Beggar’s Banquet

I want to take you all the way back to yesterday. We talked about the 2017-18 season, and the difference between Connor McDavid on the ice at 5-on-5 (+20 goal differential) and McDavid off the ice at 5-on-5 (-33 goal differential). Yesterday, at 5-on-5, the Oilers were +1 with McDavid on the ice, -3 with him at rest. This season isn’t really about one game, it’s about improving the areas (McDavid on/off, special teams, No. 2 line, No. 2 RHD, goaltending) that kept the team out of the playoffs one year ago. Yesterday’s game did nothing beyond reminding everyone about the work that needs to be done. Progress? Didn’t see it yesterday. Anywhere.

THE ATHLETIC!

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  • New Lowetide: Ryan McLeod takes demotion in stride, while a Condo of Condors impress on opening weekend.
  • Jonathan Willis: On AHL opening night, Caleb Jones and friends make it clear they want NHL jobs.
  • Lowetide: Orange, white and blue October: In 1979, the Oilers rocked the NHL.
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: After the death of his father, Sweden trip holds special significance for Adam Larsson, and one of his opponents.
  • Scott Wheeler: How the eye test fails to properly evaluate Evan Bouchard.
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why the Nuge-McDavid-Rattie line has been so successful.
  • Lowetide: The 2018-19 Oilers are in a period of transition.
  • Jonathan Willis: How worried should the Oilers be about the preseason struggles of Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl?

OILERS IN OCTOBER (one game)

  • Oilers in October 20150-1-0, goal differential -2
  • Oilers in October 2016: 1-0-0, goal differential +3
  • Oilers in October 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +3
  • Oilers in October 2018: 0-1-0, goal differential -3

The 2015-16 team were 4-8-0 at the end of the month, and last year’s club (2017-18) were 3-6-1 at the end of October. The only playoff team (2016-17) went 7-2-0 in the first month of the season. Edmonton’s schedule this October suggests to me we are looking at something less than a winning record.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCTOBER

  • On the road to: Sweden to play NJD (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 0-1-0)
  • On the road to: Boston, NYR, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington (Expected 1-3-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Nashville, Chicago (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Minnesota (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 3-6-2, 8 points in 11 games 
  • Current results: 0-1-0, 0 points after one game

Edmonton needs to find a way to get close to 11 points in October, as the strength of schedule eases come November. I considered yesterday’s game one of very few spots on the schedule where a point was more than less likely. The next time we should consider the Oilers a favorite to earn a point is Saturday against the Rangers. One area of hope: Some of these strong teams (Bruins, Penguins) appear to be experiencing wild swings in performance. If Edmonton can catch a couple of teams on a bad night, it would help the early won-loss enormously.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Klefbom-Larsson went 9-10 Corsi for 5-on-5 in 13:27, 5-6 in shots and 1-2 in high dangers. Pairing spent over eight minutes with 97, and played against Hall-Hischier-Palmieri most (6:51) and were successful (7-4 Corsi, no goals). It was an effective pairing on a difficult night, but were not deployed heavily—perhaps as a result of Larsson’s back issues.
  • Russell-Bouchard were 6-4 in 9:31, 4-2 in shots and 1-1 in goals. I thought Russell should have stayed out of the way on the Palmeiri power-play goal, give the goalie that view and my guess is he stops the shot. Bouchard looked deer in the headlights in the first, but settled down later on and played well enough to earn another game (in my opinion). I like his passing, and on a night when the Oilers badly needed it, Bouchard was finding the range by the end of the night. Encouraging debut.
  • Nurse-Benning were 9-19 in 15:36, 5-11 in shots and 0-2 in goals. They were 7-7 in eight minutes against the Hischier line, but got fed badly by Johansson-Zacha-Noesen (3-12). I am absolutely open to discussion on this, but for me Benning had a poor game while Nurse was perhaps guilty of not making strong decisions as opposed to making the mistakes that cost goals. That was my take, flame away. I also wonder why the coach ran this pairing so heavily, even over the Swedish duo. Protecting the third pair was understandable, don’t agree with the division of minutes.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 22 of 25 (.880) at 5-on-5, 22 of 26 (.846) overall. I think he was quality at times in this game, the final score could have reached seven goals if he had been a lesser man. That said, his muff behind the net is exactly the kind of thing he needs to avoid, can’t have those lapses, and he’ll need to be better as the season rolls along. I am not worried about the starting goalie.
  • Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Khaira-Strome-Puljujarvi went 5-6 (9:25 Khaira), 9-6 (9:22 Puljujarvi) 4-0 (1:39 Yamamoto) in what was an on-again, off-again trio. I think they can use these four in some combination and be successful, but the coach has a shorter rope for this group than others. Yamamoto is best on this line, but so are Puljujarvi and Khaira. Not sure of the answer, but there’s a good line here somewhere.
  • Nuge-McDavid-Rattie were 13-10 in 17:19, 6-7 shots and 1-4 high dangers. McDavid’s even strength point came with Leon and Lucic and I wonder if we see that line more in the days to come. McDavid won the head-to-head against the Hall line, both coaches seemed fine with the idea (McDavid v. Hall: 11-6 Corsi 5-on-5 in 9:43, 1-0 goals).
  • Lucic-Draisaitl-Yamamoto went 6-13 (13:04 Lucic, goals 1-1), 3-9 (10:28 Yamamoto 0-1 goals) and 1-3 (2:13 McDavid, 1-0 goals). To my eye, Draisaitl was out of position on the first goal, although many blame Lucic on that play. I thought the line looked slow overall and LD was ineffective without 97 at 5-on-5. He needs to be a big contributor this season at 5-on-5, if he can’t do it McLellan may be forced to move Nuge back to No. 2 center. Again.
  • Rieder-Brodziak-Kassian went 2-12 in 6:55, oh my goodness the  numbers are ugly, including 0-2 goals. Were dominated (0-10) by Wood-Quenneville-Dea and two of the goals scored by NJD came against this trio. The second line and this line bled all over.

WHAT TO DO?

Stay the course. Peter Chiarelli has a team with young and unproven types in several areas, but one game isn’t enough blacktop to prove (or disprove) one damn thing. Reading twitter and the comments, seems as though we’re slipping into the gallows humor a little too quickly. I also notice the folks who want to watch the world burn on high alert, and that makes me chuckle because Edmonton has been the gift that keeps on giving for so many years.

Cam Talbot made some great stops but also had enough poor moments to put the game in doubt. That’s the position and sometimes the goalie doesn’t help you enough to win. I’ll bet on him having a better game next time out and a rebound season. If he doesn’t, nothing else matters.

Matt Benning struggled badly, but the Oilers asked him to play a lot of minutes. Perhaps the second pairing is better suited to second pairing minutes. I’d like to see Nurse-Benning play two fewer 5-on-5 minutes than Klefbom-Larsson, see how they shine.

Leon Draisaitl was poor. He didn’t get close to coverage on the first goal and his line had a terrible time getting to the offensive end under control. LD has to find a way to be effective. It is reaching a point where Todd McLellan may have to move his $8.5 million center to McDavid’s right wing in order to save his $8.5 million center. That’s wack, as the kids say. I checked the spelling, wack is correct. Whack is to strike something, or to kill someone. If you’re watching a mob movie, guys get whacked in those films. Wack. I’m using it correctly.

Bouchard settled in after a time, I would absolutely run him again in the next game and would also run Nurse-Benning and Cam Talbot in goal. I do think the team needs to find a No. 2 line that has Leon Draisaitl at center and wingers who can make a difference. Related: Leon and Jesse spent 34 seconds together 5-on-5, had two shots on goal and nothing going the other way. Lucic was the winger for that half a minute. Maybe that’s something worth trying.

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221 Responses to "Beggar’s Banquet"

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  1. Greenberg says:

    The 2015-16 team were 4-8-0 at the end of the month, and last year’s club (2017-18) were 3-6-1 at the end of October. The only playoff team (2016-17) went 7-2-0 in the first month of the season. Edmonton’s schedule this October suggests to me we are looking at something less than a winning record.

    Sorry to report that “team” is a singular noun.

    11 points in October? You better go heavy on your rosary. Hope doesn’t cut it.
    The bad news: McDavid probably doesn’t win the scoring championship. It belongs to someone on the Toronto scoring machine.

  2. deardylan says:

    The Magic! Stat

    Qualitatively/Right Brain: The philosophy is to take the verbal pressure OFF the first 3 lines and transfer the hard-rain barrage on the 4th line. Either they measure up or they become the 5th line (and we bring up some AHL boyz for 4th line hazing). Lets see if this becomes an art, not a science!

    Qualitatively/Left Brain: Analyzed the 4th line using the “Magic!” stat. This stat is an algorithm based on Lowetide’s numbers mixed with Edmonton Journal grades. (cause those are my personal fav stats). In my opinion if the 4th lines try to compete against McDavid line they will be bitter, if they compare themselves to themselves as a the 4th line base they will become better. Lets see if this becomes an science, not a art!

    Rieder -0.50 = Level 5th Line = Best of the Worst (move up or 5th line)
    Kassian -0.56 = Level 5th Line = Middle of the Worst (5th line candidate)
    Brodziak -0.63 = Level 5th Line = Worst of the Worst (move to 5th line, bench-AHL-waivers)

    Any stat below 0 means they are below basic. Do not measure up to a 4th line and after 3x in a row should be demoted to the 5th line. Demotion could mean moving them up to 1st, 2nd, 3rd lines and out of the line of fire. Or could mean bench. Or AHL 1st line. Or claimed on waivers by a playoff bound team which should never happen because they have been rated 5th line by this stat and are not Magic!

    If you are time rich and love watching AHL games then please keep us informed of who to bring up to the 4th line. Once they are up I will be crunching their stats for the hell of it.

    I can no longer be an innocent bystander of Oilers losing so it time to crunch the 4th line.

    The 4th line are big boys, they are strong, they can take the pain so the other 3 lines can remain sane.

  3. hunter1909 says:

    Greenberg: The bad news: McDavid probably doesn’t win the scoring championship. It belongs to someone on the Toronto scoring machine.

    This makes no sense at all.

  4. Bank Shot says:

    The thing that concerns me is the way the Oilers played and not the result. A playoff team in the NHL can probably only afford to have 10 or so games like the Oilers played in Sweden.

    If the competitiveness doesn’t ramp up greatly and remain high over the next five games, it’s going to be looking pretty bleak.

    They should be much better over the next few games. We will see.

  5. OriginalPouzar says:

    Oilman99: I didn’t think there was a big enough body of work to warrant 29’s $8.5mil for 8years. Unless he shows more hustle in a big hurry, it’s going to look like a huge overpay, he doesn’t appear to play with enough emotion. Does rumour nothave it that they were backed into a corner due to the threat of an offer sheet?

    Chiarelli cites having the add room to fend off a potential offer sheet as a big reason why he pulled the trigger on the Eberle trade when he did.

  6. Dr. Taboggan says:

    At least the Oilers have 5 days off now, they usually excel after having extended breaks….

  7. Lowetide says:

    No one has mentioned the word “orb” today, thought I’d throw it into the cauldron.

  8. digger50 says:

    The number one guy who should be ON the ice when Connor is OFF the ice just may be Nugent-Hopkins.

    Me thinks we may have misunderstood results when Nuge was playing the toughs in 16/17 and not putting up points.

  9. Wilde says:

    The Hurricanes are such a cleanly built team right now.

    https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/hurricanes

    Has any other team in cap history added two pieces like De Haan and Hamilton to their blueline in one summer?

    They’ve also got tons of room to sign Aho and Teravainen to long term deals and three ELC years of Necas and Svechnikov lined up perfectly with their all but one of their tricky contracts off the books by then (Darling, Faulk, Semin).

    All of their depth forwards are signed to Khaira contracts instead of Kassian ones.

    They should have kept Skinner, but they’ve got a great cluster with very little of the self-inflicted wounds some other building teams have.

  10. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Bank Shot,

    I’m not saying you are wrong about what you are saying. I guess I just think a small adjustment like you are talking about doesn’t make the difference between a top ten power play and dead last.

    The adjustments they made were pretty massive, not small.

  11. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Woodguy v2.0:
    On March 2nd 2015 the Edmonton Oilers traded Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadians.

    At the time Edmonton’s RHD were:

    Petry
    Schultz
    Fayne

    That is the last time Edmonton had 3 RHD on the roster until yesterday when they sent out:

    Larsson
    Benning
    Bouchard

    I would argue that the 2nd group is slotted above their current NHL ability more than the first group.

    1285 days from then to now and its worse than it was.

    Because Oilers

    Hmmm, last year Oilers had all of Larsson, Benning & Gryba on the roster and started all three at RD on a number of occasions right off the hop.

    Perhaps your memory of Gryba doesn’t include handedness because he would have played the same way with or without a stick. 😉

  12. frjohnk says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Hmmm, last year Oilers had all of Larsson, Benning & Gryba on the roster and started all three at RD on a number of occasions right off the hop.

    Perhaps your memory of Gryba doesn’t include handedness because he would have played the same way with or without a stick.

    Woodguy has always had trouble figuring out who shoots left or right.

    Because Phone.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Wilde:
    The Hurricanes are such a cleanly built team right now.

    https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/hurricanes

    Has any other team in cap history added two pieces like De Haan and Hamilton to their blueline in one summer?

    Islanders grabbed Boychuk and Leddy on a Saturday just before the season.

  14. Professor Q says:

    Lowetide: Islanders grabbed Boychuk and Leddy on a Saturday just before the season.

    Although technically that occurred in Autumn, not Summer. 😉

  15. Professor Q says:

    Greenberg:
    The 2015-16 team were 4-8-0 at the end of the month, and last year’s club (2017-18) were 3-6-1 at the end of October. The only playoff team (2016-17) went 7-2-0 in the first month of the season. Edmonton’s schedule this October suggests to me we are looking at something less than a winning record.

    Sorry to report that “team” is a singular noun.

    11 points in October? You better go heavy on your rosary. Hope doesn’t cut it.

    The bad news: McDavid probably doesn’t win the scoring championship. It belongs to someone on the Toronto scoring machine.

    Team can be both singular and plural.

    I think Toews is making a comeback actually in the points department, and there are many other players to watch out for than Matthews and Tavares. Plus, McDavid has only played 1 game as opposed to 3-5.

    I still have hope for him alone, let alone him and Nuge et al.

  16. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Bank Shot,

    Well I’m not sure how accurate those heat maps are in the first place. Sometimes when I want to compare a starter to a backup they have drastically different looking heat maps despite playing for the same team!

    Its almost like they played in totally separate games.

  17. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    leadfarmer: Yeah I think the pendulum swung way too far the wrong way on the point shot.Some teams overused the point shot and they became a one trick pony and skewed the results to the point that people are wrongly assuming that shots from the point on pp are bad.
    I bet if someone did another analysis of teams that had guys that had point shots they could use but also distributed the puck well fared much better

    Its interesting that you brought up NSH.

    They ran 3F2D forever and their results were meh, even with all the talent they had.

    Then last year they were pretty decent ranking 10th in 5v4 GF/60.

    What changed?

    Their set up is the 1-3-1 now that most teams use 4F1D to populate, whereas before their set up was more of 3-2.

    Subban is on the blue line and Josi has moved down to the “opposite Ovi spot” just at the top of right circle.

    They also changed out Neal for Smith, who is RH.

    So by using NSH as an example you help prove my point.

    Thank you.

  18. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Hmmm, last year Oilers had all of Larsson, Benning & Gryba on the roster and started all three at RD on a number of occasions right off the hop.

    Perhaps your memory of Gryba doesn’t include handedness because he would have played the same way with or without a stick.

    You’re right Bruce.

    Last year opening roster was

    77-6
    4-83
    25-62

  19. OriginalPouzar says:

    Looking forward to hearing about an Aberg claim today.

    Don’t get me wrong, I no longer see him ever being a true piece of the top 6, however, he can help on Bakersfield (while his cap hit is fully buryable) and he is another body with NHL accumen betwenvthe NHl and the likes of Brad Malone or Patrick Russell and additional shelter to help not force an early call up of a rookie pro like Benson and Morody – develop, develop, develop.

  20. GCW_69 says:

    Makes you wonder if the Oilers had traded Draisaitl for Larsson instead of Hall, would they be better off?

    Would they be running:
    Lucic – McDavid – Rattie
    Hall – Nuge – KY
    Khaira – Strome – JP
    Reider – Brodziak – Kass

    Would Eberle still be here given how well he and Hall played together?

    Single moments certainly shape the destiny of a team

  21. russ99 says:

    GCW_69:
    Makes you wonder if the Oilers had traded Draisaitl for Larsson instead of Hall, would they be better off?

    Would they be running:
    Lucic – McDavid – Rattie
    Hall – Nuge – KY
    Khaira – Strome – JP
    Reider – Brodziak – Kass

    Would Eberle still be here given how well he and Hall played together?

    Single moments certainly shape the destiny of a team

    Draisaitl is going to be 23 later this month. Not a finished product.

    Also:
    Age 21 season – 8th in scoring
    Age 22 season – 36th in scoring

    He’ll be better than Hall. You guys are too in love with that carry in, drive down the left and go to the net move, and Leon has had poor linemates centering his own line last season.

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