Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Everything I said would happen, happened

 #Oilers #OilersNation
Do I know my Oilers or do I know my Oilers?  In my last post on November 4, I said the Oilers looked like they were shooting for the sake of shooting and if they only won 1 of 4 games on the Eastern road trip, that was a fail.  Here's what I said:

HypeOilers now sit 7-3-1 and are tied for first in the West.  They need to plug up their defensive positioning (as always) and they could beat the Islanders, Pittsburgh, and Detroit, but I get the feeling they'll only win 1 of 3 and go 8-6-1 after this road trip, which would be a fail and not living up to the hype that the start of the season provided, but more of the reality that many of us would expect--a team that perhaps squeaks into the playoff picture.
For that, they will need to be better than 8 wins in 15 games (.533).  Hopefully, a weak division can keep them in the top 3.
They lost to the Rangers, beat the Islanders, lost to the Penguins and beat the Red Wings.

Why have the Oilers lost so many games lately?

It's complicated and simple.   Let's look at the simple.

1.  Injuries to defensemen -- Not having Kris Russell and Brandon Davidson has impacted the team the most and put more pressure on Klefbom to perform which he has been unable to do, which then creates a domino effect to Larsson and down the line. Sekera and Klefbom need to switch positions.

2.  Save percentage -- Poorer defense causes better chances by the opponent.

3.  Corsi -- The Oilers have been outshooting their opponents but losing.  While some goalies have been hot, more shots than usual are lofters and the team is "shooting for the sake of shooting" to somehow drive up the odds on scoring.

4.  Laziness -- I'm looking at Eberle, Lucic, and Pouliot who haven't been up to snuff lately.  This causes McLellan to line juggle, kill the chemistry, and cause discontent throughout the lineup.

5.  Right-wingers playing on lines above their level.  It can be argued that Eberle is no longer a top line winger.  Keeping Puljujarvi around was out of necessity since trading Yakupov and being unable to sign Kris Versteeg.  Thankfully, Kassian and Pitlick have stepped up well to pick up the slack but neither are really top 6 guys at this time, maybe for a little while, but not consistently.

On a complicated note, looking at 1. above, the continued process of scouting, drafting, and developing good defensemen in the AHL so they hit the ground running in the NHL is vitally important to a team's overall long-term success.  If Russell wasn't injured, Benning would be in Bakersfield, and if Davidson wasn't injured, Nurse would be there too, and Gryba would be the 7th defenseman.  This has a further trickle-down effect:

1. Centres need to come back more to help the defense -- they expend more energy as a result

2. Wingers perform 1 on 3 solo-attacks because the centres aren't around (except McDavid).  They don't get in the danger zone so all they can do is shoot a weak wrister.

3. Talbot has been getting better shot attempts on him because the inexperienced defense is out of position.

Injuries happen all the time.  The other players need to step up even more and save Maroon, Kassian and Pitlick, it's not happening.

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