Keep on Choogling

by Lowetide

To borrow the spirit of an old country song, if drinking don’t kill me, the Oilers will. The first period of last night’s game resembled the first five minutes of an episode of Law and Order. Assault? Murder? Whatever, it wasn’t looking good. The Oilers pushed back in the second and tied it up late on an Oscar missile that found the range. The power play drowned five times, but in the end Edmonton grabbed two points in the shadows of the Gateway Arch and are heading back home with the playoffs in reach.

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton is going to bring it all season long. Proud to be part of a lineup that is ready to cover the coming year. Outstanding coverage from a large group, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis, Lowetide, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Outstanding offer is here.

  • New Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect winter 2018: Ethan Bear.
  • New Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: An early look at Edmonton’s readiness for the 2021 expansion draft.
  • New Jonathan Willis: An $83 million salary cap opens up possibilities for the Oilers.
  • Lowetide: Ken Hitchcock’s ‘to-do’ list of miracles a long one, involving 30 percent of the Oilers roster.
  • Jonathan Willis: Leon Draisaitl needs his own line and other lessons from a McDavid-less Oilers loss
  • Lowetide: Oilers farm team in Bakersfield coming to a boil with quality prospects, most exciting farm team in decades.
  • Lowetide: Finding Ken Hitchcock’s Oilers more productive wingers: Hard target search.
  • Dom Luszczyszyn: 31 Stats (Oilers content).
  • Jonathan Willis: Edmonton’s waiver gamble on Valentin Zykov is one with the possibility of a surprisingly high-end payoff.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect winter 2018: Ryan McLeod.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.

OILERS AFTER 28 GAMES

  • Oilers in 201511-15-2, 24 points; goal differential -11
  • Oilers in 2016: 14-10-4, 32 points; goal differential +6
  • Oilers in 2017: 11-15-2, 24 points; goal differential -14
  • Oilers in 2018: 14-12-2, 30 points; goal differential -6

This year’s team has benefitted from the Hitchcock bounce (now 5-2-1) and is within reach of the 2016 playoff edition of the McDavid Oilers. They’re going to need more goals, but project to 82, 41-35-6, 88 points. It would represent a 10-point improvement year over year, still a little shy of the playoffs.

OILERS IN DECEMBER

  • Oilers in December 2015: 3-0-0, six points; goal differential +3
  • Oilers in December 2016: 2-0-1, five points; goal differential +3
  • Oilers in December 2017: 2-1-0, four points; goal differential +4
  • Oilers in December 2018: 2-1-0, four points; goal differential -1

December is working out well, as it has each year since McDavid arrived in town. No explanation, especially considering November has been such a downer every damned year. Maybe there’s some psychology or a curse some damned former Oiler placed on the team (Jimmy Carson?).

WHAT TO EXPECT IN DECEMBER

  • At home to: Vegas (Expected 0-1-0) Actual (1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: Minnesota, Calgary (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Colorado, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnipeg (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games 
  • Current results: 2-1-0, four points in three games

The month is proceeding as predicted, thank goodness, it helps the aged with digestion and sleep patterns. Edmonton had a very uneven game overall but found a way. There have been many times in recent years when the club didn’t have that gear. Last night, things worked out.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Nurse-Russell were beyond ghastly in the first period but settled in as the game went on. Overall, they were 22-10 in 15:22, 13-8 shots, 1-2 goals and 3-6 HDSC. They were 6-4 with 97, 16-6 without. The first two goals against saw both men in bad spots, I wonder if they’re having a zone/man-to-man adjustment issue. I think Nurse would have checked down both times if they were zone, but he pursued his closest man on both occasions—it looked poor. Duo went 13-4 in 6:55 against Perron-Schenn-Kyrou.
  • Klefbom-Larsson went 14-9 in 16:19, 6-4 shots, no goals and 0-2 HDSC. The goal by Klefbom continues a trend where the young defenseman scores goals of massive importance. Larsson was solid as usual. Went 10-8 in 9:37 against Sanford-O’Reilly-Tarasenko, I thought this pairing was quality during the game. Klefbom received a lot of love online after the game, it’s good to see. For some reason, recognition of his impressive ability has been slow.
  • Gravel-Benning went 10-9 in 8:46, 5-4 shots, no goals and 3-3 HDSC. Went 6-6 in 4:57 against Maroon-Bozak-Thomas. I think this pairing is providing some calm minutes.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 28 of 30, .933. He played very well in my opinion, and at this point has earned another game. Sometime this weekend? He has a .917SP under Hitchcock, who was once again complimentary about his play postgame.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian went 14-3 in 11:33, a strong game from a line that was fading a little recently. Went 7-2 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-1 HDSC. I can’t identify the coverage issue on the second goal against, so won’t point at Brodziak as the culprit. He was in the right spot, a bit of bad luck on the rebound off the back wall. Were 9-3 against Bouwmeester-Butler. I liked the line’s effort, Lucic was skating well and Kassian had some fantastic chances. If they keep doing this, no one has a right to complain (dollars aside).
  • P. Russell-Spooner-Rattie were also effective, going 8-3 in 5:39, 5-3 shots, no goals and 2-1 HDSC on the night. You’d like to see this trio get more time, but Caggiula being out might have impacted usage. Went 6-0 against Bowmeester-Dunn.
  • Khaira-Nuge-Puljujarvi went 9-7 in 10:27, 5-3 shots, 1-0 goals and 1-2 HDSC. Nuge was brilliant to my eye, Khaira got the assist on the tying goal and was part of the first one. Puljujarvi’s efforts were less central to the game story but he’s surviving on a feature line and that has value. Sometimes, a young player will plod along at this level for a time and then start pushing. JP is getting used to the lay of the land, that has value.
  • Chiasson-McDavid-Draisaitl were 19-17 in 15:25, that’s a lot of 5-on-5 time. They were 9-11 shots, 0-1 goal, 2-6 HDSC (!!!) on the evening. The opening goal had a coverage gaffe, not sure if Nurse or McDavid was the culprit but it was an easy chance for St. Louis. Settled in afterward and McDavid impacted the game (assist on the tying goal, ridiculous shootout snipe). I wonder if we’re going to see a shuffle with 29 coming off the 97 line, they look stale 5-on-5 and power play right now. Both men are playing a ton and McDavid is back from illness.

SUGGESTED LINES

If there is another line shuffle by Ken Hitchcock, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen, I would like to see the coach try something like this:

  • Ryan Spooner—Connor McDavid—Alex Chiasson
  • Jujhar Khaira—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jesse Puljujarvi
  • Drake Caggiula—Leon Draisaitl—Valentin Zykov
  • Milan Lucic—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian

I know it won’t happen, but would like to see it. Edmonton should be able to get one of Nuge or Leon some clean air at home using this template. It would be asking McDavid to score without an elite linemate but would also allow the team to have three lines with scoring potential.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy Thursday and we’re bringing out the heavy artillery. At 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:

  • Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Jeff will be speaking at the MLB meetings in Vegas Saturday, we’ll get a preview.
  • Frank Seravalli, TSN. Seattle expansion, Oilers 5-2-1 under Hitchcock, Leafs full boat starting tonight.
  • Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. The NFL weekend to come.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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tileguy

Crazy Pedestrian,

Perhaps instead of 3 A forwards and 6 D forwards the solution is 9 B forwards.

tileguy

106 and 106:
They just don’t have the horses.

You guys can keep switching out the lines however you see fit. It doesn’t change the players, try this with Leafs wingers instead:

Marleau – McDavid – Marner
Hyman – Drai – Nylander
Johnsson – RNH – Kapanen
Ennis – Brodziak – Brown

Where would Rattie/Spooner/Khaira/Caggigula/Lucic/Kassian even fit on here?

Answer: They wouldn’t.

Folks, it’s a 90 point Oilers team this year. Sure, they go on a heater, make Round 1 of the playoffs. But depth is a thing.

We’re swapping Marody for Russell. Lol. Wouldn’t even make practice 5th line on a great team.

So much enlightenment in one well thought out post.

Crazy Pedestrian

106 and 106:
They just don’t have the horses.

You guys can keep switching out the lines however you see fit. It doesn’t change the players, try this with Leafs wingers instead:

Marleau – McDavid – Marner
Hyman – Drai – Nylander
Johnsson – RNH – Kapanen
Ennis – Brodziak – Brown

Where would Rattie/Spooner/Khaira/Caggigula/Lucic/Kassian even fit on here?

Answer: They wouldn’t.

Folks, it’s a 90 point Oilers team this year. Sure, they go on a heater, make Round 1 of the playoffs. But depth is a thing.

We’re swapping Marody for Russell. Lol. Wouldn’t even make practice 5th line on a great team.

Things will change in a hurry after signing Matthews and Marner this summer… they also need to re-sign Kapanen and Gardiner. Won’t be able to keep them all, and I doubt it would be in their best interest to bridge any of those players. Next year is their cap-crunch year. Let’s all hope they bow out in round 1 again…

frjohnk

106 and 106: They just don’t have the horses.

You guys can keep switching out the lines however you see fit. It doesn’t change the players, try this with Leafs wingers instead:

Marleau – McDavid – Marner
Hyman – Drai – Nylander
Johnsson – RNH – Kapanen
Ennis – Brodziak – Brown

Where would Rattie/Spooner/Khaira/Caggigula/Lucic/Kassian even fit on here?

Answer: They wouldn’t.

Folks, it’s a 90 point Oilers team this year. Sure, they go on a heater, make Round 1 of the playoffs. But depth is a thing.

+1.

And this is why those people who say Drai cant drive a line are not paying attention.

Drai is not the problem. Its roster construction.

Yeti

106 and 106: You guys can keep switching out the lines however you see fit. It doesn’t change the players, try this with Leafs wingers instead:
Marleau – McDavid – Marner
Hyman – Drai – Nylander
Johnsson – RNH – Kapanen
Ennis – Brodziak – Brown
Where would Rattie/Spooner/Khaira/Caggigula/Lucic/Kassian even fit on here?

Ouch. You may have a point.

106 and 106

They just don’t have the horses.

You guys can keep switching out the lines however you see fit. It doesn’t change the players, try this with Leafs wingers instead:

Marleau – McDavid – Marner
Hyman – Drai – Nylander
Johnsson – RNH – Kapanen
Ennis – Brodziak – Brown

Where would Rattie/Spooner/Khaira/Caggigula/Lucic/Kassian even fit on here?

Answer: They wouldn’t.

Folks, it’s a 90 point Oilers team this year. Sure, they go on a heater, make Round 1 of the playoffs. But depth is a thing.

We’re swapping Marody for Russell. Lol. Wouldn’t even make practice 5th line on a great team.

Material Elvis

Glovjuice: Drai is lazy and plays arrogant – how many times do I have to explain this.

No more times, please.

Reja

Glovjuice: LOL – Spooner providing offensive support. That’s funny. He has what one point as an oiler.

Watching spooner is funny! What is this? Lowetide’s Comedy Central.

Andy Dufresne

Wilde: short answer:

no

long answer:

He had 1.40 primary points per 60 (estimated) at 5v5 last year, which also lead the league still but is nowhere near 2.55

And was at about 3.02 on-ice goals against per hour compared to this year’s 0.97 (obviously goaltending’s at play as it always is) and +4.95 GF%Rel compared to +20.53%

Very cool. Thank you.

Andy Dufresne

Ryan: Kassian has one point albeit a goal in 25 games this season.

You’re not getting a second or third rounder for Kassian.

If he doesn’t pick it up, he’s a buyout candidate and playing in Europe next year.

Yup, same for Spooner.

He has three points in 25 games. He’s another potential buyout candidate who could be playing next year in another league.

What’s cool about a Spooner buyout next summer is that you hit the Rags with $300k in cap hit for two more years.

Fair enough. I guess my point is give them away for nothing…..a 7th round pick at the deadline …..just to clear cap space.

pts2pndr

JimmyV1965: If we’re going to target a trade, I would go for Tarasenko. He’s got four more years at 7.5. That looks like a bargain compared to what the UFAs will get this year.

Of the players you mention I would take Pesce to solidify top four D. I think this would allow for movement of Russel and Sekera when able. This would also allow the young D in the pipeline to develope without being rushed. He is also on a value contract. I’m not very confident he would be avalilable without a massive overpay!

pts2pndr

Glovjuice: LOL – Spooner providing offensive support. That’s funny. He has what one point as an oiler.

If you put this in proper prospective he has played a limited role in eight games and a coaching change after changing teams. Give the guy 20 games and then you may have a valid point. Real players are not like nhl game plug and play. It took Brodziak Rieder and Chaisson time to adjust. Very few traded players perform up to their capabilities right away after changing teams. Time to adjust is the norm!

Kinger_Oil.redux

Melvis:
I’m also getting the feeling Drai is playing a bit more smug (for lack of a better term), since he got paid. And perhaps a bit more “oppotuneistically”.Timely points are great – no doubt. But can one expect this -whatever it is – pushing a line or a river if McD is out?

– yeah your probably right bit my recollection is that Gretzky coffee mess etc they coasted untill the saw a path to the cup

– we should be more than sure that come playoffs and a path to a cup this 22 year old who will bank 70mm will step up. He’s a champion

Pescador

Glovjuice: Drai is lazy and plays arrogant – how many times do I have to explain this.

Zero,
Matter of fact this blog would be a better place if you never posted again
The over the top criticism of Draisaitl, Nurse, Yamamoto & the many others you target is just annoying rather then insightful.
What qualifys you to be so critical about a pro athlete’s work ethic or skating ability?
Do you have any analytical information or analysis to offer as a way of backing up your claims?
No? Then you are nothing but a sad troll.

Glovjuice

Melvis:
I’m also getting the feeling Drai is playing a bit more smug (for lack of a better term), since he got paid. And perhaps a bit more “oppotuneistically”.Timely points are great – no doubt. But can one expect this -whatever it is – pushing a line or a river if McD is out?

Thank you sir Melvis. I knew I wasn’t the only one who noticed this.

Glovjuice

Paddy Morans Jockstrap:
I’d go with Spooner giving Looch and Kass more offensive support on L3

RNH – McDavid – Chiasson

Khaira – Drai – Puljujarvi

Lucic – Spooner – Kassian

Zykov – Brodziak – Rattie

Double-shift McDavid/Drai on L4 here and there.

LOL – Spooner providing offensive support. That’s funny. He has what one point as an oiler.

Glovjuice

Bag of Pucks:
Nurse. Puljujarvi. Yakupov.

Is it possible that part of the Oilers issues are simply down to the fact that they draft too many dumb players (ie lacking in hockey sense)?

You watch these players continually error in positional, system and execution without significant progression in their decision making and it’s tempting to conclude that we’ve got some remedial learners.

One year X 3 times gang they are.

Glovjuice

Bag of Pucks:
Nurse. Puljujarvi. Yakupov.

Is it possible that part of the Oilers issues are simply down to the fact that they draft too many dumb players (ie lacking in hockey sense)?

You watch these players continually error in positional, system and execution without significant progression in their decision making and it’s tempting to conclude that we’ve got some remedial learners.

Bam. It’s called IQ. Language is certainly not their strong suit. That’s for sure.

OriginalPouzar

Has any pre-prime player on pace for 38G and 88P in this era of hockey ever been this maligned?

Only half his 5 X 5 time has been with McDavid and his next most common linemates:

Chiasson
Rieder
Caggiula
Lucic
Yamamoto

Ryan

Andy Dufresne: In this scenario why trade Kassian…..just give him away for a pick ( 2nd? 3rd?) it creates more cap room. We have plenty of bottom 6 replacement level players in the organization.

Same is true for Spooner and others….No?

Kassian has one point albeit a goal in 25 games this season.

You’re not getting a second or third rounder for Kassian.

If he doesn’t pick it up, he’s a buyout candidate and playing in Europe next year.

Yup, same for Spooner.

He has three points in 25 games. He’s another potential buyout candidate who could be playing next year in another league.

What’s cool about a Spooner buyout next summer is that you hit the Rags with $300k in cap hit for two more years.

Ari

Wilde,

Awesome. Thanks for the Bouchard update, Wilde.

Melvis

I’m also getting the feeling Drai is playing a bit more smug (for lack of a better term), since he got paid. And perhaps a bit more “oppotuneistically”. Timely points are great – no doubt. But can one expect this -whatever it is – pushing a line or a river if McD is out?

Melvis

Wilde,

Hella good reads, though

Johnny skid

OriginalPouzar: Does Drai play more arrogant than you post?

no

treevojo

Wilde:

3) sign Puljujarvi to 2x3M

I hope you are right with this number.

That means Poo ripped the cover off the ball for the rest of this year and the oilers made the playoffs.

OriginalPouzar

Glovjuice: Drai is lazy and plays arrogant – how many times do I have to explain this.

Does Drai play more arrogant than you post?

OriginalPouzar

Glovjuice: Finally, something that is correct regarding the lines.

You sure? 2 less than plus skaters on one line in the top 6….

OriginalPouzar

Maksimov picks up a third assist on the game winner in the 3rd.

Wilde

Andy Dufresne: I dont think those are up arrows……didnt he have those same kinds of numbers last year?

short answer:

no

long answer:

He had 1.40 primary points per 60 (estimated) at 5v5 last year, which also lead the league still but is nowhere near 2.55

And was at about 3.02 on-ice goals against per hour compared to this year’s 0.97 (obviously goaltending’s at play as it always is) and +4.95 GF%Rel compared to +20.53%

godot10

JimmyV1965: If we’re going to target a trade, I would go for Tarasenko. He’s got four more years at 7.5. That looks like a bargain compared to what the UFAs will get this year.

Tarasenko peaked 3 years ago. One really good year before and after. He is now in decline mode.

treevojo

Glovjuice: Drai is lazy and plays arrogant – how many times do I have to explain this.

Or maybe

CALM AND CONFIDENT.

you should keep on explaining.

Drai is not the problem.

Andy Dufresne

Wilde:
Breaking news!

Via prospect-stats estimated TOI…

Evan Bouchard is at 2.55 primary pts/60 5v5.

The next highest OHL defenceman is 20-year-old Jordan Sambrook.

He’s at 1.62.

Bouchard’s getting 10.83 shots on goal per hour, which also leads the league, turning into 1.27 goals per hour, next highest is 0.76.

Unfortunately he’s not getting very many secondary assists, so he doesn’t lap the field in terms of total points per hour 5v5.

He’s also top-pairing on London in terms of quality of competition (from accounts, and from prospect-stats) and has been on the ice for 18 GF, 4 GA, for 81.82 GF%.

That GF% is third in the league, and his GF% relative to team is +20.53%.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but D-men who face the toughest comp and own a positive relative goal-share are immensely valuable to their team.

Running his GA total through his eTOI gives me 0.97 GA/60.

That’s pretty good defensive results.

Definitely some up-arrows here from a pick that I wasn’t completely on board with.

I dont think those are up arrows……didnt he have those same kinds of numbers last year?

Andy Dufresne

Wilde:
Playing around with Capfriendly at lunchtime –

Assuming 83M salary cap in 2019-20, if you…

1) trade Zack Kassian for something near league min; I used a deal to NYI for Devon Toews (1yr, 700k AAV)

2) buy out Milan Lucic

3) sign Puljujarvi to 2x3M

4) sign Koskinen to 2x4M

5) sign Khaira, Rattie to 850k

You end up with 9.4M cap space.

That’s all pretty reasonable imo. Need to sign two extra forwards and a backup G.

You lose 2M of capspace to the buyout the next year.

But I think it allows you to look for someone, in a vulture-like way. Not a 28 year-old, but a 24-25-26 year-old

In this scenario why trade Kassian…..just give him away for a pick ( 2nd? 3rd?) it creates more cap room. We have plenty of bottom 6 replacement level players in the organization.

Same is true for Spooner and others….No?

Wilde

Breaking news!

Via prospect-stats estimated TOI…

Evan Bouchard is at 2.55 primary pts/60 5v5.

The next highest OHL defenceman is 20-year-old Jordan Sambrook.

He’s at 1.62.

Bouchard’s getting 10.83 shots on goal per hour, which also leads the league, turning into 1.27 goals per hour, next highest is 0.76.

Unfortunately he’s not getting very many secondary assists, so he doesn’t lap the field in terms of total points per hour 5v5.

He’s also top-pairing on London in terms of quality of competition (from accounts, and from prospect-stats) and has been on the ice for 18 GF, 4 GA, for 81.82 GF%.

That GF% is third in the league, and his GF% relative to team is +20.53%.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but D-men who face the toughest comp and own a positive relative goal-share are immensely valuable to their team.

Running his GA total through his eTOI gives me 0.97 GA/60.

That’s pretty good defensive results.

Definitely some up-arrows here from a pick that I wasn’t completely on board with.

JimmyV1965

Wilde:
I’ve been thinking about the package that got the big players. What’s our equivalent?

It’s usually roster players, prospects, picks.

Ryan O’Reilly:

Sobotka / / Berglund
Tage Thompson
Same year 1st / / Third year 2nd

Stepan + Raanta:

DeAngelo
#7 Overall

Braden Schenn:

Jori Lehtera
#27 Overall / / Next year 1st

Jeff Skinner:

Cliff Pu
Same year 2nd / / Next year 3rd / / Next year 3rd

Max Pacioretty:

Tomas Tatar
Nick Suzuki
Same year 2nd

Erik Karlsson:

Dylan DeMelo / / Chris Tierney
Josh Norris / / Rudolph Balcers
Same year 2nd / / Next year 1st / / Next year 2nd

Ryan Kesler:

Nick Bonino / / Luca Sbisa
Same year 1st

TJ Oshie:

Troy Brouwer
Pheonix Copley
Next year 3rd

Phil Kessel:

Kasperi Kapanen
Next year 1st / / Next year 3rd

(I simplified the Karlsson one to have the most realistic conditions: The Sharks don’t win the cup, don’t miss the playoffs, Karlsson doesn’t sign in the Eastern conference after this year’s over)

(I canceled out same-round pick swaps and minor leaguer swaps)

It looks like the rules are what I already mentioned, except if the pick is high(like Stepan+Raanta) you can get two players and/or only have to give up two assets. You can also get rid of a Lehtera if you add extra picks.

Useful roster players in the vein of Sobotka, Berglund, Tierney, DeMelo, Brouwer, Sbisa, Bonino, Tatar on the Oilers are:

Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Spooner, Juhjar Khaira. (Alex Chiasson, Valentin Zykov, Ty Rattie could blossom into having value just like Paul Byron would have had if the Canadiens chose to trade instead of re-sign him, despite waiver origins)

Recent high pick prospects in the vein of Norris, Kapanen, Suzuki, Thompson, DeAngelo on the Oilers are:

Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, Tyler Benson.

Then, the Oilers have almost all of their picks still and have a number of up-arrow wielding prospects to pad packages.

The packages would, for example, look something like these:

Ryan Spooner
Kailer Yamamoto / / Tyler Benson
2019 3rd

Kris Russell
Ryan McLeod
2019 1st / / 2020 2nd

Darnell Nurse / / Drake Caggiula
Kirill Maksimov
2020 2nd

Matt Benning
Dmitri Samorukov
2019 1st

Completely blue-skying here because Chiarelli terrifies me but if I was the team and had pressure to swing something, I’d (modify any of these accordingly, and) get after Stone, Duchene, Hayes, Pesce, Niederreiter, Kreider etc.

If we’re going to target a trade, I would go for Tarasenko. He’s got four more years at 7.5. That looks like a bargain compared to what the UFAs will get this year.

Glovjuice

Leroy Draisdale:
I had a few thoughts while watching that game last night.

1) Drai’s decision making has really off last night. Not sure how many turnovers he had but made a ton of bad passes and looked like Lucic handling the puck at times
2) We had a decent amount of shots but man was I yelling hit the f*%&ing net a lot last night
3) McDavid seemed a little off(maybe still feeling the flu) still fantastic but bobbling the puck a bit
4) our power play is atrocious, seems like there is no urgency

Drai is lazy and plays arrogant – how many times do I have to explain this.

Glovjuice

Wilde:
In December last year, the Oilers got back into the playoff picture with the following:

1) A Strome-Khaira pairing that played with Draisaitl or with each other and another winger and controlled play. Went 5-3 in goals in 11 games together. Draisaitl went 8-6 either with these two or other assorted options.

2) Draisaitl, McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins all playing on separate lines and the Oilers getting the better of the shot share in 9 of the 13 games.

3) McDavid and Puljujarvi played together 12 1/2 of the games, outscoring opposition 9-3 5v5 and going +19 in HDCF (45-26, going 31-15 in the first 8 games) despite playing with Lucic and against the toughs.

4) Nugent-Hopkins played most of his games alongside Maroon and rotating RWs, going 6-5 in goals

5) Letestu and Kassian went 3-6 in goals together.

6) The team in total went 28-24 in goals 5v5. They scored 6 powerplay goals in about 60 minutes of PP time. They scored 5 shorthanded goals. Gave up 11 pp goals for a dead even special teams goal share.

I don’t think that’s impossible to replicate.

The special teams should be fine and most of the important even-strength guys are still here.

Strome isn’t, but counter to what (appears to be) the popular narrative I think Spooner’s just a straight up better hockey player than him.

It’s a dog’s breakfast on the wings if you spread out the centres now, but it was then too.

McDavid’s due for a heater and he hasn’t gotten it even with Draisaitl on his wing.

They demolish the other team every shift they’re put back together at first, and then it slowly becomes what we saw last night.

The solution to that appears to be what it’s always been: Split em up and keep their chemistry in your back pocket as a secret weapon to be used scarcely because that’s when they’re most effective.

Nugent-Hopkins – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi

Zykov – McDavid – Rattie

Caggiula – Spooner – Chiasson

Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian

Finally, something that is correct regarding the lines.

OriginalPouzar

Maksimov with two PP assists in the first period.

Rodrigue stopped 26 of 28 last night.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

godot10,

Yet Nurse is like that regardless of partner, even with Larsson last year.

pts2pndr

russ99: Wasn’t a key part of Chia’s presser hiring Hitch is how Puljujarvi and Yamamoto would be handled differently?

Correct. In other words as far as JP is concerned not in the press box for two games,fourth line off side for a game and then 3 games with stone hand players on the third line rinse repeat! System designed by idiots are us and or designed talent destruction inc!

godot10

Ryan: Question for you.

Not sure if it’s a system thing, but it always seems that breakdowns with no one in front of the Oilers’ net occur with the Nurse – Russell pairing.

Is it because he’s always D1, but Nurse seems to almost invariably chase the opposing puck carrier all around the d-zone.

I don’t notice as many instances as no one protecting the front on the Oilers net with other pairings.

I know Tmac played a man on man d. I’ve heard that Hitch likes a hybrid zone / man d.

Why is it that I always feel like Nurse chases the puck carrier everywhere and it looks like Timbits hockey to me?

What am I missing here?

Russell not being good. The zone entry and the breakdowns are always on Russell’s side of the ice and are of responsibility. Russell part of the structure breaks, and the building falls down. Russell is the breaks failing. Toonces Nurse then drives the car over the cliff, and everyone blames Nurse.

Wilde

Huh. I’m spamming hella hard today

Wilde

Woodguy v2.0: Rattie took two shifts with 16-93 in the 3rd.

Not what 98 did or didn’t do but his last shift was at 12:29 of the 3rd.

Might have been fatigue, Hitch mentioned that when he first got 98.

Don’t have enough track with this HC yet to just read his deployments plainly imo.

I thought his description of Puljujarvi ‘being great when the play’s in motion but struggling when the puck is in place’ (paraphrased) combines with his description of Lucic’s problem with scoring as ‘going to support positions too soon’ to perfectly describe 98’s game last night.

A few of the forwards are having trouble as the third guy in the OZ switching from supporting the puck (just approaching the battle along the boards) to being farther away and threatening to shoot, or give his Dmen a better opportunity to pinch.

Jesse’s one of them. He keeps getting too close to the battle (into a support position) and having the puck fly off the boards past him. He’s got to get out further into the middle of the ice, and take an opposition player with him.

Everywhere else he’s taking leaps and bounds. He’s an intelligent player and will figure it out, in the meantime if I had to put money down I’d chalk any missed shifts up to fatigue unless it becomes a regular thing or he loses that spot in the top-6. If Hitch doesn’t like what he sees, I think Yessa will just not be on the Nuge line to begin with to start games.

McSorley33: Love the Nug – Drai – Pul line…..

Best wingers on the team with the best non-97 centre on the team. I figure it’s worth finding out how good a line can get without featuring the captain.

From 2015-16 to 2017-18, 29 and 93 have played about 250 minutes together at 5-on-5 and scored a little over 3.00 goals per hour.

For reference, in that time there’s been 7500 minutes played by the Oilers at 5-on-5 without McDavid or Hall on the ice and they’ve averaged 1.70 goals per hour.

Connor’s goal rate over that time is 3.69 with Drai, 3.31 without him or Nugent-Hopkins.

It just makes sense to me.

Ryan: Question for you.
Not sure if it’s a system thing, but it always seems that breakdowns with no one in front of the Oilers’ net occur with the Nurse – Russell pairing.
Is it because he’s always D1, but Nurse seems to almost invariably chase the opposing puck carrier all around the d-zone.
I don’t notice as many instances as no one protecting the front on the Oilers net with other pairings.
I know Tmac played a man on man d. I’ve heard that Hitch likes a hybrid zone / man d.
Why is it that I always feel like Nurse chases the puck carrier everywhere and it looks like Timbits hockey to me?
What am I missing here?

In my view, it’s a combination of things:

– Nurse plays like a guy who was always athletic and strong and competitive, and since he was small probably got pushed by every coach he had (including probably his dad) to play the body, engage physically and relentlessly. It’s a key part of his core, unchangeable player-identity to instinctually engage and attack the body.

(This is like my theory on Kris Russell and shot-blocking. When you’re a young, junior player (and person) you’re always fighting for your coaches and teammates approval and Russell blocking shots set up a feedback loop in his brain telling him to do it instinctually no matter what. This is why it looks like he plays without the puck in a very particular way, it seems like it’s just a flowchart leading to him blocking a shot in every situation)

– This means that no matter what system he’s playing, when the mental part of the game shrinks down to pure instinct he’s always going to be drawn to making a check on someone the same exact way

– On Hitch, the two things he likes to implement (I’m not sure which stage we’re at, but there’s various ones for integrating this stuff on the fly, as the new HC has alluded to) is for the defenceman to chase up to the top of the wall and then curl inside and the F1 comes back out, and if the puck gets played low-to-high it immediately turns to man on man.

(Neither of these things are uncommon. The second is one of the reasons you see way less clean slap-pass plays and less offense being driven from plain point distributions in general but that’s besides the point)

– This means that yeah, it’s pretty unique to their pairing. Most of the jailbreaks given up by this team right now are in the OZ/NZ with the pinches being further to the middle the backcheck being a lil different

– I think it’s not a coincidence that Nurse’s best defensive season was in last season’s structure. When he has a longer leash to stay on the man it’s good because that’s what he instinctually wants to do.

– That being said, he still gave up high danger passes last year and he’ll continue to do it this year at a probably higher rate. Like I mentioned, this is not complicated stuff in terms of structure when the opposition has established, long possession in your zone.

I rambled, but I hope that makes sense. It’s a combination of a slight tweak in structure and his core instinctual decision making. It’s something extremely exploitable in a playoff series when the same high-end forwards will see him for long enough to figure out that they can just draw him out and then pass the puck through him.

Woodguy v2.0

Bag of Pucks:
Nurse. Puljujarvi. Yakupov.

Is it possible that part of the Oilers issues are simply down to the fact that they draft too many dumb players (ie lacking in hockey sense)?

You watch these players continually error in positional, system and execution without significant progression in their decision making and it’s tempting to conclude that we’ve got some remedial learners.

Imma gonna disagree on JP.

I think his has a good hockey head, but his ability to change his instincts to be what the coaches want him to be is slow.

He does too many hockey things well without the puck (both ozone and dzone) to have him in this category, but understand why you put him there.

I think it boils down to players who excel at 17 because they are so much bigger, better or have a dominate trait (Yak’s shot) that have them near the top of their age group, but its traits that don’t translate well when everyone you play against is high end.

Kinger_Oil.redux

hunter1909: Can we therefore blame Eakins on Nurse’s recent lack of development? Asking for a friend…

– Nurse has 2 seasons less under his belt than our best LHD

– last year was his first full year. He stepped up played when Klefbom and Larsson and ark were out was truculent and made a difference.

– Klefbom has 2 years on him, same org same coaches

– Either nurse builds on last year or he retools or whatever but at this point it’s mostly on him

– unless we get another Larsson for him. Larsson is really good and helps his partner a lot.

Ryan

Wilde:
[The cap going up to 83M is a strong incentive to buy out the Lucic contract]

From the Athletic there are strong intimations that there will be some type of amnesty buyout provisions in the next CBA, but can we wait that long?

Ryan

Pescador: Lucic is finally playing 4th line minutes (some posters are calling for him to be H.S)
& not hurting the team defensively.
I’m of the opinion that he not be playing ‘up’ on a 3rd line until he can effectively piss a drop offensively
as the kids like to say

What is today’s Mendoza line for a hockey player? We can generally tell when a player is below it, but what’s the actual threshold? Is it PPG or P/60 at 5v5?

Pescador

Paddy Morans Jockstrap:
I’d go with Spooner giving Looch and Kass more offensive support on L3

RNH – McDavid – Chiasson

Khaira – Drai – Puljujarvi

Lucic – Spooner – Kassian

Zykov – Brodziak – Rattie

Double-shift McDavid/Drai on L4 here and there.

Lucic is finally playing 4th line minutes (some posters are calling for him to be H.S)
& not hurting the team defensively.
I’m of the opinion that he not be playing ‘up’ on a 3rd line until he can effectively piss a drop offensively
as the kids like to say

Ryan

Wilde:
[The cap going up to 83M is a strong incentive to buy out the Lucic contract]

Question for you.

Not sure if it’s a system thing, but it always seems that breakdowns with no one in front of the Oilers’ net occur with the Nurse – Russell pairing.

Is it because he’s always D1, but Nurse seems to almost invariably chase the opposing puck carrier all around the d-zone.

I don’t notice as many instances as no one protecting the front on the Oilers net with other pairings.

I know Tmac played a man on man d. I’ve heard that Hitch likes a hybrid zone / man d.

Why is it that I always feel like Nurse chases the puck carrier everywhere and it looks like Timbits hockey to me?

What am I missing here?

Woodguy v2.0

ashley:
I was watching the third period last night with McDavid clearly labouring with the flu and it really sunk in how unskilled this team is.

For the first time in years, I’m not sitting there wondering why they are doing the things they are doing.The structure is excellent.They are in the right places for breakout.They are defending better for the most part.They are setting up properly on the power play.Hitchcock is getting maximum value out of this roster.

So with that low-hanging fruit harvested (maybe not so low-hanging as so many coaches seemed to struggle to get this team to execute basic tactics), it clears the path for me to look at where the team is having success and where it is failing.

So it registered last night – there is a striking lack of basic skill on this team relative to other teams.There is also a lot of poor decision making which is also a skill that takes time to learn much like stick handling, skating, and shooting.

It’s worrisome, especially when I watch a Flames game and see the depth of skill, creativity, and high level decision making to create excellent scoring chances.I hate the idea of the Flames being better than the OIlers, especially when we have McDavid who is worth three impact players all by himself.It’s embarrassing, frankly.

Basic skill and decision making isn’t something that can be coached into players through a season.It takes years of practice and attention to detail/film review.Maybe some of these guys could get closer over the next few years if they dedicate a lot of ice time to basic drills and sitting in the film room, but not all of them will have that level of discipline in their early to mid 20s.

So while I am delighted with the success realized by HItch since taking over, it is somewhat depressing to look at a cap team that appears to be at it’s ceiling in ability, and that ceiling is a bubble team which will not be good enough to make it very far in the post season, if they make it at all.

Shame on you Chiarelli.You were gifted something special here, and you turned it into something mediocre.

Great post.

Imma gonna disagree on the PP structure but everything else was note perfect.