Blue, Red and Grey

One of the things a 5-game series does is make every game vital. So, down 4-1 you’re still pushing. I’m a believer in Dave Tippett, but keeping Smith in net after the third goal, and certainly after the fourth one, is a major story in this series. No matter what happens.

One more item before we review the game together: Credit to Chicago. They are a team in transition but they have enough impact players to be a major concern, a bigger concern than most observers (myself included) thought before Saturday.

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.

NUMBER ONE LINE

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Connor McDavid-Zack Kassian played 11:48 (all numbers five on five), losing the Corsi battle 18-7, getting outshot 10-4 and outscored 3-0. McDavid faced DeHaan-Murphy for 8:15, getting outshot 4-3 and outscored 1-0. David Kampf was the most prominent center to face 97 in five on five minutes (6-3 shots for Chicago, no goals), but the real damage for the big line came in about two minutes against Saad-Toews-Kubalik. Edmonton outshot 5-1 and outscored 2-0 in about 115 seconds. The five on five issues were a concern, that’s why Nuge was moved there. Need to tighten bigly for Game 2.

The goals for: McDavid scored the first goal of the game (PP), a terrific shot and further evidence he is more comfortable as the shooter. McDavid and Nuge assisted on another power-play goal by Leon Draisaitl, Chiasson had a great chance, then Nuge throws it behind the net to 97, slot to Leon and cash. McDavid and Nuge assisted on James Neal’s power-play goal, nice pass by 97 to Neal who jams it but it hits the post. McDavid throws it in the crease, Nuge gets a piece, Neal hammers it home. Nuge scored the final goal of the game with the Edmonton net empty, Draisaitl faceoff, Klefbom shot and Nuge tip. Nice goal.

The goals against at five on five: The Strome goal is on goalie Mike Smith, there can be no doubt. Oscar Klefbom gave the puck away for a point-blank save by Smith (a dandy), but had won the puck before Smith gave it away. The Saad goal was a nice tip in front, you could fault Kassian for not getting out to the point but there was a pick, or you could fault McDavid for not winning the faceoff but that’s not his strength. I generally hammer Kassian when he’s not where he should be, but in this case the big winger was delayed by a ‘Hawk. No penalty. Smith had no chance on that goal, great tip. The Toews goal started on a McDavid turnover behind the net, he made a quick pass that usually gets through but Saad slowed it, Kubalik corralled and passed it and Toews scored, Klefbom in no man’s land. Point blank shot, I don’t fault the goalie on that one your mileage may vary. Three goals against and I think you can fault one member of the line on one of the goals and he’s the best player on the planet. Sometimes hockey bites you in the ass.

Bottom line on the first line: Four points for McDavid, three points for Nuge but the five on five numbers are an issue and coach Tippett needs to find an answer. Nuge made a gorgeous defensive play early, deflecting the puck, but there were too many sorties to defend because Edmonton wasn’t taking care of the puck. If Nuge isn’t the answer to this line’s problems, there isn’t one on the roster.

McDavid’s Corsi against Chicago’s centers: Kampf (6-10 in 8:04), Strome (3-6 in 3:46), Toews (0-5 in 2:13), Dach (2-4 in 2:48). With respect to those four men, this cannot stand, man. Even understanding many of McDavid’s sorties are one and done with the possibility of the puck heading the other way, the Oilers have to figure this out.

Line 2 five on five: Tyler Ennis-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto: 10:37, 10-11 Corsi for, 5-7 shots, no goals. The line had a couple of great looks, Yamamoto had an easy chance on a Draisaitl bullet pass but couldn’t catch up to it. Ennis took a nasty looking hit from Drake Cagguila and took a couple of penalties. I like the line, the fact they didn’t score in this game shouldn’t discourage Tippett from rolling them out again. Need more good looks at five on five but they’re in the game.

Line 3 five on five: James Neal-Jujhar Khaira-Alex Chiasson. Played 7:04, 7-3 Corsi, 3-2 shots and no goals. They’re challenged in foot speed but they were moving as a line. Chiasson had a great chance, Neal scored a goal, both on the power play. Khaira made some good passes and played a physical game.

Line 4 five on five: Andreas Athanasiou-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 5:22, going 4-4 Corsi, 3-3 shots and 0-1 goals. Athanasiou had a goal post and another nice look, for me he had a good game. Archibald had a great chance to score after McDavid’s opener, if wishes were horses beggars would ride.

OILERS BLUE

Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson played 12:00 five on five, 5-14 Corsi, 1-11 shots and 0-2 goals. Absolutely hammered by Chicago and were equally lost on the penalty kill. I expect much better, this was a baffling performance by the duo. If Tippett does change something up, a shuffle of the top two pairs might be it. Even giving Chicago credit, Klefbom and Larsson have to be more decisive with the puck and defend better.

Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 16:40 five on five 12-17 Corsi, 7-9 shots and 0-1 goals. Normally a strong pairing for the McDavid trio, these two struggled. I wonder if we see a shuffle. Like the top pair, need to be quicker.

Kris Russell and Matt Benning played 9:34 five on five, going 12-9 Corsi, 6-5 shots and 0-0 goals. I thought the duo played well, Russell even had a good look via a Leon touch pass. Benning is skating very well.

GOALIES

Mike Smith had a bad game. He stopped 18 of 23 (.783) and according to NST allowed two High Danger, two Middle Danger and one Low Danger goal. That’s about right, meaning the goalie would like three of those goal back (I counted two but am notoriously easy on goaltenders). I don’t blame Smith. He was the second best option available.

Mikko Koskinen stopped 17 of 18 (.944) with the one goal against judged a High Danger chance. He may not win Game 2, the Oilers are not playing well, but Koskinen gives Edmonton its best chance to win on Monday.

DRAKE CAGGIULA

Caggiula will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Sunday for an illegal check to the head of Oilers forward Tyler Ennis that occurred in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. I thought it was over the line at the time and it could have had an impact on the game (Ennis was penalized). That said, I’ve learned long ago not to make predictions about fines or suspensions from the NHL. I’ll hope Ennis doesn’t get five games and brace myself for the actual decision.

MONDAY GAME

We don’t know about injuries, so the only obvious change from Game 1 will be Mikko Koskinen as starter. I doubt Jones will draw in over Russell, and it feels early for Haas or Nygard although I’m onboard for either getting a shot. I expect these Oilers to be far better on Monday.

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219 Responses to "Blue, Red and Grey"

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  1. €√¥£€^$ says:

    jp: You don’t need to go back in time. Neal scored at a 28G per 82 pace this season.

    And if you’re doing the pace thing Kassian was 21G/82GP this year.

    I went and did it:

    Kassian 8G/82 GP in 2020 – 20 games
    29G/82 GP in 2019 – 37 games

    Neal 0G/82 GP in 2020 – 13 games
    37G/82 GP in 2019 – 42 games

  2. ashley says:

    Material Elvis: But they do give up six goals, though.Your not liking my comment doesn’t make it untrue.Championship teams indeed give up six goals in a game, but rebound and win the next game.A single game is exactly that.

    I don’t disagree and if that’s how you read the comment, then that’s fair. A single game is not what I meant. Maybe I didn’t communicate as well as I could have. I accept 49% of the responsibility for the misunderstanding. 😉

  3. OilClog says:

    Quinn is on the phone to Jack, while Eli Pete is watching youtube videos of Pavel Bure’s adventures in Florida.

    Vancouver is at a 0 goal pace, Branwick Relishty to the rescue!

  4. JimmyV1965 says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    Watching the Leafs/Jackets and I’ve seen good portions of all the qualifying games that have been played and, damn, the Oilers played, by far, the worst out of any of the teams – like not even close.

    Its humbling watching all these other games and remembering what I saw yesterday.

    At the same time, I saw the Oilers play some terrible games this year and then play some epic games.

    Go Oilers!

    I watched a lot of hockey Saturday and the Oilers were the worst team, not even close. That performance was worthy of a lottery team, not a playoff team. On the bright side, the team can play much much better. And despite their awful performance, they still managed to score four goals. Crawford is ripe for the picking, if the team can get their game in order.

  5. Suntory Hanzo says:

    I was excited as I was actually back in Edmonton from a trip from the coast. A few thoughts.

    1) masks are way more prevalent in Edmonton than back home in Abbotsford.

    2) it was Saturday, and an afternoon game, so a double guarantee loss.

    3) preseason game against Flames looked like a playoff game, and this one seemed like a preseason – in execution and in penalty calling.

    4) we came in lame. Yes, a bad bub slug bounce off Smith. A typical missed major penalty of a head shot. All accounted, the players looked lethargic. But, I’ll wipe that game as a throwaway learning experience and expect the opposite Monday.

    5) Go Oil! ( Clap clap)

  6. flea says:

    Road teams go 5/8 in qualifying game 1.

    Maybe it doesn’t feel as strange as the road team, the prep is similar to a normal road game. Contrast the home team where you are trying to play your home game under unusual circumstances.

    Oilers win their exhibition game as the road team

    If I’m the Oilers, I’m approaching every game like a road game. There is no home ice advantage. This might be an extra challenge for them being in their home rink. Toronto struggles too – fails to score, although Korpisalo has a game.

    Agree with OP though – the oilers were hot garbage on Saturday and unless they can figure it out quick, they are done. Looking forward to the game tonight! (Back to sleep to prepare!)

  7. OriginalPouzar says:

    Karpat’s training camp starts today. No Jesse – not a surprise as he hasn’t signed but I think it’s notable.

    I sense an Oiler signing and loan in the next bit.

  8. jp says:

    €√¥£€^$: Do the same calculations for both players, but separate the results by calendar year.

    So you’ve got Gaetan Haas (24-2-1-3 in 2020) replacing Kassian. Plus your new 1RW didn’t score in 2019 either. Sound.

  9. OriginalPouzar says:

    jp: You don’t need to go back in time. Neal scored at a 28G per 82 pace this season.

    And if you’re doing the pace thing Kassian was 21G/82GP this year.

    Kassian is full value for his goal pace and place on the top 6 at evens.

    On the other hand, Neal’s goals were majorly on the PP and I don’t think its reasonable to use his goal pace to cite his abilities in the top 6 at evens – he did not produce at evens this season, even with plenty of time in the top 6 early.

  10. OriginalPouzar says:

    Suntory Hanzo:
    I was excited as I was actually back in Edmonton from a trip from the coast. A few thoughts.

    1) masks are way more prevalent in Edmonton than back home in Abbotsford.

    2) it was Saturday, and an afternoon game, so a double guarantee loss.

    3) preseason game against Flames looked like a playoff game, and this one seemed like a preseason – in execution and in penalty calling.

    4) we came in lame. Yes, a bad bub slug bounce off Smith. A typical missed major penalty of a head shot. All accounted, the players looked lethargic. But, I’ll wipe that game as a throwaway learning experience and expect the opposite Monday.

    5) Go Oil!( Clap clap)

    1) Not sure about areas in BC but they are now mandatory in most indoor spaces in Edmonton (and Calgary)

    2) Actually, the Oilers were 6-1-1 in afternoon games this season and the Haws 0-4

    5) Hell ya!

  11. OriginalPouzar says:

    jp: So you’ve got Gaetan Haas (24-2-1-3 in 2020) replacing Kassian. Plus your new 1RW didn’t score in 2019 either. Sound.

    If any “wild change” to the top line is going to happen, I would propose Nygard with McDavid (positive possession and 6-2 goals in 53 minutes and 6-1 goals in 50 minutes if you subtract Drai).

  12. €√¥£€^$ says:

    jp: So you’ve got Gaetan Haas (24-2-1-3 in 2020) replacing Kassian. Plus your new 1RW didn’t score in 2019 either. Sound.

    If you haven’t noticed how poor Kassian has played in his last 21 games, which is supported by statistics, then you are blinded by something. Kassian was exceptional in all of 2019.

    Last season in 2019 he scored 25G/ 82 GP, but in the 2018 portion of that season he scored 5G/82 GP.

    In his career he has scored 13G/82 GP as an Oiler, pre-Oil he scored 15G/82 GP.

    In the 2019 calendar year Kassian scored 26 goals in exactly 82 Games. In the games skirting these 2 seasons in 2018 & 2020 he scored 4 goals in 56 games, a rate of 6G/82 GP.

    If we take out his results from all of 2019, as an Oiler he is scoring 7G/82 GP.

    Even aside from the scoring Kassian clearly has not been the 2019 version of himself. He needs to be better. More than that, he needs a wake up call.

    Haas doesn’t have an NHL track record and in the NHL has only played with bottom of the roster teammates. He has proven to be responsible in his own end, he skates well but has not been given top 6 opportunities. Continuing on with Kassian during the play-offs based on his results in 2020 is the definition of insanity. You know, like playing Smith over Koskinen.

    Playing Haas over Kassian would be called coaching.

  13. jp says:

    OriginalPouzar: Kassian is full value for his goal pace and place on the top 6 at evens.
    On the other hand, Neal’s goals were majorly on the PP and I don’t think its reasonable to use his goal pace to cite his abilities in the top 6 at evens – he did not produce at evens this season, even with plenty of time in the top 6 early.

    Agreed. Just pointing out that Jaxon didn’t need to use 2 year old data to project Neal to 29 goals, he was at essentially the same pace as this year.

  14. jp says:

    OriginalPouzar: If any “wild change” to the top line is going to happen, I would propose Nygard with McDavid (positive possession and 6-2 goals in 53 minutes and 6-1 goals in 50 minutes if you subtract Drai).

    I wouldn’t be terribly opposed to that (better than Haas IMO).

    While agreeing with your last reply to me I also wouldn’t have a major issue with trying Neal there again. His underlying numbers with McDavid were strong IIRC even though the goals/points didn’t go in. And it’s something Tippett might do.

    I’d stick with Kassian if possible though (gotta be a short leash though). IMO he’s and Ennis or Nuge (or AA?) are the best options available.

  15. €√¥£€^$ says:

    jp: I wouldn’t be terribly opposed to that (better than Haas IMO).

    While agreeing with your last reply to me I also wouldn’t have a major issue with trying Neal there again. His underlying numbers with McDavid were strong IIRC even though the goals/points didn’t go in. And it’s something Tippett might do.

    I’d stick with Kassian if possible though (gotta be a short leash though). IMO he’s and Ennis or Nuge (or AA?) are the best options available.

    Because Haas has proven he can’t play with McDavid…

    Even Patrick Russell, with all of 0 NHL goals, got a shift vs Calgary with McDavid and produced immediately, but Haas isn’t worthy.

    Okay.

    Ultimately Kassian has not been good in several months, despite the facial hair he is not the Kassian of lore.

    The team was incredibly flat and time is running out. They need better 5 on 5 results, how to get there?

    Why not Haas? What has he shown other than to be fast, to be defensively responsible and his game has grown this season. Not once, other than tripping on his own feet in the 3rd did he hit the ice, like he did routinely in every regular season game.

    He proved to me that he has progressed. There is a lot more to the player than he has been permitted to reveal.

  16. jp says:

    €√¥£€^$:
    If you haven’t noticed how poor Kassian has played in his last 21 games, which is supported by statistics, then you are blinded by something. Kassian was exceptional in all of 2019.

    Last season in 2019 he scored 25G/ 82 GP, but in the 2018 portion of that season he scored 5G/82 GP.

    In his career he has scored 13G/82 GP as an Oiler, pre-Oil he scored 15G/82 GP.

    In the 2019 calendar year Kassian scored 26 goals in exactly 82 Games. In the games skirting these 2 seasons in 2018 & 2020 he scored 4 goals in 56 games, a rate of 6G/82 GP.
    If we take out his results from all of 2019, as an Oiler he is scoring 7G/82 GP.

    Even aside from the scoring Kassian clearly has not been the 2019 version of himself. He needs to be better. More than that, he needs a wake up call.

    Haas doesn’t have an NHL track record and in the NHL has only played with bottom of the roster teammates. He has proven to be responsible in his own end, he skates well but has not been given top 6 opportunities. Continuing on with Kassian during the play-offs based on his results in 2020 is the definition of insanity. You know, like playing Smith over Koskinen.

    Playing Haas over Kassian would be called coaching.

    I agree with this: “Even aside from the scoring Kassian clearly has not been the 2019 version of himself. He needs to be better. More than that, he needs a wake up call.”. And that Tippett can’t stick with him if his game doesn’t improve. No question.

    Not much else here I agree with. And I’m not sure I’m the one who’s blinded… Just a few things.

    Haas didn’t project as someone who could score in the NHL and he hasn’t so far. He’s a fine 4th (maybe 3rd) line player, but nothing he has done anywhere/ever should lead anyone to think he can play top 6 in the NHL. IMO.

    Sure Kassian’s scoring has been down. He hasn’t been good since the calendar turned to 2020. Did you know he’s still scored 20-2-5-7 at 5v5? That doesn’t sound like much but it’s a more than decent rate. 6th among Oilers forwards and scored at a higher pace than #5 Archibald. Even with this slump (and lots of time away from McDavid – that might actually explain Kassian’s scoring drop vs before Xmas) he’s been very clearly among the Oilers best 6 scoring options.

    He also has helped McDavid, as I posed earlier. McDavid in 2020 has a higher SF/60 and GF/60, lower SA/60 and GA/60 (and obviously also better SF% and GF%) with Kassian than without Kassian. The WOWY has nothing to do with Draisaitl because neither McDavid or Kassian played much with him since the calendar turned. Maybe Kassian dragged McDavid down on Saturday. He has not done that generally this season, quite the opposite. And it’s continued even while Kassian hasn’t been “the 2019 version” of himself.

    You’re talking about Kassian’s poor scoring for much of his career. He’s not been anything special obviously but 12 minutes a game and little PP time obscures season’s of 1.91, 1.82 and 1.66 5v5/60 that Kassian had prior to playing with McDavid. He isn’t devoid of skill (witness, his NHL top 60 P/60 on the season).

    Anyway, he needs to be better. Hopefully he will be. Haas is not the answer if Kassian can’t cut it. Pretty sure the guy doing the coaching agrees.

  17. jp says:

    €√¥£€^$: Because Haas has proven he can’t play with McDavid…

    Even Patrick Russell, with all of 0 NHL goals, got a shift vs Calgary with McDavid and produced immediately, but Haas isn’t worthy.

    Okay.

    Ultimately Kassian has not been good in several months, despite the facial hair he is not the Kassian of lore.

    The team was incredibly flat and time is running out.They need better 5 on 5 results, how to get there?

    Why not Haas?What has he shown other than to be fast, to be defensively responsible and his game has grown this season.Not once, other than tripping on his own feet in the 3rd did he hit the ice, like he did routinely in every regular season game.

    He proved to me that he has progressed.There is a lot more to the player than he has been permitted to reveal.

    Sure, give Haas a try.

    Nothing suggests it will work but you never know.

  18. OriginalPouzar says:

    I wouldn’t be in favor of trying Haas on McDavid’s line – to me, Haas can have an impact in the bottom 6 but don’t think he’s the right fit for the top line – I see him as a plus defensive guy that can provide energy in the bottom 6 and draw penalties (and, eventually, PK).

    With that said, I’m not sure how the statement can be made that Haas has proven he can’t play with McDavid – I mean the sample size is 2 and half minutes.

  19. leadfarmer says:

    I don’t know what people see in Nurse

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