We’re back baby! BLH’s annual trip back to Edmonton was a massive success! We got in three Oilers games (DAL, WAS, PIT), a Red Deer Rebels game, and even a Pee Wee Camrose Vikings game (who knew that former NHLer Harry York was coaching in Camrose?)!!!
I also had a chance to meet up with a couple of BLH super fans! So a special shout out to Mike and Alex Toy as well as Marcus Boutiler! It was great to meet up with these fine gentlemen!
Another highlight was traveling the city to try and find a Leon Draisaitl Oilers away jersey only to find it in my favorite sports shop over in Sherwood Park. The Sports Closet is by far the best place to get your Oilers swag!
We spent way too much money (as we usually do on vacation) and I’m already missing it but I always love heading back to my home.
But that’s enough of the reminiscing, let’s talk about the Oilers.
I’ll start off by saying that anytime you get a chance to watch Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl play on the same sheet of ice, it’s a must-see. They’re magical. That goal vs. the Penguins?… Wowzas! You thought it was good on TV, live was even better!
But what I noticed when I was home was a lack of intensity. The big boys, apart from Nurse and Larsson, weren’t doing what they’re paid to do.
- Kassian, while dangling like a MFer, isn’t playing that physical game he’s known for,
- Lucic is now the best blind passer in the league (no. he’s not) and he’s not getting in there and winning battles. Although, with Looch, it’s funny that the game he decides to get in a scrap it turns out to be one of the best.
- Eric Gryba is getting walked consistently and what happened to Jujhar Khaira? Wins a spot out of camp and then decides to go for a walkabout…
Injuries are playing a part in the early season woes (Slepy and Caggiula can’t stay healthy) and the players brought in my Chiarelli are taking their sweet time getting sorted in McLellan’s system which isn’t a surprise because it’s happened to players like Talbot, Sekera, and Lucic before.
NONE of this is a surprise to me. Teams go through these skids. It happened to Edmonton last November too, no? I mean look at the Kings last year or the Ducks this year. Injuries and slow starts can affect any team. I mean last year around this time, where were the Flames and Predators?
I will say that the team IS built for the Western Conference and as Bob Stauffer said yesterday, this is a team built to succeed the playoffs. That said, they need to make it there first.
Is the team lacking scoring?
I don’t think so. In that I mean, the team has the tools to put the puck in the net but the bounces aren’t going their way. They need to get gritty and work their way to a few wins. They also need to stay healthy…
Does the team need some smaller skilled forwards?
I don’t think so. The team IS slow in that it’s not a team of zippy Mitch Marners but if you’ve ever watched the team you’d know that this is a FAST team. Kassian, Draisaitl, McDavid, Slepyshev, Nugent-Hopkins, Nurse, Klefbom, Caggiula are all fast skaters. Puljujarvi IS a fast player but what the media is talking about is players who move the puck quickly and not just bringing the puck into the o-zone and setting up shop waiting for a hole to open and to capitalize on a 5% scoring chance.
The team IS shooting the puck, they’re #3 in SF/g, and I dig that but are only clicking at a 6% rate… That’s a problem. The league average being 9%. I reckon they’ve got to get their asses to that net a bit better and knock a few in instead of trying to play it pretty.
So what is really the problem?
Lack of depth on the RW?
- It’s easy to point here because Eberle is riding Matt Barzal’s hot streak right now and is racking up the points but it’s probably time to realize that Draisaitl will be Connor’s RWer for the year thus opening up the door for Edmonton to trade Pat Maroon and possibly keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and bring up Jesse Puljujarvi.
Lack of talent on defense?
- Just like the start to the year, who could’ve predicted Oscar Klefbom starting out so poorly? I think he’s hurt but it’s something he can play through or something that Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish have sat down with Oscar to “talk him through”…
- Chiarelli didn’t address the hole left by Sekera’s injury and he said that he was going to allow the playing personnel sort that out. I reckon a lot of you thought that it was going to be Matt Benning taking that spot (not sure why more fans didn’t take into consideration the sophomore slump as it happens to most 2nd yr players.) but it has been Darnell Nurse who has been playing in beast mode from game 1.
- Auvitu and Gryba haven’t been great this year to date and one of them will be gone sooner than later. Especially with Sekera taking part in the skates with the team now.
I believe that Edmonton has a horrid time playing those teams built to play a quick hard forechecking game. They have shown me that they can’t handle that kind of puck pressure but even then, they did kick the shit out of New Jersey last week and the held their own vs. the Islanders. Here’s to hoping they do it again tonight 🙂
What I’d like to see go down?
- I’ll tell you what the dumbest idea to date is and that’s trading Darnell Nurse to the Maple Leafs for Mitch Marner. Who trades their best dman like that?
- I’m not adverse to the Oilers dealing Slepyshev, Jokinen, Khaira, or one of Jones or Bear to improve the bottom 6.
Edmonton needs to get that PK sorted because it’s really killing them this year but I feel like every year we’re talking about the Oilers special teams.
Would Chris Kelly help that? It’s up for debate. He’s a good penalty killer but they’d really be getting slower with that addition, I just don’t know why the Oilers are keeping Kelly around if they’re not signing him at some point.
- I’d like the Oilers to add maybe one more Brad Malone-type to that 4th line. Someone who can play a hard fast game and contribute to the PK. Maybe that player is Patrick Russell, he DID have a pretty decent camp and was one of the final cuts…
- I’d say the Oilers should go out and pick up another D but Andrej Sekera is coming back soon. But what about bringing up Dillon Simpson? He had a good camp.
Speaking of the Rangers, Chiarelli was in New York last night. Is that because he was pre-scouting the Rags? Of course not, he’s got pro scouts to do that. He’s kicking the tires on a deal. Even Friedman commented on him possibly being the next guy to make a trade.
I know Chris Kreider’s name has come up but he’s New York’s on.1 LW right now. They’re not trading him for dimes on the dollar. I see that Jimmy Vesey is on the 3rd line as is JT Miller and everyone’s favorite sub $2M player, Michael Grabner, is playing 4th line. Marc Staal is also 3rd pairing.
One idea that’s out there, what if the Oilers did something to address Bakersfield’s lack of an offensive centre to play with Puljujarvi? But if that’s the case, Filip Chytil is playing at a point-per-game pace down in Hartford and acquiring him wouldn’t make any sense for the Rangers unless the Oilers are paying big… Which isn’t out of the question for Chiarelli as we’ve seen.
I can’t see Edmonton getting Vesey or Miller for cheap and I’m not sure how good Grabner really is if he’s playing 4th line in Gotham. As for Kreider, fans like him because he’s a reckless abandon but I’m not sure that feeling is shared by his coaches. He does score though and if you believe that’s Edmonton’s problem, he’d be a fit but you know Maroon is going back as part of the package or would it be Puljujarvi?
Once the Oilers’ schedule comes back to Earth, meaning more Western Conference teams, we’ll see these boys’ fortunes turn around. Now, if they can add a few wins vs. the Devils here and the Rangers, that would be YUGE!
It’s good to be back and here’s to opening the content tap and getting the site back on track!
There’s a big sale going on at the BLH Teepublic shop right now! Head over and grab yourself a sweet ass t-shirt or a ridiculously comfy hoodie to keep warm as those winter temps sink down.