Coaching Crossroads?

by Lowetide

Connor McDavid is the most popular Oilers player and personality, but after that Todd McLellan would rank high among the collective personalities who are members of the team. His matter of fact style, casual delivery and natural ability to communicate allow him to interact with Oilers nation with ease. But you have to win. Will this be his final season with the team?

THE ATHLETIC!

Give The Athletic as a gift or get it yourself and join the fun! Offer is here, less than $4 a month! I find myself reading both the hockey (Willis, Dellow, Pronman, et cetera) and the baseball coverage a lot, it’s a pure pleasure to visit. We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.

TODD MCLELLAN

  • 2015-16: 31-43-8, 70 pts (199-242) (GD: -43)
  • 2016-1747-26-9, 103 pts (243-207) (GD: +36)
  • 2017-18: 36-40-6, 78 pts (229-262) (GD: -33)
  1. What was the best thing about the Oilers season? Connor McDavid. Copy and paste that answer for the next decade or more.
  2. What was the most devastating thing? O man. So many. Power-play goals fell from 56 to 31, penalty killing goals against rose from 43 to 57. Special teams play (including shorthanded goals for and against) went from +12 to -20. That’s a 32 goal trip into the elevator shaft.
  3. What about 5-on-5? In 2016-17, the Oilers scored 166 goals (No. 8 overall), gave up 140 (No. 9 overall). In 2017-18, the 5-on-5 offense mostly held. Edmonton had 163 goals for (No. 11 overall) but allowed a massive 176 goals against (No. 25), for a -13 overall. All numbers via Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference.
  4. Goaltending? Yes for sure, Talbot didn’t look right and part of that might have been a couple of early pulls. Edmonton allowed 737 high-danger scoring chances in 2016-17, 816 this past season.
  5. Was Talbot all bad? Situations explain a lot. Talbot was .927 in even-strength save percentage in 2016-17 (tied for No. 12) but fell to .915 (No. 28) this past season. This is among goalies with 30 or more games.
  6. So that was the problem? EV GA? Well, part of it. If Talbot had matched his even-strength save percentage from a year ago, 20 fewer goals would have been allowed (1725 x .927 =126, Talbot allowed 146).
  7. And? When Edmonton had a man disadvantage, Talbot was .877 (No. 17) in 2016-17, .848 (No. 33) in 2017-18. If he had managed the same total as last year, Edmonton would have allowed eight fewer goals.
  8. Where did the rest of the GA happen? In 661 total minutes in 2016-17, the backup goalies allowed 28 goals. This past season, in 1209 minutes, backups allowed 63.
  9. So, goaltending, and special teams? Yes, and injuries. Plus the lines after McDavid.
  10. Oh, is that all? Hehe. Yes. Quite the laundry list.
  11. What is the plan to fix it? A few things. Todd McLellan has a new and impressive coaching staff, that should help the special teams and hopefully defensive structure.
  12. And? The McDavid line will have Nuge and Ty Rattie, meaning the second line gets a more talented offensive pivot in Leon Draisaitl.
  13. Who are Leon’s wingers? Who are Leon’s wingers?
  14. Did the gap the gap between McDavid on and off ice 5×5 improve? According to Natural Stat Trick, in 2017-18 Edmonton at 5-on-5 was 77-47 with McDavid on the ice, 89-93 without. This past season, Edmonton at 5-on-5 was 81-61 with McDavid on the ice, 82-115 without.
  15. Shiza. Yes. The Oilers were +30 with 97 in 2016-17, +20 with him in 2017-18. Without him, the team was -4 in 2016-17, -33 without.
  16. Give up! Well, I think Edmonton missing the playoffs this season is possible, if that’s what you mean.
  17. Everything would have to break in a good way? Something like that. Edmonton did the right thing this summer, keeping the important pieces, now the organization has to add to the McDavid cluster.
  18. What is your McDavid cluster? McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Klefbom, Larsson, Nuge.
  19. Who might be added with a strong winter? Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Bouchard, Matt Benning, Jujhar Khaira. Maybe Ryan Strome. The later group here (Yamamoto, Bouchard) may end up being an echo cluster behind McDavid, but they need to arrive in a quick hurry.
  20. Is he good with rookies? I would say he is typical of veteran coaches. By that I mean a young player has to be patient because opportunities are rare and veterans are preferred. There is a thread of “earning it” another veteran coaching tactic. He does value skill though, Kailer Yamamoto making the NHL team is a reflection of it.
  21. What kind of rookies develop under McLellan? I’ve looked at this going back to his San Jose days, and McLellan jumps on the fully formed rookies (McDavid, Benning) but all others are vulnerable to the bench, pressbox or minors. I would say that is typical of a veteran coach.
  22. What about the 1994’s? That group (Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, Drake Caggiula) delivered a mixed bag of results. Anton Slepyshev should have spent a couple of weeks rehabbing in Bakersfield instead of one game, he never caught up because of it. Drake Caggiula scored 13 goals but his WOWY’s are universally destructive to his teammates. Jujhar Khaira had a solid year but you want to see it again. I am confident Matt Benning is going to be a productive NHL player if he’s healthy. He’s a win.
  23. What will the lines look like? McLellan’s lines opening night a year ago (Maroon—McDavid—Draisaitl; Lucic—RNH—Yamamoto; Jokinen—Strome—Caggiula; Khaira—Letestu—Kassian) were logical based on the available talent. I would have had Jesse Puljujarvi instead or Yamamoto but after that, once the decision was made to move Leon to No. 1 RW, the die was cast.
  24. What will the lines look like? My guess is NugeMcDavid—Rattie; Lucic—Draisaitl—Rieder; Caggiula—Strome—Puljujarvi; Khaira—Brodziak—Kassian. 
  25. When will Yamamoto get the call? My guess is 30 games into the season.
  26. Can the Oilers make the playoffs? Never bet against a Connor McDavid team.
  27. What would be the best case scenario? Oilers have good health, a rebound from Talbot and both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto emerge as bona fide NHL scorers.
  28. Is that all! Yeah, Edmonton needs several miles of good stories. The one thing that I believe to be true: There are three quality youngsters (JP, KY, Bouchard) who can have a positive impact and hang around for years. Only question is ETA.
  29. Will McLellan survive? Yes, I think so. If he didn’t get fired this spring, it won’t happen. He is a veteran NHL coach, popular with the fans and owns a large contract with some term left.
  30. Is there a danger for him? The first 10 games are going to be a sweatbox.
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Silver Streak

LT ….with Trent Yawney now in charge of the Dmen, and with it I assume he will have some say in its systems ……will we see a man on man – or a zone type Defence this year…..that is the elephant in the room for me this year.

Louis Levasseur

Predictions are a tough thing in sports. Entering into the 2018-19 season I would say most people are slightly negative on the Oilers’ ability to make the playoffs. Maybe cautious is a better word. Entering into last season, most were very optimistic, even predicting them going all the way. I can’t remember what was said before entering into the 2016-17 season. Probably similar to this year with a bit more guarded optimism.

I think this team, on paper at least, is better than the one that went on a roll the season before last. Of course a few things have to break right (injuries, etc.), but I think the real key to this season is internal growth of the core. All are young enough to improve. Just need to catch a wave and the mojo will ride them into the playoffs.

OriginalPouzar

“What would be the best case scenario? Oilers have good health, a rebound from Talbot and both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto emerge as bona fide NHL scorers.”

I will add to this: Matt Benning progresses and solidifies his spot as a solid 2RD.

OriginalPouzar

The Talbot numbers and the general goals for and against metrics (with and without McDavid) were sure demoralizing.

The question is how much of it was Talbot being bad and how much of it was the defensive group being bad/injured and how much of one is the effect of the other?

A healthier defence will help Cam Talbot and a confident and strong Cam Talbot will help the defence.

Kinger_Oil.redux

– Ah we all love this series LT: yeah!

– LT says: ” But you have to win. Will this be his final season with the team?” What do you think is the line in the sand for the org in order for coach to be back next year?

– I tend to think if no playoffs (or 20 games like start of last season), or 1st round exit, he’s done, and they have now contingencies plans in place. What say you?

leeinvan

He is a coach built to coach an alstar senior team.
With so many young players on the team I’m amazed he kept his job.
If the season goes in the crapper that’s on the GM for keeping an old school coach.

Kinger_Oil.redux

– Also, if we compare this years roster to lasts: I feel it is much better, just based on your line-up

– Maroon was a huge question mark, with a small sample size), vs Rattie = same

– RNH as winger for CmD > Maroon

– Yammer has no business being in the opening, if he makes it this year, he’s a year older = upgrade

– Drai as the 2C > RNH as 2C

– Reider > Kailer from last year

– Caggs vs Joki as 3W: same, but Caggs faster, scores more

– Pool as RW > Caggs from last year

– Strome has an established role, and will also help on PK

– Brodziak > Letetsu

– Kharia is coming off a good season

– Nurse and Benning are a year more experienced (and played a lot last year)

– They didn’t trade Lucic for a return that at best would produce the 34 points Lucic did last year

– You have to assume Sek will be more recovered from his injury: played in worlds, etc

– You have to assume Klef will be better after getting bone-spurs removed

– You have to assume Larsson will be better after family death, back, etc

– You have to assume Talbot won’t be amongst the worst goalies in the league again

– You have to assume that the coahcing moves will get more out of the players, and D development, and the special teams will improve

– And of course you have to assume that as both CmD and Drai, with one more year of experience are going to continue to get better: by far the biggest factor IMO

– I don’t see any objective measure whereby this team is “worse” on paper than the team last year which was a Cup contender by most insiders, and odds-makers

– They had a lot of bad luck, and the coach sucked, and the GM didn’t load up for game 1.

– This team is way better on paper than last years: without “hoping” or “wishing” It just is

jtblack

OriginalPouzar:

The question is how much of it was Talbot being bad and how much of it was the defensive group being bad/injured and how much of one is the effect of the other.

I used to be a Goalie. And a Damned Not very good one at that.
BUT, the Defense plays a huge role in the SV% number. To me SV% is a relection of team, not goalie. Looking at the effect just tells us the Team was shitty. It doesnt tell us WHY.

The why is piss poor defensive play by the entire team AND too many softies by Dadbot Combination of the two.

It wont be hard to improve on those poor #’s from last year. But will it be enough????

Louis Levasseur

Kinger_Oil.redux,

Agreed!

blainer

IMO TMac’s deployment of his players was baffling to say the least. I question after last year his ability to adjust to the changing of the game.

He doesn’t believe as best I can see in analytics much either. I have little confidence going forward with him but am a little optimistic with the assistant coach hires as long as they get some freedom on how to deploy players on D and special teams.

The biggest things that need to happen for us to make the playoffs and I say this every year at this time is Goaltending and health.

I am predicting a 101 point season with a slow start that may end this coach’s current position.

I am predicting big years for CMD and Nuge if they stay on the same line. Reasonable for me is 138 points with over 50 goals for Connor and 92 points for Nuge.

I think Bouchard makes the team and they dress 7 D until he gets to nine games but can also see him getting the Drai treatment and get in 39 games then back to a contending team in junior and hopefully a memorial cup run.

LadiesloveSmid

Yamamoto should play over Rattie and it shouldn’t be close. Play him (as well as Pulju) all season with 2 vets (RNH-97 or Lucic-Drai).

Kinger_Oil.redux

blainer:

I think Bouchard makes the team and they dress 7 D until he gets to nine games but can also see him getting the Drai treatment and get in 39 games then back to a contending team in junior and hopefully a memorial cup run.

– I’ve said this as well.

– Of course, if Klef and Sek are circa 2016, the ability to “protect” Bouchard in the manner VOR suggested a la Larry Murphy you could project.

– But Memorial Cup, World Junoirs, 40 games: awesome development IMO.

– And ideally Bear, Bouchard, Benning and Larsson on the RW deserving/competing, and Russel gets moved next off-season, because there are better RHD than him at that point

HenryDrix

Kinger_Oil.redux:
– Also, if we compare this years roster to lasts: I feel it is much better, just based on your line-up

– Maroon was a huge question mark, with a small sample size), vs Rattie = same

– RNH as winger for CmD > Maroon

– Yammer has no business being in the opening, if he makes it this year, he’s a year older = upgrade

– Drai as the 2C > RNH as 2C

– Reider > Kailer from last year

– Caggs vs Joki as 3W: same, but Caggs faster, scores more

– Pool as RW > Caggs from last year

– Strome has an established role, and will also help on PK

– Brodziak > Letetsu

– Kharia is coming off a good season

– Nurse and Benning are a year more experienced (and played a lot last year)

– They didn’t trade Lucic for a return that at best would produce the 34 points Lucic did last year

– You have to assume Sek will be more recovered from his injury: played in worlds, etc

– You have to assume Klef will be better after getting bone-spurs removed

– You have to assume Larsson will be better after family death, back, etc

– You have to assume Talbot won’t be amongst the worst goalies in the league again

– You have to assume that the coahcing moves will get more out of the players, and D development, and the special teams will improve

– And of course you have to assume that as both CmD and Drai, with one more year of experience are going to continue to get better: by far the biggest factor IMO

– I don’t see any objective measure whereby this team is “worse” on paper than the team last year which was a Cup contender by most insiders, and odds-makers

– They had a lot of bad luck, and the coach sucked, and the GM didn’t load up for game 1.

– This team is way better on paper than last years: without “hoping” or “wishing”It just is

I’m with you this. Sold!

OilClog

This guy needs to prove he has the back of the team in orange, or fire him and his fancy suits into the sun.

Team in Orange is your team Todd

flea

OilClog,

Are they bringing back the blue jerseys? Maybe Todd doesn’t like the orange! I know I’m not a big fan of the construction safety jerseys.

doritogrande

I think Bouchard makes the team and they dress 7 D until he gets to nine games but can also see him getting the Drai treatment and get in 39 games then back to a contending team in junior and hopefully a memorial cup run.

Worth noting that London has Adam Boqvist playing with them next year. May eat into Bouchard’s PP time as a second highly offensive minded RHD.

Professor Q

doritogrande:
I think Bouchard makes the team and they dress 7 D until he gets to nine games but can also see him getting the Drai treatment and get in 39 games then back to a contending team in junior and hopefully a memorial cup run.

Worth noting that London has Adam Boqvist playing with them next year. May eat into Bouchard’s PP time as a second highly offensive minded RHD.

I’m going to likely get tired of disagreeing with this statement. Still too common after being countered so many times.

We’ll see, though. I should be watching more games this season than I did last season, anyway.

I do hope they sign Tkachuk as well.

Professor Q

Silver Streak:
LT ….with Trent Yawney now in charge of the Dmen, andwith it I assume he will have some say in its systems ……will we see a man on man – or a zone type Defence this year…..that is the elephant in the room for me this year.

I wonder if they could get a Trawney-like coach to help Woodcroft in Bakersfield? Having good PP-PK and good D coaches in the NHL is good, but also having them in your development team is even better (the more influential spot for prospects and culture/system building).

v4ance

LT, your post was exactly what I was going to write about this morning. Thanks for being a mind reader and stealing all my material!

Anyways, looking at the first ten games of the season, the Oilers will be hard pressed to come out of them with 10 standings points. The keys to surviving those ten games will depend on Talbot, the special teams and the optimal deployment of the roster.

If McLellan can guide the team to a 0.500 record thru 25 games by the end of November (something like 11-11-3) then I believe he’ll survive until the end of the season. In order to do that, he’ll need to take a risk and let Yamamoto, JP and Bouchard play thru their mistakes as top 6 forwards or as a sheltered bottom pair PP specialist. After the first 25, the rest of the schedule sets up to be MUCH easier on the back 2/3rds of the season. My mind says he won’t change his stubborn ways and is fired within 20 games. My heart hopes he’ll be humbled after last year and bend a little leading the Oilers to find some success early in the season & onto a playoff appearance at the end.

My opinion is that Lucic is not suited for top 6 duties and the sooner that McLellan can identify that, the more likely he can save his job. I know the coach will start Lucic on the second line and try and reignite his offence but nothing I observed in last year’s version of Lucic gives me hope. He lost his hands, he lost another step and he lost his fire to engage physically. He needed all three of those aspects to legitimately remain in the Top 6 on merit.

Based on the snippets of information that I have seen or heard, i don’t believe the salary cap will go up much in the next few years. The players finally stopped using the maximum 5% escalator to increase the cap limit but it’ll take 2 years of similar restraint to drive down the escrow which players hate so much. The other looming drag on the salary cap increases are the tit for tat tariffs that may sewer both the American and Canadian economies. If Trump continues in his illogical global trade war, we may see a worldwide recession within 2 years.

Georges

You said not one bad thing about McLellan.

Munny

Re: Dr. Drai

I remember back in the day the Russian spy spent a lot of time at 4LW and then 1LW before he was trusted handling important minutes as a Center.

It was a good idea to give Drai a couple of years at wing before moving him to the middle, and we should expect that it will be a year or two at C before he is clearly winning the battle.

Munny

Kinger_Oil.redux: Ah we all love this series LT: yeah!

Is this an RE?

“The guy” answering the questions doesn’t quite seem to be in RE-Prick mode. And no tunage.

dustrock

jtblack: I used to be a Goalie. And a Damned Not very good one at that.
BUT, the Defense plays a huge role in the SV% number.To me SV% is a relection of team, not goalie.Looking at the effect just tells us the Team was shitty.It doesnt tell us WHY.

The why is piss poor defensive play by the entire teamAND too many softies by DadbotCombination of the two.

It wont be hard to improve on those poor #’s from last year.But will it be enough????

This makes some sense, but Dellow just posted an article about how players don’t seem to make a difference in a goalie’s save percentage over the long run.

Ie having your best d-man on or your worst d-man on, no real difference in save percentage.

So the question is why that happens. Just a quality of competition issue?

v4ance

dustrock: This makes some sense, but Dellow just posted an article about how players don’t seem to make a difference in a goalie’s save percentage over the long run.

Ie having your best d-man on or your worst d-man on, no real difference in save percentage.

So the question is why that happens. Just a quality of competition issue?

The save % doesn’t change between quality of defencemen but the number of shots given up and the higher quality shots are also allowed at a higher rate by lesser defencemen. It’ll affect your GAA which is the “team” measure vs Save% being more of a measure of the goalie.

Woodguy v2.0

Kinger_Oil.redux,

– I don’t see any objective measure whereby this team is “worse” on paper than the team last year which was a Cup contender by most insiders, and odds-makers

Insiders are generalists who look at wins and loses and come to conclusions.

Odds makers set their lines to maximize their advantage. EDM being a favourite last year’s says more about the betting public than the team.

People who follow this team closely said “Stanley Cup favourite and no 2nd pair Dmen on the opening night rosters?”

This team will be much better than last year.

Mostly due to the Dcorps development and starting the year at full health and coaching changes.

The last thing is not not overplay Talbot, which is why Pete overpaid for someone who has played over 40 games in a season and 29 last year.

Kinger_Oil.redux

Woodguy v2.0:
Kinger_Oil.redux,

– I don’t see any objective measure whereby this team is “worse” on paper than the team last year which was a Cup contender by most insiders, and odds-makers

Insiders are generalists who look at wins and loses and come to conclusions.

Odds makers set their lines to maximize their advantage. EDM being a favourite last year’s says more about the betting public than the team.

People who follow this team closely said “Stanley Cup favourite and no 2nd pair Dmen on the opening night rosters?”

This team will be much better than last year.

Mostly due to the Dcorps development and starting the year at full health and coaching changes.

The last thing is not not overplay Talbot, which is why Pete overpaid for someone who has played over 40 games in a season and 29 last year.

– There were too seperate points I made:

1) I don’t think anyone can objectively look at this year’s roster and not say on paper it is better than last year’s full-stop. You just can’t, on paper

2) The Cup part was a reminder of what the “conventional wisdom” said last year

– So we have a team that you can’t refute is not better on paper than last year (more depth, more experience, reasonable assumptions on regression, etc), and no one saying it’s a good team this year

LadiesloveSmid

I’d sleep a lot better at night with a big addition upfront. Eberle would fit like a damn glove if they could have afforded him. Miss him dearly.

JimmyV1965

v4ance: The save % doesn’t change between quality of defencemen but the number of shots given up and the higher quality shots are also allowed at a higher rate by lesser defencemen.It’ll affect your GAA which is the “team” measure vs Save% being more of a measure of the goalie.

But Talbot did have one of the lowest save percentages for all starting goalies. He needs to be much better

BONE207

Kinger_Oil.redux:
– Also, if we compare this years roster to lasts: I feel it is much better, just based on your line-up

– Maroon was a huge question mark, with a small sample size), vs Rattie = same

– RNH as winger for CmD > Maroon

– Yammer has no business being in the opening, if he makes it this year, he’s a year older = upgrade

– Drai as the 2C > RNH as 2C

– Reider > Kailer from last year

– Caggs vs Joki as 3W: same, but Caggs faster, scores more

– Pool as RW > Caggs from last year

– Strome has an established role, and will also help on PK

– Brodziak > Letetsu

– Kharia is coming off a good season

– Nurse and Benning are a year more experienced (and played a lot last year)

– They didn’t trade Lucic for a return that at best would produce the 34 points Lucic did last year

– You have to assume Sek will be more recovered from his injury: played in worlds, etc

– You have to assume Klef will be better after getting bone-spurs removed

– You have to assume Larsson will be better after family death, back, etc

– You have to assume Talbot won’t be amongst the worst goalies in the league again

– You have to assume that the coahcing moves will get more out of the players, and D development, and the special teams will improve

– And of course you have to assume that as both CmD and Drai, with one more year of experience are going to continue to get better: by far the biggest factor IMO

– I don’t see any objective measure whereby this team is “worse” on paper than the team last year which was a Cup contender by most insiders, and odds-makers

– They had a lot of bad luck, and the coach sucked, and the GM didn’t load up for game 1.

– This team is way better on paper than last years: without “hoping” or “wishing”It just is

+1…
This team just on 2 factors should be better.
1. The core players improve with experience & development.
2. The coaches use better systems & strength of player’s abilities

What can go wrong? #becauseOilers

BONE207

OilClog:
This guy needs to prove he has the back of the team in orange, or fire him and his fancy suits into the sun.

Team in Orange is your team Todd

As long as he gets rid of that plaid purple suit, I will drink more & cheer more enthusiastically each game night.

godot10

LadiesloveSmid:
Yamamoto should play over Rattie and it shouldn’t be close. Play him (as well as Pulju) all season with 2 vets (RNH-97 or Lucic-Drai).

The season will go badly if they intend to rely on Rattie.

Nugent-Hopkins and Rieder for McDavid, and let them roll.
Khaira and Puljujarvi for Draisaitl.
Lucic and Yamamoto for Strome.
And let the AHL’ers (Caggiula/Rattie/and Aberg) fight it out for the spot with Brodziak and Kassian.

Hopefully the waiver wire will expose someone better than the AHL triplets.

godot10

Georges:
You said not one bad thing about McLellan.

He knows there is a yang to his yin out there! -).

godot10

dustrock: This makes some sense, but Dellow just posted an article about how players don’t seem to make a difference in a goalie’s save percentage over the long run.

Ie having your best d-man on or your worst d-man on, no real difference in save percentage.

So the question is why that happens. Just a quality of competition issue?

A rest of the period, the next period, the next game…is not the “long run”. In the “long run”, a lot of transient effects can be lost.

in the short term, what matter is the next save, not the save percentage. The next save is a discrete event, not an average of thousands of events.

Because who the players are doesn’t matter in the long run, doesn’t mean they don’t matter in the short term. Games are won and lost in the short term.

The mean is not the only variable. The variance is a variable also. The mean doesn’t tell you anything about the variance, and vice versa.

BONE207

v4ance: The save % doesn’t change between quality of defencemen but the number of shots given up and the higher quality shots are also allowed at a higher rate by lesser defencemen.It’ll affect your GAA which is the “team” measure vs Save% being more of a measure of the goalie.

Let’s think about all those 1st shot goal games. How many were there? 10-15? That’s a large percentage of the total. Those goals in many cases were seeing eye, perfectly placed shots. Surely that can’t happen again? Was the effect of those goals to demoralize the team & cause the loss? If so, what if they still won half of them? Those points would have put them in closer contention. Maybe the team doesn’t need to have a lot of things to go perfectly right but instead, not have so few things go insanely wrong. Add things like Russell’s own goal to that.

Honestly…these sunglasses help me see clearly on these cloudy days…?

Munny

This article is a couple of days old now, but I don’t think anyone has posted the link:

https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/quick-shifts-senators-erik-karlsson-taylor-hall-oilers-maple-leafs-kadri-henrique-tavares/

There’s some Oilery stuff and some Taylor Hall quotes, and an absolutely heartbreaking obit from Ray Emery’s former fiancee that will have you blinking back the salt.

vangolf

Georges:
You said not one bad thing about McLellan.

It know it is easy to spend someone else’s money, but I am shocked he never takes on the officiating. I’m not some conspiracy theorist that the league is out to get the Oilers, but I imagine that having the coach go to bat for the team is a morale booster.

Also, he never uses timeouts to settle the waters. I cannot begin to count the number of times last season and the Anaheim series where a deep breath was needed!!

Kinger_Oil.redux

Lowetide:
One of the things we chase (and I do it too) is comparing this year’s team and last and saying it’s better/worse now.

Last year’s team, with just good health, was a good hockey club.

– and yet the coach and GM should have been fired a long time ago…

– So we have a good team that played bad and was unlucky, but a bad coach and GM who sewered this team

– Expectations are everything. I hope this team does really well this year, if only for the walking back of so much: would be rich…

RT26

Woodguy v2.0,

Woodguy,

Earlier, you posted a comment trying to maximize the second line’s performance. I think you stated that Lucic and Nuge had break-even CF%/ GF% together and that re-uniting McDavid and Draisaitl would create a great first line. Assuming I did not mis-understand your comment, how would you deploy the first two lines in 2018-19, and where would you put Rieder relative to those pairings?

Appreciate all you do for this site – thanks!

Wilde

LT, was ‘universally destructive’ meant to be a double entendre, or did I just read it that way?

Paddy Morans Jockstrap

I’m willing to play the 4th line very selectively against weakest opposition possible.

Nuge – McDavid – Puljujarvi (captain and RNH have to mentor this important kid)
Lucic – Draisaitl – Rieder (coach has got to figure out how to use Lucic)
Khaira – Strome – Kassian (big heavy veteran line with decent speed)
Aberg/Cagiula – Brodziak – Marody/Rattie (can Brodziak help them “saw-off”?)

or

Nuge – McDavid – Strome
Rieder – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Khaira – Kassian (yeah I like this line in Calgary)
Aberg/Cagiula – Brodziak – Marody/Rattie

or

Khaira – McDavid – Strome
Rieder – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Lucic – RNH – Kassian
Aberg/Cagiula – Brodziak – Marody/Rattie

Georges

vangolf: It knowit is easy to spend someone else’s money, but I am shocked he never takes on the officiating.I’m not some conspiracy theorist that the league is out to get the Oilers, but I imagine that having the coach go to bat for the team is a morale booster.

Also, he never uses timeouts to settle the waters.I cannot begin to count the number of times last season and the Anaheim series where a deep breath was needed!!

“… I imagine that having the coach go to bat for the team is a morale booster.”

In McLellan’s defense, the team in orange… dayymn!

Buddy

I’d add a few things to the best case scenario, things that we won’t know about until a ways into the season:
1. Sekera rebounds to something like his old level (quite possible).
2. Koskinen turns out to be a solid backup who can actually win games (who knows?).
3. Lucic rebounds to some sort of useful level. I think best case would be 3rd line F who can move up as needed and slot in on the power play (possible). Or even just 4th line F who can bring a physical element (quite likely, I think). That said, I fully expect McLellan to play him top 6 F for 20 games regardless of how he plays, to jump start his game, as V4ance said earlier in the thread.

Kinger_Oil.redux

– This is an awesome quote from Raptors GM: ““I understand sports. Sports is about winning. I have a mandate to win and that’s what I want to do: put the Toronto Raptors in a position to win. But I acknowledge there’s no measurement for what DeMar Derzan has done for this organization. That’s why we play sports. To win, and compete for a championship.”

– At some point the coach and GM of the Oil will be fired: they are always fired.

– I think we have a good team. I think the coach knows the score

– The GM knows what Masai says: it’s about winning.

– I think the knives out for Chia were not looking at big picture, and they will be wrong

– I think our team is way better than it was years prior. I think the coach and GM made mistakes. I think the best course of action was exactly what happened:

1) Nicholson protected Chia because he knows who did/said what
2) They got a better staff for Coach (and coach-in-waiting, and he knows the drill
3) As an organization, they learn from the year, and build. You don’t blow it up

Georges

godot10: He knows there is a yang to his yin out there! -).

You’re the original yang, the O.Y. I’m Lil Yang or Young Yang.

Let’s go on tour. You’ll headline. I’ll open with my chart-topper (in Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan): Nobody Does Lose It Better. We can play to the (apparently) 2 or 3 other discontents out there in Oiler Nation. Make modest bank. Then head to the after party at the fish and chips place. Order some henny. Get crunk. Say mean things about McLellan until they throws us out, y’all…

Wilde

=

Kinger_Oil.redux:
– Drai as the 2C > RNH as 2C

yes

Kinger_Oil.redux: – Caggs vs Joki as 3W: same, but Caggs faster, scores more

no

Caggiula was 3-14 in GF – GA in the opening twenty-one last year, and that GA stink follows him everywhere.

In the same amount of games(13 vs 14) Jokinen was 1-4, but Jokinen had sterling possession metrics(including a 23 to 10 count of high danger chances) and Caggiula had his usual ones

If they run something like Caggiula – Brodziak – Kassian on the fourth line, and we find out Brodziak can’t skate anymore a la Letestu the same thing will happen – a goals hole that wastes the lead McDavid gets us.

I don’t /think/ this will happen, but there’s certainly a chance and not something you can just assume

That’s the deal with all of the assumptions you have to make for this team to make the playoffs, yes there’s not but a minute chance that things fall apart in the exact same way they did last year, but there’s tons of other things that didn’t go wrong this year and could go wrong next year:

Say Talbot performs well, but gets an actual season halving injury.

Say Draisaitl gets a season halving injury.

Say Larsson goes down and it’s Benning/Russell on the top pairing.

I’m not gonna say the main, terrifying item, but you know it’s possible.

How many games will the Oilers win here:

EDM v NJD ( Europe ) – 55%

EDM @ BOS – 40%

EDM @ NYR ( matinee, Saturday morning in NYC ) – 50%

EDM @ WPG – 40%

EDM v BOS – 40%

EDM v NSH – 40%

EDM v PIT – 45%

EDM v WSH – 45%

EDM @ NSH – 40%

EDM @ CHI – 50%

EDM v MIN – 50%

EDM v CHI – 50%

EDM @ DET – 50%

EDM @ WSH – 45%

EDM @ TBL – 40%

EDM @ FLA – 45%

That’s the first 16 games of the season.

They could easily be 5 – 10 – 1 or worse, 11 of 32 available points and be on the outside looking in all year.

That being said, if Talbot/Koskinen start on fire, the powerplay runs a heater and the echo cluster runs the table then they’re pretty much home free for the rest of the season, and I’m not joking.

They have the easiest ‘rest’ schedule in the league this year. But that start is that start.

Of the two scenarios, one is more likely.

Dennis L

godot10: The season will go badly if they intend to rely on Rattle.

And let the AHL’ers (Caggiula/Rattie/and Aberg) fight it out for the spot with Brodziak and Kassian.

Godot has distilled what might be the key points for Todd McClellan. Keep marginal NHL talent out of the top 9. That minimizes risk and uncertainty, and (should) maximize the top 9’s projected productivity.

Some permutation of that top 9 can probably get the job done with minimal uncertainty or risk. Your question marks are reduced to two (all other things being equal):

—Is Kassian better at 3RW than one of the fringe NHLers or Yamamoto?
—Where best to place Jesse and Lucic?

Nuge – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Draisaitl – Rieder
Khaira – Strome – Kassian
Aberg/Caggiula – Brodziak – Marody/Rattie

Wilde

In the Carolina game, that sequence where Benning hammers Brock McGinn(who is fantastic) into the boards and then ends up batting the puck out of the air and off Darling and in at the other end, that stuff heals my soul.

pts2pndr

LadiesloveSmid:
Yamamoto should play over Rattie and it shouldn’t be close. Play him (as well as Pulju) all season with 2 vets (RNH-97 or Lucic-Drai).

I strongly agree as in first and second lines for the AHL team where they belong until such time as they. Are ready for bonafide NHL time!