That’s Entertainment

by Lowetide

I’m not absolutely certain Darnell Nurse will enjoy another ‘three goals and four points in two games’ streak in his career but the first one is in the books and came in a timely fashion for the franchise. Just days away from the season’s death rattle, a four-point weekend for Edmonton has the gathered healthcare workers plugging the monitor back in and beginning the vigil anew.

 THE ATHLETIC

Great offer! Includes a free 7-day trial so you can try The Athletic on for size free and see if they enjoy the in-depth, ad-free coverage on the site. If you don’t feel it’s worth the $4.49/month, cancel anytime during trial before getting charged. Offer is here.

 RED RUM, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • January 2016: 3-2-2, goal differential -3 (8 points)
  • January 2017: 4-3-0, goal differential -3 (8 points)
  • January 2018: 3-4-0, goal differential -10 (6 points)

That was an exciting win in Vegas, in front of a home crowd no less. You know what this means, right? Annual road trip! Each January 13, the Oilers fan base must fly to the game destination to serenade 97 with a rousing version of ‘Happy Birthday’. It is written, so it must be done. Take back the empties.

AFTER 46, YEAR OVER

  • Oilers 15-16: 18-23-5, goal differential -26 (41 points)
  • Oilers 16-17: 24-15-7, goal differential +9 (55 points)
  • Oilers 17-18: 20-23-3, goal differential -21 (43 points)
When The Athletic asked me to write the Person of the Year (Edmonton) story about McDavid I was honored to do it. In that article, I wrote about the relationship this city has with its athletes, something that grows as the time goes. If you’re looking for a reason 6,000 Edmontonians traveled to Sin City to sing to their hockey icon, this is it:
  • The Athletic: There is a love of the Edmonton Oilers that borders on religion, and a genuine affection toward players who arrive from elsewhere and adopt Edmonton as “home.” It is the single biggest reason why Connor McDavid’s decision to sign an 8-year deal with the Oilers sealed his future in this northern outpost and is the de facto news story of the year in Edmonton. McDavid’s commitment means as much to its citizens as his incredible talent. It’s a bond similar to the one formed decades ago with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish. It is a unique facet of this community.

 WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER

  • At home to: Los Angeles, Anaheim (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, Arizona, Vegas (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 2-3-0)
  • At home to: Vancouver, Buffalo, Calgary (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 4-4-2, 10 points in 10 games
  • Current results: 3-4-0, six points in seven games

What a strange month. The Oilers are actually fair close to being on track for my projections, but the way the team arrived at this point is highly unlikely. Why does the road hold such appeal? Should the team park themselves at the Red Deer Lodge for all home games? Weird. Real weird.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Klefbom-Benning were 9-10 in 10:49, 1-0 in GF, no HD’s but 7-3 in scoring chances. I don’t ordinarily list them, because scoring chances often coincide with 97 time-on-ice. Went 6-2 in 6:36 against the top LV line (Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault). Like this pairing, Oscar’s going to do good things after the AS break.
  • Nurse-Larsson are basking in the glow of the Nurse photonic  cannon. Four goals in two games for any player is impressive, Nurse went into the weekend with 10 career goals. Went 6-9 in 10:36 (McLellan rotated top two pairings equally), 1-0 GF and 3-0 in HD’s. Were 1-4 against Neal-Haula-Perron, a slippery line for sure. Nurse continues to show up in good places, to move the chains in terms of established levels. He still has some ways to go as a player, the mistakes of youth are still on display. That said, we are seeing him emerge on another level in real time, or at least we are seeing that possibility that has yet to be established. Exciting development.
  • Sekera-Russell were 5-18 in 8:48, it was a firing squad out there. Lordy. Pair were 0-2 in GF and 0-3 HDSC’s. I think Russell boxed himself out on the first goal, Sekera was a day late on the second goal. I mentioned they would have trouble if they stayed together, that’s not exactly science talking. Went 1-9 against Neal-Haula-Perron, 2-7 against Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault, it really was a giant marchessault. That pairing needs to split.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 34 of 36, .944.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Khaira-Letestu-Kassian went 4-4 (Kassian) and 1-4 (Khaira) as players moved around after the Nuge injury. Kassian isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I thought he used his wheels very well, especially on the PK, and forechecked with abandon. Letestu had a takeaway, and a shot on goal, he’s in an area of the season where not much is happening for him.
  • Cammalleri-Strome-Kassian went 8-9 (Cammalleri) and 0-5 (Kassian) while Drake Caggiula (3-4) moved into a feature role. I like Cammalleri’s game, he’s a smart player who gives the team some genuine skill on the bottom 6F. I would not object to the club signing him for next season. Zack Kassian is a personal favorite, I’d bring him back, too. When he’s playing the hockey, he is effective.
  • Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl went 8-15 (Maroon), 7-13 (Draisaitl) and 2-5 (Caggiula) formed a hodge-podge No. 1 line on the night, and the offense flowed. McDavid was fabulous, running out of adjectives to describe this man. He almost got walloped in the neutral zone, suicide pass put him in a tough spot. In a moment that offers us some insight into the player, 97 appeared to have eyes in the back of his head, a sixth sense that allowed him to completely avoid danger. Do we know about his eyesight, range of vision? Does he have some kind of ‘Michael Phelps has gills!’ panorama view of the world?
  • Lucic-Nuge-Puljujarvi went 0-6 (Lucic) and 1-8 (Puljujarvi) in the discouraging portion of the game. Nuge got hurt, Lucic got cut and Puljujarvi is lost in the supermarket. I am telling you, this is one of the most important bullet points on the season. JP is there, right there, but has been fading for some time and needs to play on another line to get jumpstarted. Will the coach break up the McDavid-Leon duo?

LAST NIGHT

The formula one year ago was McDavid rains down blows and Talbot stops everything. Last night we saw it, and something more. Two pairings found a way to move the puck up the ice, the third one stood out in a bad way (and that’s a good thing, obviously needs a fix). The club needs to score goals when 97 isn’t on the ice and that remains a problem. Drake Caggiula stepped up and had a nice second half of the game, that’s what this team needs and requires from a second line beyond McDavid’s trio.

THIS WEEK

I’ll be writing about the team meetings and the draft this week, plus procurement, Darnell Nurse and his role moving forward, and the goalies across the Oilers universe.

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OriginalPouzar

Darnell Nurse – oh my.

We all know about his 4 steps forward this year and how much he’s improved – mostly in the defensive zone, positioning and transitioning the puck. Over the last few weeks his offence has spiked. He’s been getting points somewhat consistently through the year but it seems that over the last few weeks, he’s been more of a primary contributor to the offensive production – he’s making more offensive plays.

I believe he’s up to 12th among d-men in even strength scoring.

He did see some PP time on the last PP – maybe we’ll see more of than in the 2nd half.

I think the next step for Darnell is an uptick his breakout pass – don’t get me wrong, he’s got a decent breakout pass but his primary way to transition the puck right now is to skate it up ice but its always better to transport the puck by pass, if possible – that’s going to come next.

What a beast of a D-man he’s going to be.

This is going to be an interesting contract this spring/summer.

OriginalPouzar

By my eye Sekera is starting to look a little better but Russell is struggling more than he ever has as an Oiler.

On one shift, he failed to clear the puck 4 times (once he did clear but it was an off-the glass and out and it was back in the zone in 2 seconds) and then iced the puck.

If we didn’t have the bye week coming up, I would think he would apt for the press box in favor of Davidson (or Auvitu) next game.

OriginalPouzar

“it really was a giant marchessault” – early favorite for line of 2018. Well done.

OriginalPouzar

Kassian had a massive night on the PK, massive. I thought he made a very good play or two on ever single one of them.

He is still turning away from contact and definitely not taking every opportunity to lay the body (which he does when he’s at his best). Is he hurt? The fight would indicate he’s fine but a fight isn’t the same as banging bodies.

frjohnk

Last night McDavid was in video game mode and I think the turbo button was stuck on.

Nurses last two games are what top pairing Dmen do from time to time.

We had flashes of that with Klefbom last year but other than we have been devoid of a top pairing Dman in the last decade.

A healthy and confident Klefbom with a stepped up Nurse will do wonders for this team next year.

Ben

Why do I keep hearing that Nurse has four goals in his last two games? Am I missing one?

25 is just a thrilling skater. Not sure if he’ll keep bringing the offense with any consistency, but if he can reliably put up 30+ points that’s a pretty terrific player, and probably worth Sekera’s deal.

OriginalPouzar

As an aside, no need to “bring back Kassian” – I’m pretty sure he’s signed for two more years. Unless you mean not dealt?

OriginalPouzar

That suicide pass from Maroon to McDavid was indeed scary.

Was McDavid able to get out of the way or did the Knight player (can’t remember who it was) recognize who it was and made a quick decision not to destroy?

frjohnk

OriginalPouzar:
By my eye Sekera is starting to look a little better but Russell is struggling more than he ever has as an Oiler.

On one shift, he failed to clear the puck 4 times (once he did clear but it was an off-the glass and out and it was back in the zone in 2 seconds) and then iced the puck.

If we didn’t have the bye week coming up, I would think he would apt for the press box in favor of Davidson (or Auvitu) next game.

The break may do Sekera well. He is nowhere near his level from last year.

frjohnk

OriginalPouzar:
As an aside, no need to “bring back Kassian” – I’m pretty sure he’s signed for two more years.Unless you mean not dealt?

Because of his poor year and he is paid too much as a 4th liner, maybe another team sees this and the Oilers cap constraints next year and they offer some value for him.

Dicky94

One thing I noticed last night was that Karlsson kid seems to fall down easy when there is contact trying to draw penalties. I like his game but needs to take that diving shit out of it.

Jethro Tull

Kris Russell – Officially the only player in the NHL that can box himself out of plays!

Love it, LT!

I would love to see what McDavid would do playing against Russell, what with Kris still practicing backwards crossovers during NHL games.

frjohnk

Vegas sure plays with a quick pace and some of their forwards can fly. If not for McDavid, the ice would have been tilted even more in favor of Vegas

smellyglove

Ben:
Why do I keep hearing that Nurse has four goals in his last two games? Am I missing one?

25 is just a thrilling skater. Not sure if he’ll keep bringing the offense with any consistency, but if he can reliably put up 30+ points that’s a pretty terrific player, and probably worth Sekera’s deal.

LT has it wrong. Nurse has four goals in four games (one last night, two the night before, and the first of the quad-scoring run coming against Chicago on Jan 7).

—–

Tuned in for the last half of the 3rd period – exciting game! But LT and all — this team is toast. Season’s over. They could go on a 10 game winning streak and would still need to gain five points on the team’s leading in the standings.

OriginalPouzar

frjohnk:
Last night McDavid was in video game mode and I think the turbo button was stuck on.

Nurses last two games are what top pairing Dmen do from time to time.

We had flashes of that with Klefbom last year but other than we have been devoid of a top pairing Dman in the last decade.

A healthy and confident Klefbom with a stepped up Nurse will do wonders for this team next year.

Your last sentence is important. A “healthy Klefbom”.

Oscar hasn’t had a great year (although he has been better lately). Surely a step-back from last year.

At the same time, he’s had a bad shoulder since before game 1 and I think we can largely attribute his step back to the injury.

On the assumption of healthy for next year, I think we can expect to see a product closer to the 2016/17 Klefbom and that is a huge thing for this team.

Oscar’s name does come up in trade discussions because of the leftorium. I understand that but seller beware – that $4.1M contract for the next 6 years (I think) provides extreme value and I’m loathe to get rid of this player unless the return is something we can’t turn down.

Klefbom and Nurse are the left side core of the future. In no world does it make sense to keep Russell and trade Klefbom at essentially the same salary.

Sekera (who is great) and Russell are the movable pieces on the left side (again, subject to can’t turn down trade). Yes, I know, NMCs – they are a huge factor and, if they aren’t waived, then I think management needs to “ride it out” and not make a trade of Nurse/Klef unless its forced via return.

OriginalPouzar

Ben:
Why do I keep hearing that Nurse has four goals in his last two games? Am I missing one?

25 is just a thrilling skater. Not sure if he’ll keep bringing the offense with any consistency, but if he can reliably put up 30+ points that’s a pretty terrific player, and probably worth Sekera’s deal.

Yes, I think its wrong – the Maroon goal was wrongly attributed to Nurse for a few minutes.

I believe he’s got 4 goals in the last 4 games.

Woogie63

Against the other team’s best players.
Last year Klefbom had a breakthrough year, playing with Larsson.
This year Nurse is having a breakthrough year, playing with Larsson.

This summer Mr. Larsson was given a “A”.

That Larsson might be a player yet.

frjohnk

OriginalPouzar: Your last sentence is important.A “healthy Klefbom”.

Oscar hasn’t had a great year (although he has been better lately).Surely a step-back from last year.

At the same time, he’s had a bad shoulder since before game 1 and I think we can largely attribute his step back to the injury.

On the assumption of healthy for next year, I think we can expect to see a product closer to the 2016/17 Klefbom and that is a huge thing for this team.

Oscar’s name does come up in trade discussions because of the leftorium.I understand that but seller beware – that $4.1M contract for the next 6 years (I think) provides extreme value and I’m loathe to get rid of this player unless the return is something we can’t turn down.

Klefbom and Nurse are the left side core of the future. In no world does it make sense to keep Russell and trade Klefbom at essentially the same salary.

Sekera (who is great) and Russell are the movable pieces on the left side (again, subject to can’t turn down trade).Yes, I know, NMCs – they are a huge factor and, if they aren’t waived, then I think management needs to “ride it out” and not make a trade of Nurse/Klef unless its forced via return.

100% agree.

We dont know the whole injury situation with Klefbom, but the organization should look at doing whatever it needs to do to have him at 100% for next year, even if that means shutting him down for the rest of this year.

frjohnk

Woogie63:
Against the other team’s best players.
Last year Klefbom had a breakthrough year, playing with Larsson.
This year Nurse is having a breakthrough year, playing with Larsson.

This summer Mr. Larsson was given a “A”.

That Larsson might be a player yet.

Just one metric but the eyetest confirms that it doesnt matter who Nurse plays with, he carrys the pairing.

Nurse CF% With
Adam Larsson 52.7
Kris Russell 50.42
Eric Gryba 63.35
Matthew Benning 61.07

Nurse CF% Without
Adam Larsson 55.03
Kris Russell 55.88
Eric Gryba 58.11
Matthew Benning 52.46

CF% Without Nurse
Adam Larsson 49.68
Kris Russell 48.73
Eric Gryba 51.7
Matthew Benning 50.84

marconiuse

OriginalPouzar,

Interesting, I thought the same thing last night and it was the first thing I thought after reading LT’s comment. Looked to me too that the LV player made a decision not to destroy him and pulled up.

Nice to see some respect in the league, I thought.

Pouzar

Nurse eh.

digger50

It really is fortunate that Oscar showed what he could do last year. Otherwise, if we were judging him on this year, it really would look bad.

I’m seeing him play soft as a marshmallow, no shot, poor clearing if the zone, and having lots of trouble defending. He’s a player, but not having a good season.

JD_Wry

Pouzar,

His hockey IQ is going to seriously limit his career.

Wild Bill Hunter

Me thinks you have Kassian and Caggiula confused LT.

flyfish1168

I feel many of our players are playing with some aches and pain. Not that other teams don’t have their own. When you lay as many hits as our players do you too get a jolt to the body. This time off is a welcome off. I really hope the Nuge is OK.

teddyturnbuckle

What’s the status on Nuge?

digger50

smellyglove: LT has it wrong. Nurse has four goals in four games (one last night, two the night before, and the first of the quad-scoring run coming against Chicago on Jan 7).

—–

Tuned in for the last half of the 3rd period – exciting game! But LT and all — this team is toast. Season’s over. They could go on a 10 game winning streak and would still need to gain five points on the team’s leading in the standings.

I know it a popular catch phrase to say “the season is over” but nothing could be further from the truth. When playoff chances are gone, that’s all that means. No playoffs.

But if the team plays like “it’s over” they only get worse. Worse as players, as a team, more losing, less development and I could go on. Meanwhile other teams continue to get better, putting the Oil even further behind

So if our Stanley chances are over, so be it. Still, the team must focus on winning, development , roster, general improvement. And speaking of generals, our general must learn a major lesson and find a better way to evaluate talent and make improvements to this roster without hurting it.

PhrankLee

Lowetide: I’m a big fan of Larsson, he’s a fine player. Playing the ‘Lee Fogolin’ role isn’t sexy but it is very valuable.

How I love this blog, LT. Not only your accuracy in references like this but above you said of Kass:

“Zack Kassian is a personal favorite, I’d bring him back, too. When he’s playing the hockey, he is effective.”

And I absolutely love that adoption by you for it shows how being open-minded can change our opinions of people and players. He is, so far, a great example of how people can change. You are a great example of acceptance and giving people second chances. Thanks, I recall your pronounced disdain for Kass the night PC acquired him. 🙂

Pouzar

JD_Wry:
Pouzar,

His hockey IQ is going to seriously limit his career.

He can skate circles around IQ!

JD_Wry

Pouzar,

😉

OriginalPouzar

frjohnk: 100% agree.

We dont know the whole injury situation with Klefbom, but the organization should look at doing whatever it needs to do to have him at 100% for next year, even if that means shutting him down for the rest of this year.

Oh, yes, if surgery is actually going to be required the he needs to be shut down sooner rather than later in order to ensure he’s 100% for camp (and get some off-season training in).

With that said, the potential need for surgery is pure speculation.

Pescador

frjohnk:
Last night McDavid was in video game mode and I think the turbo button was stuck on.

Nurses last two games are what top pairing Dmen do from time to time.

We had flashes of that with Klefbom last year but other than we have been devoid of a top pairing Dman in the last decade.

A healthy and confident Klefbom with a stepped up Nurse will do wonders for this team next year.

Nurse. Larsson.
Klefbom. XXX.
Sekera. Russell/ Benning.

I love Matty B. but is he a top 4 D?
I like him a lot more as an injury fill in, type of stop gap
I’m trying to imagine what would move the dial

digger50

Thought: Strange how Peter reaches out to Specter when he’s looking to get the word out about how he supports the coach etc. He goes to Spector.

The next day Spector gets wind that Sleppy has been made available and breaks the news, but he also has to include the little tidbit that it was done via e-mail. This little poke made Chia look cheap and unprofessional. Strange he’s do that right after the GM gives him an exclusive. No?

Jethro Tull

teddyturnbuckle:
What’s the status on Nuge?

TMac confident he will be back after break.

OriginalPouzar

teddyturnbuckle:
What’s the status on Nuge?

McLellan said “we think he’ll be OK coming out of the break”.

I’m sure we’ll here nothing over the next 5-6 days – I’m not sure if the coach’s are even allowed to speak to the media during the bye week (players aren’t).

Jethro Tull

JD_Wry:
Pouzar,

His love of DQ is going to seriously limit his career.

Well, Penner had IHOP.

slopitch

First time in a bit Ive had free time to sit and properly watch a game (nerding out as my wife calls it).

My biggest observation is the the Golden Knights can really skate. And they pressure the puck hard. It seemed the Oilers who are average skaters were exploited. While Nurse and McDavid, our best skaters, thrived. Its interested to see that I think Chai has overplayed the heavy hockey angle on the team and that could be his biggest fault this year – not having enough team speed when the league cracked down on stick infractions. The other area where the Oilers seem to struggle is on the back-end (again). To counter pressure you need to be either to quickly move the puck out of trouble which can include skate it out as Nurse effectively did. Sekera has had issues with the game not slowing down for him since the injury, his quickness isnt the same as last year and his whole game is effected. Im willing to wait on Sekera as his injury is a tough one to recover from. Larsson whose game I like isnt a great puck mover, neither is Russel. They keep giving it to the wingers in bad spots. As for the wingers, thats the biggest area of weakness. So many slow boots. Im gonna include Drai and Letestu in this but add to Strome, JJ, Maroon, Lucic (lordy) and Camalleri there just isnt enough speed to counter speed. DC looked good yesterday and so did Kassian. Both can skate and I dont think thats a coincidence. So in saying that, I dont think the players Ive listed need to all be moved by any means, but I do think 2-3 of them need to be swapped for a faster train. And anyone who plays with McDavid is fine because McDavid is so damn fast that he creates so much space for the wingers. JP is fading now (like LT said) so get him some support (Nuge isnt good enough to carry Lucic and JP right now). I think the team can go from where they are this year to where they were last year by upgrading 2-3 wingers and adding an effective puck mover, doesnt need to be a star but a Demers, Lindell type.

All in all a good game from the Oilers. Id be happy watching some meaningful games down the stretch. 24-9-3 is all they need 😉 Go oilers!

digger50

slopitch,

I agree with your take on the speed.

However, I want to comment on how you play against speed. If you are up against it, you hit them and slow them down. Playing to the other teams strengths has gone against the Oil. Right now they are a bit heavy, that’s what Tmac has to work with. He can wish they were faster but they are not. So play your strengths and use size, hitting and cycle hockey to your advantage.

Except McDavid line which you load up on speed.

Oilman99

OriginalPouzar:
Darnell Nurse – oh my.

We all know about his 4 steps forward this year and how much he’s improved – mostly in the defensive zone, positioning and transitioning the puck. Over the last few weeks his offence has spiked. He’s been getting points somewhat consistently through the year but it seems that over the last few weeks, he’s been more of a primary contributor to the offensive production – he’s making more offensive plays.

I believe he’s up to 12th among d-men in even strength scoring.

He did see some PP time on the last PP – maybe we’ll see more of than in the 2nd half.

I think the next step for Darnell is an uptick his breakout pass – don’t get me wrong, he’s got a decent breakout pass but his primary way to transition the puck right now is to skate it up ice but its always better to transport the puck by pass, if possible – that’s going to come next.

What a beast of a D-man he’s going to be.

This is going to be an interesting contract this spring/summer.

A bridge contract is the only way to go,you need to know what you’ve got before handing out the big bucks, eg. Drai contract could have been a big overpay.

Scungilli Slushy

OriginalPouzar: Your last sentence is important.A “healthy Klefbom”.

Oscar hasn’t had a great year (although he has been better lately).Surely a step-back from last year.

At the same time, he’s had a bad shoulder since before game 1 and I think we can largely attribute his step back to the injury.

On the assumption of healthy for next year, I think we can expect to see a product closer to the 2016/17 Klefbom and that is a huge thing for this team.

Oscar’s name does come up in trade discussions because of the leftorium.I understand that but seller beware – that $4.1M contract for the next 6 years (I think) provides extreme value and I’m loathe to get rid of this player unless the return is something we can’t turn down.

Klefbom and Nurse are the left side core of the future. In no world does it make sense to keep Russell and trade Klefbom at essentially the same salary.

Sekera (who is great) and Russell are the movable pieces on the left side (again, subject to can’t turn down trade).Yes, I know, NMCs – they are a huge factor and, if they aren’t waived, then I think management needs to “ride it out” and not make a trade of Nurse/Klef unless its forced via return.

I agree. Trading Klefbom or Nurse to keep Sekera or Russell is the type of decision that caused the DoD. They are allowed to have 4 good young D I hope they know that.

One more season, Russell on third pair, not the end of the world, then trade.

OilClog

There’s no chance they bridge deal Nurse

OilClog

Drai and Klef are going to Phoenix so get use to Russell and Sekera

LMHF#1

digger50:
slopitch,

I agree with your take on the speed.

However, I want to comment on how you play against speed. If you are up against it, you hit them and slow them down. Playing to the other teams strengths has gone against the Oil. Right now they are a bit heavy, that’s what Tmac has to work with. He can wish they were faster but they are not. So play your strengths and use size, hitting and cycle hockey to your advantage.

Except McDavid line which you load up on speed.

Slow can’t hit speed.

Positioning is how you beat speed. A smart, well executed position-based system and the type of players that can ex cute that.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, they are deploying chasers, both for a coach and a number of the players. Russell being the most obvious example.

Oilman99

OriginalPouzar:
By my eye Sekera is starting to look a little better but Russell is struggling more than he ever has as an Oiler.

On one shift, he failed to clear the puck 4 times (once he did clear but it was an off-the glass and out and it was back in the zone in 2 seconds) and then iced the puck.

If we didn’t have the bye week coming up, I would think he would apt for the press box in favor of Davidson (or Auvitu) next game.

There is way less chaos in Davidson’s game, don’t understand why he is odd man out so often. He is playing far steadier than Russell and Benning also more physical. Auvitu is not a bonafide alternative.

JimmyV1965

Russell is the new Benning. His regression since the start of the season is shocking and puzzling. He’s never been fantastic and he’s always had trouble moving the puck forward, but his poor play now is so much worse than ever.

Scungilli Slushy

LMHF#1: Slow can’t hit speed.

Positioning is how you beat speed. A smart, well executed position-based system and the type of players that can ex cute that.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, they are deploying chasers, both for a coach and a number of the players. Russell being the most obvious example.

Clogging the N zone and slot is how you beat speed and rush plays, just like others did to the Oil for years. Let them skate the perimeter.

JimmyV1965

OriginalPouzar:
That suicide pass from Maroon to McDavid was indeed scary.

Was McDavid able to get out of the way or did the Knight player (can’t remember who it was) recognize who it was and made a quick decision not to destroy?

That was truly scary.

LMHF#1

JimmyV1965,

I’m confused as to why this is shocking. He’s never been all that good and is tracking to be 6/7 by seasons end which makes perfect sense based on his track record, ceiling and age. The issue of course is that the GM and Coach have clearly decided he’s “their guy”.

When a coach chooses someone like that, it’s supposed to be someone like Yogi Berra – not Kris Russell or Liam Reddox.

JimmyV1965

Pescador: Nurse. Larsson.
Klefbom. XXX.
Sekera. Russell/ Benning.

I love Matty B. but is he a top 4 D?
I like him a lot more as an injury fill in, type of stop gap
I’m trying to imagine what would move the dial

I’ve been hard on Benning all year, but he’s looked a lot better lately. Not sure though if he’s top 4 though. Hopefully.