The Edmonton Oilers said goodbye to Rexall in fine style last night, winning 6-2 on a strange night for everyone.
LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN, 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: 7-8-0
- Oilers in April 2015: 1-3-1
- Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-0
- Oilers after 81 in 2014-15: 24-44-13, 61 points (-82 GD)
- Oilers after 81 in 2015-16: 31-43-7, 69 points (-41 GD)
Edmonton has a chance to hit 70 points for the first time since 2011-12 and Tom Renney. Their goal differential has been halved and they could finish nine points clear of last season.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Griffin Reinhart had a very good night, had a couple of shot attempts a blocked shot and a takeaway. Looked very good with Sekera. If you don’t like Fayne, you are going to hate mature Reinhart.
- Jordan Oesterle played a lot (27:57) and was plus three. One negative? He got walked by Horvat on his goal (lordy). I think we have him surrounded, as an AHL guy who can come up and give this team some badly needed depth next year.
- Andrej Sekera seemed to be getting good looks, but his shot had no bite. I guess that means the shin pads jokes can take a break and we can talk muffins for the evening. I like Sekera a lot, he had one high-danger scoring chance and a very other opportunities. He has skated miles against the best of the west—wildly underrated by Oilers fans.
- Adam Pardy had an assist, a shot on goal, some wonky passes but he also had three blocks and two takeaways. I like him, no idea where they would put him if signed for next year.
- Mark Fayne had an assist, a high-danger scoring chances, was +2 and had five shots on goal. Lost the possession battle against the Sedins, that’s no news, but he hung in and delivered defensively—plus the offense. Another good game.
- Darnell Nurse had a block but it caught him near the throat that ended his evening early.
- Cam Talbot was solid, at times very good. The game ended with a win and that is a very good result for any goalie.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Three: Connor McDavid
- Two: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- One: Taylor Hall, Patrick Maroon, Jordan Eberle, Andrej Sekera, Iiro Pakarinen, Mark Fayne
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon—McDavid—Eberle were very productive overall, winning the possession battle at even-strength and posting 3-4-7 boxcars. Not all from the line, or at even strength, but these three men were involved (15 SOG—seven from Eberle). McDavid is fire. Five HD-SC.
- Korpikoski—RNH—Yakupov were also productive in possession, although only Nail posted a crooked number (goal). Nuge was solid in the FO circle and the line posted two HD-SC.
- Hall—Draisaitl—Pakarinen did not win the possession battle, but all three had at least a point and the total boxcar was impressive (2-3-5). Leon is a shadow of his former self, Hall’s goal was music. Two HD-SC.
- Hendricks—Letestu—Kassian were low-event offensively and should have been more effective based on opposition. The line played more than they should have based on McLellan’s established deployment, wonder if the coach wanted a veteran crash and bang trio to announce their presence with authority.
Photo by Mark Williams
Anton Slepyshev is turning it on late in the year, popped two goals in an OT loss to San Diego last night. He is 5-6-11 in his last 14 games—far better than his overall production. He did have an injury earlier in the winter, may have impacted his performance. These final games have been encouraging.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) April 7, 2016
A good draft pick and a worthy signing. Jones’ scouting reports really didn’t give us much of a hint about what we were looking at, but the strong WHL season for Jones is a strong tell. ISS is the only scouting report I saw that implied this season:
- ISS: Jones has shown promising development – he is coming into his own and has added more facets to his game over the last two seasons. Great work on the puck and advancing very well whether springing his forwards in the neutral zone or using the boards to find his man, doesn’t put his teammates in vulnerable positions. Much quicker and mobile then he was last season, quick on his feet and uses his edges well when carrying the puck. Although an offensive mindset he doesn’t get ahead of himself in the defensive zone. Strong development upward curve has him as a very intriguing prospect heading into the draft. Although doesn’t possess highend upside he has shown the ability to compete.
— Tier Two Oilers Fan (@tier2fan) April 7, 2016
Ghastly luck for Darnell Nurse, that can be a very dangerous injury. I have no idea what the Oilers did to earn this season of injury, but holy hell it has been horrible to watch. Hopefully they got it all out of the way this year. We are all worried about Darnell, Oilers will no doubt update today.
— oliver brkin (@olliebrkin) April 7, 2016
HOW TO IMPROVE THE OILERS, 2016 EDITION
Everyone in Canada has an opinion about the best way to improve the Oilers over the summer, and those ideas range from tweaks to blowing it all up. In March of 2015, I wrote five things Edmonton could do over the summer to improve the team. In fact, Peter Chiarelli did most of it (Cam Talbot, Connor McDavid, Andrej Sekera) although he opted for Todd McLellan over Todd Nelson. I think the coach even believes in analytics, although the devil that is Corsi has no place here.
NEW FIVE THINGS
- Find balance. Since Chris Pronger was traded, the Oilers have been so far from balance the mind boggles. Balance can come in very specific ways (a righty center to tip in the high passes, or a hammer from the point—even a renowned penalty killer).
- Add two defensemen who are actual NHL players. We have discussed this at length, I will only say that at this point I am fairly convinced that Hamonic and Demers are the best available (if Hamonic is) options.
- Re-stock the system. The 2015 draft looks good early, Edmonton needs to do it again. As well, signing college and CHL and Euro free agents (recently Joey Benik, Colton Waltz, Jere Sallinen—one from each category) is vital. Some for the 50-man, more on AHL deals.
- Keep the centers three. Why? It sets up everything, just everything. Look, Todd McLellan doesn’t use his 4line at 5×5 too much, but a third line (featuring Nuge, and say, Pouliot) will give the opposition fits on the road, and give cover to the McDavid and Leon lines at home.
- Light a candle. I don’t believe in voodoo or witchcraft or the power of a seance, so will go with a simple lighting of a candle. The Oilers have very little depth, so staying healthy will be vital to any success we see next season.
- My original five things for this season was longer than five and is here.
Dreger suggests Klefbom + for Hamonic is something Chiarelli is gonna have to bite down & do.
— SHoKTee (@akaRCN) April 7, 2016
Oilers fans will hammer each other about this all spring, but I prefer to stay on the sidelines. Arguing specifics is kind of useless at this point, because we don’t know how many tumblers need to click (and the order in which they occur). Consider the following possibilities:
- Oilers sign Jason Demers.
- Oilers sign Milan Lucic.
- Oilers trade Benoit Pouliot to Anaheim for Cam Fowler.
- Oilers deal Fowler plus to NY Islanders with Travis Hamonic as the major returning piece.
Oilers LH side becomes Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson, right side is Demers, Hamonic and Mark Fayne. Everyone else in the minors to start the year. Up front, Lucic replaces Pouliot. I am not saying this is my plan, just that it is possible to make a ‘defenseman to NY Islanders deal’ and still have quality. Chiarelli may need to play chess instead of checkers.
I have written about Troy Stecher a few times, he would be a perfect fit for the Oilers. Suspect the team will have a lot of competition.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A terrific lineup today, great show unless I blow it. TSN1260, starting at 10 this morning:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Game last night, plus Chiarelli and McLellan report cards.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Oilers heading to market, who sails on?
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Frozen Four this weekend, who wins and who should we be watching (Stecher aside)?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Oilers targets, plus an unusual hockey story out of Russia that could impact the draft.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. In 90 minutes!