Friday, October 30, 2015

The Price is wrong - Oilers beat Habs once again

 #OilerNation #Oilers #NHL Since the Oilers' first rebuild in 2010 with the addition of Taylor, here's the record against the Montreal Canadiens.  (With winning goalie and game-winning goal player)

ROAD 01DEC2010 4-3OTW Dubnyk, Penner
HOME 17FEB2011 4-1  W Khabibulin, Eberle
ROAD 08NOV2011 3-1  W Khabibulin, Gilbert
HOME 08MAR2012 3-5  L Budaj, Eller
ROAD 24OCT2013 4-3  W Dubnyk, Jones
HOME 24OCT2014 3-0  W Scrivens, Pouliot
ROAD 12FEB2015 4-3  W Fasth, Lander

HOME 29OCT2015 4-3  W Talbot, Draisaitl

That is a pretty good 7-1 record by the Oilers against the Canadiens, who've had a pretty good team since that time and are currently the supposed best team in the league, record-wise.

I was at the game and the Oilers didn't have the jump in their game that the Habs did for the first two periods, who were up 3-0 on the Oil.

That was until Leon Draisaitl (who shall be hereafter referred to as Dr. Drai) put the puck over the line near the very end of the 2nd period.  And I'm reading it was Taylor Hall who told Drai on the bench, "Let's go. You're a good player."  That alone may have given them the momentum in the third period, which they dominated on the shot board and then 3 more goals.

With 3 minutes left, I was saying to my buddy, "If this goes to OT, Oilers will win the 3 on 3."  Then with under a minute left, Dr. Drai dishes out the medication.

What's amazing is Dr. Drai got called up because of cap issues and having to put Ebs on LTIR, so they first called up Pitlick and LaLeggia but they didn't come because of cap or something.  I gotta tell ya, that was some smart management there.

Then having the gaul to put the good Doctor on the top line right side with Hall and Nuge was bold.  And he scores not once, but twice!   

Also notable was Brandon Davidson, who has a howitzer of a shot, and Darnell Nurse who played excellent defense.

Now I don't have to mention that McDavid chip-pass to Pouliot do I?  Amazing.  McDavid might have the best speed and stickhandling anyone has ever seen, but his positioning on PK Subban in the neutral zone to then get on the right side of the puck to have the hands to chip pass it, is just on a whole other level.  McDavid is now 6th in NHL scoring with a 1.09 ppg average and a 1.57 ppg average in his last 7 games.  Say what?!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oilers GM Chiarelli sees clearly

 #OilersNation #Oilers #NHL

After his promised 10 games assessment milestone, Oilers' President of Hockey Ops and GM Peter Chiarelli had some direct comments about the team.  While I was reading it on my phone, I thought it was practical Hallowe'en joke or something by a fan impersonating what he'd want to hear from a GM.  Alas, no.  It was Chia Pete himself.

Link here.

  • It sucks Ebs has been injured and after trying to use Hendricks on the top line, he got injured, then Klinkhammer, who got injured
  • Slepyshev needs to deliver more and he will likely get sent down
  • Goalies have been good, despite a bad game by Nilsson
  • Bottom 6 has been inconsequential and disappointing--hello Anton Lander and Teddy Purcell, we are talking to you!
  • Connor McDavid has been outstanding and has elevated the games of linematesYak n Pouliot, which will only get better
  • The defense... oh boy, the defense.  We've talked about this to death.  We need a legit top pairing, blah blah, we miss Pronger, shoudn't have traded Petry, blah blah.  But what I'm not seeing comments about is proper pairings, i.e. a puck-handler and a stay-at-home guy.  Klefbom-Schultz is two puck handlers and really no stay-at-home guy.  The current pairings should be:  Sekera-Fayne, Klefbom-Gryba, Davidson-Nurse.  Gryba thinks he's a puck handler and hell no. It's why he's making so many mistakes.  Guy is big and mean. 
What's very refreshing is that Chiarelli means business and doesn't beat around the bush. He's direct, he communicates well, as does coach McLellan, and thus the players know exactly where they stand and where they need to improve.  There's no false sense of security here.

Most of all--we finally have a GM that thinks the same way all of us armchair bloggers do.

And with that, look for some trades coming end of November to improve the defense. Because with Nurse now here, likely permanently, something's gotta give with one of the left-side defensemen. It won't be Sekera or Klefbom.  Davidson and/or Nikitin will need to go.  On offense, all signs point to Purcell getting the boot and as I've been saying for a while, Anton Lander.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Game 9: Kings 3 Oilers 2 - Refs rob Oilers of tie goal

We've all seen the photos by now.

1. With 5 seconds left, McDavid backhands the puck across the goal line, and Jonathan Quick's big glove covers the puck while it crosses the line.

2. The ref at the net points to an actual goal.  McDavid says so too.

3. The other ref comes over and waives it off.

4. The play goes for video review with the NHL War Room in Toronto.

5. Sportsnet only showed opposite TV camera angle only once, then all other angles show the above net camera. From that, while we know the puck is under Quick's glove, we can't see the puck from that angle. But from the other angles not shown by Sportsnet, it's clear.

6. Ref comes back and say "The call on the ice stands. No goal."  Yet the ref closest to the net originally actually pointed at the puck and called it a goal.

Was this a case of one of the refs being more assertive than the other to overturn him on the spot, or was there something more to it?  We'll never know.  But I but the refs know they made a mistake and this one to two points lost could come back to haunt them.

I understand that the NHL can't use any camera angle but the overhead cam so a parallax view doesn't occur.  That said, it's stupid.  They should use all angles at their disposal and have 3 judges agree.

But let's not forget a couple other bad calls.  Late in the 3rd, Benoit Pouliot gets a mean cross check to the back from Drew Doughty, there's no call, but a Kings two on one ensues.  Not soon after, Oilers' winger Lauri Korpikoski supposedly grabs a King's player's stick behind the net and gets called for holding the stick.  Kings score on the powerplay in one of their typical garbage goals to put them up 3-2.

Then the McDavid goal gets waived off at the 19:55 mark and Oilers lose 3-2.

To say the Oilers got screwed is an understatement.

But they should have won that game.  Cam Talbot let in a softy and the power play goal shouldn't have happened.  With the way might have played out, the score should have been 2-1 Oilers.

That said, I'm surprised the Kings didn't score more against an Oilers defense that still has a lot of room for improvement. We know that.  We also know the Kings suck at offense and only like to score when they have to.

The Oilers defense again really struggled to gain the puck and when they did, they had difficulty getting the puck up the ice and the puck died with shoot-ins or good checks.

Justin Schultz left the game with a supposed illness or something.  We don't know. I'd like to say a lot of things right now, but I'll leave it alone. 

Eric Gryba, the supposed amazing puck handler, made a soft pass at the blue line which was intercepted and a goal ensued shortly thereafter.  Check that, the score should have been 2-0 Oilers.

After the Capitals lose on Friday, I was glad to hear coach Todd McLellan publicly call out 4-5 players in general for not showing up and that the Oilers make stupid mistakes.,

Despite the refs in the Kings game, McLellan was proven right again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Game 7: Red Wings vs. Oilers

 #Oilers #OilersNation You'd have to think Connor McDavid would have been excited about playing against legendary players like Pavel Datsyuk.  But, alas, Pavel still injured.

What's exciting for us is seeing #97 quickly adapt to the much higher-level game than he's been used to.  Even though we are only 6 games in, they've been against tough teams, and the butterflies appear to have flown away.  His learning curve isn't as steep as many other players and as each game progresses and he actually plays against top players, he will only up his game to their level sooner than most.

Many have compared Nugent-Hopkins to Datsyuk, but when you see McDavid split defensemen with poise and grace, you can only think of him being "Datsyukian".

What will we call McDavid's magic moves then other than McDavid-like?

"McDavidian"?  Reminds me of the "Branch Davidian" compound of David Koresh in Waco, Texas.  So, no.

"McDavidish"?  Too close to MacTavish and we need less and less of that.

"McMagic"?  Too Magic Johnson perhaps?

"Big Mac D"?  Oh, I give up.

Many would like to end the McJesus moniker.  So would I.  Ryan Smyth was and will always be the Oilers Jesus.

Or maybe his name just stands alone and we just say, "Wow! That was a classic 'Connor McDavid' move."

Oil & Gas Hockey has just learned that 60 Minutes of all things will be doing a feature on Connor McDavid, something they've been working on for 18 months now.  This will mean Edmonton gets some exposure.  Or maybe not.

I'll be at the game tonight, so we'll see first-hand if Datsyuk needs to pass the torch.

Oilers line-up:  Hendricks on IR so Andrew Miller called up for Slepyshev/Klinkhammer on the top line. Gazdic sits.  Reinhart injured so likely Ference is in.

Red Wings:


This is going to a fast-passed possession game and the first Eastern Team on the schedule.  Don't forget, it's also Coach McLellan's old team where he assisted behind Mike Babcock.  While they have a new coach, I think Todd McLellan will out-coach them.  (Also note Detroit's AHL coach is former Oilers coach Todd Nelson.)  Enough Todd's for ya?

If you see me at the game in a signed Eberle jersey with Oilers hat, that's me.  Yeah, good luck with that!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oilers lack of a top d-pair continue to hold back everything

. Until Chiarelli can get two, not one, TWO legitimate top VETERAN defensemen, we will continue to see the losses.  Let's look at the current crop of crap.

We thought Andrej Sekera was "the guy" and we were so please he decided to come here.  After watching him over the last three games, I can assure you that he's not.  He's a 3rd/4th defensemen at best.  I have not been impressed with the puck handling and initial passes.  He's not bad at checking and taking the man, but he has old Petry brainfarts once in a while.

Mark Fayne has been below average in my opinion and not playing up to his potential.  But he's a right-shot defensemen, which is rare to find. He's a 4th/5th defensemen in reality.

Oscar Klefbom, with his big shiny contract, has been the best of the bunch, yet one of the youngest.  His bomb of a shot netted him a goal the other night.   You can tell though that he gets dragged down by whomever his partner is.  He has the potential to be a legitimate 2nd pairing d-man on any team. Which brings us to...

Justin Schultz with his good no-look puck handling lacks in umph on the defensive side of the puck. I'd relegate him to power play and offensive zone special teams, rather than be a reliable defenseman in our own zone. And keep him off the penalty kill, please. 

The above should be the 2nd and 3rd pairings respectively--meaning, there's a gaping hole in a legitimate top pair.  What else is new?  Which brings us to "the rest"...

Andrew Ference, despite his fitness level, we all know he's losing his legs and is top candidate for a buyout. 

Eric Gryba, a big crushing guy with some skill, his zone exits right in front of the net make me bloody cringe.  His passing is terrible.

Griffin Reinhart has potential to be a solid 3rd pairing guy--just needs more experience and a better partner.

Brandon Davidson has to be better or risks waivers.  I don't see Nurse being called up this year, until Nikitin and Ference get moved or bought out, so Davidson might ride the year playing every other game to up his value for a package trade deal.

There's no doubt now.  The 2015-16 season is a big transition one for the entire Oilers organization.  Prez/GM Chiarelli has a lot of work to do still to rid the fat cat contracts of the past and develop prospects properly and add good veteran talent.

Before we get to that, can we finally and actually close the book on the goaltending situation and not call it a situation anymore--at least for this year?  Talbot has been superb in his 3 games and while Nilsson had a couple doozies, he still saved 50 shots with calmness and excellent positioning.  He'll adjust.

There are a couple holes with the forwards, but part of it may have been solved by adding Matt Hendricks to the top line with Hall and Nuge.  That said, Hendricks isn't a right-shot, so passing and streaking up the ice doesn't fit here, otherwise, I liked what Hendy was doing--hitting and freeing up the puck for Nuge.

With Hendy on the top line, putting Slepyshev on the 4th line appeared to work really well.  But unless Gazdic is mucking it up, which he hasn't been, Klinkhammer is a better choice.

Purcell is not a top 6 guy anymore, and watching Yakupov try to gel with McDavid, I didn't see it.  I think I'm giving up on Yak.  How he didn't see Spezza on the backcheck to pick him up is beyond me.  Also, Yak is SUPPOSED to be the guy to bury a breakaway, but he didn't--then didn't backcheck properly.  His value is dropping and dropping fast.  I honestly don't see how Chiarelli keeps him around.

Lander is useful and very versatile, but he's expendable in a trade for a top pair d-man--plus it opens a roster spot for Draisaitl.

By the end of the season, the roster holes should be:




And I have full confidence that Chiarelli gets this--unlike the past.  And that to me, is the biggest difference.

Until then, LET GO, OILERS, LET GO!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Let go Oilers, let go!

 #Oilers rebuild 3.0 is underway. Here are some hard truths:

- Cam Talbot is not proven. He's a gamble. Brossoit could be the guy but I see Nilsson and Laurikainen being the future tandem. 

- The defense is still no where near complete and no better off than the start of last year, really, if not less experienced, which will again eat away at the starting goalie. 

- The top 9 lacks gritty supporting players to the core save maybe Pouliot. Purcell is being showcased obviously, so if you don't understand that and think Yak deserves first line minutes, then you don't get how asset management works.  Lander needs to be moved to make room for Draisaitl at centre. Not wing. Centre. 

- There are 7/12 forwards with five or less years in NHL experience:  Nuge, Hall, McDavid, Slepyshev,Yakupov, Lander, Gazdic

- There are 4/6 defensemen with three years or less in NHL experience:  Klefbom, Schuktz, Gryba, Reinhart

- There are 2/2 goalies with less than a season: Talbot, Nilsson

The only real two way forwards are Pouliot, Nuge, Lander, Hendricks, and Letestu.  

- The only real complete defensemen are Sekera and Klefbom to a degree.

So if you think this team will be able to compete on all 200 feet of the ice, you are sadly mistaken. 

Sorry fans, not this year either.

Let go. Let go.