Who’ll Stop the Rain?

by Lowetide

The Edmonton Oilers 2017-18 will be remembered as a team that simply had no sustain. After a strong game in Detroit, the club came out flat in Buffalo and were a limp noodle against the Sabres. The 103-point Oilers of last season ran Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot, good health and luck to a wonderful result. This season is a hockey disaster and impossible to endure.

  • Todd McLellan: “Our guys have the want to do it, but can we get it done at the pace we’re executing. We have to make things happen a lot faster, in my opinion, defensively and offensively”. 

THE ATHLETIC!

The special Lowetide offer is here.

SLOOP JOHN B, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -9
  • Oilers in November 2016: 5-7-1, goal differential 0
  • Oilers in November 2017: 5-7-1, goal differential -6

The Oilers are basically running in place year over year during November, nothing much to choose from (save goal differential, last season’s team was much better). We’ve run through the first 10, then the first 20, then U.S. Thanksgiving and all indicators read the same. This is us.

AFTER 23, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 7-14-2, goal differential -13
  • Oilers 16-17: 12-9-2, goal differential +9
  • Oilers 17-18: 8-13-2, goal differential -16

Incredibly, this season remains superior to Todd McLellan’s first Oilers team, by a very small margin. This team badly needs more skill and can’t afford to lose any of it, witness Oscar Klefboms absence last evening.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER

  • At home to: Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Detroit (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-2-0)
  • On the road to: NYI, New Jersey, NYR, Washington (Expected: 1-2-1) (Actual: 2-1-1)
  • At home to: Vegas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual: 1-1-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 1-3-0)
  • At home to: Arizona, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-7-2, 16 points in 16 games 
  • Current results: 5-7-1, 11 points in 13 games

All you can ask for in life is clarity and this is black and white. This year’s Edmonton Oilers are going to be under .500 for their first two months of the season and the playoffs will be very close to out of sight. A bitter pill, but there’s no way to sugarcoat or misunderstand. Clarity.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Nurse-Larsson went 18-14 together, but only 6-11 against Kane-Eichel-Pominville.
  • Russell-Benning went 12-15 together and 0-1 GF. Were 9-9 with the McDavid line and 5-8 against Pouliot-O’Reilly-Reinhart.
  • Auvitu-Gryba went 7-10 together and 0-1 GF. Spent 4:43 with McDavid (6-6), and 5-3 against Pouliot-O’Reilly-Reinhart.
  • Laurent Brossoit played well to my eye, stopping 28 of 30, .933. I think he should have had the Eichel goal but made at least two showstoppers.
  • NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Khaira-Strome-Puljujarvi were 12-6 together and 1-0 GF. Went 3-1 against Girgensons-Larsson-Criscuolo. I had never heard of Criscuolo until he took the penalty.
  • Maroon-Nuge-Draisaitl went 9-7 and 0-1 GF together. Went 4-5 against Pouliot-O’Reilly-Reinhart, that O’Reilly is a load.
  • Lucic-McDavid-Caggiula went 10-21 and then Cammalleri replaced Caggiula and the line went 6-0. Something to keep in mind for Sunday. Went 7-6 against O’Reilly line and McDavid went 16-20 against Ristolainen in what appeared to be a hard match. I wonder if it was a showcase?
  • Cammalleri-Letestu-Kassian went 4-6 together and 1-1 with Drake Caggiula. Not a lot happened.

I’ve received dm’s and texts saying the same or similar. I think it’s a combination of overwhelming frustration and a human need to think of solutions. Sometimes, with those two things meet inside us, all the good neurons leave the brain and party in the bile being released inside. It makes one look like an ass and exposes one as a bit of a dullard, truth to tell. We’re on to Uphams Corner.

YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

Plenty of rage for Oilers fans today and frustration for Todd McLellan (Leon quote, possible shot across the bow to PC re speed). What do they need? Well folks, you can actually see it from here.

  • A fully formed Jesse Puljujarvi, whatever he becomes.
  • A 20-year old Kailer Yamamoto, with the experience that comes with the two years to come.
  • A healthy and capable Tyler Benson, scoring enough to stay in the top 9F.
  • At least one astute low-cost acquisition (Josh Leivo).

Some of this has nothing to do with Peter Chiarelli, he didn’t trade the 2014 second-rounder and the Oilers were at the mercy of that insane rule that forced them to give up draft picks to San Jose and Boston for management procurement. That said, trading so many draft picks in 2015 accomplished two things:

  • Fast-tracked the team to immediate contention
  • Created a tremendous void (especially at forward) in matriculating talent

There are ways out of this problem, and one of them is signing Patrick Maroon and trading RNH for a pair of young, emerging forwards. Edmonton needs more talent at forward, it has to be good and it has to be inexpensive. I think trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a noxious idea but we all know it’s the next chip to bet. We may be less than three months away from the Nuge in a new town.

 

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leadfarmer

This team just can’t trade Nuge. Make Lucic Russell give up their NMC. Maybe even trade Drais ridiculous contract. But Nuge is the only thing keeping us from being a one line team

Gret99zky

And boy, have we ever seen the rain.

Gret99zky

I think it will be Drai or Nurse that’s moved out.

HugThePost

Has there ever been an NHL team that traded 3 #1 overall picks away?

We have become the Atlanta Thrashers of today’s NHL.

They are very very lucky they signed 97 last summer.

I think GRET99ZKY above me is correct.

Gret99zky

Dom’s article from the Athletic is a wonderful story about what the family picture might look like if you’d married the girl you didn’t.

Halfwise

I cancelled my Centre Ice subscription after the Anaheim debacle last spring. So now I hardly ever watch games live, and so far that looks like a good decision.

But this blog is a refuge and my wife has just bought me an Athletic subscription for Christmas. Thanks LT. Keep doing what you do.

Professor Q

So, basically, everyone should calm down and not make rash decisions?.

The sky isn’t falling, never was, and things will be okay?

I like your thinking.

OriginalPouzar

That was an unpleasant game to watch.

Oh well – On to Boston.

I’m confident they’ll come out strong and actually win an afternoon game.

Question will be if they will provide effort against ARI. They will have the old “first game back after a road trip” excuse.

Johnny Eyetest

They have to plan to be competitive ~3 years from now. Nuge will be at his best then .

They can resign him.

Bye bye Patty Maroon.

The following years we should see Russell, Sek, Looch heading out the door.

The core: McD, Drai, Nuge , Nurse, Klefbom , Larsson need help and it will only come through the draft.

Unreal.

frjohnk

Crazy thing about that 15-16 team is that they were 7-14-2 up until around this time two years ago, but they then went on a run of 7 wins 1 loss and brought their record to 14-15-2. That put us into 18th place.

And that run was without Connor!! Eventually too many injuries to too many core players and the lack of depth torpedoed the season.

Take Connor out of the lineup right now, does this team go on a 7-1-0 run?

dustrock

We’ve seen the way McLellan would prefer to coach I think at the World Cup.

That was a fast, hard forechecking fun team to watch.

If the coach and the GM aren’t on the same page, what happens to the coach?

Ribzyrich

Gret99zky:
Dom’s article from the Athletic is a wonderful story about what the family picture might look like if you’d married the girl you didn’t.

Too bad its a little late for the divorce.

Gret99zky

OriginalPouzar:
That was an unpleasant game to watch.

Question will be if they will provide effort against ARI. They will have the old “first game back after a road trip” excuse.

This organization is the gold standard when it comes to excuses.

frjohnk

Gret99zky:
Dom’s article from the Athletic is a wonderful story about what the family picture might look like if you’d married the girl you didn’t.

So you are saying the Oilers did not marry the girl next door but ended up marrying their sister who slept on the top bunk and are now wondering why the children look a bit funny?

Whats wrong with that?

*Padre puts away picture of being married to his sister*

bod

What if we really are built to beat Pacific Division teams as so many have suggested? How does that change the outlook?

npanciroli

I think McLellan is the problem this year. I refuse to believe this team is this bottom barrel bad. Chia has made some questionable moves or lack thereof, but a team that has McDavid RNH Draisaitl down the middle shouldn’t be in this spot.

frjohnk

Gret99zky:
I think it will be Drai or Nurse that’s moved out.

Drai signs a 8 year deal that pays him anywhere to 10 to 30% more than his comparables and just over 20 games in, the Oilers are looking to trade him?

The return would be underwhelming.

And if Chia trades with Snow, the return could just boggle the mind

Bar_Qu

This season and fans’ reactions come straight from the heightened expectations of last year. The notion of trading the best players to get less good players in order to “do something!” is foolish, but understandable. There is no way to sell the smart move, which is to wait out the season and see what can be done in the spring.

I am afraid Chiarelli will do something and it won’t be good for this team long term. Nuge needs to stay, so does Nurse, Klefbom and Sekera. McDavid is untouchable, thankfully, but the braintrust which has been advising PC on the big/foolish moves of the last two season need to be shown the door. Otherwise we are looking at trading a dollar for a dime again this season to try to fill a whole from the last such transaction.

bcoil

From my perspective based on this years performance I would trade DRi before Nuge .Nuge is the best two way centre on this team right now and one of the best in the league.
On another matter this is twice in the last three years this team has been brought to its knees with the flu bug .Who is in charge of getting these kids a FREE flu shot is it TD.Forss the head Medical trainer ?? if it is he should be fired .We have lost two weeks of our season because of the flu and maybe our season because of it .Not defendable

Gret99zky

Along with the JP, KY, TB, and astute low-cost acquisition you mention above LT, I think this team needs better salary structure.

Management needs to stop signing bloated contracts. The players can’t perform to them and it skewers negotiations with the next group of guys.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

npanciroli,

Nah the last three games have solidified in my mind that something is funk with the players themselves.

Getting outclassed and ground down by St Louis? I don’t ever like it but given the opponent can see it.

Bouncing back, transitioning well, forechecking and crashing the net against detroit, music! Perfect we knew they had it in them, more please!

And then an absolute turd of an effort against a bottom feeder (one of the first games against such this year).

I don’t know what the hell is going on in that dressing room, but for any of the folks who love the “bleeding talent” narrative, last night does NOT help your cause. The team was listless, top to bottom, stars to tweeners. And before I get some snarky comment back abou blaming stars, take a look at the top PP unit, or any of the shifts from the top two lines until 10 minutes left in the 3rd and tell me you weren’t left wanting last night. The complete lack of effort that has popped up in games over the last few weeks is beyond befuddling IMO.

Im at a loss for how to correct it, if the guys don’t want to come out and play hard I don’t really know what the solution is. I think the coach is in the same head space. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to watch the Detroit/Vegas/Washington games and then have to stand on the bench for a free such as last night.

It’s complete Jekyll and Hyde performances lately, I thought we got passed that a few years ago.

Maybe the sick bug going through the roster really is that bad. It was bad enough to have CmD drop 10lbs and knock two regulars out of the lineup within 48hrs so whatever it is it’s nasty. But man do I hate having to succumb to that narrative, the Ducks are missing half their veteran roster and aren’t crapoing the bed as badly.

Sigh, same as it ever was I guess.

Snowman

No trades of core pieces this season. Good grief. We don’t even have any UFAs to sell at the deadline.

There is clarity. From where I’m sitting this season is lost. No major trades, Pete. Sell of the minor bits for as many picks as you can at the deadline. Beg Connor for forgiveness for such a travesty of a season. Get on the same damn page as your coach. Start all over. And if I’m the owner, you’re fired come seasons end.

I don’t see the point in trading Nuge for wingers. And if you’re going to trade with the Bruins it might be a good time to remind them about Dougie Hamilton. They overpay. Big time. Or no deal. Remember Peter, you don’t HAVE to trade Nuge.

See ya later Patty Maroon. Bye bye Mark Letestu. Ciao Eric Gryba. Safe travels Iiro Pakarinen.

You get the drift. I like most of those guys. But honestly this team is going to have to retool on the fly this summer and any picks you can get for those guys are going to be useful for the next GM.

JD_Wry

“Dad, can I have my allowance?”

grumbles

“Ask me tomorrow.”

sliderule

If Chia’s solution to this mess is to trade Nuge for Heinen and Cehlarik then both Chia and Gretzky should be fired.
The oilers are slow and the scouting reports I find on these two are sloth like.
We already have players like Maroon ,Letustu and others who can’t get back fast enough to cover and have to hook and slash as they can’t move their legs fast enough to check.
There is a reason the oil are near top of penalties taken and its lack of speed and team discipline.

Bruce McCurdy

frjohnk:
Crazy thing about that 15-16 team is that they were 7-14-2 up until around this time two years ago, but they then went on a run of 7 wins 1 loss and brought their record to 14-15-2. That put us into 18th place.

And that run was without Connor!!Eventually too many injuries to too many core players and the lack of depth torpedoed the season.

Take Connor out of the lineup right now, does this team go on a 7-1-0 run?

No, but take him out of the line-up last night & I don’t see how they play any worse. He just doesn’t have a lot in the tank just now. I’ll blame the flu but the sooner he gets over it, the better. Points or no points, this last stretch of games has likely been his worst as an Oiler.

And let’s face it, when Connor is off his game this team doesn’t have a lot to hang its hat on.

stephen sheps

Postgame post-mortem:

Just thought I’d follow up from my live game report and let y’all know what I saw from up top.

My seats were almost press-box level, in the corner, and saw the Oilers attack twice from surprisingly close range. The arena in Buffalo holds almost 20,000 but feels small. The sight-lines from section 322 were excellent. It made me realize why some players who are healthy-scratched for a re-set often talk about how the game looks different from up top and you see things you don’t normally see from on the ice (or the standard TV camera angles).

I’ll start with a brief recap of the 3rd, since I was in such a foul mood after the game that I didn’t bother reporting on my way out.

First, the good.

3rd line had a much better 3rd period than they did through periods 1 & 2. They were essentially the only line to get any sustained pressure at any point, and while not much happened, at least they were able to establish something close to a forecheck and had a few strong cycles down low. Jesse looked strong on the puck, Khaira, too. Strome actually looked ok by eye as well, particularly as the high forward while the two bigger bodied wingers played down low.

Mike Cammalleri can still play hockey. He did not look out of place at all on the McDavid line. Interesting to note that towards the end of the game, 13 was taking all the draws in place of McDavid and actually won most of them, including a couple of O-zone wins against O’Reilly, one of the top face-off takers in the league. He makes smart, subtle plays with the puck. I hope to see him play with 97 again. This leads me into the bad…

… I am a fan of the Drake, but while he is tenacious and has the speed to match McDavid, he’s not there yet defensively, as indicated by the way he played the Eichel goal, kind of flailing and waving his stick while losing body position, then giving up on his man, which forced Russell to back off, partially screen LB and well, game over. Neither Drake nor Russell played that situation well at all. I get that it was a shot LB would likely want to have back, but the coverage was soft and neither 91 nor 4 seemed to commit to taking man or puck.

If I were a betting man (I’m not), I’d wager Leon also has the flu. Something was off in his game the entire night, but particularly in the 3rd. After every shift, particularly after whistles, he was at the bench, hunched over and looking gassed.

Overall impressions:

– The Oilers are a team in the NHL, but one that doesn’t have the depth or the resilience to overcome the lack of depth when injuries and illness takes hold.

– The breakout system the team uses isn’t working. Part of the issue is the lack of a defenceman who can make the quick headman pass to a forward on the rush (Nurse is learning, Klef could do it last year, and Sekera can, but, you know…) but part of it is the fact that even the players who can seem to be more comfortable going back behind the net and doing Kris Russell’s patented move. Forwards are starting to do that more often as well, and it wasn’t because of a swarming Sabres forecheck or lack of room in the neutral zone. I saw Maroon and Lucic both receive passes in the NZ and then circle back, try a short pass to another winger or defender and then have the puck just skip off the heels of sticks or bounce on the poor ice and the Sabres would quickly regain possession and be on the attack. The lack of team speed isn’t just about the players skating, it’s also about how the players move the puck. Everything is taking way too much time to develop, making it easier for the opposition to read and react to what the Oilers are doing when they have the puck.

– The forwards, particularly in the top 6, once they do manage clean zone entries and maintain possession, are playing too cute. The ‘you can’t pass it into the net’ cliche was alive and well last night. This issue speaks to my previous point – they take too long to try and develop the perfect play, forcing predictable cross-seam passes and other such low-percentage plays. Buffalo doesn’t have a great defence, but the plays were so slow to develop that it was easy for them to anticipate and break up potential scoring chances.

– Benoit Pouliot’s speed is something the team misses. We talk about the loss of Eberle around here all the time, but BP brought speed and intelligent play (give or take a dumb penalty every game, something that Maroon, Lucic and Letestu seem to be doing more often now anyway), and he was both an excellent forechecker and penalty killer. While he didn’t show up on the score sheet, I noticed 67 in good ways almost every time he was on the ice, especially in terms of transition play. He knows where to be on the ice and is fast enough to get there. Is he a difference maker or river pusher? Of course not. Is he the type of solid, quick, intelligent middle 6 forward that the Oilers could really use right now? Yes, absolutely he is. And of course the team paid him to go away.

– Letestu is a black hole at 5v5, and he’s not getting it done in the Ovi-spot on the PP either. That scheme and personnel deployment needs to be modified. I also think 55 is playing himself off the team after what was easily the finest season of his career last year. It’s too bad, because I generally really like him and what he can do, but the decline (or regression curve) has been steep.

– Despite the really great sight-lines at the arena, Buffalo is not a great place to see a game. It’s about as quiet as a Sunday afternoon game in Ottawa or the Northlands Coliseum circa 93-94. That said, I’m now at 5 arenas, with hopefully more to come sooner than later, because road games rule.

Ranked in order of fan experience (for me at least. Rankings like these are purely subjective):

1) Bridgestone Arena (Nashville – most fun I’ve had at an arena outside of Northlands in the playoffs)
2) the Joe (hopefully the Pizza is as good for the fans, because the Joe was a special old barn)
3) Saddledome (*spits – it’s like a road game and a home game, so there’s that)
4) Canadian Tire Centre (Ottawa)
5) Key Bank Arena (Buffalo)

frjohnk

sliderule: There is a reason the oil are near top of penalties taken and its lack of speed and team discipline.

Its “the price you have to pay” for “heavy hockey”

Bruce McCurdy

sliderule:
There is a reason the oil are near top of penalties taken and its lack of speed and team discipline.

The Oilers are actually middle of the pack in penalties taken. The problem is they are dead fucking last in penalties drawn.

Pescador

Johnny Eyetest:
They have to plan to be competitive ~3 years from now. Nuge will be at his best then .

They can resign him.

Bye bye Patty Maroon.

The following years we should see Russell, Sek, Looch heading out the door.

The core: McD, Drai, Nuge , Nurse, Klefbom , Larsson need help and it will only come through the draft.

Unreal.

I think this is it, establish who is part of the core, who the complementary players are & who is expendable.
RNH is not going anywhere, that’s just foolish talk.
This team lacks resolve & goaltending, that’s a deadly combination in the NHL.
This boat will get turned around just in time to realize that they already hit the iceberg.
This season is gone, it just is.
This

Pescador

Bruce McCurdy: The Oilers are actually middle of the pack in penalties taken. The problem is they are dead fucking last in penalties drawn.

Don’t forget awful on the PK

frjohnk

Bruce McCurdy: No, but take him out of the line-up last night & I don’t see how they play any worse. He just doesn’t have a lot in the tank just now. I’ll blame the flu but the sooner he gets over it, the better. Points or no points, this last stretch of games has likely been his worst as an Oiler.

And let’s face it, when Connor is off his game this team doesn’t have a lot to hang its hat on.

I believe the flu is the reason for much of the lacklustre effort over the last week or so.

Does not excuse the first 18 games or so.

And Oilers are not the only team that will have the flu/injuries all year.

fifthcartel

Dom Luszczyszyn’s article on The Athletic about how much Chiarelli’s moves have cost the Oilers is very good and important.

He’s caused lasting damage from his “filling a need by losing a trade” moves and the amount of skill sent away is incredible. I don’t know how you (a supposed contending team) lets him continue on as he’s mainly the reason for this poor season.

frjohnk

stephen sheps,

great write up. Thanks

Cassandra

The problem is so, so, obvious.

What is also so, so, obvious is that the players are going to be blamed for their effort. This is abject nonsense and anyone who blames the players should be pilloried, banished, or otherwise made to regret they have been born.

This town has been blaming the players for years and it is has to stop. Shoot Chiarelli out of a cannon. Give McClellan a graceful exit, and this team has a chance. Blame the players again(other than Lucic who should also be shot out of the cannon) and this team will never win.

It isn’t the players fault their team is being run by one of the worst general managers in history.

It isn’t the players fault they are being coached by a man the game has past by.

And if you don’t believe the game has past McClellan by, watch the Islanders and Devils (my new favourite teams) play. Those teams have the same losers the fans blamed for failures past, and it turns out they are really good. It is also incredible to see the difference through the neutral zone.

And neither team has a particularly inspiring defense corps, and yet they move the puck so, so, fast.

Cheer for the losses ladies and gentlemen, nothing good can come until the general manager and coach are gone.

Truthfully, this team would have been better off losing the lottery. Eichel +anybody but Chiarelli is better than McDavid + Chiarelli. That is how bad Chiarelli is.

stephen sheps

Lowetide,

frjohnk,

happy to provide! I only wish I would have had more positives to report.

It was totally worth going, despite the loss. I don’t often get the chance to see games live, especially with the two childhood friends I went with yesterday. We all live in Toronto now, but it’s not like we can afford to see the Oilers play here (I don’t know how anyone can go to games at the ACC – it’s ridiculous!), so a mini-road trip with those two helped make up for the bad play… mostly…

Bag of Pucks

The Head Coach has said repeatedly the team is not playing the way they need to play to be successful.

It’s the players in the room. They’re not executing the game plan. They’re not scoring the ugly goals.

They were a 103 point team last year with positive underlying metrics. It’s fun to blame the GM but you don’t fall from penthouse to outhouse this fast cos of Eberle and Sekera.

They’ll do what every NHL team does in this situation. Either they hold a player’s only meeting to clear the air and save their season, or they’ll continue to stink and get TMac fired.

Big acid test for Chiarelli and MacClellan for sure. They feel they’ve moved out the perpetual losers and brought in character ‘winners.’ How they respond will be interesting.

I know one thing. A hot Talbot would cure a lot of ails right about now. This is a defining trait of Chia teams btw. Super reliant on exceptional goaltending.

OriginalPouzar

“Created a tremendous void (especially at forward) in matriculating talent”

This is why I see a significant silver lining assuming the season continues as it has – a solid to great draft pick along with the accumulation of picks/prospects from being sellers at the deadline will speed up the acquisition of depth to our forward prospect pool. Having a deep forward prospect pool is going to be huge going forward.

I don’t think any (many) Oiler fans think the team is quite as bad as they are showing – there are many good to great pieces in place. Maybe a single “re-tool” this off-season after an underperforming season will actually help parlay this team to be consistent contenders – it could help provide us with the stream of cheap value contracts we need to contend consistently.

A much more pleasant coversation to have than to spend day after day after day “discussing” the bleeding of talent by the GM.

Bruce McCurdy

frjohnk: I believe the flu is the reason for much of the lacklustre effort over the last week or so.

Does not excuse the first 18 games or so.

And Oilers are not the only team that will have the flu/injuries all year.

Well I was referring specifically to McDavid, whose last 5 games have not been good. 4 of them ending with -2 or worse. The first line has been getting its lunch money stolen, & that’s a problem.

That said, when Talbot & Klefbom miss a game with flu, & McDavid, Draisaitl, & likely others (I’m guessing Larsson) are playing through it, well that’s pretty much the core of the team being, uhh, cored.

(Further to Shepso’s excellent comment, my spouse watch the third period with me & said right away, “Leon looks like he’s sick, just look at his eyes.” Kindergarten teachers know these things.)

Scungilli Slushy

“I wonder if it was a showcase?”

If we trade Connor for Ristolainen what do we have to add? 🙂

Just like so many other teams around the league, the players that are sinking the team are vets locked in that the game has moved away from. Mobility is the name of the game now because even the worst team is pretty tight defensively. Players have to be able to separate and move into open space.

The guys struggling don’t change angles and aren’t good enough shooters to pick corners and holes with enough velocity to beat these giant positional goalies. That Connor and Leon are ‘struggling’ isn’t the problem. All top players have dry stretches – are the Pens fans getting the pitchforks out for Crosby because of his 12 game scoring drought?

I commented last night that I saw a lot of good from the young players that can skate. There is no way they move forward and stay ahead trading Nurse or JP. Well I should say the chances are slim because Chiarelli hasn’t shown the knack of finding gems in his trades. Anybody can trade down in talent. Once for a huge hole you can absorb (I still can’t get the thought that perceived attitude had a big part in that out of my mind), but not continually rolling the dice on low % bets.

For me the max is two heavy boots guys on the team. In the NHL being a half step late means not making clean plays for most players, and that is ruining the tempo of the team. Auvitu is a prime example – as flawed as he is his quickness means he can move the puck and help. I did see effort defensively and if he can learn to get in lanes and use his stick he could be a decent third pair if he can accept what the pay has to be. But he needs a decent skating bigger partner to stop teams for simply trying to run over his pair. Too bad he’s not right shooting, he and Nurse might be good.

I know some guys have NMC’s, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go, they just have to agree to it. I don’t think the Oilers have the stones to ask guys that aren’t living up to their deals to waive. But they should. I’d would sell Maroon, Letestu, Gryba at the deadline. I’d try to get Russell out in the summer.

I still like the core of McD Drai Nuge JP Larsson Nurse Klefbom Sekera. If Nuge goes I’d want a quality RD for him. If it’s a LD same return, and I would keep Nurse over Klef because I see him as superior already overall and he still has a lot to develop – Klef is closer to his ceiling at his age, but would prefer the older guys out first.

Bag of Pucks

Cassandra,

If Chiarelli is so dumb, why was almost everyone universally bullish on this team’s chances entering the season?

A. They liked the roster and they liked the team’s chances.

The issue here is performance regression and that falls on the player first and coach second.

Klefbom, Talbot and Draisaitl playing shitty is not on Pete. Nobody predicted that.

sliderule

Bruce McCurdy: The Oilers are actually middle of the pack in penalties taken. The problem is they are dead fucking last in penalties drawn.

the oilers are technically fourth in penalty time per game but they are virtually ties for second if you round it for comparison.
They are playing the game either 5-4 or 4-4 about 11-1/2 minutes per game while at the other end of spectrum teams are down to 71/2 minutes.
I see a lot of undisciplined penalties (hello Maroon and Kassian ) and lots of hand slashes or hooks caused mostly by lack of speed.The first two oilers took last night were of that variety.
Its partly players they have but the coaches have big responsibility in making sure players are not taking stupid slashing and hooking penalties

Scungilli Slushy

Bruce McCurdy: (Further to Shepso’s excellent comment, my spouse watch the third period with me & said right away, “Leon looks like he’s sick, just look at his eyes.” Kindergarten teachers know these things.)

True and I believe the team has been sick for a while and younger guys more prone because age, but Leon is always dark under the eyes, even on draft day.

Bruce McCurdy

Scungilli Slushy: True and I believe the team has been sick for a while and younger guys more prone because age, but Leon is always dark under the eyes, even on draft day.

I suspect my spouse has spent plenty of time admiring Leon’s eyes before last night so could discern the difference. ?

Newton

This is mostly on the players no doubt, however Mclellan and his staff’s stubbornness to change tactics and deployment on the PP is mind blowing. Seeing slow semi-skilled guys that overachieved last year like Letestu and Lucic bobble the puck is nauseating. Half boards to down low, force a low % pass to the slot no dice. In addition when will McLellan try Leon at Centre he has struggled on the wing this year and according to Chi the reason he paid him a kings ransom was because he will play C. Let the Sherman tank drive the middle! The season is gone and most of this moot however could lead to changes . If they continue this spiral nobidy will be off the table besides McD.

JD_Wry
StixMalone

OriginalPouzar:
“Created a tremendous void (especially at forward) in matriculating talent”

This is why I see a significant silver lining assuming the season continues as it has – a solid to great draft pick along with the accumulation of picks/prospects from being sellers at the deadline will speed up the acquisition of depth to our forward prospect pool. Having a deep forward prospect pool is going to be huge going forward.

I don’t think any (many) Oiler fans think the team is quite as bad as they are showing – there are many good to great pieces in place.Maybe a single “re-tool” this off-season after an underperforming season will actually help parlay this team to be consistent contenders – it could help provide us with the stream of cheap value contracts we need to contend consistently.

A much more pleasant coversation to have than to spend day after day after day “discussing” the bleeding of talent by the GM.

Yes probably the right thing to happen. On the other hand if the next trade is a bad or stupid one it will be the firing of Chia….

frjohnk

Is “speed” the new “size”?

I think both have value, but less than what is most important.

Skill.

Its always been about skill.

Always will be.

Bruce McCurdy

sliderule: the oilers are technically fourth in penalty time per game but they are virtually ties for second if you round it for comparison.

You’re looking at the wrong stat. The Oilers are fourth in penalty minutes per game largely because they lead the league in majors (all coincidental) & are second in misconducts which are unrelated to penalty killing.

When it comes to times shorthanded, the Oilers are 16th in the league, dead centre of the pack. If adjusting for GP that might shift by a spot or two but not materially.

Woogie63

We have 3 of the top 40 Centers in the league, but we only have two quality NHL lines.

The top two line can be effective for 34 minutes (ish) at 5×5.

Splitting 97, 29, 93 will increase the quality on the ice more than 4 minutes of hockey. That is a +10% improvement. IMO in this league that is a significant gain we are currently missing.