Saddle Up the Palomino

by Lowetide

Adam Larsson is an important player for the Edmonton Oilers in the upcoming 2020 playoffs. Larsson, along with Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear, is going to spend 10 days with his head on a swivel trying to (borrowing a phrase from Craig MacTavish) take a drink from a firehose. Patrick Kane is coming to town, and that my friends is an assignment.

THE ATHLETIC!

Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.

ROSTER TALK

Daniel Nugent-Bowman is doing great work for The Athletic covering the Oilers training camp. Among his tweets yesterday was a passage involving the math of the roster. Quoting DNB: “If Broberg leaves, Oilers plan to take 9 D, 18 F, 3 G (30 total) into bubble.”

Although Caleb Jones hasn’t yet played, there’s a sense from reporting that he will in fact join the group in the coming days. A depth chart that includes the current top four and Russell-Benning-Jones for the third pairing is solid. Bouchard and Lagesson would stand at the ready. Sounds like Broberg is adjusting well and maybe we see him in the bubble. The lines have a logic and reason to them, the lack of a second or third pre-tournament game is annoying as hell but compromises were necessary.

I like the lines, well, that’s not true, I like the lines except Nuge had such a good thing going with LD and KY. Why does Nuge have to be the responsible one all the damned time?

I wrote about Zack Kassian today at The Athletic, looking at his strengths and what he needs to improve upon in order to hang on that top line. Kassian’s 2019-20 season is an amazing snapshot of a player whose considerable skills got him drafted in the first round back in 2009. He’s one of Edmonton’s top right wingers over a decade later. Interesting story and a season we need to talk about because it’s such an outlier.

Larsson is a key player for Edmonton, zero doubt in my mind. His calm feet during the stretch run contributed a great deal to Edmonton’s success. His five on five on ice goal differential in the final 10 games of the season was 11-5. Music!

DMITRI SAMORUKOV

Interesting evaluation tweak from the Holland regime may point to a different philosophy being implemented in the Oilers development template. Samorukov ended his junior career in fine fashion:

  • Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: The Samorukov that we saw in the second half really didn’t have much in terms of a weakness. He had cleaned up his play with the puck, establishing himself as a premier puck rusher and play creator. He was aggressive in jumping up looking to get himself shooting chances, but he did so intelligently. He continued to be a physical force in his own end, but exhibited way more patience defensively. It all came together and it was damn exciting to watch.

His AHL adjustment was slow, and his mid-season/end of season splits suggest he wasn’t playing a feature role:

  • First 25 games: 15-16 even strength goal differential, five points, 12:51 estimated time on ice in all situations.
  • Final 22 games: 13-18 even strength goal differential, five points, 14:14 estimated time on ice in all situations.

The expected ‘next step’ would be a move up in Bakersfield, but the Holland Oilers have made this move in an effort to improve the player in a different way. Innovative? Will we see Samorukov again? Was that incredible back half of his final junior season real? Stay turned. Sincere thanks to Eric Rodgers for stats and estimates.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A big day on TSN1260, we start at 10 this morning. Geoff Ullrich from Draft Kings will pop by to talk golf, and that includes Tiger Woods at the Memorial this weekend. Kristen Anderson from the Calgary Sun and Herald will join us to give us the state of the Flames as they get ready for the playoffs. We’ll also devote a large portion of the show to the Daniel Snyder news this morning. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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hunter1909

HUNTER 1909 DEATH MARCH™

register free here:

https://oilersdeathmarch.com/playoffs-2020/

cowboy bill

Don’t worry about Nuge . He will be even better with McDavid than he was with Leon . And Leon will be just fine with AA or Ennis on his left side along with Yamo on his right . The left side is strong , come to think of it so is the right side .

cowboy bill

I really like that line up . It could go a long way .

hickey99

Can’t wait for the play in round to start. Watched the oilers drw game 6 last night. What a great run that was. The team was much more than it’s parts. I hope this team can catch that same lightning.

cowboy bill

Really they could just put Nuge back in the middle and go with something like this .

AA-McDavid-Kassian
Ennis-Leon-Yamo
JJ-Nuge-Arch
Neal-Sheahan-Chaisson
Nygard-Haas-Russell
Benson-McLeod-Marody

Might be something Tip could keep in his back pocket . Although I do like Nuge on LW don’t get me wrong . But they have the depth to play him at center also .

BONE207

Palomino…I made wine from those grapes once. I hope this Oilers team plays in the covid cup the way that wine played in my head. Will there be any articles about Grenache?

Brantford Boy

hickey99,

I’m a little behind, just watched the recording of the 2006 DRW game 3 last night…

I have the Stars as:
* Pronger
** Smyth
*** Uneven Net (or Stoll)

Perhaps a Captain Obvious statement: Larsson will be a filthy beast in the playoffs! Looking forward to him mauling Toews from the behind the net and out of the crease…

OriginalPouzar

I think it was Dusty and Eric yesterday that were discussing who is the most important Oiler in these playoffs after, McDavid and Leon.

Excluding goaltending, in my head, Adam Larsson is right up there. Part of the reason has been his inconsistency over the last couple of years but, when I think about it, the 2017 Larsson, which is also the 2020 Larsson (so far) makes this team so much better than I have him up there in importance.

What a wonderful player when he is peaking – not to play against, of course!

McNuge93

Brantford Boy,

Hemsky has got to be one of the stars. May be for only 5 minutes worth of work, but what a great five minutes that was.

dustrock

Or with Nuge you can switch 93 & 29 if you want to load Drai, McDavid and Kassian if the Oilers are down by a 3rd, then you can still have AA-Nuge-Yamamotor

OriginalPouzar

“The lines have a logic and reason to them….”

I agree with this statement.

I get the angst with taking Nuge off of, and breaking up, the best line in hockey over a two month stretch and, initially, I was disappointed with it as well.

At the same time, I think I understand what the coaching staff is trying to do.

A defensive conscious to the McDavid line is important considering the goals against in recent times.

Ennis has the ability to play in the top 6 but, over the last few years, he’s been able to produce in the middle 6/3rd line and has a good 2-way game that could/should fit in that line.

If AA works on the Drai line then there is a real and true balance to those lines.

If AA doesn’t work, well, coach T has the option to, well, just put Nuge back there and, frankly, I don’t think they need a training camp together to “reinvent the chemistry” – I think they will just re-click.

Can’t wait to see some real games – its not far away.

OriginalPouzar

From my viewings (if i can remember them correctly, it seems so long ago), Sammy sure did have an up and down year. It took him a while to adjust to the pro game – for example, his super aggresive gap control where he would constantly step up at the blue line exposed him at the pro game and he had to learn to pick hims spots better.

With that said, he really took a few steps up mid-way through the season and was playing some very solid hockey – until he had the facial injury – when he came back, the team was a mess and his game didn’t recover to pre-injury levels.

Overall, a reasonable development season for a first year pro d-man in the AHL.

The plan would have been top 4 minutes and both special teams all year in the Bake and I would have expected a solid development year.

I am very happy there is a place for his to play this fall (presumably) and the KHL is a great league for a d-man to develop – just hope he gets the playing time.

OriginalPouzar

On that note, I wonder if there is any chance that the likes of Lennstrom and/or Niemelainen re-sign back in the SHL and Liiga, respectively, and get loaned – on the understanding they would come back to North America when hockey starts up again in December (presumably)?

I’m guessing it doesn’t happen but it would be disappointing if those two (among others) didn’t have a place to play from September to December (or later).

hunter1909

Since 2016…Hunter1909’s Death March™

Accepting new and returning Players here:

https://oilersdeathmarch.com/playoffs-2020/

Returning Players are requested to retain their original Death March™ Names, for continuity purposes only.

Free! Easy! Free! Easy! Free! Easy!

Brantford Boy

McNuge93,

He did have a good game, no question… honestly, it was hard for me to leave Winchester off the list… yes Brad Winchester… great game!

Elgin R

‘I like the lines, well, that’s not true, I like the lines except Nuge had such a good thing going with LD and KY. Why does Nuge have to be the responsible one all the damned time?’

Because he is the one player that can and will do it without any complaints. A good comparison would be Ryan O’Reilly. Regular Season: Nuge = .733 PPG / O’Reilly = .697 PPG. Playoffs: Nuge = .308 / O’Reilly = .769 (.539 in Colorado and .885 in St. Louis). O’Reilly has better playoff numbers. However, if The Nuge plays in the top 6 as a winger and on the #1 PP in the league his playoff PPG should go up.

The Nuge can score and defend and that makes him invaluable for a playoff run. #keepnugeforever

GordieHoweHatTrick

Not to look too far into the future, but I have been mulling some line-up possibilities for Dec. 1. Further to this thinking: the key needs for the line-up are “1 more top 6 winger” and 3C.

The main point is based on around the possibility of AA at 3C. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough of his history at C. He is listed as LW/C/RW, but did he play much at C in Detroit? Did he have any success there?

RNH-McDavid-Kassian
Ennis-Leon-Yamo
Nygaard-AA-Arch
Neal-JJ-Chia
Haas

1st line in minors:
Benson-McLeod-Marody

Also dependent on this thinking is if Ennis can stick around and perform at 2LW.
Maybe Benson could fit in on 2LW (As posted here with super small sample size he had some success with Drai…)

Anyway…think of the speed of this possible 3rd line
Nygaard-AA-Arch

Elgin R

Looking for a big playoffs from Adam Larsson. In the 2017 playoffs he was the highest scoring defencemen in goals and points as well as 8th overall for the Oilers. Larsson allows Bear to give Nurse an additional passing option to go along with skating the puck out. Bear has been a revelation and the defence solidified upon Larsson’s return to form. GOG

flea

Coach Tippett has done a phenomenal job with the lines and goalies this year so I trust his decisions. I believe we’ve seen him try lines in practice and then go right back to the standard in the games so I wouldn’t be suprised to see these lines broken up by game 1. It’s early in TC – why not try something new? At worst it’s coverage for possible injuries if the team can flex and adapt their lineup. Can also mess with matchups for the other team.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

GordieHoweHatTrick,

Others have mentioned AA isn’t a natural centreman. Based on his raw career totals and FOW% I’d agree with that sentiment.

Season GP FOW FOL FO%
2015-16 37 53 76 41.1
2016-17 64 37 46 44.6
2017-18 71 106 149 41.6
2018-19 76 171 228 42.9
2019-20 55 43 60 41.7

Source:
https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/a/athanan01.html

Dee Dee

Coaches will never “Lock” a lineup, especially this early.

All that does is give your opponents a way to figure out strategies to use against your team and come up with the best way to defend/attack against it.

In any given game there will be players who are in the zone and playing at their peak abilities and others who are having off nights or are fighting injuries.

Why saddle any line with a player who isn’t playing at the level as the rest of the line?

And it will depend on your opponent too. McDavid and Yamo’s third will vary according to who they are playing. Is it a fast team, physical team, hard fore-checking team? Pick the best third guy.

Any set lineup survives about 3 minutes in a game.

Darth Tu

“Why does Nuge have to be the responsible one all the damned time?”

I bet at least 70% of this is because Nuge wants to be. He strikes me as the kind of player that is definitely more in the “ask not what the Oilers can do for Nuge, but what Nuge can do for the Oilers” camp.

Plus if it’s not working out after a game against the Blackhawks then Tippet can always load up and throw Nuge back with Drai/Yam.

GordieHoweHatTrick

BornInAGretzkyJersey:
GordieHoweHatTrick,

Others have mentioned AA isn’t a natural centreman.Based on his raw career totals and FOW% I’d agree with that sentiment.

Season GP FOW FOL FO%
2015-163753 76 41.1
2016-176437 46 44.6
2017-1871106 149 41.6
2018-1976171 228 42.9
2019-2055 4360 41.7

Source:
https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/a/athanan01.html

Thanks!

Harpers Hair
ArmchairGM

cowboy bill:
Don’t worry about Nuge . He will be even better with McDavid than he was with Leon .

I can’t agree with that. Over the past 3 years Nugent-Hopkins has played with both men and his results are not better with McDavid:

5v5 with Draisaitl: 3.21 P/60, 61.64 GF%, 53.89 xGF%, 635:07 TOI
5v5 with McDavid: 2.31 P/60, 57.14 GF%, 48.88 xGF%, 648:58 TOI

Interestingly, Draisaitl was also better with Nugent-Hopkins than he was with McDavid over the past 3 seasons:

5v5 with Nugent-Hopkins: 3.68 P/60, 61.64 GF%, 53.89 xGF%, 635:07 TOI
5v5 with McDavid: 3.07 P/60, 54.22 GF%, 51.41 xGF%, 1857:31 TOI

I understand what Tippett is trying to do here, but I’m not sure I agree with it. I’d rather he used TC to try and develop chemistry between Athanasiou and McDavid.

godot10

Dropping your underpants in front of a random woman qualifies one for the Lady Byng Award. Who knew?

defmn

godot10:
Dropping your underpants in front of a random woman qualifies one for the Lady Byng Award.Who knew?

But recovering from a potentially career ending injury to be 2nd in scoring for the season doesn’t warrant a Masterton nomination.

godot10

godot10:
Dropping your underpants in front of a random woman qualifies one for the Lady Byng Award.Who knew?

Shame on the Professional Hockey Writers.

Munny

defmn,

The List:

• Fully torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).

• Torn medial and lateral menisci.

• Fully torn popliteus muscle.

• Complete tear of the posterior capsule.

• Tibial plateau fracture.

• Decided on non-surgical route.

• Pioneering multi-discipline rehab process.

• More than 1,000 hours over 179 days to return to lineup.

_______

Courtesy of Terry Jones.

defmn

Munny:
defmn,

The List:

• Fully torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).

• Torn medial and lateral menisci.

• Fully torn popliteus muscle.

• Complete tear of the posterior capsule.

• Tibial plateau fracture.

• Decided on non-surgical route.

• Pioneering multi-discipline rehab process.

• More than 1,000 hours over 179 days to return to lineup.

_______

Courtesy of Terry Jones.

Yeah. I doubt McDavid cares about the award itself but it is shameful that the writers didn’t acknowledge it.

ArmchairGM

Darth Tu:
“Why does Nuge have to be the responsible one all the damned time?”

I bet at least 70% of this is because Nuge wants to be.He strikes me as the kind of player that is definitely more in the “ask not what the Oilers can do for Nuge, but what Nuge can do for the Oilers” camp.

That’s the way I played as a kid – always skated harder on the backcheck than the forecheck – so they stuck me on defense. Worked for me.

Eh Team

OriginalPouzar: A defensive conscious to the McDavid line is important considering the goals against in recent times.

Yeah, as great as McDavid is, he isn’t able to carry two wingers, not when he is matched against the other teams best players. His line should be outscoring everyone he plays against over time and consistently. So that means at least one quality line mate and that’s Nuge at present.

pts2pndr

ArmchairGM: I can’t agree with that. Over the past 3 years Nugent-Hopkins has played with both men and his results are not better with McDavid:

5v5 with Draisaitl: 3.21 P/60, 61.64 GF%, 53.89 xGF%, 635:07 TOI
5v5 with McDavid: 2.31 P/60, 57.14 GF%, 48.88 xGF%, 648:58 TOI

Interestingly, Draisaitl was also better with Nugent-Hopkins than he was with McDavid over the past 3 seasons:

5v5 with Nugent-Hopkins: 3.68 P/60, 61.64 GF%, 53.89 xGF%, 635:07 TOI
5v5 with McDavid: 3.07 P/60, 54.22 GF%, 51.41 xGF%, 1857:31 TOI

I understand what Tippett is trying to do here, but I’m not sure I agree with it. I’d rather he used TC to try and develop chemistry between Athanasiou and McDavid.

That is how I see it and the coach may as well. Nudge on the first line may just be a red herring so to speak.

Munny

defmn: Yeah. I doubt McDavid cares about the award itself but it is shameful that the writers didn’t acknowledge it.

Well, I’m pretty sure the rule states: “only one finalist from west of the Mississippi will be allowed for each of the NHL awards”.

Darth Tu

ArmchairGM: That’s the way I played as a kid – always skated harder on the backcheck than the forecheck – so they stuck me on defense. Worked for me.

Offense is fun and all. I used to play wing or forward in soccer for years, then switched to full back, or wing back (depending on formation) and found I really enjoyed that side of the game more. There’s something really satisfying about still making good offensive plays, but also having that real defensive responsibility.

Plus being a bit of a troll it was always fun to frustrate opposing wingers and try to keep them completely out of the game.

Nuge is a stud, I really hope we sign him to an extension in the sooner rather than later land. Even taking into account the expansion draft for Seattle I’d rather have him locked up and then protected. It might mean exposing a player we are also keen on keeping, but I feel Nuge still has 6 or 7 years of top 6 play left (at least) in him.

Kailer goes RFA at the end of 2021-22 doesn’t he? Assuming we can lock him up as well as Nuge that means we have at least another 6 years of McD, Drai, Yam and Nuge in the top 6. I’m more than happy with that.

mumbai max

Matthews does not take penalties because he plays powder puff hockey. To compare him to RoR is a complete joke. Of course if he wins the Lady B, I would never chalk this up to an NHL conspiracy ?

Munny

Eskimos survey of the northern native communities has revealed that they are supportive of the team’s name and take its use as a matter of pride (as it should be).

hunter1909

Munny:
Eskimos survey of the northern native communities has revealed that they are supportive of the team’s name and take its use as a matter of pride (as it should be).

This is getting interesting.

Munny

NHL shield will replace Oilers logo at Rogers center ice.

Eh Team

Munny: Eskimos survey of the northern native communities has revealed that they are supportive of the team’s name and take its use as a matter of pride (as it should be).

Of course they will have to change the name. It’s just a matter of time. And frankly embarrassing that they don’t.

Durag

defmn: But recovering from a potentially career ending injury to be 2nd in scoring for the season doesn’t warrant a Masterton nomination.

Wow, that’s absurd.

doritogrande

godot10:
Dropping your underpants in front of a random woman qualifies one for the Lady Byng Award.Who knew?

Let’s not forget about O’Reilly’s shady acquittal of ramming a small town Timmies and attempting to flee.

Munny

Spector on ON: Broberg’s speed has really stood out for him, discussing the speed at TC>

digger50

Eh Team: Of course they will have to change the name.It’s just a matter of time.And frankly embarrassing that they don’t.

I don’t know about embarrassing. Things change. At one time it was non issue now they may have to adapt.

Maybe Canadians don’t want to be called Canucks so that name falls. Blue Bombers don’t want to be associated with bombers so that name falls

I don’t know anymore,, but it seems we keep moving forward and try to keep as many folks happy as possible. Its never 100%.

digger50

I think Adam Larson will be back. Hes all business.

Drai had an unbelievable season. Hes a full load on his own, and you cant take anything away from him.

BUT – If having Nuge on the first line allows you to turn a well rested, fully recovered Connor McDavid loose, that is a game breaker. In Leon’s words, “Its not even fair.”

defmn

Eh Team: Of course they will have to change the name.It’s just a matter of time.And frankly embarrassing that they don’t.

It would be nice to see the organization show some courage and keep the name. There is nothing disparaging about the word ‘Eskimo’.

Giving in to bullies just tends to make bullies more aggressive.

As it was and forever will be.

Reja

Eh Team: Of course they will have to change the name.It’s just a matter of time.And frankly embarrassing that they don’t.

Well you better get out there with your sign and make a difference.

Darth Tu

Munny:
Eskimos survey of the northern native communities has revealed that they are supportive of the team’s name and take its use as a matter of pride (as it should be).

Source please. I’d love to read this survey.

Harpers Hair

digger50: I don’t know about embarrassing. Things change. At one time it was non issue now they may have to adapt.

Maybe Canadians don’t want to be called Canucks so that name falls. Blue Bombers don’t want to be associated with bombers so that name falls

I don’t know anymore,, but it seems we keep moving forward and try to keep as many folks happy as possible. Its never 100%.

Never confuse motion with progress.

Often it’s like a rocking chair….it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.

dustrock

Darth Tu: Source please. I’d love to read this survey.

“handpicked self-identified Eskimos fans living in Nunavut agreed the name is fine”