The Edmonton Oilers are back home and have a nice stretch of games at Rogers. If they were firing on all pistons, we could count on a large slice of the available points—but this season has a different feel to it. In our last episode, the head coach was sending out an S.O.S. for a 1R, perhaps operating out of home base will bring him some answers.
PIKES PEAK, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-1-0, goal differential +12
- Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-1, goal differential -9
Game Nine a year ago was that strange 2-0 loss to Ottawa, Craig Anderson shutting out the club on an emotional evening. Cam Talbot stopped 20 of 21 but the story was in the other goal. Edmonton isn’t scoring goals, the GF-GA per game (1.88-3.00) in sharp contrast to one year ago (2.96-2.52). They can’t fire 23 players, so there is abundant pressure on the coach. Nothing imminent of course, but Todd McLellan has a lot to ponder over the next three days. His roster, his lines and pairings, will tell us a lot about who he wants to go to war with on this roster.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCTOBER
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- At home to: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Carolina (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-3-0)
- On the road to: Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 1-1-1)
- At home to: Dallas, Washington (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-3-2, 12 points in 10 games
- Current results: 2-5-1, 5 points after eight games games
It took some time for the team to settle down defensively and now they seem hesitant in the offensive zone. The shooting percentage is going to regress and I think we should be able to count on at least one win in the next two games that will round out this week. I expect we will see a watershed offensive evening at some point in the next week or two, but timing is unknown.
Photo by Rob Ferguson
TRADE WINDS (SPEED)
- Elliotte Friedman: “I think that they are going to look for speed. I think they are going to try to find some players around the league that have some hop to them, because they need guys fast enough to play with McDavid.” Source
Speed is abundant across the NHL and can be procured—some of it at less than prohibitive prices. Michael Grabner in New York won’t cost a lot, Matt Duchene in Colorado will. I think the Oilers are probably reaching the conclusion that Kailer Yamamoto needs another year before entering the NHL full time. I further believe the club isn’t sold on Anton Slepyshev in a feature role—not at this point in time, anyway.
That means a trade, or recall of Jesse Puljujarvi. Fans should be open to either, there’s something about the roster as currently constructed—and its usage—that doesn’t rhyme.
MCDAVID’S WINGERS IN PITTSBURGH
It is rare to see a veteran NHL coach spend an entire NHL game casting about for solutions but we saw just that thing on Tuesday night in Pennsylvania. Once Todd McLellan moved away from Kailer Yamamoto as 1R, he tried a lengthy list of the roster, including his clear preference Leon Draisaitl.
- This is via NaturalStatTrick.
- McDavid’s wingers included all forwards save Nuge and Jujhar Khaira.
- The players under a minute could be coincidental or shuffling coming off a penalty kill, someone has a skate problem or missing a shift due to short-term injury. The guys getting three minutes or more had to be the coach trying out an idea.
- After all the Nuge on RW talk over the summer, he didn’t try that idea. Makes sense, Leon was just coming back from injury. If chemistry doesn’t chime soon, we may in fact see that kind of deployment.
CONNOR MCDAVID ON CHEMISTRY
- “It definitely takes a few games, 5-6 games to really get a good idea. To really, fully get chemistry with someone you have to play together for a long, long time. It’s been nice that Leon, Patty and I have been able to stick together for a long time now and I definitely hope that continues. It’s easy to find each other out there, because we’re all pretty comfortable.” Source
Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto have been on the ice together for 61 minutes at 5×5, 65 percent Corsi and 65 percent shot share. Scoring chance share? 67 percent. High danger scoring chance share? 25-8, 76 percent. Goals for and against? 2-2. Kailer Yamamoto is going to be an excellent NHL player, I’m convinced he’s a better prospect than Jesse Puljujarvi long term, but this year he isn’t cashing chances. That’s not a shot at the young man, we saw Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi go through the same obstacles as rookies. Connor McDavid with Leon Draisaitl is a better plan. All day, all the time. Source
The theme of today’s post is help! and the exclamation point is necessary. Todd McLellan needs the Nuge line to score goals and he badly needs Ryan Strome to post some 5×5 offense. The biggest issue is finding a 1R for Connor McDavid to turn those Corsi’s and HDSC’s into goals for Edmonton. The answer to all three problems? Leon Draisaitl. I think Todd McLellan chooses Leon for the CMD line, leaving Peter Chiarelli to add some speedy winger for Nuge or Strome’s lines. I am hopeful they give Anton Slepyshev a try in the coming days.
CONNOR MCDAVID QUOTE TO FRANK SERAVALLI
- “I don’t know what it is. I just think guys haven’t been very good.” Source
That’s part of it, 10-bell chances have to cash at a higher rate and the goalie was off in the early days of the season. That said, this team needs a boost. Edmonton began the year with a 1R depth chart of Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, Drake Caggiula, Zack Kassian. Perhaps we’ll see that lineup tonight. At some point, the Edmonton Oilers will move Yamamoto to Spokane unless the young man starts to cash these chances. Jesse Puljujarvi waits near the corner of North by Northwest, and trade market beckons.
LOWEDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We have a full boat of guests today, beginning at 10 on TSN1260.
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Where to play Leon, what to do about Kailer?
- Scott Burnside, Senior Digital Correspondent, Dallas Stars. We talk to an old friend about an old nemesis for the Edmonton Oilers.
- Rob Vollman, ESPN and NHL.com. Top offensive pairs in the NHL, Kucherov and Stamkos are on fire, McDavid and Leon can carry a team.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. How frustrated is Connor McDavid?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!