G53 2015-16: OILERS AT CANADIENS

We lived in an old school 17 miles north of Maidstone, Saskatchewan. My brother and I had chores on Saturday (my Dad worked for Husky, he worked most Saturdays those years), and chores included bringing in coal, taking care of the goats (my brother couldn’t drink cow’s milk, so we had goats. I loved them, strange damn animals though) and running to the Alan Store if Mom needed anything.

When the chores were done, we would play street hockey on our driveway, often in the bitter cold, sometimes with the neighbors but it was a long way to neighbors back then. Later in the afternoon, we would go inside for Stampede Wrestling, Bugs Bunny and Hockey Night In Canada. Back then, you got one game—from Toronto or Montreal—and they would play (iirc) each other a lot. After that, it was a steady diet of Chicago and Detroit, with the Bruins and Rangers thrown in here and there. By 1971, the Canucks would come out east and get hammered on Saturdays in front of a national audience, and they might show a hi-lite of Reggie Leach scoring for Boston in the game in Toronto. Or vice versa.

You would have strange verbal around the television set. For instance, Frank Mahovlich in a Canadiens uniform was a sin against God and English Canada, Gary Smith needed to stay in his net lest he ruin the game of hockey, Derek Sanderson was a long hair and a hood, and Floyd Smith might have been fast and exciting to my Dad and Grandpa, but he had the face of a Fargo and was not cool like the hippie Bruins. There seemed to be new stars emerging every Saturday night—Jim Dorey, Chuck Lefley, Marc Tardif, Errol Thompson. They were instantly famous, because they played well in the only game Canada saw that week.

I would hang on every word. Between periods would be the out of town scoreboard (”St. Louis ahead of Pittsburgh 2-1, both Blues goals by Red Berenson and Jean Pronovost just scored for Pittsburgh”), discussions of various NHL stories and a between-period guest. My hockey world in 1971 was this: The Hockey News, Hockey Night in Canada and the 8:05 sports every morning on CKSA Lloydminster (before the bus came), plus a mid-week game that I would sometimes get to watch but not always.

I loved it. Nowadays, we live in an era where every game is pretty much available on television, I can watch AHL, CHL, College and Euro games at will. Because of the volume, no one game or event can reach the heights of the single weekly game on the national event horizon. Not possible.

In 1971, my imagination fueled my passion for the game, and gave life to names on paper and boxscores from a schedule never seen. This beautiful game relied on our shared memories, and our flair for storytelling as chronicle, and was special in a way it can never be again. It is hockey day in Canada, a celebration of our wonderful game. In my life, I have never found a more beautiful sound than tape-to-tape and skates cutting ice. It is Saturday in hockey season. The chores are done, we are home.

TABERNAC SATURDAY, 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: 4-5-2
  • Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
  • Oilers in February 2016: 2-0-0
  • Oilers after 52 in 2014-15: 14-29-9, 37 points (-53 GD)
  • Oilers after 52 in 2015-16: 21-26-5, 47 points (-18 GD)

In G53 a year ago, the Oilers lost badly to the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1) as only Luke Gazdic could snipe for the Oildrop. The Edmonton Oilers have a very nice opportunity to push beyond last place and into what I will call mid-level of the second division. This morning, there are six teams (Columbus, Buffalo, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary) tied for No. 25 (and last) overall, and as an Oilers fan, I would like to see the team finish in front of the whole damn bunch. That would be shy of my prediction (No. 22) before the season began, but at this point some is better than none. If they can hurdle this crew by end February, perhaps we can talk about going higher.

OILERS DEFENSE, 2015-16

OILERS DEFENSE OVER SEASON

  • Brandon Davidson is such a terrific story, look at those numbers. If we can agree Edmonton enters the summer with Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom and Davidson as three legs of the table, then adding Travis Hamonic should give them a solid top 4D. Fair? After that it is Darnell Nurse/Griffin Reinhart and whatever righty they choose among Fayne, Gryba or Phil Larsen. I keed. Sorta.
  • Darnell Nurse is improving across most of these metrics, but we can also see there is some work to do in order to clean up the overall season number. A few more efforts like the one against Ottawa should have him walking on sunshine soon, maybe heading toward a possession number nearer 50 percent. Often in live, survival is success, but the Oilers need to be careful with their emerging talent. He is still averaging 21 minutes a night, but his last four games have been going in a good direction: TOI totals of 22:49, 21:23, 20:56 and (most recently) 18:02.
  • Mark Fayne and Justin Schultz are two guys who are probably in play at the trade deadline, I could see the Oilers coming back without one of them from the road trip. If the Oilers trade Fayne and sign Eric Gryba (absolutely possible) it will be a victory of style over substance. Edmonton is going to look like the 2009-14 Bruins, and that means size along with skill, aggression along with intelligence.

CENTERS, 2015-16

oilers centers over season

  • Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are enjoying fantastic seasons across the board. I mentioned that Leon’s goal reminded me of Frank Mahovlich on Thursday night, and his usage as a winger may be tempting again in the fall. That said, his NHL career will be at center, he has the acumen to play the position and that big body in the middle changes everything.
  • McDavid’s 5×5 and 5×4 numbers are beyond the pale, he is an absolute wonder. His speed is such a major issue for opponents you can see the impact already. He has the capacity to make very good, veteran NHL defensemen look silly, it will be interesting to see how P.K. Subban handles him this afternoon. Connor McDavid can pass very good NHL defensemen like they are a house on the side of the road. Those defensemen, in those moments, are identical to the viewer: Spectators. It is a grand moment to see.

WINGERS, 2015-16

oil forwards over season

  • Taylor Hall’s 2.69/60 at 5×5 ranks him No. 5 in the NHL, No. 3 on his team. Lordy. We haven’t had a chance to see it much, but the dual threats of the McDavid and Hall lines should be a tough matchup for any NHL team—even when the Oilers are on the road.
  • Jordan Eberle’s boxcars and underlying numbers are going to spike like crazy now. It has been a weird season for him, but watching his ability to cash these chances will cement his status as an ongoing Oiler. I have always felt he would be the one to stay right to the end of the line, wonder if he will ever get closer to being traded as he (reportedly) was early in the year.
  • Nail Yakupov is finding it difficult to score without an offensive center (8gp, 2-0-2 in the last 10 Oilers games, only 15 shots) but his possession numbers remain strong. I don’t know what the Oilers have planned for him, but at $2.5M he can help this team. When playing with McDavid, Yakupov was 3.04/60 at 5×5, that is an inexpensive plug-and-play for next year’s No. 1 scoring line.
  • Zack Kassian and Iiro Pakarinen are pushing their way onto next year’s team, I wonder if the Oilers would consider running them with an incoming free-agent center on a 3line? I think Todd McLellan can probably run what he has now up front, with a more substantial 3C added to these two men.
  • Pakarinen is holding off the contenders for that last winger spot, but Tyler Pitlick (9gp, 3-5-8 since January 1) and Jujhar Khaira (8gp, 2-3-5 same time period) will probably get a look if the opportunity arises through the final 30 games.

McDavid’s presence makes this game special, this will be just the 16th time he has appeared in an NHL game. The Habs are a shambles, their coach is hanging by a thread, and Edmonton is 2-0-0 on the week with a chance to leap past the Flames and a few others, too. Best of all? Hockey all day long!! Love it! I will be on Saturday Sports Extra from noon to about 2:30 today, when the post-game show hits the air with Dean Millard. It is the first of 25 Hockey Days in Canada with Connor McDavid as an Edmonton Oiler. Let the good times roll!

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421 Responses to "G53 2015-16: OILERS AT CANADIENS"

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  1. who says:

    Just logged on so maybe this has been covered. 2 observations from today about the line up. I think they are dressing the right 18 but I can only come up with 2 reasons why you pair your 2 high event dman together. Either you are trying to lose games to improve your draft possession or you are trying to force nurse to play defense by pairing him with shultz. If someone has another explanation I would love to hear it. Secondly would someone please tell yak and kas to switch wings already I saw 3 or 4 plays today where yak picked up a pass or loose puck on his back hand in open ice and promptly lost it. He has the worst hands of any skill player I have ever seen. If I can see this from my couch surely the coaches can see it as well. Someone please tell this guy he is not Patrick Kane

  2. G Money says:

    jfry,

    Trust me when I say that I don’t ignore zone starts!

    However, the effect of zone starts might not be as significant as you think.

    The reason is that only a few zone starts are coaching decisions. Others are mid-shift, and so the fact that they are DZ or OZ is actually ‘earned’ by the player.

    It is a result of the players efforts, not the reason. And even more of the time a player spent on ice is a result of on the fly shifts, and zone starts never play a part.

    To try and address that, I track individual zone starts as well as on the fly shifts. I then record coaching decision shifts (i.e. shifts that start with a faceoff) and separate those from faceoffs that were mid-shift, and also account for on the fly shifts.

    I plug that into a formula which produces a number I call “DungeonPush”, which tries to show how much a coach is really putting a player in the dungeon or giving them a push.

    Here are the numbers for this game.

    The way you read this is the first number is how many shifts the player had, how many started with an OZ/DZ start, how many occurred during the shift. So Pouliot had 20 shifts, of which 3 started in the o zone as a coaches decision, 1 in the DZ as a coaching decision, and the other 9 were earned. That means of his 20 shifts, only four were impacted by coaching decisions.

    Yet his ozone start number (57%) looks like he was getting a major push.

    Ditto but opposite for Yak. 18 shifts, but only 3 were coaches decisions. He looked like he was getting a push too (64%), but he was slightly, only slightly negative.

    Name # Shifts/EVOZStart Shifts/EVDZStart Shifts/EVFODuring DungeonPush
    Benoit Pouliot 20 3 1 9 0.1
    Leon Draisaitl 21 2 2 6 0
    Jordan Eberle 20 1 1 12 0
    Andrej Sekera 28 3 1 7 0.07
    Nail Yakupov 18 1 2 5 -0.06
    Mark Fayne 25 3 1 7 0.08
    Anders Nilsson 1 0 0 13 0
    Teddy Purcell 22 2 2 6 0
    Lauri Korpikoski 19 1 2 1 -0.05
    Eric Gryba 31 2 3 8 -0.03
    Brandon Davidson 29 2 1 10 0.03
    Iiro Pakarinen 18 1 2 1 -0.06
    Taylor Hall 20 2 1 7 0.05
    Justin Schultz 25 1 3 7 -0.08
    Connor Mcdavid 20 2 1 11 0.05
    Zack Kassian 17 1 2 6 -0.06
    Darnell Nurse 24 1 2 10 -0.04
    Mark Letestu 23 1 1 6 0
    Matt Hendricks 20 1 2 1 -0.05

  3. Woodguy says:

    RexLibris: Probably checking into some investment options. Never to early to plan for retirement. Speaking of which, how’s your portfolio doing after today’s game?

    Half gone

  4. blainer says:

    Noticed again today..

    Yak wide open on the PP and Drai with lots of time does not pass to him..

    For those who were saying Hall and Yak do not play the PP together go look at the game today.

    They are just a bad match period. Yak is rarely getting a pass from Hall.

    Jultz.. What can I say. This continues to baffle me. Are we trying to tank.. AGAIN..

    I am quickly losing any respect for this coach and GM.

    I am not interested in hearing they are trying to get his value up in order to trade him at the expense of LOSING.. This is just disgusting. Stop putting us fans through torture every second day Mr Katz.

  5. böök¡je says:

    I’m watching on delay and haven’t read comments. I just finished the second period.

    My thoughts – A 4-0 lead with Ben Scrivens in is the least safe lead in hockey.

    Go Oilers!

  6. G Money says:

    RexLibris: I think you need to calculate his as an aggregate of the DFF% both for and against the Oilers.

    DFF% is the aggregate number, so 16% means… I dunno, I should figure out a nomenclature for the deciles. “Crushed to powder”? “Got soul owned everywhere”?

  7. Woodguy says:

    jfry: this type of “analysis” drives me nuts because it completely removes the idea of where a player starts on the ice. jon did a cool article the other day showing that if you play with connor, drai, or nuge, you’re going to be starting in the neutral zone or the offensive zone.if you’re with lets/hendy/lander, you’re going to be starting in the defensive or offensive zone (on PP)…

    i just can’t take any value in looking at fenwick numbers without the idea of where these players start on the ice. all the guys at the bottom of the lists, had basically no OFS, and a bunch of DZS…

    http://war-on-ice.com/game5.html?seasongcode=2015201620777

    taking fenwick as meaning sometihing on it’s own, just absolutely confounds me. i miss the sledgehammer (for all it’s weaknesses). yak started 2 shifts in the o zone and 4 in the d zone. kassian started 2 in the o zone and 5 in the d zone.are we really surprised to see them at the bottom of the list?

    taylor hall, 3 in the o-zone to 1 in the dzone. the whole connor line was 7-4 or 7-5.

    We have to stop using fenwick for these blanket statements, because they just don’t properly reflect the game state.

    the zone starts the last two games almost directly correlate to the fenwick.

    Zone starts have been shown to not have the effect everyone thought they did.

    this type of “analysis” drives me nuts because it completely removes the idea of where a player starts on the ice

    What analysis are you talking about? I don’t see any analysis in my post or DeBakey’s

    Apparently you have also totally missed GMoney’s many, many posts on Dangerous Fenwick with incorporates some of the ideas you are talking about.

    You sound very angry.

    Maybe a nap will help.

  8. Johnny skid says:

    who: Secondly would someone please tell yak and kas to switch wings already I saw 3 or 4 plays today where yak picked up a pass or loose puck on his back hand in open ice and promptly lost it. He has the worst hands of any skill player I have ever seen. If I can see this from my couch surely the coaches can see it as well. Someone please tell this guy he is not Patrick Kane

    if it makes you feel better i can name you many players from todays game that had the same problem you are describing.

  9. Zelepukin says:

    Reinhart will definitely draw in for NYI but not for Jultz. We all know that MacT wrote something genius into his contract like, Jultz shall never be a healthy scratch and must play at least 12min a game.

  10. theres oil in virginia says:

    böök¡je:
    I’m watching on delay and haven’t read comments.I just finished the second period.

    My thoughts – A 4-0 lead with Ben Scrivens in is the least safe lead in hockey.

    Go Oilers!

    Well, the good news is that they played against an ex-Oiler and he didn’t score on them. So, that’s progress.

  11. BONVIE says:

    blainer:
    Noticed again today..

    Yak wide open on the PP and Draiwith lots of time does not pass to him..

    For those who were saying Hall and Yak do not play the PP togethergo look at the game today.

    They are just a bad match period. Yak is rarely getting a pass from Hall.

    Jultz.. What can I say. This continues to baffle me. Are we trying to tank.. AGAIN..

    I am quickly losing any respect for this coach and GM.

    I am not interested in hearing they are trying to get his value up in order to trade him at the expense of LOSING.. This is just disgusting. Stop putting us fans through torture every second day Mr Katz.

    Your right there is no reason why Yak is on the Power Play he just doesn’t think the game. The oilers need to use their Defenseman on the PP starting with Davidson and Nurse.

    Shultz needs a healthy scratch, then use Nurse in that position or Clendening.

  12. kinger_OIL says:

    – Listened to the radio-show driving around after the game in Toronto: Caller: “Do you think the Oil need to to trade RNH and Jultz to get Harmonic” Toronto radio host (no clue who he is): “I think Edmonton has to put more than that on the table, but yes that’s the direction they need

    – Then, my 6 year old chimes in from back seat :” whose the best team?”
    Dad: “Chicago”
    Son: “My favourite team is Chicago, Edmonton sucks”.
    I pretend cry, he laughs, but I’m not really pretend crying….

  13. frjohnk says:

    blainer:
    Noticed again today..

    Yak wide open on the PP and Draiwith lots of time does not pass to him..

    For those who were saying Hall and Yak do not play the PP togethergo look at the game today.

    They are just a bad match period. Yak is rarely getting a pass from Hall.

    Jultz.. What can I say. This continues to baffle me. Are we trying to tank.. AGAIN..

    I am quickly losing any respect for this coach and GM.

    I am not interested in hearing they are trying to get his value up in order to trade him at the expense of LOSING.. This is just disgusting. Stop putting us fans through torture every second day Mr Katz.

    When healthy our PP runs through Drai, Hall, McDavid and Nuge. They play on the right side on the half wall.

    But this is exactly the same spot Yak needs to be in order to use his one timer.

    That’s why Gagner was a decent match with Yak on the PP. Gagner would setup on the half wall on the left side with Yak on the other side. They didn’t score much but there was some chemistry.

    If we ever want Yak to be successful on the PP by using his shot we would need the PP to run through a player with a right handed shot on the left wall.
    I don’t see it happening here with our PP running through 4 lefties.

  14. Hope is a good thing says:

    Year after year, MLB teams voted Montreal as THE best road trip in the entire league. Hmmm.

    Tough breaks for Talbot on deflected pucks today; I thought he played well, actually, and gave us a chance to get back in the game.

    McDavid had Subban following him all over the Montreal defensive zone – he’ll have to take a page out of Gretzky’s play book and go stand by another player if this strategy continues. Open up space for others, cause confusion on assignments, and then join the attack at the right moment. Coaches will try to find ways to shut him down, besides just limiting time and space.

  15. JDï™ says:

    And to think of all the chores I could’ve finished this afternoon.

    Oh well, I can always do them Sunday…

  16. Bad Seed says:

    JDï™:
    And to think of all the chores I could’ve finished this afternoon.

    Oh well, I can always do them Sunday…

    There’s nothing much going on anyway – I’d wait until 4 or so to start them.

  17. Kaptain Vikarious says:

    spoiler: He’s a smug fucker who I would punch in the face if I ever meet him on the street.I don’t care how old or senile he is, he has coming to him a thousand times over.Fucking asshole. I’m embarrassed to be the same nationality.

    WoodGuy!?!

    Yep. Pompous ass!

  18. böök¡je says:

    Bah!

  19. theres oil in virginia says:

    spoiler: He’s a smug fucker who I would punch in the face if I ever meet him on the street.I don’t care how old or senile he is, he has coming to him a thousand times over.Fucking asshole. I’m embarrassed to be the same nationality.

    Ha! I’ve got a list like that. People that I can not be held responsible for my actions if I ever meet them on the street. Lindsay Graham and whoever the current CEO of Monsanto currently top my list.

  20. dadoug12 says:

    Hope is a good thing:
    Year after year, MLB teams voted Montreal as THE best road trip in the entire league.Hmmm.

    Tough breaks for Talbot on deflected pucks today; I thought he played well, actually, and gave us a chance to get back in the game.

    McDavid had Subban following him all over the Montreal defensive zone – he’ll have to take a page out of Gretzky’s play book and go stand by another player if this strategy continues.Open up space for others, cause confusion on assignments, and then join the attack at the right moment. Coaches will try to find ways to shut him down, besides just limiting time and space.

    Im sure the montreal nightlife has enticed many players. It could explain the lackluster efforts the oilers have on some road trips. There was no excuse for the effort today, it seems like edmonton, takes teams lightly, and in no world should the oilers take any team lightly, ever.

  21. Oilspill says:

    BONVIE: You are right on this in watching the replay. You can’t have both Dman in the corner. Shultz should have never chase he should have boxed out the play rather than challenging and he would have been in position you are 100% right.

    Sure you can happens all the time. Forwards need to read and react. The top D do it all the time. The days of one D in front of the net at all times went out with Cooper Alls!

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