That was one ugly baby. The Edmonton Oilers were not sharp—again—in their first outing after a long layoff, and now Pikes Peak looks even more daunting. The club can’t make the playoffs in February, but they can give back all that hard work if the losing continues. In a season that has been full of full frontal good news, February is beginning to look like a giant piece of bad news.
WELL THAT HAPPENED, 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: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
- Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
- Oilers in February 2017: 1-3-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers after 56, 2015-16: 22-29-5, goal differential -30
- Oilers after 56, 2016-17: 29-19-8, goal differential +11
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY
- On the road to:
Nashville, Carolina, Montreal(Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to:
Chicago, Arizona, Philadelphia (Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Chicago, Tampa Bay, Florida, Washington, Nashville, St. Louis (2-3-1)
- Overall expected result: 4-5-3, 11 points in 12 games
- Overall current results: 1-3-0, 2 points in 4 games
Edmonton is doing the one thing they cannot do so far in February: Gather no points. In the Bettman league, a team with a solid lead in the standings merely needs to pick up a Bettman once in awhile in order to maintain the lead. Had the Oilers lost in a shootout last night, the team would be following the pattern of playoff teams since the Bettman point was implemented. However, three actual losses in four games is Coyote ugly and cannot stand. I imagine that message will be passed along in the coming days, and we will likely see a much stronger effort on Tuesday.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
I am going to dispense with the usual number crunch, suffice to say score effects were in play during a 5-1 loss in which Edmonton won the 5×5 Corsi battle 62-37. The home team started well, pushed in the third period, but in the heart of the game turned the puck over with seeming glee, and looked rusty and addled. I don’t think there is much to learn from drilling down, the issues are obvious and one expects Todd McLellan will have plenty of ammo when the team gets together for their next practice. Milan Lucic (4 giveaways) and Oscar Klefbom (3 giveaways) may want to brace themselves for the video session. Lordy.
- Bruce Garrioch: GM Joe Sakic has made it clear to every team that has called him that he wants a young, established blueliner, a high-end prospect and a first-round pick as part of any package if Duchene is to be moved. Source
The Oilers have those things (Oscar Klefbom/Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi, first rounder) and it is becoming increasingly obvious they need another forward to push the river. Connor McDavid, who sits first in league scoring, is the single biggest element in any game he is in. Edmonton is having a lot of trouble finding a second line that can get much done, and I think we will see enormous change in the coming months. What is becoming obvious here is that Leon, Nuge, Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle cannot play tough opposition while also delivering anything resembling consistent offense. Changes will be made, and Matt Duchene’s come available rarely. Perhaps there is a match.
Last night, among other things, was a walking advertisement for Kris Russell. I evaluate defensemen via Corsi (along with quality of competition) and Russell does not score well in this metric. However, he is a veteran defender who has delivered excellent GA results this season, and luck has a way of running in one direction long enough to make untrue things appear to be facts. I think we were heading that way before last night, and last night’s game may contribute to signing Russell. Anecdotal evidence is still evidence.
The big Finn winger is finding the range now in Bakersfield, now sits at 14gp, 5-6-11. That works out to 82gp, 16-18-34 NHLE, and the goals are coming (3-1-4 in his last three games). I think keeping JP down in Bakersfield until the deadline makes sense, but if the plan is to keep him there, the club needs to get him a veteran AHL center who can post offense.
- Joe Smith, Tampa Bay Times: Yzerman chatted with Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli during Friday’s game in Minnesota. You wonder if the young Edmonton team could use a veteran like forward Brian Boyle, 32, a pending unrestricted free agent. The Oilers inquired about Boyle, but Yzerman’s asking price was too high, Canada’s Sportsnet TV network reported. Source
I approve of this plan of action. I spoke with Travis Yost on SSE yesterday, he mentioned Boyle is a player who is fading, and I had the feeling we are looking at a 4C as opposed to the 3C Edmonton needs.