

  1. Jordan Eberle 10, 2-8-10 +4
  2. Benoit Pouliot 10, 5-3-8 +4
  3. Taylor Hall 10, 1-4-5 -4
  4. Teddy Purcell 10, 3-2-5 -3
  5. Lauri Korpikoski 10, 0-3-3 -2
  6. Matt Hendricks 9, 0-2-2 -2
  7. Luke Gazdic 5, 0-0-0 -1
  8. Jujhar Khaira 3, 0-0-0 -1
  9. Rob Klinkhammer 5, 0-0-0 -1
  10. Iiro Pakarinen 7, 0-0-0 -2

You would like to see more secondary scoring (anyone past Purcell) but it is also true the club has injured men like Yak and McDavid—teams don’t have enough depth to overcome the loss of two No. 1 overall picks no matter the quality. I would bet Hall has a night here soon.

yakupov connor mah

NEW LINES

Kassian’s arrival and the imminent activation of Nail Yakupov give us new opportunities to guess the most effective lines. Todd McLellan does quite a bit of in-game shuffling, so I will be watching closely to see changes on the fly. Here’s my initial preference:

  • Pouliot—Draisaitl—Eberle
  • Hall—Nuge—Purcell
  • Lander—Letestu—Yakupov
  • Korpikoski—Hendricks—Kassian

I prefer Pakarinen to Korpikoski but LK is being paid like an everyday player and he is on track for 12 goals—on this team, that is a massive amount for a player outside the top 6F.

I like the third line because it attempts to get Lander back in the land of the living, while also (hopefully) being able to keep the puck out of Edmonton’s net. When McDavid is back, I would not hesitate to put Nail back with McDavid—perhaps running lines like this:

  • Yakupov—McDavid—Eberle
  • Hall—Draisaitl—Purcell
  • Pouliot—Nuge—Kassian
  • Korpikoski—Letestu—Hendricks

Thoughts? It should be a fun February for Oilers fans, until Purcell is traded anyway.

talbot capture 11

GOALIES, LAST 10 GAMES

In the last 10 games, the goalies have separated themselves in a big way:

  • Cam Talbot 9gp, 2.03 .930
  • Anders Nilsson 3gp, 4.32 .875

Small sample size and all, but in the last 10 games Talbot is 3-4-1 with a shutout and has been a major story in pretty much every games he has played in. Suspect we hear some contract talks in the next while.

A win tonight AND Saturday would get this party started, but we haven’t seen much evidence to suggest a two game winning streak is at hand. Talbot starting is encouraging, but the Sharks seem to have righted the ship—the goal differential for the two teams playing each other tonight tells a story.

garr1

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

10 this morning, TSN 1260. Plenty to talk about, hope you tune in:

  • Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. We will discuss Kassian, Nurse’s deployment, and try to remember the last time ‘balanced defense’ could be mentioned when discussing the Oilers.
  • Jeff Hauser, Radio Hauser. Massive NFL weekend (take the home teams!) and it looks like Coughlin may actually be headed to the Eagles.
  • Frank Seravalli, TSN. Trade deadline and who is out of the race? Not many teams to my eye.
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[…] After the Arizona game a week or so ago, Allen Mitchell (Lowetide) asked a really important question: […]

Lackadaisical

böök¡je:
Sometimes I wonder how Andrew Ference’s injury is coming along…

Now there’s a Harry situation.

N64

böök¡je:
Sometimes I wonder how Andrew Ference’s injury is coming along…

yeah. it would be pretty harsh to get McDavid and Klefbom back without Ference.

böök¡je

Sometimes I wonder how Andrew Ference’s injury is coming along…

Pouzar

Drouin to Blues heating up.
Down playing Shattenkirk and suggesting something around Fabbri.

http://www.tsn.ca/radio/montreal-690/mckenzie-drouin-to-the-blues-1.423315

Kmart99

One of the many things I love about TMac is his willingness to give TOI to anyone if they are having a particularly good game. If Korpse is looking confident and creating more offense than players above him, TMac rewards him, in-game, with more ice time. But, as many of you pointed out, that was not the case with Nail last night. When you’re basically playing must win hockey every night, why wouldn’t you give the guy who’s having the best game, more ice time.

He seemed dangerous by my eye pretty much every time he was given even a fraction of space to work with. But hey, let’s give Lander more time, he hasn’t been given enough opportunity yet.

Easing Yak back in is nonsense when you see how well he was moving last night. What a crock.

Bruce McCurdy

LostBoy:
I don’t think Nuge really impeded Burns at all.But you take your hand off your stick and put it there, you’re basically asking for it.Might have been a thought crime, but not much to complain about.Stick goes parallel, hooking.Hand wraps around shoulder, holding.Usually.

Yet when Brandon Manning takes his hand off his stick to tug Connor McDavid at 200 miles an hour it’s all hunky dory and just a hockey play and just a shit happens kind of thing and no way is it a holding penalty, let alone a boarding penalty. Grrrr.

hunter1909

Gerta Rauss: It’s another one of those nights – and it’s not even moral victories anymore – I think we got better as a team, we didn’t get the points

Methinks Harry’s beginning to understand the vortex of absolute suck that lives hale and hearty at Rexall Place.

Gerta Rauss

Harry Mclellan post game audio

http://oilers.nhl.com/club/podcastplayer.htm?pid=98&iid=53613

It’s another one of those nights – and it’s not even moral victories anymore – I think we got better as a team, we didn’t get the points

Réal Goudenyéu

Gret99zky:
45 games played.

8 regulation wins.

Lordy.

yeah that’s just…disturbing.

Hope is a good thing

The loss stings but the point helps a bit, and the way we played was encouraging. Talbot excellent – tough to blame him for the shoot-out – great execution by them, not so much by us. Nice D tonight, pretty good job considering how many tough, energy-sapping minutes they had to play 5 on 4. And numerous Sharks forwards paid a price coming into our end – nice to see.

I thought the forwards played well overall, but did it seem like the play died with Hall a lot tonight? He’s been awesome so far this year, but it just seems like the last few games have been substandard. Yak and Kassian certainly made a case for more minutes next game.

Nice work on the PK (good correction from last game), I’m sure the PP would have scored 1 or 2… and nice to see the Oil play better at the end of the third period – no fold. Optimism after tonight.

SwedishPoster

Man this team just finds way to lose don’t they. Well at least Yak looked like he won’t need a dozen games to get going. That post would have been a sweet game winner but he got the puck from Lander so you knew it would never go in. Lander’s got some evil voodoo curse going on offensively. I liked what little we got to see from Zack-Lander-Yak, didn’t understand why they got broken up so fast.

Colieo87

Honestly. It’s really no different then last year. A loss is still a loss. The weak Pacific should gave this young team MOJO just to play meaningful games in the spring. They need to be eliminated to play meaningful games lmao

Dominoiler:
Are there anymore Talbot doubters?.. Nice 11 game stretch.. Any guesses what a fair contract for Talbot would look like?..

Probably 10m over 3 years. Would like it to be less but that’s probably what it takes.

Gret99zky

45 games played.

8 regulation wins.

Lordy.

Oilspill

I see Kassian helping this team. Creating turnovers creates offensive opportunity.

"Steve Smith",

Noted.

hags9k

A good effort overall. Good game by Talbot, too bad it ended with his jock in row 6. Wish we had an Encino man, exactly who this team needs.

6-0 to start second 25 game set.
3-11 since. Ouch.

I don’t think the efforts have been too bad but you can’t win only 3 in 14 and hope to stay in the hunt.

Oilspill

Toss could have gone either way 2 out of 4 pts in last 2 games..OK. anybody who thinks this team should be winning regularly is delusional. It’s a 500 team at best with McDavid.

hunter1909

It would be hilarious if McLellan got fired after tonight.

Gerta Rauss

That’s too bad, I thought that was one of the better efforts this season

DasBavaria

NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”,

If I recall correctly, even Ebs didn’t play too many minutes in his first game back. I think it’s just one of those things that seems to happen.

Although, I would’ve liked to see him out there more. He generated chances every time he was out there.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Oilers even strength corgis 50-44.

Klima's_Bucket

Joonas Donskoi was drafted by the Panthers but they never signed him.
Pakarinen was drafted by the Panthers but they never signed him either.

Donskoi looked very skilled on the shootout attempt.
15 points in 36 games this year.

These are the kinds of bets I’d like to see more of from Chiarelli.

hunter1909

Hunter1909 Official Oilers 2016 Death March Leaderboard for 14.1.16

After tonight’s OT loss to the Sharks, Oilers currently headed for a 71 point season;

The listed 3 players all predicted a 71 point finish:

TOML
HeattreaterJoe
Jake70

tcho

thurmtim,

I hear San Jose has a few pretty good players… It happens.

"Steve Smith"

tcho:
“Steve Smith”,

Yak listed at 11:30 TOI

Yes, I know; I used the conditional past tense.

Suntory Hanzo

Lowetide:
Oilers lose in OT, but a little luck and better officiating and they take two points. jmo.

Agreed. The problem with the fragile team is that they lose a game that maybe they should have, and the immature thought is “it cant be done”. I see it all the time with my students when I was coaching rugby.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

The referees were bad tonight. A blatant slash, a kicked out foot on Nuge, a hold on Eberle.

Its crap

hags9k

Moral victory.

Centre of attention

Lowetide:
Oilers lose in OT, but a little luck and better officiating and they take two points. jmo.

Sekera was so close to scoring off that Eberle feed in front. Jones stick shaft just barely tipped it away, Jones didn’t even move lol.

tcho

“Steve Smith”,

Yak listed at 11:30 TOI

Surly

Lowetide:
Oilers lose in OT, but a little luck and better officiating and they take two points. jmo.

Shaft of Jones’ friggin stick….

Turning Tikkanese

What happened to Talbot in the shootout? Uber confident in regulation but a hot mess in the shootout. Usually pretty good in the skills drill…. Wtf.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

That was a tough loss.

Couldn’t finish in OT.

Oh well a solid game nonetheless

Centre of attention

“Steve Smith”:
No Hendricks for the shootout – Yak?He’s not historically great at it, as I recall, but it feels right.

Nelson is the only Coach to ever use Yak in a shoot out.

Suntory Hanzo

Shrekt

tcho

Well, good game and effort from the boys really.

RexLibris: He’s just back from injury. I think that explains it.

I hope it does not, because if he isn’t read to play more than 11 minutes then they are rushing him back from injury and they should not be doing that.

Pretendergast

Same as it ever was

Centre of attention

Talbot just got wrecked.

Suntory Hanzo

That ice crew looked like the lollipop guild. pay by height?

"Steve Smith"

NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”: The Yak TOI is a total head-scratcher.

Easing him back in? I can live with it. Without looking at the numbers, though, I’d have thought that Yakupov was getting second line minutes.

RexLibris

NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:
Yak second least time on ice after Korpikoski
Sekera playing 25 minutes, way more than anyone else.

The latter makes sense except TMac normally doesn’t play Sekera the most. The Yak TOI is a total head-scratcher.

He’s just back from injury. I think that explains it.

RexLibris

“Steve Smith”:
No Hendricks for the shootout – Yak?He’s not historically great at it, as I recall, but it feels right.

His release is excellent. I just hope he spent these last few weeks adjusting the sights on his stick.

Pre-injury it was the only thing holding him back.

Yak second least time on ice after Korpikoski
Sekera playing 25 minutes, way more than anyone else.

The latter makes sense except TMac normally doesn’t play Sekera the most. The Yak TOI is a total head-scratcher.