Crawling from the Wreckage

by Lowetide

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the winner on a gorgeous shot that followed a fine six-foot pass by Leon Draisaitl. Mike Smith stopped 38 of 40 to help the Oilers win an enormous game in the final minutes of February. This group does not resemble Oilers clubs of the recent past, save 2016-17 and this group is more of a team.

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, less than two coffees a month offer here. 

  • New Lowetide: The Oilers’ 2017 draft and the value of waiting five years
  • New Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ AHL factory has produced three NHL defencemen, with more on the way
  • Jonathan Willis: Andreas Athanasiou injured, Mike Green elevated in Oilers’ loss to Vegas
  • Lowetide: Andreas Athanasiou acquisition might give the Oilers a scoring winger for McDavid cluster.
  • Jonathan Willis: Oilers salvage a point as newcomers settle in (and produce) with Connor McDavid
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Are Oilers poised for a long playoff run after Ken Holland’s deadline moves?
  • Lowetide: Ken Holland’s Oilers trade deadline active, targeted and predictable
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Andreas Athanasiou acquisition the most intriguing deadline move for Oilers
  • Jonathan Willis: Shrewd addition of Tyler Ennis gives the Oilers insurance, options up front
  • Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid returns to the Oilers; now the task is to get him linemates
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers bolster blue line by acquiring Mike Green; Is a scoring winger next?
  • Lowetide: Oilers’ European prospects offer interesting options for the future
  • Lowetide: Making sense of the Oilers forward depth chart for the summer
  • Lowetide: For Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto and Leon Draisaitl, first impressions are long forgotten. Why not for Jesse Puljujarvi?
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Stepping out and up, Leon Draisaitl puts himself in the Hart Trophy mix in Connor McDavid’s absence
  • Lowetide: Making sense of the Oilers defensive depth chart for the stretch run and the summer

OILERS AFTER 65 GAMES

  • Oilers in 2015-16: 24-34-7, 55 points; goal differential -32
  • Oilers in 2016-17: 35-22-8, 78 points; goal differential +13
  • Oilers in 2017-18: 27-34-4, 58 points; goal differential -38
  • Oilers in 2018-19: 28-30-7, 63 points; goal differential -22
  • Oilers in 2019-20: 34-23-8, 76 points; goal differential +1

Oilers reach the end of February on a pace to finish with 96 points and that should be a playoff spot. The club won a big game on Saturday night and several teams in the chase lost. This thing has miles to go.

ON THE TENS

  • First 10 games: 7-2-1
  • Second 10 games: 5-4-1
  • Third 10 games: 5-4-1
  • Fourth 10 games: 3-6-1
  • Fifth 10 games: 6-2-2
  • Sixth 10 games: 6-3-1
  • Current 10 games: 2-2-1

OILERS IN FEBRUARY

  • Oilers in February 2016: 4-9-1, nine points; goal differential -10
  • Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, 12 points; goal differential -1
  • Oilers in February 2018: 5-8-1, 11 points; goal differential -7
  • Oilers in February 2019: 4-6-4, 12 points; goal differential -13
  • Oilers in February 2020: 7-5-2, 16 points; goal differential -1

Edmonton’s 2019-20 had the best February in the McDavid era, overcoming injury and various other issues. The goal differential only slightly underwater.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY

  • On the road to: CAL, ARI (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: SJS, NAS, CHI (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
  • On the road to: TBY, FLA, CAR (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 2-1-0)
  • At home to: BOS, MIN (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-1-1)
  • On the road to: LAK, ANA, VEG (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-1-1)
  • At home to: WPG (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
  • Current results: 7-5-2, 16 points in 14 games

The month landed close to expectations but if we’re honest these numbers are cherry considering McDavid’s injury.

OILERS 2019-20

Draisaitl (2-1-3), Nuge (1-2-3), McDavid (0-2-2) and Larsson (0-1-1) delivered the offense and the rest of the skaters worked like demons to keep a desperate Jets team at bay. All numbers five on five via NST.

LINE 1 Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Zack Kassian played 15:22, going 12-16 Corsi, 4-9 shots, 1-0 goals and 5-2 HDSC.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was brilliant, two PP assists and the winning goal at five on five. Two HDSC, took a penalty. Leon Draisaitl was an absolute horse, scoring twice on the power play and making a brilliant pass on the Nuge goal. Two shots, one HDSC, three takeaways, one F-bomb, won five of 10 in the dot. Zack Kassian had an uneven game, had two HDSC and four giveaways. No penalties, that’s a key.

LINE 2 Andreas Athanasiou-Connor McDavid-Tyler Ennis played 9:48, going 11-12 Corsi, 4-7 shots, no goals and 6-3 HDSC.

Andreas Athanasiou had two HDSC and two takeaways, and yet looked tentative to my eye when playing with McDavid. He checked down to Riley Sheahan where he was quiet (but effective in possession). Connor McDavid was brilliant as always. Three shots, two HDSC, four giveaways, two takeaways and of course the two power-play assists. He’s also hauling ass on the back check, several times coming in handy as the third man back for Edmonton. Tyler Ennis feels like a natural fit for 97, he had one shot, two HDSC and was driving to the net with authority. Don’t give up on either new winger yet, ladies and men. Small sample.

LINE 3 Jujhar Khaira-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 7:46 together, going 6-9 Corsi, 2-5 shots and 1-2 HDSC.

Jujhar Khaira had one great look, it happened so quickly he didn’t get a shot away but I’ve seen him score on that kind of play before. Bad luck or confidence? Don’t know. Effective on the PK, he sold out to make plays and he’ll score again someday. Gaetan Haas also had one great chance, a takeaway and won three of five in the dot. Alex Chiasson had a better game on this line, one shot plus a give and a take.

LINE 4 Patrick Russell-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 6:46, going 6-8 Corsi, 2-3 shots, 0-2 goals and 2-1 HDSC.

Patrick Russell had two shots, a HDSC and a giveaway on a night away from Haas. Riley Sheahan was effective on the PK, had a shot, HDSC and won six of 11 on the dot. He was in the photo on the first goal against, I wouldn’t go to the extreme of blaming him for the goal. Josh Archibald had one shot, drew a penalty and played well on the PK. He moved up to the McDavid line for a time.

PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 18:04, getting caved via Corsi 14-30, 8-16 shots, 0-1 goals and 6-4 HDSC. Almost all of the deficit came against the Connor-Schiefele-Wheeler line. Were 11-24 Corsi and 0-1 goals against the trio.

Darnell Nurse had one shot on goal, two giveaways and a takeaway. He earned part of the blame on the second goal against, he was drawn to the puck carrier instead of covering his mark. Ethan Bear had a giveaway, plenty of impressive work including at least two painful shot blocks. Looked like a rookie (a rare item for Bear) against Wheeler by getting neither puck nor body. I see a lot of anger and rage focused toward Nurse online today, would remind you that Wheeler and Connor are world class, the play doesn’t happen if Bear stands up Wheeler or denies the sortie by knocking the puck away AND the sortie isn’t successful if Nurse stays with his man. So, flame away, but sometimes you have to give the other man his due. Helluva deke and pass by Wheeler.

PAIRING TWO Caleb Jones and Adam Larsson played 16:40, going 19-7 Corsi, 6-4 shots, 1-1 goals and 6-1 HDSC. Numbers were partly due to small sample against Schiefele line, but these are solid totals.

Caleb Jones had a giveaway and a takeaway, an accidental late penalty and skated miles. He was late closing the gap on the opening goal, but (like Nurse on the first goal) the die was cast. He’s comfortable now, making good decisions with the puck and transporting with confidence. Battle hardened by the playoffs, he and Bear will author a large portion of the team’s success. Adam Larsson had an assist, was not in the photo because of a pinch at center ice on the first goal (I don’t consider that a mortal sin but your mileage may vary) and generally played effectively.

PAIRING THREE Kris Russell and Matt Benning played 11:40, goin 7-13 Corsi, 1-7 shots, no goals and 2-3 HDSC.

Kris Russell’s return to NHL action was not without its challenges. Had a giveaway, takeaway, shot block, effective on the PK. Tippett trusts him, had Russell out for the second last shift of the game. Matt Benning was chasing most of the night, did have one giveaway. His last shift was completed at 13:50 of the third period. Coaches prefer aged defensemen, they just do.

GOALIE Mike Smith was absolute fire, stopping 39 of 41 (.951). Catherine Silverman told me July 1 the season would work out this way, with moments of savage brilliance and complete despair. To Smith’s credit, he’s .918 since January 1. That’s a substantial sample.

LAST NIGHT

Just enough time (it’s 8:28) to talk about last night’s game and its importance. If you look at the standings this morning and imagine a loss last night, then consider the schedule to come, it was a monster two points. Mike Smith, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had impact evenings. Music!

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Woodguy v2.0

WC standings using points percentage shown as points above/below fake Bettman .500

Central
STL 22
COL 21
DAL 16

Mediorific
VGP 14
EDM 11
VAN 10

Wildcard
NSH 8
MIN 7

Out of playoffs
CGY 7
WPG 5
ARI 5
CHI 1
ANA -4
SJS -5
LAK -11

-MIN has played 2 less games than CGY
-WPG has one more regulation win than ARI

-Revelant games today:

-CGY (+100) at FLA (-120) – Both teams played last night and Sunrise isn’t far from Tampa Bay, but CGY is on a Scheduled Loss night after losing in OT in NSH Thursday and in regulation to TBY last night. FLA is on 3rd in 4 and 2nd of back to back, but all at home.

-VAN (+125) at CBJ (-145) – Jack’s team has rest and the Dys don’t. Dys on 4th game of roadie, and this is a Scheduled Loss after losing in TOR last night and losing to OTT on Thursday.

-WSH (-130) at MIN (+110) – MIN is playing well (6-3-1 last 10, 3 game win streak) and WSH is not (3-6-1 in last 10) Holtby is confirmed to start and his all situation SV% since Jan 1 is 57/59 goalies who have played 200 min, ahead of only Howard and Doobie. I expect Stalock to start so MIN should have value.

-LAK (+265) at VGP (-330) – You can get VGP in regulation for -190 which has some value.

jp

Thanks for these, as always.

Big win for the Oilers last night.

They can’t go in the tank but they’re in a good spot.

Their magic number with CGY (combined wins/CGY losses) is 14.5 I believe, with 17 games to play.

geowal

Crazy that Detroit is already mathematically eliminated.

Darth Tu

Calgary’s lack of regulation wins and goal difference are really going to hurt them if this race remains close.

How mad will they be if they tie on points with whoever is third in the Pacific, and whoever ends up as second Wildcard and miss the playoffs?

jtblack

Edm would have to collaspe to miss. Great Position to be in with teams running out of track.

Fingers crossed. But Cannot wait for Playoffs 🙂

N64

Would not require an epic collapse for Oil or Dys to slip behind Flames, Preds & Wild. Lots of road and still close.

jtblack

anythimg “could” happen …. but with all the teams playing each other it is tough for muktiple teams to move up or down.

IE: MIN & NSH meet 3 teams between now and season end

Woodguy v2.0

EC standings using points percentage shown as points above/below fake Bettman .500

Atlantic
BOS 28
TBY 22
TOR 12

Metropolitan
WSH 20
PHI 17
PIT 16

Wildcard
NYI 14
CAR 11

Out of playoffs
NYR 10
CBJ 10
FLA 8
MTL 2
BUF 1
NJD -2
OTT -8
DET -32

-NYR has 2 less gp than CBJ

Relevant wildcard games today:

-PHI (-125) at NYR (+105) – I think I like PHI, but its close.

-CGY (+100) at FLA (-120) – Two tired teams, best goalie wins.

-VAN (+125) at CBJ (-145) – Remember when the Dys roadie was supposed to be an “easier” one with MTL, OTT, CBJ and a struggling TOR team?

Darth Tu

That strength of schedule bonus for Vancouver really isn’t working out the way they hoped, eh? Marsktrom being down obviously a contributor to that.

How long until Rafferty is called up?

N64

I hear Trogdor Raffi also drives the zamboni in Utica between periods.

jtblack

Shane Wright, who was granted Exceptional Status, just tied McDavids point total at same age. Mcdavid did it in 63 gms.

Tavares had 45 Goals in his exceptional year.

WRIGHT
54 Gms. 39 G 27 A 66 PTS

Amazing ….

jtblack

Stamkos out 6 – 8 weeks. Timeline to return is early 1st round to end of 2nd round.

I think TB can beat TOR without him. But not sure they can beat BOS without him.

Ben

Not looking forward to Benning signing with the Laffs for $1.25M x 3 in the off-season and delivering predictably outstanding possession play.

(I personally don’t think his QO is too much, but Leavins insinuating that it’s a poison pill for Holland.)

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Was Leavins suggesting that the Oilers will let him walk? That would be idiotic. QO and then trade seems reasonable though. I like Benning on the third pairing but I think it is pretty telling that Tippet has limited his minutes this season. I would be okay with a Benning trade if it returns a decent forward. Also, his concussion makes me wary of signing him longterm.

Ben

Totally. I mean, someone has to see value in the player at $2.3 or what ever his QO would be. Unless there’s broader concern about his eggs being scrambled.

Strange item from Leavins.

Ryan

Woodguy v2.0,

Jack’s team has a material Elvis.

oilersfan

I presume Leavins is thinking the oilers could sign Green for $2 million or less ans trade Benning for some sort of asset . Green is still an excellent puck mover,, is more capable of moving up the line up in a pinch, and an excellent placeholder for Bouchard

Melvis

The sky isn’t falling, yet…but this plague also has miles to go. I don’t find it very difficult imagining a potential playoff venue like Van looking as empty as Venice, Milan, or Wuhan in a few weeks.

pts2pndr

I don’t mind seeing Vancouver as not a playoff venue.?
# trolling for Harpers

N64

NBA, NHL will likely move in step. If the Kirkland WA outbreak was caught too late then playing in empty arenas could be standard before the playoffs.

jtblack

Nuge’s GWG reminded me of Desharnais playoff winner in 2017!

pts2pndr

Question for the group. Which Oiler Defenceman would make the best baseball player. My vote goes to Jones for his high number of no hitters.?

Ribs

That Scheifle line was a force to be reckoned with. Credit is indeed due for Nurse and Bear for hanging in there.

Great game. One of those ones where there was some lightning in the water bottles. They can make some noise if they play this way come playoff time.

That McDavid backhand sauce to Draisatl was absolutely majestic. Wow.

albertaboundedmonton

If Oilers go 9-8 they would wind up at 94 points. Enough to finish third me thinks.

Georgexs

Woodguy v2.0: -CGY (+100) at FLA (-120) – Both teams played last night and Sunrise isn’t far from Tampa Bay, but CGY is on a Scheduled Loss night after losing in OT in NSH Thursday and in regulation to TBY last night. FLA is on 3rd in 4 and 2nd of back to back, but all at home.

What do you mean by Scheduled Loss?

CGY is playing 3 in 4, the last two back to back, all in different cities, with the last game on the road.

I pulled game data back in the middle of December last year.

Road teams in the CMD era earned 1.02 points per game. (Home teams earned 1.21.)

Teams in CGY’s situation earned 1.01 points per game.

How is that a Scheduled Loss?

db7db7

McDavid, the best second line center in the league?

Wonder Llama

Begging your indulgence: In the fall of 2005 a woman living in the same apartment complex as my then-girlfriend now-wife moved out and left her cat behind. Future Mrs. Llama adopted her of course. She was one of those Hemingway extra toe cats. Now, this was also the year that San Jose Shark Jonathan Cheechoo exploded for 56 goals winning the Rocket Richard trophy. One day I made some comment about how he had “good hands” and so she named her extra-toe cat Cheechoo (full name Miss Cheechoo von Clompenstomp, of the Dusseldorf von Clompenstomps). Cheechoo was the happiest, goofiest cat I’ve ever known. Yesterday, after a mercifully short battle with cancer and kidney failure we had to take her in to be euthanized. Much crying and sadness of course, but I’m going to pretend last night that the Oilers won one for the Choo.

GordieHoweHatTrick

My condolences to you and the lovely Mrs. Llama

Scungilli Slushy

Too bad, and I’m sure they did Choo a solid!

Wonder Llama

Thank you.

I’m not tearing up because Cheechoo got her own “sail on” shout out.

Not at all.

commonfan29

Time to trot out this fairly dumb thought exercise:

Which squad would be better, 18 McDavids or 18 Draisaitls?

norm_klassen

Was the crowd Wortham GF last night or what?

Reja

Smith has been Battling since the Buffalo loss in OT giving us a chance every start take away the OT losses his win loss and a save percentage would really be making Flames Fanboy Hrudey eat his words for calling Smith done in December. Only reason Hrudey plugged Leon a bit last night because he loves his job and the East is on to him and his bias towards Edmonton.

pts2pndr

“Battling Billy”. I think he adds to the team swagger and confidence. His effort is always top drawer.

Ice Sage

Melvis:
The sky isn’t falling, yet…but this plague also has miles to go. I don’t find it very difficult imagining a potential playoff venue like Van looking as empty as Venice, Milan, or Wuhan in a few weeks.

It’s coming for all of us – should be prairie-bound by May… so an empty Rogers, save for a hazmat-wearing Prinicipe (oh, the humanity!) would be a sign of Oiler good fortune… unless it’s in the dressing rooms by then.

Woodguy v2.0

Georgexs: What do you mean by Scheduled Loss?

CGY is playing 3 in 4, the last two back to back, all in different cities, with the last game on the road.

I pulled game data back in the middle of December last year.

Road teams in the CMD era earned 1.02 points per game. (Home teams earned 1.21.)

Teams in CGY’s situation earned 1.01 points per game.

How is that a Scheduled Loss?

If you look at that situation over the last 10 years in both basketball and hockey you’ll find a winning percentage of ~30% (used to be ~25% but has improved)

It’s a term that has been around for years and originated in basketball.

Edit: or did you mean your sample only had teams which had the first game at home?

How big is your sample?

Reja

pts2pndr:
Question for the group. Which Oiler Defenceman would make the best baseball player. My vote goes to Jones for his high number of no hitters.?

Are you talking on base percentage because Bear had 2 hits and 1 walk last night.

Pescador

Nice,
He also had 3 steals & 11 passballs

pts2pndr

I was fishing for a comment from the Jones is a top four D crowd. I believe he will get there but early days. Larsson has been doing the heavy lifting for the pairing in my opinion. Their individual strengths and weaknesses make them a good pair.

Ribs

The After Hours segment last night was pretty great. Tippett seems like a good dude. He’s led an interesting life!

The Ennis/Spurgeon connection was interesting to hear about as well.

drglen

One concern that’s not been mentioned is that Russel/benning were often out with the McDavid line, one assumes by Tippets decision. Granted the scheifle line was superb and owned everybody, but. we were most often hemmed in and running around in our own end, and could not seem to find any forwards for a breakout pass. .. In the end we won the game..

teddyturnbuckle

Darnell Nurse

Nurse can play for my team any day with his athleticism and reach. He also seems to have taken a step back or has a few bad habits that he and Jim Playfair need to eradicate from his game. His two on one defending is not sharp right now. He needs to defend the pass better in these situations. Right now he has a bad habit of trying to intercept the pass instead of tying up his mans stick. He is also leaving his feet a lot or crouching to block shots when he needs to go to the attacker and not give him too much room. Maybe a bit too much pressure on Darnell with the Klefbom injury.

Jethro Tull

It’s the extended minutes. Longer out there, longer exposed to better players. His athleticism has got him to being a decent second pairing D. Now can he “learn” the game enough to take him to the next level?

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

drglen:
One concern that’s not been mentioned is that Russel/benning were often out with the McDavid line, one assumes by Tippets decision. Granted the scheifle line was superb and owned everybody, but. we were most often hemmed in and running around in our own end, and could not seem to find any forwards for a breakout pass… In the end we won the game..

Klef and Green cannot get back fast enough. The more options on D the better. Green and Benning can rotate and Rusty can sit upstairs.

Georgexs

Woodguy v2.0: If you look at that situation over the last 10 years in both basketball and hockey you’ll find a winning percentage of ~30% (used to be ~25% but has improved)

It’s a term that has been around for years and originated in basketball.

Edit: or did you mean your sample only had teams which had the first game on the road?

How big is your sample?

Going back to 2009, road teams earned 1.03 points per game and teams in CGY’s situation earned 0.98 points per game.

So, going back 10 years, teams in CGY’s situation do slightly worse than road teams overall. In the CMD years the gap in results between a road team and road team in CGY’s situation is very slight. A team would be no worse an underdog playing in your Scheduled Loss scenario than it would be as simply a road team.

In the CMD era (games up to Dec. 16th last year), I have 5520 games played. 576 of them (10%) satisfy the following criteria:

– team is playing 3 games in four nights

– all 3 games are in different cities

– the last two are back to back

– the last game is on the road

Road team earned 1.02 points in the 5520 games played.

Teams in the 576 game subset earned 1.01.

Woodguy v2.0

That’s really interesting.

I wonder if the Bettman point plays a role?

This came from basketball which doesn’t have any 3 point games.

Can you control for regulation wins only and look again?

Georgexs

What’s this newfangled reply system?

What you’re asking for would take work. Sunday. Lazy.

The record of the road teams in CGY’s situation is 258-252-66.

Woodguy v2.0

If you have time to do it, it would be great, but you’re no one’s answer monkey.

Seeing as the average NHL game gives out 2.21 points then there is an effect, but it’s not as strong as it was once measured.

Thanks for that.

Woodguy v2.0

Oh, and once you’re done calculate a regression of those results against km travelled as well to suss out the magnitude of the travel effect.

You know, when you have time.

🙂

ArmchairGM

Controlled for time zones too, of course.

Scungilli Slushy

commonfan29:
Time to trot out this fairly dumb thought exercise:

Which squad would be better, 18 McDavids or 18 Draisaitls?

The 18 Drais would be blowing chunks after the first, like every other player in the league.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

Repost from the end of last thread for those who missed it:

Broberg with his first goal, an assist and 4 shots in 12:48 TOI in Skelleftea’s 8-2 victory last night. Brings his totals up to 1-7 in 40 games; not too far removed from now-elite offensive SHL producer Nils Lundkvist’s post-draft year and well ahead of Klefbom’s post-draft seasons. Tracking his offense will remain a matter of serious intrigue for me.

Scungilli Slushy

oilersfan:
I presume Leavins is thinking the oilers could sign Green for $2 million or less ans trade Benning for some sort of asset . Green is still an excellent puck mover,, is more capable of moving up the line up in a pinch, and an excellent placeholder for Bouchard

I hope anybody coming back who’s not a material player does so at no more than 1M.

This is a good team with the league’s top two forwards, verging on contention, and seems a good group, good room, great coaches and GM.

For once the oilers are a team players might want to play on. Aging guys have made their dinero already. Cups are fun.

Georgexs

“Darnell Nurse had one shot on goal, two giveaways and a takeaway. He earned part of the blame on the second goal against, he was drawn to the puck carrier instead of covering his mark. Ethan Bear had a giveaway, plenty of impressive work including at least two painful shot blocks. Looked like a rookie (a rare item for Bear) against Wheeler by getting neither puck nor body. I see a lot of anger and rage focused toward Nurse online today, would remind you that Wheeler and Connor are world class, the play doesn’t happen if Bear stands up Wheeler or denies the sortie by knocking the puck away AND the sortie isn’t successful if Nurse stays with his man. So, flame away, but sometimes you have to give the other man his due. Helluva deke and pass by Wheeler.”

If you watch the replay, you’ll see how far away Connor was from the play when Wheeler got around Bear. If Nurse decided in that split second to cover Connor, he would have let Wheeler go in alone on Smith. I’m not sure a Blake Wheeler in alone sortie is certain to be unsuccessful. Bear gave Nurse a lose-lose scenario.

And it’s not like Nurse wasn’t aware. When Wheeler made his move to make it a 2 on 1, Nurse looks over to see where Connor is. He knows he has to try to prevent the pass across. But Connor had taken such a smart angle to the play that he finds the space between Bear and Archibald who are chasing and Nurse who’s retreating. Just out of reach of all of the sticks in the lane. And Wheeler finds him.

As you said, fantastic forward play by two of the best.

Scungilli Slushy

drglen:
One concern that’s not been mentioned is that Russel/benning were often out with the McDavid line, one assumes by Tippets decision. Granted the scheifle line was superb and owned everybody, but. we were most often hemmed in and running around in our own end, and could not seem to find any forwards for a breakout pass… In the end we won the game..

I couldn’t watch the game because travelling on a business retreat. Reading this morning I was wondering did Benning have a rough game, or does Rusty keep his steady thing going but torpedo his partner?

I would imagine having a puck limited partner would can’t break cycles effectively puts a lot of pressure on a D, disrupting systems so breakouts, and giving the forecheck an easy plan. Cut off the pass to the guy who can move the puck and grind.

Which to me is why any player needs enough mobility and puck skills to make the group harder to game plan for by the opponent. If everyone can skate and make a decent pass at least that is a hard team to play if everyone is engaged.

Georgexs

“Caleb Jones had a giveaway and a takeaway, an accidental late penalty and skated miles. He was late closing the gap on the opening goal, but (like Nurse on the first goal) the die was cast.”

Jones had to have made the wrong read on that play. It’s not that he was late closing the gap, it’s that he chose to close that particular gap at all.

He was the last man back. He had an opposing forward skating at a right angle toward the boards at the blue line. His forwards were closing. He decided to skate all the way across the ice t the blue line and leave nothing but empty space behind him.

Judgment play. Comes with time. Maybe why “Coaches prefer aged defensemen”.

jm363561

That was how I saw it – you explained it much better than I could. Otherwise I thought Jones played an excellent game, as did Smith, Drai and Nuge.

I like the Jets, and the Schiefele line in particular, and a heart breaking loss for them. I hope they can make the playoffs. Along with the comeback win against Nashville in January this was probably the most crucial win to date in playoff terms. Nerve shredding!

Scungilli Slushy

teddyturnbuckle:
Darnell Nurse

Nurse can play for my team any day with his athleticism and reach.He also seems to have taken a step back or has a few bad habits that he and Jim Playfair need to eradicate from his game.His two on one defending is not sharp right now.He needs to defend the pass better in these situations.Right now he has a bad habit of trying to intercept the pass instead of tying up his mans stick.He is also leaving his feet a lot or crouching to block shots when he needs to go to the attacker and not give him too much room. Maybe a bit too much pressure on Darnell with theKlefbom injury.

To me what many good teams have are good sticks – knocking pucks and passes making them very hard to get through.

The Oilers have not been good at this for yonks.

stephen sheps

Last night I went to the leafs/Canucks game. My uncle is from vancouver and hasn’t seen his team in action live in more than a decade (and has lived in Toronto for about 9 years).

I also saw it as an opportunity to scout the Oilers’ potential first round opponent in person.

It was an ugly game. In spite of all the skilled players both teams have, it was one of those games where neither team looked like they wanted to win, both seemingly lacking the urgency or poise of teams in the thick of playoff races. Quite frankly I was very confused.

So, about that vancouver team. First the good (well, bad if you’re an Oilers fan, but work with me here):
Pettersson, Horvat and Miller are very good players. Pettersson, to the surprise of nobody is extremely quick, great in both open and tight spaces and his hockey sense is off the charts.

Toffoli and Pearson still play like Sutter taught them. Aggressive, puck controlling possession focused. They’re built for playoff hockey and add a lot of depth and experience to an otherwise young roster.

Tyler Myers looks like he learned how to skate again. He was much more active and mobile than In recent years, looking more like Sabres Myers than Jets Myers.

Now for the bad (which is good for Oilers):

They lack depth. Not on paper but in practice. If the Miller/Toffoli combination is shut down, the rest of the forwards are manageable.

As brilliant as Pettersson is, he’s also soft on the puck. Physical defenders like Nurse and Larsson can muscle him off the puck. The trick is to be able to catch him (Nurse can, Lars? Well…)

Defence is not really their strength. The Leafs top 2 lines plus the Gauthier line (I think that’s their 4L?) were able to establish the cycle game at will, especially on the PP. The Oilers top 2 lines should be able to exploit this element as well, especially once 56 is back in the lineup.

Edler has lost a step and his discipline is still suspect at best. Took 2 dirty and very avoidable/careless penalties.

Hughes, for all the skill he has, isn’t great in his own zone and gets easily rattled at the point. I know rookie blue should be given the benefit of the doubt and if I liked the Canucks I’d consider it, but I hate them so I’m going to pile on the kid a little. He had pucks jumping over his stick pretty consistently and he looks tentative unless he’s carrying the puck and jumping into the rush. The tools are there, but he’s raw.

If Markstrom isn’t back, they’re in trouble. Demko plays real deep into the net and has a hard time with lateral movement. His butterfly is inconsistent and he has a tendency to not fully drop down, even when trying to cover the post. Watch the highlight of the Matthews goal – Demko wasn’t square/set at all but throughout the game I watched his positioning. The same technical flaw in his stance was visible all game long. I’m surprised the leafs didn’t fire more pucks from weird angles at him.

That being said, I’m hardly a scout. I don’t think Vancouver will be an easy out at all. When the desperation finally set in, they started to push really hard and made life very difficult for Toronto’s sketchy rookie blue liners and mostly defensively inept forwards. They needed Freddie to play like last year’s model in order to preserve their lead in the final few minutes. Once the Canucks started to press they were able to easily control the play. Score effects are a real thing of course, but the skill they have was very apparent in the final few minutes of the game.

End scouting report.

Scungilli Slushy

Thanks, very interesting.

Thankfully the oilers have the hardest part covered in having elite forwards. I also think Petersson is really talented, but he has a ways to go as does Hughes. It’s a tough league being a short or slight player. Not insurmountable but a challenge.

stephen sheps

Oh for sure. Look at KY – he didn’t exactly make the leap immediately. They’re an exceptionally talented duo. In a couple years’ time they’re going to be regularly terrorizing the pacific, especially on the PP.

v4ance

Hah! Demko sounds just like a smaller younger version of Mike Smith.

jm363561

I rarely watch non Oiler games but I saw the third period. Vancouver came on strong in the last few minutes otherwise both teams looked really average with little sense of desperation. The Leafs defence, in particular, looked really poor.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

Georgexs:
“Darnell Nurse had one shot on goal, two giveaways and a takeaway. He earned part of the blame on the second goal against, he was drawn to the puck carrier instead of covering his mark. Ethan Bear had a giveaway, plenty of impressive work including at least two painful shot blocks. Looked like a rookie (a rare item for Bear) against Wheeler by getting neither puck nor body. I see a lot of anger and rage focused toward Nurse online today, would remind you that Wheeler and Connor are world class, the play doesn’t happen if Bear stands up Wheeler or denies the sortie by knocking the puck away AND the sortie isn’t successful if Nurse stays with his man. So, flame away, but sometimes you have to give the other man his due. Helluva deke and pass by Wheeler.”

If you watch the replay, you’ll see how far away Connor was from the play when Wheeler got around Bear. If Nurse decided in that split second to cover Connor, he would have let Wheeler go in alone on Smith. I’m not sure a Blake Wheeler in alone sortie is certain to be unsuccessful. Bear gave Nurse a lose-lose scenario.

And it’s not like Nurse wasn’t aware. When Wheeler made his move to make it a 2 on 1, Nurse looks over to see where Connor is. He knows he has to try to prevent the pass across. But Connor had taken such a smart angle to the play that he finds the space between Bear and Archibald who are chasing and Nurse who’s retreating. Just out of reach of all of the sticks in the lane. And Wheeler finds him.

As you said, fantastic forward play by two of the best.

This is certainly something worth remembering. If we used the same frame that we use for our Dmen on all the Dmen throughout the league that Connor, Leon and co. consistently beat, I think we’d quickly discover that all the D in the league are “awful” or “inconsistent” or “flawed”.

Reja

Scungilli Slushy: To me what many good teams have are good sticks – knocking pucks and passes making them very hard to get through.

The Oilers have not been good at this for yonks.

They sure are good at it on the PK in my opinion the best in the league.

Scungilli Slushy

Truth

OriginalPouzar

Well deserved first star of the month for Leon.

What a beast he is, night after night.

Amber, Hrudey and Friedman all had him out front in the Hart race at this point – no shit.

Scungilli Slushy

I feel sorry for Friedman, seriously

blainer

teddyturnbuckle:
Darnell Nurse

Nurse can play for my team any day with his athleticism and reach.He also seems to have taken a step back or has a few bad habits that he and Jim Playfair need to eradicate from his game.His two on one defending is not sharp right now.He needs to defend the pass better in these situations.Right now he has a bad habit of trying to intercept the pass instead of tying up his mans stick.He is also leaving his feet a lot or crouching to block shots when he needs to go to the attacker and not give him too much room. Maybe a bit too much pressure on Darnell with theKlefbom injury.

Nurse is a very tough topic here as he has a very strong fan base. Every game lately I cringe when he is on the ice. The first half of that game last night he was just terrible in my opinion.

He is playing way too much right now. I know Jones is a rookie and didn’t look good on that goal where Shea never got back but I would give some of Nurse’s ice to Jones right now .. See how he does as Nurse is just giving up way to much lately.

Man this team misses Klef. I think he is the one player I miss the most along with Connor.

pts2pndr

If you were to take a poll of which D Oiler opponents least like to play against I think you would find it would be Nurse followed by Larsson. I doubt that Jones would even get one vote. It amazes me the number of fans that have so little appreciation for physical D. There is value in players that make opponents not want to go the front of the net.

barry.moore23

Mr. and Mrs. Llama,

Sorry for your loss. My wife and I are cat (all animals,really) people and have been there. Peace to Cheechoo.

My wife’s Flyers are hitting on all cylinders at the right time. Good for them.

Wonder Llama

Thank you – it’s appreciated.

Mrs. Llama is from Denver and a huge Broncos fan, but in hockey she’s all about the Oilers.

Draisaitl has now eclipsed Georges Laraque as her all-time favorite Oiler.

Harpers Hair

stephen sheps:
Last night I went to the leafs/Canucks game. My uncle is from vancouver and hasn’t seen his team in action live in more than a decade (and has lived in Toronto for about 9 years).

I also saw it as an opportunity to scout the Oilers’ potential first round opponent in person.

It was an ugly game. In spite of all the skilled players both teams have, it was one of those games where neither team looked like they wanted to win, both seemingly lacking the urgency or poise of teams in the thick of playoff races. Quite frankly I was very confused.

So, about that vancouver team. First the good (well, bad if you’re an Oilers fan, but work with me here):
Pettersson, Horvat and Miller are very good players. Pettersson, to the surprise of nobody is extremely quick, great in both open and tight spaces and his hockey sense is off the charts.

Toffoli and Pearson still play like Sutter taught them. Aggressive, puck controlling possession focused. They’re built for playoff hockey and add a lot of depth and experience to an otherwise young roster.

Tyler Myers looks like he learned how to skate again. He was much more active and mobile than In recent years, looking more like Sabres Myers than Jets Myers.

Now for the bad (which is good for Oilers):

They lack depth. Not on paper but in practice. If the Miller/Toffoli combination is shut down, the rest of the forwards are manageable.

As brilliant as Pettersson is, he’s also soft on the puck. Physical defenders like Nurse and Larsson can muscle him off the puck. The trick is to be able to catch him (Nurse can, Lars? Well…)

Defence is not really their strength. The Leafs top 2 lines plus the Gauthier line (I think that’s their 4L?) were able to establish the cycle game at will, especially on the PP. The Oilers top 2 lines should be able to exploit this element as well, especially once 56 is back in the lineup.

Edler has lost a step and his discipline is still suspect at best. Took 2 dirty and very avoidable/careless penalties.

Hughes, for all the skill he has, isn’t great in his own zone and gets easily rattled at the point. I know rookie blue should be given the benefit of the doubt and if I liked the Canucks I’d consider it, but I hate them so I’m going to pile on the kid a little. He had pucks jumping over his stick pretty consistently and he looks tentative unless he’s carrying the puck and jumping into the rush. The tools are there, but he’s raw.

If Markstrom isn’t back, they’re in trouble. Demko plays real deep into the net and has a hard time with lateral movement. His butterfly is inconsistent and he has a tendency to not fully drop down, even when trying to cover the post. Watch the highlight of the Matthews goal – Demko wasn’t square/set at all but throughout the game I watched his positioning. The same technical flaw in his stance was visible all game long. I’m surprised the leafs didn’t fire more pucks from weird angles at him.

That being said, I’m hardly a scout. I don’t think Vancouver will be an easy out at all. When the desperation finally set in, they started to push really hard and made life very difficult for Toronto’s sketchy rookie blue liners and mostly defensively inept forwards. They needed Freddie to play like last year’s model in order to preserve their lead in the final few minutes. Once the Canucks started to press they were able to easily control the play. Score effects are a real thing of course, but the skill they have was very apparent in the final few minutes of the game.

End scouting report.

Great analysis and pretty much what I saw.

A couple of notes:

The Hughes you saw last night was not typical. He has had three “shaky” games in a row but all season has been exceptional in his own end breaking up plays with his speed, agility and hockey sense. Not sure what is going on with him but it may be a matter of him hitting a wall in his rookie season.

Likewise, Petterson has not been himself for the past few games spending a lot of time getting knocked off the puck and/or falling. He addressed it directly yesterday and knows he has to be better.

You also mentioned their lack of forward depth and that is true at the moment but remember they have two top six forwards injured but both Boeser and Leivo are expected back for the playoffs meaning the corpse of Loui Eriksson will not be a second line winger and will likely be in the press box.

As for Demko, he has let in two bad goals in each of the last two games which has left the team chasing the score. You’re absolutely right about his positioning and it’s costing him and the team. I wonder why goalie whisperer Ian Clark hasn’t been able to fix that. It many be a confidence issue.

You also mentioned Horvat and the issue there is their second line even strength scoring has dried up which is likely to be expected considering Eriksson cant piss a drop unless it’s an empty net goal.

Green has been trying to use that line as a shutdown line but it isn’t working and you have to wonder why he keeps going back to Eriksson when he has other options.

flyfish1168

Smith was Outstanding. But he does make your sphincter tighten when he is passing the puck up ice.

OriginalPouzar

Remember when Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t piss a drop earlier in the year, for a good quarter of the season? He had like a handful of even strength points, was struggling with a hand injury and not really helping the team? He missed 2-3 weeks with a procedure on his hand (apparently the same as on Klef’s shoulder).

He’s now got 19G and isn’t far from PPG on the year with 53 points ini 59 games.

His defensive game as a top 6 winger is higher end (he’s middling as a defensive center I think) and he’s a huge part of the PK paired with Kharia as PK2.

What a player.

Expansion draft ramifications notwithstanding, does Holland start talking contract with Nuge this summer. Are we cool with 5 years at $35M or under? Will Nuge sign for $7M per or under?

OriginalPouzar

That win last night, in regulation, was just massive.

Gained 2 points in each of Calgary, Vancouver, Nashville and Winnipeg without giving up a game and kept the Knights in our sight-lines – won one of the two games in hand.

The Jets are now 4 points back of the Oilers and the Oilers have two games in hand. Really, they are 5 points back given tiebreakers.

If the Oilers do fall to a wild card position, which I do doubt happens, that win last night really helps them vis-a-vis the Jets and takes them closer to making it a three team race with NSH/MIN.

Great stuff.

They can the same vis-a-vis Nashville on Monday!

Georgexs

I looked up career GP and TOI/GP for the WPG’s defensemen last night.

Player, GP, TOI/GP

Beaulieu, 366, 16:48
Pionk, 168, 22:15
DeMelo, 265, 16:58
Kulikov, 673, 19:57
Poolman, 77, 16:05
Bitetto, 183, 13:06

One guy (Pionk) near first pairing minutes, another (Kulikov) near second pairing minutes. Everyone else is 3rd pairing. Wow. That team played hard last night. I really hope they find a way in.

OriginalPouzar

“Jujhar Khaira had one great look,…..”

I would posit that he had more than one great look – he had the empty net rebound chance off the P. Russell shot and then the quick strike in front seconds later which he rang off the cross-bar.

Damn, he needed to bury that rebound – would have changed the game.

With that said, I liked Khaira’s game last night and I feel he’s generally been playing better lately. He can’t piss a drop and may never score again but, if he does get one, he may get 4 in 5 games – he’s streaky like that.

To me, he is not a realistic option to come out of the lineup – he’s not a depth PK guy, he’s firmly PK2 with Nuge, they see the top line PP and are highly effective – that helps win hockey games.

As long as he’s not leaking goals against and, right now, I don’t believe he is.

flyfish1168

OriginalPouzar:
Remember when Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t piss a drop earlier in the year, for a good quarter of the season?He had like a handful of even strength points, was struggling with a hand injury and not really helping the team? He missed 2-3 weeks with a procedure on his hand (apparently the same as on Klef’s shoulder).

He’s now got 19G and isn’t far from PPG on the year with 53 points ini 59 games.

His defensive game as a top 6 winger is higher end (he’s middling as a defensive center I think) and he’s a huge part of the PK paired with Kharia as PK2.

What a player.

Expansion draft ramifications notwithstanding, does Holland start talking contract with Nuge this summer. Are we cool with 5 years at $35M or under? Will Nuge sign for $7M per or under?

For starters I really hope he stays an Oiler forever. When the expansion draft happens he will be one of the protected players. One hopes he will sign anywhere between 7-7.5 per year at most.

Harpers Hair

Georgexs:
I looked up career GP and TOI/GP for the WPG’s defensemen last night.

Player, GP, TOI/GP

Beaulieu, 366, 16:48
Pionk, 168, 22:15
DeMelo, 265, 16:58
Kulikov, 673, 19:57
Poolman, 77, 16:05
Bitetto, 183, 13:06

One guy (Pionk) near first pairing minutes, another (Kulikov) near second pairing minutes. Everyone else is 3rd pairing. Wow. That team played hard last night. I really hope they find a way in.

That’s what I was thinking while watching the game.

If Winnipeg had an NHL defence (and Laine and Morrisey) that would be a formidable playoff team.

v4ance

Routine during days/decade of darkness after each game near the end of the season:

1)Read Lowetide
2) Google any material on our projected pick(s)
3) Run Tankathon to see if we win the #1 OV pick

***

Routine during rare years of playoff contention after each game near the end of the season:

1)Read Lowetide
2) Run Sportsclubstats to see our updated playoff probability and projected 1st round matchup
3) Read up on all teams that we might meet in 1st round match

I much like the glow of the second scenario…

OriginalPouzar

Another big night on the out of town scoreboard.

Both the flames and canucks play the back end of back to backs, against FLA and CBJ, respectively.

MIN plays WSH and VEG in LA.

Go eastern conference and its time for VEG to take the LAK lightly and come off their heater.