G9 2016-17: SENATORS AT OILERS

by Lowetide

It is now established we have left the past behind, venturing forth into a new world, in search of a place in the sun. How far up the table will the Edmonton Oilers go? If we agree second division is No. 17 and lower, this year’s journey may not get us all the way to the second season. At some point, I am going to have to retire legion references, from Donner Party to Nadir’s Raiders. For now, I will pack them away with the summer clothes, and perhaps they will stay there until such time as we have forgotten they once existed. We all come from somewhere, but some of us come from places with few good memories. This is us.

BEEP BEEP, HEY MISTER, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in October 2015: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in October 2016: 7-1-0, goal differential +12

A year ago Game 9, the Oilers lost 3-2 to LAK on a late goal by Tanner Pearson. The Oilers have a chance tonight to complete a statement month that will echo down the canyons of the Pacific Division, leaving the rest of the division in an eternal double take.

standings-oct-30

Edmonton leads the Pacific Division in everything: Points, ROWs, goal differential, shock and awe. The Oilers are ten points up on the Coyotes, and this is in the Bettman league—where clearance Clarence takes a month of Sundays. No sir, whatever happens from this point forward, it can be said here today that this Oilers team turned north in a tremendous way October 2016. Now, what happens in the next chapter of this book?

DEFENSE, AFTER EIGHT

defense-after-8

  • Oscar Klefbom looks pristine by the numbers 10 percent into the season. He is healthy, making plays with or without the puck, facing tough opposition and battling those warriors to a standstill. Corsi is real rel gone. Nice.
  • Darnell Nurse is coming along nicely (as he did in the first 11 games one year ago), with the key being Todd McLellan’s usage. The young man is displaying calm feet while also having momentary lapses of youth, and that should be expected. Tomorrow is promised to no one on a young and emerging team, but he does appear to be earning a long term role.
  • Adam Larsson has been a solid if unspectacular addition to the Oilers. I am most impressed with his decision making, he is efficient on the highest with or without the puck. He makes so many little passes in a game, chips and saucers and such, it is fun to see him get out of what could be trouble in such simple ways. We need to see him for a longer swath, but the arrows are good and plentiful.
  • Eric Gryba is the one player on the team who appears more comfortable without the puck. He is a good defender, noticeable mostly on the penalty kill and hammering opposition forwards along the wall until they cough up the puck. He is not a sexy player, but I like his experience and defending.
  • Kris Russell’s possession numbers have faded a little since the early days of the season (Edmonton’s team Corsi for 5×5 today is 47.3) but he has been a positive force so far to my eyes. One of the big benefits of Russell is his foot speed—he can get back to retrieve pretty well—and his veteran savvy. He fits this team, and may be around for more than one year.
  • Andrej Sekera is the one defender whose Corsi at 5×5 is an area of concern. He is battling tougher opposition and does have a new (and left-handed) partner, but you would like that possession number to be stronger. I am biased—love his work—but he needs to be closer to 50 than 40 in possession.

FORWARDS, AFTER EIGHT

forwards-after-8

  • Connor McDavid is the most exciting player I have ever seen. His shifts are the most anticipated item in hockey, and his scoring rates are beautiful. There isn’t much to say, except luck never got it so right.
  • Tyler Pitlick has enjoyed some early success and may be able to stretch it beyond the Pakarinen return. The young winger has cooled recently, but there is appeal for the Oilers playing him (making TP eligible for the expansion draft) so he could be here a lot longer if things break right.
  • Benoit Pouliot has not been his usual consistent self, but does seem to be rounding into form in recent games. His scoring is solid, his aggressive forecheck has ebbed and flowed (he seemed tentative after the benching, understandable) over the eight games. I think a smart NHL team calls and asks after him before or at the deadline.
  • Zack Kassian has been a solid addition to the Oilers, perhaps playing too high in the order currently. His scoring at evens has been good, but the line (Nuge) needs to be stronger in possession and more offensively ribald. Kassian may not be able to help enough in those areas.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has performed well this year, I give him credit for hanging in when some of his wingers seems less than stellar. Scoring is fine if inconsistent, love his attention to detail when without the puck. He has been a very useful player in Todd McLellan’s lineup, as always.
  • Anton Lander is the modern Rasputin, he keeps finding a way to climb that hill. I give him all kinds of credit, the man learned how to get in there and make himself useful—then became consistent at those things. A lesson to be learned for everyone.
  • Jordan Eberle has been the quiet member of the top line so far, but contributed on offense and appears to be working extra hard in other areas, too. The maturation of his game coincides with better health, and we should probably acknowledge there are things he can do this season that were not possible a year ago. He is sometimes overlooked by the fanbase, including this blog’s author.
  • Anton Slepyshev is losing ground—as he did a year ago—but remains an intriguing piece of a possible future. Todd McLellan likes him and there is some evidence of usefulness—he is big, fast and strong—so we will see how this plays out.
  • Leon Draisaitl is having a nice start, but I find myself impatient for him to dominate the soft parade. Part of the issue is wingers—as is the case with the Nuge—and the boxcar numbers overall are good to great. So, maybe it is a case of not being satisfied with what should in fact be just that from the young center. He has greatness in him, I believe that—and that back checking play against the Canucks is recent proof.
  • Mark Letestu is having a solid start to the year, using his skills (faceoffs, utility, special teams) to make a difference. Some don’t like what he brings, I think he and Lander could be a fantastic penalty killing team for years to come.
  • Milan Lucic has delivered strong performances after waking from a sleepy start and may end up posting a strong offensive number. Many talk about his enforcing skills, I love that pass to McDavid to spring him for the winner against Vancouver. Lucic is a very good player with the puck on his stick, both because it is difficult to win it back, and because he makes good decisions. Fine player.
  • Patrick Maroon needs to get going a little, but I like his game and think he is a nice match for Leon. The problem (as I see it) is getting that line going offensively. The possession numbers and flow of play are not a problem for this line, but 5×5 scoring against the softs needs to be stronger.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi is a mannish boy who clearly has great possibilities. I think we may be getting a little different player than the scouting reports implied. He may end up being shy offensively according to scouting reports, while also delivering a more complete game. Someone mentioned he might be a strong center option down the line, and I can see the responsibility in his game. I like this player very much, while also understanding he may need some time in Bakersfield to hone his skills.

WHEN THEY RETURN

The Oilers have several players on IR, and one thing that came up yesterday on SSE surrounded what to do when that happens. Who goes to Bakersfield? Does anyone get traded?

  • L Matt Hendricks—I think he goes right back into the lineup, possibly replacing Tyler Pitlick. The time to trade Hendricks—he is UFA at the end of the year—is the deadline. I think Lander is more useful than Pitlick at this time, so it is TP to the pressbox, Anton Slepyshev to Bakersfield.
  • R Iiro Pakarinen—I believe the Finn probably goes to Bakersfield. They might call it conditioning but there are things about his game that put him (imo) behind Pitlick.
  • C-W Drake Caggiula—One suspects a stretch in the AHL—maybe two weeks—will be required before he makes his NHL debut. At that point, we may see Pitlick sent down to make room.
  • RD Mark Fayne—It doesn’t sound like he is coming back soon, but I believe he needs to play in a certain number of games to qualify for the expansion draft—Edmonton will get him those games.
  • LD Brandon Davidson—One suspects we see Matt Benning return to the minors when Davidson is activated, with Eric Gryba heading to the press box.
  • LD Andrew Ference—I enjoyed his years with the Bruins very much, the Oilers years were difficult for both player and team. These things happen, and it is clear he got everything he could (including a Stanley) out of his body before age took its toll. Sail on, Mr. Ference.

TONIGHT’S GAME

The Senators should be in trouble, one of three pairings are going to be able to handle the speed that is coming. That said, there is a danger here, Edmonton has been playing a little more loose than one would like and that could be a problem tonight. Ottawa has a terrific group of forwards and will get good-to-great goaltending tonight. Important to hammer those second and third pairings. What a start to the season!

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russ99

Skeeziks:
The Oilers will really have to up their game if they want to avoid being embarrassed by the Leafs in Toronto. They are playing a wide open, free wheeling style of hockey that could lead to one of the teams being blown out.

That plays right into our hands.

Last night the defensive structure was sound, but we couldn’t put two passes together on the breakout or before the first shot in the offensive zone.

tcho

SwedishPoster,

Thank you – this expresses what I was thinking.

Wonderful October for an Oilers fan though.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

SwedishPoster,

This is good stuff right here! There were so many “off the glass and out” tonight, I was shaking my head. Crisp clean passing, its an art, its a science and its the lifeblood of hockey teams. Everyone just seemed a tad off last night (even CmD), not lazy, not slacking but just a split second behind the eight ball. I agree with LTs sentiment, team at the end of a winning streak.

PP is bad, oh so very very bad. Agree with a few others up above, they need more right handed options. Too many lefties and for the right handed shots out there too much static play, its easy to block a passing lane when you don’t move, guys need to get their feet in gear on the PP, and yes a bomb form the point would definitely help.

Now the announcers mentioned it probably close to a dozen times and last night was the most obvious for me but holy smokes someone needs to get the ice in the new barn figured out fast. There were some incredibly bouncy pucks today and I think that help contribute to what SwedishPoster has highlighted above.

On that same note I’m actually looking forward to seeing the team on the road against some of these eastern teams and good/great ice surfaces in most of the arenas.

Skeeziks,

I hope its a track meet! It would be awesome to get some good fast skating, free wheeling hockey out there. Flames tried to play that way and its didn’t work out so well. Hopefully Talbot can stay in his groove and if Andersen keeps up with the early yips it could be a fun game.

Oilspill

Funny when we lose 80% of the players are bums. We got beat by a motivated goal tender and an anemic PP.
By the way 2 goals is pretty much minimum needed to win a game. Who was on for goals against. there’s our problem. Where were our point producers. Another issue.

wintoon

The Oilers will really have to up their game if they want to avoid being embarrassed by the Leafs in Toronto. They are playing a wide open, free wheeling style of hockey that could lead to one of the teams being blown out.

OF17

Strange decision by McLellan to put Gryba out there with 6 and change to go in the 3rd down a goal. Nurse was having a good game, but Gryba completely hamstrings our ability to create offense, and he was a direct contributor to two icings on that shift. Bad play by Gryba, but what was McLellan thinking?

We need Davidson back, but until then, I think it’s time for Benning to see some ice. A more versatile D in that 6 hole tonight might’ve made a difference. Barring that, the coach needed to double shift Larsson and Russell with Nurse to compensate.

spoiler

OK so the PP sucks… PP’s are streaky, but this is now a thing.

After a month of play, one thing that stands out is the wingers’ commitment to coming back deep in their end when the puck is below the goal line. This may have something to do with the shot distance metrics that have come out, but our wingers absolutely abandon defending the point man when the puck goes low.

It looks structured and it appears to work well, and maybe this has been asked for all along by coaching, but they seem to do it line in and line out now.

And it is far far better than the getting-caught-in-no-man’s-land we saw so often before.

I’m much happier about this loss than many many losses these past 26 years.

spoiler

SwedishPoster:

I find little to disagree with here.

I think McLellan, right from the pre-game, was about the old technique of goin’ to the whip when there’s a winning streak.

This was a kind of game where a bounce or whatever could win it. That’s why so many people are pissed off about the PP, esp after the anemic performance going in.

They’re a better team than Ott but the Sens made up for it with hard work. One blown assignment by KBomb at the wrong moment and its in the net. As LT said above, good teams will find a way to win these games, and that’s likely the next level for this team.

Consistency. Work Ethic. Determination.

McD has already got them the last one, but the whole team needs to grab the first two.

But they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt with their win steak… and they didn’t mail it in, but didn’t control the play either. Let’s see what they do next game… in a funk or fundamental?

SwedishPoster

I asked a few days ago what will happen when teams start to adapt by backing up and clog the neutral zone. Well this is what happens.
This is ofcourse good old trap coach Guy Boucher’s style all along but the Oil will face this more than once this season and they need to find the keys to solve it.
The coach spoke about a lack of tenacity tonight. I disagree on that being a main problem. For me the main issue was passing, it just wasn’t up to par to many passes that didn’t connect or forced the receiver to slow down.

Imo the coaching is key when you want to break down the 1-3-1, it’s a lot more on tactics and having set plays otherwise the players risk getting frustrated bumping their heads against the neutral zone wall. It’s kind of like in football where you either need a strategy to pass the ball or rush the ball towards the end zone. Either agreat passing game through the neutral zone, taking advantage of the fact that teams backing up tends to get on their heals a bit, make them move east-west. Or you use the time you’re given in your own zone to build up speed and just fly through the neutral zone again using the tendency of teams getting on their heals, like McDavid did early and Puljujärvi did and then made a strange and stupid pass on the blue line when he’d done the difficult part and broken down the trap. The third way is to just get by the red line and go deep but imo that’s what you do if all else fails.

Obviously it’s on the players to pass the puck better and sharper than they did tonight.

Oh and having a PP that at least is ok helps. The solution to a dysfunctional PP is not to just shoot whenever there’s a small opening but that seems to be the idea right now.

Well it’s not all bad the team still look strong defensively and the overall structure looks very solid, they still created chances though not nearly at the same pace as the earlier games. They just need to adapt to teams adapting. That’s the next step tbh.

Leroy Draisdale

Hilmar: I’m not saying your math is wrong, but what does it mean?

This really made me laugh more than it should have….time for bed

rickithebear

Hilmar
1000 average LD shots gets you 32 goals
1000 avg HD shots gets you 162 goals
5.1 to 1

Not a specific number
Just a ratio value

Showing 37 and had similar chance

The other night
23 shots 15 had
8 ld 8
15 he 75
23 shots 83

Like a high danger power factor

37 was 69
22 was 62

23 was 83

People seem to get the value of hd shots by this power factor math

1 ld shot power factor of 1
1 hd shot power factor of 5

Gerta Rauss

https://www.nhl.com/oilers/video/post-game-raw–todd-mclellan/t-281751750/c-45857403

McLellan post game

…we looked good doing nothing…
wrt to the powerplay

I was asked this morning what do you need to improve on..?…well,we’re 9 games in, and we’re not the Stanley cup champions,how about everything..?

Bruce McCurdy

HT Joe:
Well, at least the Oilers lost to an Eastern team… just like the last time they lost.

*checks schedule*
At worst, the Oilers can’t lose to a Western Conference team until they play the Dallas Stars on Nov. 11.When was the last time the Oilers were undefeated by Western Conference teams into mid-November?

Not just undefeated, but without conceding a single point.

Hilmar

rickithebear:

29 X 1 = 29
8 x 5 = 40

I’m not saying your math is wrong, but what does it mean?

HT Joe

Well, at least the Oilers lost to an Eastern team… just like the last time they lost.

*checks schedule*
At worst, the Oilers can’t lose to a Western Conference team until they play the Dallas Stars on Nov. 11. When was the last time the Oilers were undefeated by Western Conference teams into mid-November?

unca miltie

Talbot is still playing well. When they play at home again, IMO they will have 18 points.

GMB3

Gimme some Slepy!!!

Frank the dog

Don’t get too freaked out. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see some roster changes now.
next game they’ll be pretty pissed off. then we’ll see the backbone of this team.

rickithebear

Oilers best pp forwards gf
#50 mcdavid 7.86
#60 lucic 7.51
#61 RNH 7.49
#78 Letestu 7.29
#88 Rberle 7.12
#127 Pouliot 6.65
#128 lander 6.51

Ppg/60
#26 pouliot 2.27
#49 Eberlr 2.02
#95 Letestu 1.67
#116 Lander 1.53
#127 Draisatl 1.46

Pouzar

JP one minute in the 3rd period.

Why does it scare me that he will end up in BAK?

Gerta Rauss

Pouzar,

Not sure, the last I read was “undisclosed” or some such

Pouzar

Gerta Rauss: Davidson would be a start

They’re still 1 forward short as well, perferably a RW from the Hemsky tree (skill, with an expiring contract), or a C that allows Drai to play RW for either Nuge or Mcdavid

/spitballing

Is Davy at least getting close? I thought I read that a few days ago?!?!?

Gerta Rauss

Pouzar:
I have more time for Gryba than most but man I think Nurse needs a partner with a least a modicum of puck moving ability.

Davidson would be a start

They’re still 1 forward short as well, preferably a RW from the Hemsky tree (skill, with an expiring contract), or a C that allows Drai to play RW for either Nuge or Mcdavid

/spitballing

Lucinius

On the positive side of things.. the Kings and Flames also lost tonight.

And the Leafs.

Pouzar

Nurse CF: 65.52%

Big game possession wise for Line 3 (Pou-Nuge-Kass)

fifthcartel

Edmonton needs right-handed players on the powerplay badly, but have virtually no one to choose from. You’re not putting Gryba/Pitlick on the top unit and I’d be extremely hesitant to put Larsson/Letestu. Pulujujarvi is way too green for it.

I know they want McDavid out there, that makes sense. Lucic, sure, they signed him to a huge contract Draisaitl is part of the verbal 3 future, but they need a right handed defensemen if they’re set on those three on there.

Numenius

I want to see Lander on the PP in front of the net!

He was a PP wizard when Nelson put him there.

Would solve the PP and Lander’s scoring drought.

Pouzar

Bruce McCurdy: On the bright side Nuge was excellent but can’t buy a goal these days.

Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 41s41 seconds ago
RNH led #Oilers in shots (5) & FO% (11-for-16) tonight.

CF: 78.26%

Gayfish

Second you believe in them they get ya. Can’t believe I almost fell for it again.

rickithebear

Edm
8 HD area shots 0 goals
8 of 37
29 X 1 = 29
8 x 5 = 40
69 from 37

Ott
10 HD area shots 1 goal
12 x 1 = 12
10 x 5 = 50
62 from 22

LMHF#1

They got a ton of pucks to the right spots, but no one was there.

Everyone needs an extensive “When Connor has the puck – get to the damn slot” lesson.

And why are they passing to the D when none of them can shoot?

Frustrating. They’re better than that Ottawa team.

Bruce McCurdy

Can’t win em all. PP let Oilers down tonight, & has been less than stellar all year. That game tape won’t make Oscar Klefbom’s personal Hall of Fame collection; though he was far from the only culprit I saw him bad on both Ottawa goals.

At the moment the first one went in I said to my wife “there’s your game winner”. This game had 1-0’written all over it from early times. Ottawa played damn hard for their goalie & he backed them up with an excellent performance. Props to him under difficult circumstances.

On the bright side Nuge was excellent but can’t buy a goal these days.

A lot of plays near the net where the puck went by or between a couple of Oilers sticks. Never could get the sucker to settle down in the kill zone.

jake70

Jaxon:
Lucic made a bit of a dumb play on that last goal, no? He didn’t rushed a pass back to the D that got intercepted, when he may have been able to simply drive to the net or move it down low to Eberle. Bit of a panic move. Or am I way off base?

yep ( agreed)

OmJo

If we lose 2 games every month I think that still makes us at least a half-decent hockey club.

thelongdark

Lucinius:

If someone doesn’t fix the powerplay, or get fired for engineering such a farce, the Oilers are screwed long term. Good teams can rely on a powerplay to, at worst, bail them out in games like this. Our powerplays should be declined for the sanity of all involved.

Yes it’s a serious issue.

Pouzar

Lowetide:
Helluva month, boys. That was fun!

This.

Pouzar

frjohnk: Well, the corgis should be better after this game.

Score Adjusted

EDM: 53.76%

ykjoe

Chachi:
As soon as Anderson was named the starter there was no way the Oilers were going to win that game.

agreed

Pouzar

I have more time for Gryba than most but man I think Nurse needs a partner with a least a modicum of puck moving ability.

Lucinius

Well deserved loss.

If someone doesn’t fix the powerplay, or get fired for engineering such a farce, the Oilers are screwed long term. Good teams can rely on a powerplay to, at worst, bail them out in games like this. Our powerplays should be declined for the sanity of all involved.

A lot of Oilers were bad tonight. Very few were good (Talbot, McDavid, RNH, Lander were the only ones I didn’t see screw up repeatedly, but there were probably a few others).

Chachi

As soon as Anderson was named the starter there was no way the Oilers were going to win that game.

Acumen

Well. Smashed em in the Corsi battle. I like us better when we don’t do that.

frjohnk

Well, the corgis should be better after this game.

Talbot had another gem.

Anderson was flawless.

If we are going to lose, I don’t mind it’s because Anderson had a whale of a game. Nice to see him play good, even at the Oilers expense.

Gerta Rauss

Not an attractive hockey game, probably got what we deserved tonight

Big road trip coming up, lets keep the mojo going

Jaxon

Lucic made a bit of a dumb play on that last goal, no? He didn’t rushed a pass back to the D that got intercepted, when he may have been able to simply drive to the net or move it down low to Eberle. Bit of a panic move. Or am I way off base?

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

Oooo low energy game. Kudos to Anderson he made some nice stops.

Saw Drai bad tonight. Saw a ton of “off the glass and out” by the d. Liked Nurse, thought it was his best game. That power play was craptacular.

Excellent month! Definitely have some kinks to work out but overall a solid solid start to the season. Big road trip and some good tests here.

Go Oilers!

OmJo

Well, if we’re going to get shut out the human in me can fathom it in this kind of situation. Wishing all the best to Anderson’s wife. He played one Hell of a game, and deserved the shutout.

OmJo

TMac shortened the bench in the third? Didn’t notice JP, Lander and Pitlick.