I was not pleased with the first period in San Jose last night, these Oilers don’t look sharp after those mandated days off. By the middle frame the club found their legs and started pushing and only bad luck (seeing eye single Talbot never saw) left Edmonton behind after the second period. A strong effort in the third period got the team back to even and then Milan Lucic added a second and a third goal. Cam Talbot stopped a penalty shot, grabbed win No. 41 and Oscar Klefbom posted four assists. It has truly been an outhouse to penthouse season for the Edmonton Oilers.


  • 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: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
  • Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
  • Oilers in March 2017: 9-3-1, goal differential +15
  • Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-0, goal differential -1
  • Oilers in April 2017: 2-1-0, goal differential +1 
  • Oilers after 80, 2015-16: 30-43-7, goal differential -47
  • Oilers after 80, 2016-17: 45-26-9, goal differential +32
That turned into a fun game once the boots started walkin’ and it was nice to see Milan Lucic (a personal favorite) score three goals. Oscar Klefbom (what lies past dreamy?) and Cam Talbot had games to remember for reasons above, and 97 has 97 on the year. Music!


  • At home to: Anaheim (Expected:1-0-0) (Actual: 1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Kings, Sharks, Canucks (Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual: 1-1-0)
  • At home to Canucks (Expected: 1-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 3-1-1, seven points in five games
  • Current results: 2-1-0, four points in three games
The Oilers still have a shot at the Pacific Division title, and the San Jose Sharks are no easy mark. That said, it feels like second in the division is the likely spot, with a series opening in Edmonton for the first time in exactly one forever.


  • Klefbom-Larsson were effective with the puck and worked hard without it. Strong pass and carry by Klefbom (and shooting, he had five shots and eight shot attempts) was one of the big stories of the game.
  • Klefbom-Larsson went 16-12 in 13:31, including 9-7 with McDavid and 5-4 with Nuge. Went 7-5 against Donskoi-Marleau-Ward and 5-3 against Karlsson-Pavelski-Lebanc. A fine evening.
  • Klefbom is now 80, 12-24-36 in his breakout season.
  • Nurse-Benning had a far better game, but there were still costly moments. Benning was loose in coverage and chasing a lot. He also risked a turnover on what turned into a penalty against Marleau late. I do love his flair with the puck, but the rookie growing pains, not on display early this year, have broken out like a full case of the measles. Hold on! I still like him plenty. Nurse also had a better game, but coverage remains sketchy for this duo.
  • Nurse-Benning went 6-6 in 9:39, including 5-1 with the Nuge line. Opponents included Donskoi-Marleau-Ward (pairing won that 6-1) and 1-2 against Haley-Tierney-Sorensen.
  • Sekera-Russell had fumblitis right off the hop but recovered in time to be part of the solution (despite the possession number). As a pair, they had 15 blocked shots. Of concern: Six giveaways on the night. That’s not a winning formula.
  • Sekera-Russell went 10-21 in 16:04 including 6-11 with Letestu and 3-7 with McDavid. This pairing faced Hertl-Boedker-Hansen (they were 3-6 against the Sharks’ trio) and 4-6 against Karlsson-Pavelski-Lebanc. They can defend well, and blocking shots is clearly a strength for Russell, but moving the puck north is the preferred method and at times both men were ineffective.
  • Cam Talbot won No. 41 on the year and set a new Oilers record. That’s a fantastic achievement and he has earned the honor with fine play all year. Stopping a penalty shot in a close game should count for five. Stopped 13 of 15, .867.
  • Numbers via NHL.com, NaturalStatTrick and HockeyStats.ca.


  • McDavid could have had even more points, he’s dangerous from any spot on the ice when the puck is within four feet of his stick. I thought his linemates did some good things but also seemed to struggle with the tight checking. It was a playoff preview and we’ll see how this tandem performs in the postseason. Very important that both Maroon and Leon overcome the jam up jelly tight of the playoffs.
  • Line went 12-14 against Vlasic-Braun in 13:46. That represents 79 percent of McDavid’s 5×5 icetime, that (imo) is a hard match. Despite the negative Corsi, I felt the line had several promising sorties and 97 alone had what seemed like a dozen handsome chances.
  • Line had seven shots.


  • If you don’t like the ‘big game players get up for big games’ idea, you’re going to hate the verbal today. Milan Lucic hammered a Shark, then fought Haley’s Comet, who learned about receiving over giving. I don’t believe in the big game/big player idea, but was damned frustrated when Mount Lucic exploded and have to admit it felt good to see the sequence.
  • Lucic scored three goals and his season (80, 23-25-48) looks better by the boxcars. Make no mistake, he needs to be better at evens, but this is a nice way to wrap up the year.
  • Nuge and Eberle played well to my eye, but both men seem to delay the offense until all options dry up. It’s kind of like watching Groundhog Day. Nuge did earn the third assist on Lucic goalmouth goal with a nice outlet pass.
  • Line went 8-0 against Donskoi-Marleau-Ward and 6-4 against Martin-Burns. A good night.
  • Line had seven shots.


  • The wingers spend a couple of minutes a night on the PK, along with what is becoming 8-10 minutes a night for this trio. Desharnais is not helping to my eye, his coverage is poor and there aren’t that many offensive moments to mention.
  • Pouliot and Kassian had a two-on-one early, Pouliot sent an errant pass to 44 and nothing rhymed. I generally liked their game and Desharnais had a couple of moments where he was disruptive to the Sharks down low. We’re still looking for consistency and we will see.
  • The wingers go well together.
  • Line went 5-3 against Dillon-Schlemko.
  • Line had one shot.


  • Line went 9-12 on the evening and 7-12 against Dillon-Schlemko.
  • Line had six shots.
  • Caggiula had one really nice chance and Letestu produced an assist on the power play. Pakarinen, in my opinion, is a lesser player than Slepyshev and not playing the Russian is galling. You have an impressive youngster, play him and sit down the others. I think this audition is over, no?


As of this morning, Connor McDavid leads the entire NHL in 5×5/60 scoring. This is my favorite offensive stat, no way to talk your way out of this number. Here are the Oilers forwards who have played 1,000 or more 5×5 minutes and their NHL rank:

  • No. 1: Connor McDavid 2.85 (No. 2 a year ago behind Jagr)
  • No. 35: Leon Draisaitl 2.04
  • No. 52: Patrick Maroon 1.84
  • No. 80: Jordan Eberle 1.63
  • No. 107: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.37
  • No. 127: Milan Lucic 1.14
  • Source

You can make a strong (the strongest) case for Connor McDavid to win the Art Ross, Hart and Lindsay, but would caution that these things can go a little wonky at times. We can agree that McDavid has done everything required to win the Hart, now it’s just a matter of the voters getting it right.


  • Scott Cullen: Oilers No. 8/30 teams: 9-2 in the past 11 games, the Oilers are back in the playoffs! They’re probably a little top-heavy – such are the perils of having the league’s leading scorer – but the Oilers have legit playoff credentials, and could take the Pacific Division title with a strong finish. Source

Cullen’s article is worth reading every week, but specifically this one because he addresses the Hall-Larsson discussion earlier in the week. Many of you have asked my opinion on this, and I did express it on the Lowdown yesterday, but will chime in on the blog this morning.

Cullen’s main point is this: Taylor Hall has done more of the things we know have value this season than Adam Larsson. There is no real argument against this, as No. 4 has delivered what we would expect him to anywhere, anytime. He pushes the river, he increases 5×5 offense and he helps a team do things that contribute to wins.

I value Larsson highly as a defenseman, and do think WoodMoney reflects his play nicely. He plays tough minutes and is among the most effective Oilers defensemen with and without Connor McDavid. His contributions to defense are pretty clear, last night being another example. Larsson also seems to be on the ice for more offense than we might have expected (his GF/60 in ice is 3.04, No. 1 among Oilers defensemen), but that could be a one year anomaly.

My feeling on the deal has not changed in the months since it occurred. It was a bad trade, an extreme loss of talent for return, and I remain pissed off that the Jeff Petry trade so unbalanced the roster as to make this deal possible. Peter Chiarelli lost the trade, but he won the war. If this team had been No. 28 in the standings, he might have lost his job. Seriously. As it is, the bet he made on Adam Larsson (and Matt Benning and Kris Russell) has given this team something called balance, or at least close to it, on defense. The word passenger doesn’t fit the Adam Larsson I have seen this season, but there are math people wiser than me who perhaps can prove it. As for Cullen, I think the world wide web is a fantastic thing, but there is no nuance key. I have no need to defend Scott Cullen, because his body of work speaks for itself. I agree with his general point, and my takeaway from this moment in time is that words flat on a page can be lifted, turned around and aimed the other way in the right hands. Twitter discovery is a wild ride, I am finding.


Final day at Northlands for the Ford Men’s Worlds, it all starts at 10 this morning on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Oilers talk, curling talk, Northlands talk.
  • Michael Laderoute. Michael is from the World Men’s host committee, we’ll talk about the week, the volunteers and the incredible action on the ice.
  • Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Todd McLellan: Coach of the year?
  • Mark Zecchino, Golf Talk Canada. Live from the Masters: Wind!

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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218 Responses to "LOOSE CHANGE"

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  1. Ducey says:

    Put me down for 2 wins, 4 losses. Giddy all the way

    you’re so negative, man.

  2. Woodguy v2.0 says:


    Lot to unpack there and can’t right now, but check back because I will.

  3. Georges says:

    Yeti: Question based on this: why would Hall’s play drop off sharply and consistently three years into his career? In short, if he’s now displaying his normal level, what explains the ‘exception’ which is his first couple of years? He’s too young to be in decline this early, right?

    Yeah, declining veteran was over the top. It’s more like he’s established himself at a new level, lower than his early years. Great forwards don’t do that, even near great forwards. They have longer stretches of high scoring rates. That’s how you identify them. Even Derek Roy had a 4 or 5 year run of over 0.8 points per game. Hall’s drop is unusual though. Maybe the league catches up to some players. I’m going to pull the scoring data at the end of the season off nhl.com and go back as far as I can. Maybe I’ll find comparables if I stretch out the time horizon. As of now, the fact he’s below 0.8 PPG for 3 consecutive seasons given what he managed at the start of his career, yes, that’s unusual.

  4. RexLibris says:

    Bag of Pucks:
    Wasn’t Hall born in Calgary? If they’re trending towards serious contender when he finally goes UFA, wouldn’t that be a dagger in the heart?

    Doubt we see it though. I suspect Hall goes to a US market with a seriously stacked team. Could envision him as a Capital or Penguin or Hawk in a couple years. Like he said in the Whitney radio interview, he’s already made his money. The next contract/team will be about chasing the Cup.

    That theory has been kicked around quite a bit. Gaudreau was born in New Jersey so some people are putting the two together.

    Can’t imagine fans there being too supportive of that sort of move.

    That said, if CGY wants to sink $12.5 into their two top LWs I’m okay with that.

  5. Georges says:

    Woodguy v2.0:

    Lot to unpack there and can’t right now, but check back because I will.

    Please put it in tomorrow’s post. I’m happy to continue but I won’t be checking tonight and it’s funner when others join in.

  6. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Lowetide: He’d be out of the league if not for you. Thanks a lot, Woodguy! And Brown is lefthanded, amirite?

    Pretty sure I only lost that bet because you “booked it”

  7. Lowetide says:

    Woodguy v2.0: Pretty sure I only lost that bet because you “booked it”


  8. TeeVee says:

    Hunter: Put me down for 10W – 9L

  9. Rich M says:


    3 Wins 4 Losses

  10. A'bunadh says:

    Taylor Hall’s 5v5 GFON% with Schneider is 51%. His GFOFF% is 38.9%. A -12.1% So for 65% of 5v5 in a game that Hall isn’t on the ice Schneider is getting hammered.

    Larsson’s 5v5 GFON% with Talbot is 56.5%. His GFOFF% is 51.7%. A -4.8% drop but still decent. So for 62% of 5v5 in a game that Larsson isn’t on the ice Talbot still has a positive GF%.

    To me this says two things:
    1 – the Oilers are much improved all around, not just because of Larsson.
    2 – Taylor Hall has a bigger impact on the game than Adam Larsson.

  11. The Original JDI says:

    A’bunadh: Taylor Hall has a bigger impact on the game than Adam Larsson.

    I think relativity here also says a lot about the rest of Hall’s team – they stink, same as it was in Edmonton.

  12. A'bunadh says:

    The Original JDI: I think relativity here also says a lot about the rest of Hall’s team – they stink, same as it was in Edmonton.

    Agree, and it also says that Adam Larsson is playing with a much better team as there isn’t that big a differential without him. Drives me crazy listening to so many people crediting the team’s improvement on Larsson when for 62% of 5v5 icetime without him we still outscore the opposition.

  13. Centre of attention says:

    This blog is awesome.

    Props to both WoodGuy and Georges for having an absolutely awesome debate.

    Both sides have their legitimate arguments, this is what we are here for!

    I will say this:

    Hall’s multiple knee surgeries have affected his play.

    It is what it is.

    He had another surgery earlier this season, and came back early to boot.

    Hall is quoted as saying he will skip the World Champs for the first time this year due to nagging injuries.

    I think the sudden and drastic drop in production that Georges has described can be directly related to those knee injuries.

    I’ve watched Devils games this season. He hits full speed maybe once a game if given a bit of space.

    Back in 2013, Hall was ripping down the ice at mach 6 every other shift in full traffic. He was an absolute force. And he paid the price for that type of play.

    It’s sad to see, really. Love me some Taylor Hall.

    My 2 cents.

  14. spoiler says:

    A'bunadh: Agree, and it also says that Adam Larsson is playing with a much better team as there isn’t that big a differential without him.Drives me crazy listening to so many people crediting the team’s improvement on Larsson when for 62% of 5v5 icetime without him we still outscore the opposition.

    Well this isn’t so strange when you consider things like forcing poorer players down the depth chart and giving them easier opp. Perhaps over-stated by some proponents, but it’s not false prima facie.

  15. A'bunadh says:

    spoiler: Well this isn’t so strange when you consider things like forcing poorer players down the depth chart and giving them easier opp.Perhaps over-stated by some proponents, but it’s not false prima facie.

    Interesting the perception that there is a big shelter happening and our weaker D are being kept away from elites because Larsson is munching all the tough minutes. In reality, we have a second pair playing basically the same amount of time against the elites and Larsson plays only two more shifts per game against elites than the 3rd pairing does. Also can’t be forgotten that without Larsson we would have had Demers. Although Demers isn’t on Larsson’s level in the dzone, he would still have slotted above our 3rd pairing to give them the limited shelter you perceive is there.

  16. Woodguy v2.0 says:


    36%? So 2/3 of his time is against not tough match ups, right?

    How can they move Henrique away from Hall, give him easier minutes and Henrique still ends up playing more of his TOI against elites than Hall?

    This is speculation, right? On the tough Dpair match ups? From what I understand, WoodMoney only categorizes forwards. Here’s what I get from your blog post introducing the metric:

    Its not speculation,

    You’re right that WoodMoney doesn’t track 1st pairing Dmen so I have to do that manually.

    Hall sees 1st pair Dmen because he’s NJD’s big weapon.

    I grind though match ups on naturalstattrick all the time to see “who sees 1st pairing Dmen” as WM doesn’t track it.

    An example for NJD is in their last few games. PIT has tough minute pair, PHI tends to be all over the place (although McDonald tend to see the toughest), NYI has been a Dpair mess and Hamonic is out, and CAR definite tough minute pair in Pesce and Slavin.

    Here’s the TOI vs Hainsey (tough PIT) , Leddy/Boychuck (tough NYI), and CAR (Pesce/Slavin) as we *know* those players get the toughest match ups.

    NJD vs PIT
    Hall vs Hainsey – 6:29; vs Schultz 3:28
    Hendrique vs. Hainsey – 1:48; vs Schultz 7:19

    NJD vs NYI
    Hall vs Leddy/Boychuck 6:18; vs De Haan/Siedenberg 2:34
    Hendrique vs Leddy/Boychuck 2:25; 5:15 vs De Haan/Seidenberg

    NJD vs CAR
    Hall vs Pesce/Slavin – 10:04; 1:06 vs Dahlback
    Hendrique vs Pesce/Slavin – 3:32; 7:10 vs Dahlback

    So while Hendrique may see about the same amount of Elite F’s, the Dpairs he sees are a notch or two below what Hall sees.

    That is what I mean by “lesser comp away from Hall”

    That’s how they can move Hendrique away from Hall and get him easier minutes.

    It’s not speculation.

    I grind through a lot of TOI game sheets acquiring information and try don’t use words lightly.

    Overlooking the fact that Hynes was cycling through centers to find the right fit for 1/3 of Hall’s TOI, why does a driver need a fit? Doesn’t he just drive?

    Yes he drives, but you still need a decent car (team mates)

    When you play against the best you need help unless you’re Crosby or McDavid.

    Ovi has never had great 5v5 numbers and he’s played most of his career with Backstrom.

    Driving 5v5 is way more rare than people realize and most of the elite still need good help to get it done.

    Consider these players, who are among the best at Relative GF%

    Kucherov – 58.4% ON, 44.5% OFF

    Most common mates: Palat, Johnson, Hedman, Stralman

    Bergeron – 55.0% ON, 45.0% OFF

    Most common mates: Marchand, Pasternak, Chara and Krug

    Barkov – 57.8% ON 37.8% OFF

    Most common mates: Jagr, Huberdeau, Ekblad, Yandle.

    Hall – 53.62 GF% ON, 42.03 GF% OFFF

    Most common mates: Zajac, Pamelri, Severson and Lovejoy

    I think its fair to state that Hall doesn’t have the same quality of line mate as those other elite drivers.

    When Hall had RNH and Eberle and Petry they came out ahead on the worst team in the NHL. I don’t think people really understand how rare that is.

    He does drive and did again this year.

    If you’re going to say Larsson is all CMD

    I’m on record as saying the opposite.

    Why are you attributing things to me where I actually take the opposite stand?

    Note: saw the edit at the end. Yeah, I’m not going to defend someone else’s position, just my own.

    The words declining veteran come to mind. If he is really an offensive driver, he shouldn’t be putting up the numbers he has over the past 3 seasons in the prime of his career

    This is certainly a concern but I think we need to examine the circumstances and results.

    Hall’s ON GF% career:
    Season GF%
    20102011 45.68
    20112012 52.56
    20122013 54.69
    20132014 48.21
    20142015 51.43
    20152016 52.73
    20162017 53.62

    His GF% isn’t declining.

    Hall’s Relative GF% career:
    Season Rel.GF%
    20102011 0.11
    20112012 10.96
    20122013 12.3
    20132014 9.19
    20142015 16.68
    20152016 11.87
    20162017 11.59

    His RelGF% isn’t declining either.

    You’re right that his raw 5v5 pts/60 have dropped, but I think we need to consider a few things that have changed.

    Injury – He was seriously injured in 14/15 and that’s the year his production dropped.

    IN 15/16 he was still recovering and his most common line mates were: Draisaitl, Purcell, Sekera and Nurse.

    Previous year they were RNH, Eberle, Klef, Jultz. In 13/14 they were RNH, Eberle, Jultz and Petry.

    The year after he moves to NJD and Zajac, Pamelri, Severson and Lovejoy.

    Now if we look at the scoring chances, and sh%, it becomes more clear.

    5v5 SCF/60
    20142015 7.45
    20152016 10.16
    20162017 8.61

    His injury year is way down, recovers the next year and then sinks again with NJD. What’s wrong?

    5v5 SCF%
    20142015 44.6
    20152016 55.1
    20162017 58.2

    We see the poor injury year again and recovery the year after.

    This year it just looks like that’s how NJD plays. He’s getting 8.61, historically a low number for him, but his SCF% is crazy good at 58.2%. We can’t say that he’s playing worse, more that he’s in a system that generates less offense.

    5v5 ONSH%
    20142015 9.57
    20152016 8.63
    20162017 6.55

    So he gets lesser line mates in 15/16 and the ONSH% drops a full point, that’s big. (14/15 is about career average)

    Seeing as Hall is primarily a passer he doesn’t own all of this drop.

    This year it drops even more. Zajac’s never scored much.

    A player’s line mates matter.

    Consider what we see with McDavid this year. A lot of this is variance, but you brought up “why can’t Hall score the same with everyone” with one year’s data so I’ll do the same.

    Connor McDavid scores 2.07 5v5 pts/60 with Eberle and 2.96 with Draisatl.

    That’s a huge drop.

    Why can’t McDavid score the same with both?

    Oilers score 3.62 GF/60 w/ 97+29 and drop to 2.97 GF/60 w/ 97+14.

    What’s wrong with McDavid that he can’t score and can’t make his team score the same with each player?

    Isn’t McDavid a driver?

    Why does McDavid need a fit?

    Doesn’t he just drive?

    We know those questions are silly, but his rates aren’t even across team mates either and he’s in class much higher than Hall when it comes to hockey talent.

    You didn’t touch on the first part of my post. It suggests the kind of player he is now and the future we can project for him based on the career trajectories of other players with similar numbers. The words declining veteran come to mind. If he is really an offensive driver, he shouldn’t be putting up the numbers he has over the past 3 seasons in the prime of his career. And, if you had to project what he’s capable of in the years to come, you’d be correct to err on the bearish rather than the bullish side.

    Yeah, I’m still pretty bullish based on his GF%, SCF%, SF% all being at or near career highs.

    But I get it. I have my favorites too. I want it to work out for them even when the numbers tell me something different. And why not? Historical numbers suggest probable futures. Statistics limits uncertainty, doesn’t eliminate it. In the margins live fear… and hope.

    No, that’s not it . The numbers aren’t telling me something different.

    Consider this (Larsson last 2 years)

    15/16 SCF/60 6.6
    16/17 SCF/60 9.5

    A 3 SCF/60 jump!!!

    Did Larsson all of the sudden channel his inner Coffey? Shouldn’t Larsson’ previous years of 7.4, 6.8, 6.5 have informed us of his future?

    Well, not if he changes teams to a totally different coach, system and line mates.

    Same happened for Hall, but in reverse.

    His shot/goal/scoring chance shares all show he’s fine, but the raw rates have dropped significant from EDM and we can attribute that to the team

    Poor bastard.

    Consider this player and his Scoring Chance rates over time:

    Season SCF60
    20112012 9.56
    20122013 8.97
    20132014 11.1
    20142015 8.78
    20152016 8.28
    20162017 10.39

    Holy shit, he’s up and down like a yo yo.

    Now look at it this way:

    BUF 9.56
    BUF 8.97
    BUF/MTL/NYI 11.1
    MIN 8.78
    MIN 8.28
    DET/FLA 10.39

    Coach, systems, team mates matter a lot, a lot, a lot.

    The BUF/MTL/NYI year is over 50% MTL, then the rest split between BUF/NYI.

    That’s Vanek btw.

  17. npanciroli says:

    Woodguy v2.0,

    Seems weird Klef would struggle on third pairing with lesser competition, while Larsson does well with Russell who is generally a drag. I do agree Klefbom does seem like the one that drives offence while Larsson is the one who drives defence but the goal results really seem to favour Larsson.

  18. JustWatt says:

    Woodguy v2.0,

    Good heavens. I feel like I just bought a textbook. That’s some amazing work, I have to show this to my buddy who’s a NJ fan.

    I gathered 2 main points out of this (to go with a ton of other details):

    1. NJ wrecks all the numbers. Seriously.

    2. Hall might actually be the most unlucky high end driver to play the game in living memory. He has never played for a team that has ever been even remotely decent.

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