The Edmonton Oilers won their 30th game of the season, the first time since 2011-12 and Tom Renney. In what has been a wildly disappointing season, it does represent a turn north. Where would this team be with 77 games of McDavid, Klefbom, Davidson? Hard to say. I will guess outside the playoffs but pushing toward No. 22 overall.
- Todd McLellan: ”Our group has to learn how to bring it every night.”
DO U KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE, 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: 4-8-2
- Oilers in March 2015: 5-6-3
- Oilers in March 2016: 7-6-0
- Oilers after 77 in 2014-15: 23-41-13, 59 points (-72 GD)
- Oilers after 77 in 2015-16: 30-40-7, 67 points (-37 GD)
The Oilers improved the goal differential season over season (lost 5-1 a year ago, won 6-3 this year—+7 differential) and of course they can now see 70 points ahead. Small victories are big steps.
HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Three: Jordan Eberle
- One: Taylor Hall, Patrick Maroon, Connor McDavid, Lauri Korpikoski, Jordan Oesterle
Darnell Nurse….plus 4 and an assist. SJ must have really scared him last night.
— Corey Hirsch (@CoreyHirsch) March 25, 2016
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Reinhart—Oesterle had another fine evening by the numbers, and the visual looked good too. Oesterle had a brilliant offensive chance (slot, point blank), Reinhart played a steady game. He seems a little more confident each outing. I spoke to his Dad last summer, after the trade, and asked him if GR could have a smooth transition to the NHL. Paul Reinhart said his son would probably need some games to adjust to the speed of the game, and we are here now. No guarantees, and mistakes are there, but encouraging signs late in the year. I think both men are making a case for employment next season, perhaps as callups.
- Nurse—Clendening had an eventful evening. Nurse had a fight early, an assist later and ended the evening +4. Clendening had a goal and an assist in the game, and was also +4. The pairing faced both the Thornton and Couture lines, and that is some real skill. A good night overall.
- Sekera—Fayne had a difficult night in possession, and again both men had some oops moments. After the long season, maybe they are losing the script a little, but I remain convinced both should return next year. Why were the Corgi’s so bad? I don’t know—this duo got a healthy dose of the Leon line, and that should be a good thing. Sekera two apples.
Connor McDavid is kind of ridiculous pic.twitter.com/EOKvym7Mbu
— Greg Balloch (@GregBalloch) March 25, 2016
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon—McDavid—Eberle had a massive night in San Jose. Two goals, three assists, five shots on goal and five of the eight high-danger scoring chances—along with stomping the Sharks in possession. They got the Burns-Martin pairing and (mostly) the Couture line, won going away. Paul Martin played hard but that McDavid fellow is already one of the best players in the game.
- Maroon is fabulous, he was terrific with or without the puck and over the top with the mic in front of him. He reminds me of those small tweaks Slats used to make when no one was watching. Those tweaks often turned into strong, productive players. Maroon may be just that kind of addition.
- Korpikoski—Letestu—Pakarinen got the ball rolling, as the Finn cashed to start the comeback. They had an effective game, especially on the forecheck (a theme for the evening).
- Note: Honestly, these line and opposition matchups were a moving target. I have cobbled together this information as best I can, but both coaches were moving their chess pieces around like crazy.
- Hall—Draisaitl—Yakupov had a good night in my opinion. Fantastic work on the forecheck, reflected by the Hall goal—he is now up to 25 goals and 60 points on the year. Both Leon and Nail picked up assists, and I would like to see this line again.
- Gazdic—Hendricks—Pakarinen had little impact, Hendricks played just over five minutes on the evening, Pakarinen ended up on another line.
- Hall—Draisaitl—Kassian got killed, they were 2-6 together. Kassian ended up spending some time with Letestu and Korpikoski (2-1 with them) but mostly he was making bad decisions and spent much of the evening in the penalty box. On a night when things seemed on the edge, only Kassian among both rosters was truly over the top. He was not helping.
MCDAVID, PUTTING THE BOOTS TO THE OILERS ORGANIZATION
The McDavid move captured in the GIF above is the kind of thing that one doesn’t forget. Because of the uniqueness of the moment, it stands out and has a life of its own. Lost in the rage and anger of boot stomping that is going on around the Oilers is the number of games missed by McDavid. Lots of people will tell you the Oilers are garbage, nothing. Look for the commentators who give you the full view, and are willing to recognize what losing this player for 37 games meant to the season. 37 games is a lot, you know.
I think people come out of their shoes sometimes being critical of the Oilers, and that is fair. I wonder if they believe Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan are poor hockey men, like they believed Steve Tambellini and Dallas Eakins were not bona fide.
You know, a lot of unkind words were written about Dallas Eakins, and I see the same thing happening now with Todd McLellan. For me, I would like to give the Chiarelli-McLellan duo another time at-bat, while also acknowledging this season has been a disappointment. I think we can do that without getting vicious and personal, though. I don’t think twitter is going to be able to do that, one hopes we can keep it from being that way here. Let’s try, anyway.
And for the record, this blog tried very hard to be fair to Dallas Eakins, so doing the same with Todd McLellan is keeping with tradition, not breaking it.
LEAFS FANS V. OILERS FANS
I think twitter will probably be a mess for the rest of the spring, certainly through to lottery day. When the Leafs won last night, the media, bloggers and fans took to the twitter machine and expressed how impressive Toronto is looking (and they are). Some of those fans then engaged in baiting the Oilers group, talking about when the rebuild began (7 years! 10 years!) and it spiraled downward. When Edmonton won later, the fanbase went back and threw some haymakers, but all of the Leafs fans had gone to bed. A few facts:
- The Toronto rebuild has some very nice things. They have a long way to go, but we can be impressed with the progress while also knowing there are going to be ups and downs.
- The Edmonton rebuild has taken forever, but when you lump Steve Tambellini and Peter Chiarelli into the same group there is probably going to be some pushback. Just saying.
- Arguing over who is better based on their hold on 29th place is just about the dumbest thing I have ever seen. And I saw the pet rock craze.
Happy Easter. Be good to each other.