The Oilers can solve two of their remaining tertiary issues tonight: Addled play on Saturday night HNIC, and lack of killer instinct against lesser teams. We are at a point in the season where each victory stacked on another makes the rest of the trip a little easier, and gives one confidence in the future.
I remember Vancouver Canucks broadcasts in their first years, it was thrilling to have a team in the west. I cheered for Orland Kurtenbach, he was massive and was in the middle of everything. I didn’t develop much of an allegiance to the team, but if I had a favorite during those years it was Don Lever. I always like the players who can score enough to be considered a substantial part of the offense, but also help with the heavy work.
Vancouver went right from expansion team to respectability, I don’t really recall a prolonged period of awful. My expansion article on them expressed as much (wrote it during the lockout). I wish for Vancouver to have a rebuild, but there appears to be no willingness among owner or management. If the club continues along this line, this decade will not end well on the left coast.
RAIN-O, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-4, goal differential +3
- Oilers after 37, 2015: 15-19-3, goal differential -20
- Oilers after 37, 2016: 19-12-6, goal differential +10
I am really liking this season. If the Oilers arrive at G75 with a record of 38-24-12 (88 points), I will be over the moon about it. Now, that is a tall order and who knows what tomorrow brings, but it is fun to imagine these things all the same. G38 a year ago was a loss (5-2 to LAK) and marked the date of Edmonton’s 20th regulation loss.
OILERS SCORING, FORWARDS
- The Oilers are on track to have four of the top 50 scorers in the NHL (among forwards). McDavid and Draisaitl are inside the top 15. That is a fairly unusual development for Edmonton. In 1996, Doug Weight finished No. 11 in scoring (104 points), Zdeno Ciger finished No. 46 (70 points) and Jason Arnott No. 79 (59 points).
- Connor McDavid has been a little light in points over the last while (1-2-3 in his last five games) but all that really means is we are about to witness an explosion offensively.
- Leon Draisaitl is having a breakout season, I am surprised at how many talk about his power-play prowess as if it is a bad thing. The young man has been fantastic, and vital, to this team’s success. I would like to see him pass 2.00/60 at 5×5 (1.85) in order to crown the achievement that is his season in 2016-17.
- Jesse Puljujarvi has seven assists, all of them first assists. All of them. He ranks No. 2 among Oilers forwards in the category.
- RNH had a nice game Thursday, hopefully he can push up from his current ridiculous spot (he was No. 55 in scoring among forwards in 2014-15) to something more in line with his ability.
- The Maroon—Nuge—Draisaitl and Pouliot—Caggiula—Puljujarvi were impressive in the LAK game, I hope both lines cash tonight and gain some momentum as trios.
OILERS SCORING AND DFF, DEFENSE
- Andrej Sekera will miss tonight’s game, and that is not a good thing. He has been the team’s best overall defender through the first half of the season.
- Oscar Klefbom is having a good season, while also playing a prominent role and struggling at times. If he can survive this season, one suspects we will see him emerge as a complete defenseman.
- Adam Larsson ranks No. 2 in even-strength TOI, and No.1 in elite minutes faced (although it is pretty even among the top 4D). I guess this was bound to happen, I like defensive defensemen more than any of you other folks, but this fan is enjoying Larsson’s play.
- Kris Russell is No. 1 in EV TOI/GM, and if you figure out elites faced/per game, he is No. 1 there too. Whatever his flaws, Todd McLellan runs him heavy and his GF percentage 5×5 is 52.9. I do think the Oilers will sign him, and protect Russell from the expansion draft.
- Matt Benning is having the best season of any Oilers defenseman. I understand he is third pairing, but everything is coming up golden with him on the ice. At 5×5, the Oilers are getting 53.5 percent of the shots on goal and that total ranks inside the league’s top 30.
— Mark I Williams M.D. (@CameraGuyBakoCA) December 31, 2016
Anton Slepyshev is pounding the AHL senseless these days, he now sits at 7gp, 3-6-9 for the season. I expect we will see a recall, although the young Russian may end up being trade bait at this year’s deadline. He looks like an NHL player, and I would quickly add that Jujhar Khaira is NHL-ready, too. Oilers prospects are creating value through their play, something we haven’t seen a lot of over the past few seasons. I think Laurent Brossoit may be the next recall, though.
Cam Talbot has a .925SP in his last 9 games, and a 5-1-3 record. You can see all Oilers performances over the last 10 games here, the number one takeaway for me is that Connor McDavid is going to breakout.
- Save Percentage: .919 (Ranks No. 14 among goalies with 20 or more appearances)
- EV Save Percentage: .924 (Ranks No. 13 among goalies with 20 or more appearances)
- PP Save Percentage: .896 (Ranks No. 9 among goalies with 20 or more appearances)
I would argue he has been slightly above average for the season, your mileage may vary. No matter the opinion, anyone who has seen the Oilers play all of their games this season, can testify that Talbot has to be good in order for the team to get a win. Edmonton, with 19 Ws, is 18-10-5 with Talbot in goal.
I expect, at some point, Adam Larsson’s performances will be viewed outside the asset cost, but we are not there yet. V2hero is one of my favorite twitterers, but I think trash is a tad strong in terms of description for Larsson.
I like him in the defensive zone, like him in coverage, and like his nasty streak. He needs to get comfortable (again) with his headman passing, which currently amounts to ‘hit the clock’ lobs into the neutral zone. If he is going to lob the puck, perhaps into an area where the forward can skate into the puck and continue on his sortie.
That said, I like Adam Larsson. Gotta say. If you take away the cost of procurement, he can play on my team any time. I wonder if you feel the same way?