2020-21 Game Seven: Oilers at Jets

by Lowetide

Edmonton Oilers fans are in surprisingly good spirits considering the team owns a 2-4-0 record and sits this morning out of the playoffs by more than a Bettman. I think fans understand this is a talented team, with a smart coach and significant options to fix the holes where the cold wins blow into the homestead.

I think the best way to monitor this team is five on five play. It’s been a problem for a long time, especially the third and fourth lines. Is there any improvement? What’s the next step?

THE ATHLETIC!

I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.

OILERS IN MONTH NO. 1

  • Oilers in October 20153-4-0, goal differential -2
  • Oilers in October 2016: 6-1-0, goal differential +10
  • Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-0, goal differential -8
  • Oilers in October 2018: 3-3-1, goal differential -7
  • Oilers in October 2019: 6-1-0, goal differential +9
  • Oilers in Month 1 2021: 2-4-0, goal differential -5

I think we’re at a point where winning is close to vital. A 1-1 run against Winnipeg is fine, but an 0-2 result in the Manitoba capital would sound the alarms. What I find interesting is that the answer to ‘who is underperforming’ once again returns answers that involve veteran performers. You know, that was the answer in 2011-12 and in 2017-18, too. Also worth noting the two playoff teams had already announced their presence with authority.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN MONTH NO. 1

  • At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected: 1-1-0)(Actual 0-2-0)
  • On the road to: Toronto, Toronto, Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-1) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: Toronto, Toronto, Ottawa (Expected 2-1-0)
  • Overall expected result: 5-5-1, 11 points in 11 games
  • Current results: 2-4-0, 4 points after six games

I have tonight’s game as a loss for Edmonton, with a win in the final game of the road trip. I projected the Oilers to go 0-1-1 in Toronto, so they’re ahead of the game on this road trip. I think any win total at the end of the month that is four or more is fine, but 3-6-1 is taking the highway to the danger zone.

OILERS CENTERS

The top two lines (Draisaitl is 6-1 goal differential but two goals came while on the same line as 97) are outscoring five on five 9-5, while the two bottom lines are 0-8. What’s crazy is, in the words of Tom Jones, it’s not unusual. The Oilers have many options for the third and fourth lines, but so far nothing rhymes.

OILERS LEFT WINGERS

I think Nygard has a real chance this year, and that Ennis will be able to post some crooked numbers at five on five. Neal hasn’t been over 1.00 point-per-60 since Vegas in 2017-18. Dave Tippett has three choices for two bottom-six jobs on left wing, Neal is going to get a push.

OILERS RIGHT WINGERS

Here we see the reasons for Zack Kassian being replaced Friday night and perhaps longer. The other members of the No. 1 line are posting stronger numbers at five on five and overall. If Puljujarvi isn’t the choice, Ennis might step in.

OILERS DEFENSEMEN

This is early to make any sweeping statements, but the trends are there. Nurse-Bear is a consistent pairing for coach Dave Tippett, but after that things go sideways in a quick hurry. I value Corsi Rel, and it suggests Caleb Jones and Tyson Barrie would be the next advisable pairing.

There was talk yesterday about dressing Evan Bouchard and running with seven defensemen. I think this is a poor deployment idea.

Evan Bouchard is a young defenseman, he’s going to make mistakes. This is the time to play him in all situations (save PK) so that he’ll be turning a corner midway through the season. I find the idea of running him as 7D both confusing and unsettling. It tells me the Oilers aren’t convinced of Bouchard, which tells me they don’t know what they have in this player.

As you know, I’m a fan of Tippett’s work, specifically in regard to young players. I think this is a misstep that could be costly, and is at the very least wasting time.

GEORGE ARMSTRONG

I remember Armstrong as a player, but only the end of his career. I have similar memories of Jean Beliveau. Armstrong was an important part of the Toronto Maple Leafs teams that won four Stanley Cups in six seasons during the 1960’s. He played a long time, was known as a great leader and had early coaching success in junior hockey that did not have sustain. All of the people who told me stories about Armstrong are in heaven today, so I can’t give you much on him. I can tell you that the people who taught me the game, who passed along the lore of the NHL, spoke of him in the highest terms. As a leader, competitor and a difference maker in the important aspects of the game. I think modern analytics may have been very kind to George Armstrong if they had existed during his playing time. Rest in peace to a legend in the game.

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OriginalPouzar

I also think an Ennis for Nygard swap is warranted (although, again, have to remove someone from the roster which will require waivers (except for Shore).

OriginalPouzar

As far as Barrie potentially coming out of the lineup for tomorrow night, I don’t really see it – based off of ice time. Barrie played over 21:30 tonight, 3rd among d-man (and there was a big gap between him and Russell at #4).

I believe he led the D in TOI in the previous game at over 25 minutes.

I think he’ll be in the lineup but, if they are going to activate Bouch, Larsson did only play 14:27, least among D and about 2 minutes less than Koekkoek.

achotai

Big comeback win, and 93-97-13 looked great. They needed that.

Am I alone in feeling that Barrie should be benched for Jones or Lagesson or Bouchard? He’s supposed to bring puck-moving and outlet passes, but it seemed like his puck-moving was awful all night.

JimmyV1965

Big win for the team tonight!! I turned off the game in the first period after watching Ethan Bear throw an offside grenade to the other end of the ice instead of handing the puck to McDavid, who skated right beside him while picking up speed. Not trying to be critical of Bear, but it’s frustrating watching that play and knowing he’s actually one of our better dmen.  Not sure what the solution is, but the inability of our dmen to get the puck in the dzone and move it forward will be the death of this team. 

Sierra

I feel bad for players like McD and Drai having to play with the Oilers D grouping.

hunter1909

Super interesting season for a big change.

Seems like without training camps and exhibition games the first 10 games are de facto this reality.

Oilers look like they will need a few more games to figure out what they want to do. Teams like Montreal live in a false hope that they’re winning the cup.

Great fun.

SwedishPoster

JESSE!

That’s how you grab an opportunity playing with the big boys. And he even flashed some of that playmaking ability I’ve been talking about.
Him and Connor is covering so much ice together it’s going to be a nightmare for the opposing team if they can avoid getting in each others way(which was an issue in his last spell and imo a big reason for the no hockey IQ chatter, I hope tonight’s game can put that stuff to rest).

Now he’s shown he can be a factor on the top line and help elevate McDavid’s game, which not a lot of players outside of Draisaitl has managed really. Next step is to do it nightly but at least now he’s bought himself some rope. Eventually he’ll have to start scoring on all his shots but at this point I’ll gladly take a Connor-booster.

Was a good night for the finnish guys as Mikko was excellent too. The sole benefit of only having one reasonable option in net is that he’s getting plenty of time to feel comfortable in there, he won’t get the hook after a bad game which should help build confidence. Very calm and collected tonight.

SwedishPoster

Oh and Nurse was great as well, best game of the year for him, really brought his skating legs and physicality. Improved the PP. Found the balance between being positionally sound while still keeping the aggressiveness and using his skating ability which is what that sets him apart as a player. Nice to see, he’s a major piece of the puzzle this season.

Last edited 1 month ago by SwedishPoster
hunter1909

Nurse looked very good on the power play.

Pescador

OriginalPouzar

 Reply to  JOFA
 January 24, 2021 3:47 pm

Or maybe he is ready.
Maybe this is what’s best for this player.
He’s played almost exclusively with his highest skilled teammates throughout his hockey career.
*******************
Kudos OP
Kudos

jp

That’s the player that was drafted 4th overall.

I think it was SP (?) who cautioned it would likely take years to for the player grow into his potential.

I sure hope the Puljujarvi we saw tonight is there to stay.

And yeah, kudos OP.

unca miltie

beat me to it. i remember several posts saying be patient with him that it would take a few years but that he had big upside.

Last edited 1 month ago by unca miltie
Bling

Koskinen made a lot of big saves tonight. Nothing for him to do on any of the 3 GA.

Sierra

Absolutely, mikko played very well.

OriginalPouzar

I didn’t hear it but Stauff is indicating a player may be on waivers tomorrow in order to activate Bouch from the taxi squad.

Chiasson or Lagesson I would expect.

jp

That’s very cool (if It happens).

I was just thinking about replying to Ryan below (Russell played poorly enough to give Jones another look and we still won!) that maybe Larsson is the one to comes out (least TOI among D tonight, 1.5 min less that Koekkoek and 3.5 less than Russell).

I didn’t yet partly because I didn’t think Bouchard would get activated. It really does make sense to get him in there though.

Maybe we even see Jones AND Bouchard.

Pescador

Gotta be Chiasson
I don’t see a need for what he brings on this roster.
Im putting Haas in on the wing before A.C

N64

cult grades tonight:

Jesse Puljujarvi, 9
some guy named McDavid 9

Pescador

What did K.R. get for his goal?

wolf8888

yes, but he also gave Larson a 7 which i find a little questionable. How about you?

who

Never thought I’d say this, but the PP is really missing Klefbom right now.
And it’s not because he’s some kind of dynamic PP quarterback. It’s the fact that he shoots left.
The Oilers PP worked best when one of the 3 centers curled up above the left face off circle, took a pass in stride, and walked into a wrist shot from just above the hash marks. Or passed across to the bumper, or the opposite flank for a 1 timer. Or made a back pass to Klefbom, who was able to walk into a slapper.
That play is no longer available with a righty at the top of the umbrella. As a result the PK forwards are able to collapse lower, and take away any cross seem passes. The only option left is usually the shot from the left circle.
I don’t Nurse is going to be the answer either. Maybe Jones, if he ever gets back in.

Ryan

That was a game for the ages…

Russell played poorly enough to give Jones another look and we still won!

Yeti

You don’t think there’s a chance that Lagesson draws in rather than Jones?

Bling

97 could have had 6 points today. 10 points in 7 games now and I swear he’s just heating up.

Fuge Udvar

Neal looked hungry out there. Him being effective in the bottom 6 could be huge.

OriginalPouzar

How good was Darnell Nurse in this game?

Very, very very good.

Ryan

Nurse on the first unit, eh?

jp

Yup, you called it. Puck movement through the point definitely looked more fluid with Nurse out there.

Another aspect of Nurse on PP1 that I hadn’t considered before this evening is he eats ice.

Your PP not scoring AND giving up shorties (2 in the first 6 games) is not a good look. Nurse and his skating should help neutralize a lot of breaks the other way before they even happen.

Material Elvis

Ha ha. You were right. I would still like to see Bouchard on PP1 but Nurse handled himself quite well — ate Barrie’s lunch, tbh.

Bling

He was a human eraser today.

Manhandled Scheifele and broke up all kinds of plays. Nice job transporting the puck. I really liked that top pairing, Bear had a fine game as well.

N64

Well if anyone wondered how Jesse could possibly improve his value playing in Finland this fall after Holland still valued him more than 30 other GMs… there’s your answer.

Last edited 1 month ago by N64
Material Elvis

A real feather in Holland’s cap. Almost makes up for the Kassian contract 😏

Bling

Tipp with some nice words for Jesse, said (paraphrasing) he’s been happy with him since day 1 of camp, just wanted him to bring the same game he’s been playing on the third line to the first line. No timeline on when the promotion was coming, Tipp wanted to make sure that Jesse knew the system and was acclimated to the NA game.

tavvey tune

What a finish!
When was the last time we scored the winner with a second left?
Anyone know?

N64

hah. I vaguely remember some player scoring his first goal of this season with less than a second left (1st period)

Material Elvis

They are saying it is the latest GWG in franchise history.

OriginalPouzar

All this talk about Jesse as a top 6 RW tonight but, once again, Kailer Yamamoto doing Kailer Yamamoto things. Is this kid a point per game player with nominal PP time?

He’s continued what he did over those 27 games last year.

Scungilli Slushy

I hope Connor digs playing with Jesse. He isn’t the most polished, but he is a turnover chance creating machine.

I loved his rush through the Jets with the one hand poke, it’s like, look Connor I can do it too!

OriginalPouzar

If it helps the team win he better like it.

GordieHoweHatTrick

That would have been a great goal. He saw a bit of daylight between the legs there and almost had it!

GordieHoweHatTrick

Great to see the efforts and rewards from our young RWs!
Hopefully that W can help them right the ship and get on a roll.
I suspect we might see Jones back in next game.

Last edited 1 month ago by GordieHoweHatTrick
Pretendergast

I’m giving Jesse an E for EFFORT. Fantastic addition to that line.

Effort. Should be the only word on the board at the start of each game. They have the talent.

Bulging Twine

Jesse brings the effort every game doesn’t he

BONE207

Well let’s get together on Tuesday to do it again …maybe with some added Bouch or Laggs

Eh Team

The Russell -Barrie pairing is just a disaster

OriginalPouzar

There could be an argument to just swap them with Jones and Bouchard. I suspect we might see the former but not the latter.

Eh Team

I’d take Larson out and add Jones and Bouchard. The bottom two pairings were both bad.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Oilers overcome the best efforts of multiple double agents.

Love Jesse.

OriginalPouzar

Just a massive last 3 minutes to that game.

Turned a demoralizing loss in to a team-build win and demoralized a team they play in less than 48 hours.

They not only got the regulation win (first tiebreak) but kept a playoff spot rival to zero.

Bulging Twine

phew

had to have that game

leadfarmer

Thankfully my wish of taking Barrie off the pp happened
when I’m on the ice on pp taking 80mph slippers from the blue line into a crowd is not a good plan

well looks like we have 5 top 6 players. Now please replace Kahun

Rich M

Yup. With Nurse replacing Barrie, the puck movement improved significantly and they started generating more chances because the defense couldn’t just focus on taking away one thing.

fishman

19.59.7!

Crazy Pedestrian

Wow… when was the last time the oilers have wowed us all like that?! Stunning last second finish! Draisaitl for the soul crusher!!!

Bling

What a hockey game!

McDavid never quit on that puck after his first pass attempt failed. And my goodness Draisaitl, what a release.

Ice Sage

Well the ‘Jets fatigue’ storyline was true and a nail biter!
4 point shift in just over 3 minutes – what a sport

Sierra

Great game by JP and Mikko

Scungilli Slushy

I think JP tipped it, laser by Drai

Material Elvis

That felt good. Maybe deserved after that deflected Jets PP goal.

BONE207

Well that was exciting. No more predictions…🤣

SK Oiler Fan

Wow. Puju with the traffic on that to

fuzzy muppet

Massive goal. Season saver

Klima's_Bucket

That game was just like they drew it up!

godot10

The Oilers always win Game 7 against the Jets. The outcome was never in doubt.

Sierra

Even before 97 joined Drai and KY?

OilClog

Woooooo pool party time!

Gerta Rauss

hahahahaa..hahahahaha….

unca miltie

Wow

Sierra

Come on count!!!!

Material Elvis

Wooo!!

BONE207

Leon???

BONE207

Ya baby

OriginalPouzar

I think that was in time!

SK Oiler Fan

Nurse again on PP 1. Barrie may be out next game