If depressing a fan base was a skill, the Oilers would be Gretzky. Last night, they received a giant assist from the referees on their way to regulation loss No. 30. Hallelujah, hallelujah, someone stop the rain.
BLAND ON BLAND, 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: 3-4-1
- Oilers after 58 in 2014-15: 16-32-10, 42 points (-61 GD)
- Oilers after 58 in 2015-16: 22-30-6, 50 points (-29 GD)
The Oilers once again fall behind for the month and have only one month of .500 play—December. The power play cannot find an entry point, the place and chase has turned into the choke and puke, and I miss Nuge and the Swedish defenseman something fierce. For God sakes, trade someone!
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Mark Fayne had a good night, he and Nurse performed well together. Once again, and I know you are sick of this, but if I am an NHL scout sent to view Schultz and or Gryba, my letter home is 75 percent about Fayne. The insiders are universal about Schultz, and you see a mention of Gryba, but if the Oilers were willing to hold some of the cap at their end, a smart team could step in and grab a very good defensive defender. I know he can’t lift a dump truck, or smash faces, but the man can play.
- Darnell Nurse had a fine game to my eye, he was smooth when paired with Fayne and calm with Davidson. He is beginning to do things like re-set, and he enters the opposition zone, gets the puck deep, and is starting to back off more often. He has crazy recovery speed, but is not creative enough to be terribly useful with the puck down low in the opposition end. Small victories are big steps, happy to see him have a positive game (penalty aside).
- Andrej Sekera had a tough time with the large Ducks (good lord they are giant ducks!) and a couple of times was manhandled hilariously. Still, he made good plays mostly, picked up an assist and moved the rock in a good direction.
Tommy McVie & JFJ both taking in Oilers-Ducks tonight. Might mean something. Might mean nothing. #IIWII
— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) February 17, 2016
- Justin Schultz came in for all kinds of rage on the Al Gore, that assist he was awarded last night might be the worst in the history of the game. As a defender, he is fresh blacktop and no cops on a Sunday morning at sunrise: Miles of open road and everything feels so right. He is also too calm in moments of incredible importance. That said, he wasn’t the reason Edmonton lost last night.
- Brandon Davidson had a tough night but I still love him. Buddy carried the puck to about center with three Ducks (Jesus Murphy they are a filthy bunch) on his back and he is still trying. I mean, there are fenders flying off the guy and his hood ornament is now his adam’s apple and he is still a game rooster. Of course, Anaheim got the puck and not enough men were covering (theme) and the bad guys were jailbreak the wrong way. He will be great again Thursday.
CENTER, LAST NIGHT
- Mark Letestu played a lot—more than McDavid at 5×5—and that is an eyebrow raiser. He also had a weird rotation of wingers (people were being punished) but again I am left empty with his even-strength offense. He is not quick or creative in those areas of the ice that make a difference, and he costs the team offensively.
- Connor McDavid picked up a point, didn’t get a lot of room (those damnable Habs cut off all of the oxygen and now the kid is going to have to adjust) and had a sick stick that cost him a goal. A few online were critical on some of his coverage work, I don’t think these are errors of effort but of recognition.
- Anton Lander looked fine to me on the PK, didn’t move the needle offensively and was chasing a lot.
- Leon Draisaitl is tired, I think that may be it. The quickness and strength we saw earlier in the year are gone, he is either injured or exhausted. That said, he played damn well to my eye against Ryan Getzlaf (7:28, 5-5).
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Lauri Korpikoski posted two of the seven individual high-danger scoring chances last night, and benefited from time with Connor McDavid (3-1 in 1:32).
- Iiro Pakarinen got 10 minutes last night and his possession numbers were very good. He had a few decent looks, my guess is Todd McLellan likes him enough to keep him around into next season. One individual high-danger scoring chance.
- Jordan Eberle had two individual high-danger scoring chances. I saw him good no matter the linemates, he was working and giving effort. I think (and we will discuss the Friedman items in a minute) he is still in play this summer, depending on who is willing to play ball in the trade market.
- Nail Yakupov took some major hits online and during the broadcast, Louie DeBrusk was especially vocal about what it might be like in the room, and how Nail may be perceived by his teammates. It is a strong tell (this is just my opinion). DeBrusk isn’t blowing smoke, and he would know.
- As outsiders, all we can do is look at the numbers. My RE last summer suggested reasonable was .494 points-per-game, and Yakupov is currently at .389—four points off the pace. Had McDavid been healthy, had Yakupov been healthy, I think it is reasonable to suggest the young Russian would be at or close to range. Fair?
- I am here to tell you it doesn’t matter. One day, somewhere in the near future, we will see a trade involving Nail Yakupov. It won’t be high value, so may be clouded in some and mirrors (NHL GMs always do this to cloud the return. It will be Nail, Griffin Reinhart and the rights to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie—David Staples will write 10,000 words!) and announced on a Friday before the long weekend in August. It could happen just that way, except for Sherlock.
- Benoit Pouliot had an interesting night. He is in the McLellan doghouse now for bad penalties, and of course it is double down because that was the theme at practice. It shouldn’t matter. Look, hockey is a pretty easy game to figure out. If the coach can send out (by shift) Hall, Pouliot, Kassian and Hendricks, that is a pretty good group of LWs. Now, you need that at every position and Edmonton is wanting, but the overall impact of Benoit Pouliot is substantial. It just is. I know some of you want to carve Pouliot a new one, but the fact is Taylor Hall has been undisciplined too of late. Pouliot took some bad penalties. He can play on my team any time. If this management group trades him in a fit of pique, we would have to judge them accordingly. That is just the kind of emotional action you hire Peter Chiarelli to avoid. I do think he could be traded though, a damned shame. By whatever measure you can use, BP is an NHL player who helps you win hockey games. Fin.
- Taylor Hall had a good night to my eye, scored a goal and had two individual high-danger scoring chances overall. I also believe his post-game comments were more accurate than McLellan’s. A lot was made about the Hall—Perry exchange, I liked it. Hall is fully engaged in the battle and was pushing all night long. The referees chose not to make a call (they were bad, like when bad is awful), but for me Hall battling was the takeaway. Wonderful player.
"Dumb penalties. We can’t keep marching to the freaking penalty box time and time again because of those penalties.” – Todd McLellan
— Rob Tychkowski (@Sun_Tychkowski) February 17, 2016
Coach McLellan is frustrated, and the Oilers are on the PK for far too long and that is for sure. Part of that comes from the Oilers being sad sacks, the refs haven’t given Edmonton calls since the days of Ralph the dog. That comes (imo) partly from being a loser for so long, and partly because Edmonton’s best players chirp a lot. Jmo. As it was, for me Lander was good on the PK and I would keep him in the lineup.
- Elliotte Friedman: First was talk about Justin Schultz and Tampa Bay. The defenceman needs a fresh start, and it was rumoured the Oilers were scouting Anthony DeAngelo, the 19th overall pick in 2014. DeAngelo had a few recent healthy scratches at AHL Syracuse. The contracts do not match, so, if this was a possibility, the Albertans would have had to take back someone or some salary. The other — and I do believe it to be true — was interest in Florida’s Brandon Pirri. Unfortunately, he suffered an ugly ankle injury last weekend and will be out a while. Pirri could be a very nice fit with Edmonton’s forwards. Source
We have been discussing the value of Justin Schultz for some time (I have it pegged at a third-round selection). Both names mentioned in the Friedman piece have more value. DeAngelo is a high octane offensive defender (27 points in 44 games as an AHL rookie), Pirri is a slightly undersized LW who can score in bunches. Either would be a quality return for Schultz. I imagine there would be more to the deal than straight up.
- Elliotte Friedman: Funny how two weeks changes things. Fourteen days ago, Jordan Eberle was part of the acquisition conversation. Not now. The Oilers pulled him off the market, as he developed into a dangerous finisher alongside Connor McDavid. As one coach said, “When you find two players who work well together, you keep them together.” Edmonton wants to see how this progresses. Source
One thing to keep in mind here is the ask from the target team. We can hold these stories close, but if the Edmonton Oilers are close on a deal for their perfect fit, I suspect we will see almost any player dealt. The Chiarelli—McLellan think tank probably has McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Klefbom and Nurse on their ‘inner circle’ list, and I would add the Nuge to it. I don’t think management thinks that way about Burnaby Nuge.
- Matty has a nice quote from Todd McLellan about Anton Lander here. I have a policy about not running a quote same day as it appears, so you have to click—but it is worth your while.
- Terry Jones tweeted out that Laurent Brossoit could be heading to Bakersfield today.
- A lot of anger last night about the game, I though the team played pretty well. I know that this blog’s author can get stubborn on things, but blaming these players doesn’t appeal to me. This team (once again) has no balance and that is on the management—not just Peter Chiarelli but the men before him, too. Todd McLellan’s frustration is well earned, watching these men bugger up the place and chase (Nuge is excellent at it by the way) cannot be easy. I could blame the coach for not relaxing his dump rule, but the San Jose Sharks had incredible success doing this and I expect the Edmonton Oilers can, too. I would relax it for Hall, though. The man can push the river. McDavid too, he is already other-worldly.
- The Edmonton Oilers need to learn how to pass the puck tape to tape and on the fly. Letting the puck do the work has been a theme since this beautiful game began.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show, 10 this morning on TSN1260. McCurdy may erupt on the refs about 10:25, just saying. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. About these Oilers, about lack of balance, about the value of a pass, about zebra’s we love and do not love.
- Dan Auchenberg, Vimy and Donnan Hockey. Big changes in the structure of the women’s game. Huge.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Oilers, draft, Canada in spring with no team to love or hate, trade deadline, pitchers and catchers.
- Jeff Krushell, TSN1260. Baseball lifetime ban and legalizing PED’s. Wow.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Can’t wait!