THE best game of the year for the Edmonton Oilers was last night’s versus the Toronto Maple Leafs and I’ll tell you why that was.
- The news couldn’t get any worse for the Oilers as Cam Talbot was put on IR earlier that day and during the warm-up Adam Larsson went down. So the feeling in the Oilogosphere was understandably grey.
- The point in the 2nd period where you could see the Oilers were going to play a simple game by bringing the puck over the red line and playing a bit of old school dump and chase. At that point, they took over and It. Was. Awesome!
- Brossoit struggled early but redeemed himself mightily throughout the rest of the game. I don’t care what you say, he was a f*cking beauty last night and if not for him, the Leafs would’ve easily beat the Oilers by at least 6 goals.
- Three different comebacks vs. the Eastern Conference’s #2 team brought back feelings of last year’s playoff run. That’s pretty good considering how poorly the Oilers have played versus the Eastern Conference over the past couple of years.
- Connor McDavid started to get his mojo back and made a fool out of Roman Polak at least twice AND drew penalties out of him on both occasions.
- The bottom-6 were outstanding! JJ Khaira was an animal last night. He looked so confident with the puck and he was rewarded for it with increased ice-time 5×5 AND on the PP. I think that’ll spell the end of Iiro Pakarinen possibly.
And Zack Kassian baby! When the goals come, they come in bunches! I hope he’s finally getting back into the swing of things.
- Ryan Strome is going to get 20 goals if he keeps up the good work! He’s looked real tight alongside Leon.
- Jesse Puljujarvi had SEVEN shots last night! Beauty! Please Todd, keep him with Connor! And get him on the half-wall for the PP for Christ’s sake!
- Oscar Klefbom looked a shat ton better! Oscar was skating like mad, he was actually getting some bombs off from the point, and his puck transitions were solid!
- Thoughts on Yohann Auvitu as a winger please! I liked it if we’re being honest. It was only one shift but he got a shot on goal in that one shift… If Iiro does go and the Oilers can bring back say, Ian Cole or Alex Petrovic, I think Auvitu to the wing is as natural a decision as one makes.
- Milan Lucic is coming alive. Keep an eye on him vs. Calgary on Saturday fer sure. Matty Tkachuk had better take the night off because the eye of the tiger is returning to Milan!
What were your favorite highlights of the game?
Now while there were tons of really great things that the Oilers did last night, there were some concerning things as well…
- How many 2v0 did the Oilers give up last night… Good Lord! WAKE UP DEFENSE!
- Drake Caggiula has been spotted doing the ol’ Eberle button hook a bit too much. He plays best when he’s going north/south and banging about.
- Leon Draisaitl needed to get a goal last night. He was pretty ineffective I found.
- Eric Gryba has been having some very tough outings of late and if not for his RH’d shot, I think that Dillon Simpson would be recalled. Gryba seems like a Bob Boughner type doesn’t he?
- Special teams is going to be the theme of the year I think. Why aren’t they switching things up? This is Woodcroft and Johnson’s domain and they are failing. They have to go to see that either their plans are shite and all the other teams are catching on or that they’re doing a piss-poor job of teaching the team…
- In the past, we Oilers fans have bitched and complained about the special teams enough to send Steve Smith to Carolina and Kelly Buchberger from behind the bench to the stands, and then finally to Brooklyn. I’m sure there are more asst. coaches we’ve run out of town but I can’t recall at the moment. So, I have decided to be patient with this group this year, coaches included. It’s a hard part of the team to throw my support behind but the boys have got to figure this out!
I wonder what effect a fresh set of eyes like long time NHL assistant coach Perry Pearn could bring to the #oilers Penalty Kill?
— Jason Strudwick (@Jason_Strudwick) December 1, 2017
Yesterday on TSN, Bob McKenzie said the Flyers are looking to move some middle-6 forwards. Ian Cole is apparently being connected to the Oilers, Alex Petrovic is in the mill again and the Oilers are taking calls on Pakarinen, Caggiula, Slepyshev, and apparently Khaira according to Dreger and Friedman…
Peter Chiarelli is a busy man.
Linked to trade talks include Caggiula, Khaira, Slepyshev, Pakarinen, Strome and other teams calling on RNH, Benning, Maroon.
Wouldn't be shocked if someone calls on Klefbom too.
— Brennan Klak (@nhlupdate) December 1, 2017
I think a trade would be a mistake right now. The team is just starting to get its magic back and a trade might just mess that up. And why would the Oilers want to move the speed they have in Caggiula/Slepyshev and JJ Khaira is starting to make some real noise alongside Letestu and Kassian… Pakarinen can go though. I think his skills are redundant on this team.
Although, if a trade must be made, Eric Gryba is not having a great season so far. Personally, I’d have time for Petrovic. I think he has the same sort of tools that Gryba has but would be an upgrade on them. If I’m looking at Philly’s middle-6, all I see is Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny… Not cheap. Ian Cole could be nice add for a playoff run though…
Lastly here, that Henrique trade for Vatanen was basically Ryan Strome for Justin Schultz… A good hockey trade for both teams but don’t make it out to be anything more than that. Vatanen WILL BE exposed in NJ, that is a guarantee. And Adam Henrique will be a complimentary (maybe) depth player once Kesler and Getzlaf return.
“He’s a guy you would go to war for. He does everything for us. He throws himself in shooting lanes where most guys would be diving to get out of the way. He puts himself in harm’s way. He battles so hard each and every night.” – Connor McDavid on Kris Russell
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) December 1, 2017
First off, I LOVED HIS GAME LAST NIGHT!
Bad luck at the end but he played a pivotal role in driving the comeback(s). Some hockey fans will say he was irresponsible and I’ll agree with the players’ stance on it. The ice was crap, the puck bounced over his blade twice and he was going for Kadri’s stick because he thought Kadri had the puck. I say he was doing his job until the bad luck took over.
Yesterday I wanted some clarification on Jonathan Willis’ stance re: Kris Russell because he’d sent a tweet out that was a tad confusing…
— Beer League Heroes (@BeerLeagueHeroe) December 1, 2017
Last season he was getting shit on all over the place by the stats community because he was supposedly playing above his level on the 2nd pairing and I was confused as to why the outrage had continued now that he was apparently being deployed as a 3rd pairing dman.
So he wasn’t good enough as a 2nd pairing dman making a shade of $3M per year and should’ve been spending time on the 3rd pairing and now that he is a 3rd pairing defender (apparently according to Willis) it’s bad because he makes $4M? You’ve got to be kidding me.
See, what you won’t read this year is any articles about Kris Russell’s fancy stats because they’re quite a bit better than they’ve been in the past. And that’s a bunch of bullshit, especially after all the crap that’s been written about him since he joined the Oilers. Someone over in Willis’ corner of the world would have to admit that Russell might not be that bad and that’d be like eating the ass out of a rotting rhino carcass. #Gross
— Jason Strudwick (@Jason_Strudwick) December 1, 2017
Well, he made his bed, didn’t he? See, instead of being remembered for his analytical articles, Henderson will now and forever be remembered as the Anti-Russell apology blogger. That’s too bad too.
Needless to say, after a couple of the other Oilersnation boys tried to piggyback on Willis’ tweet to utter failure and that was that. Nothing more was said to which I’m quite happy because I don’t have qualms with too many people online but I don’t have an issue taking someone to task because they’re not clear with what they’re trying to say either be they from Oilersnation, Sportsnet, The Athletic, or any other blog.
That said, sometimes I get things wrong or I misread a tweet too. Moving on…
You cannot use a player’s salary as an indicator of where he deserves to be slotted in the lineup. If you could, then what would you say to Nuge’s $6M as a 3C or even Draisaitl in the same spot? If Kris Russell is best served being in the top pair, then that is where goes, if it’s on the 3rd pair so be it.
This is a team game and which line is no.1 or which pairing is no.3 changes on any given night (something that Todd McLellan has brought up repeatedly) as you’d have seen in last night’s game where Kris Russell played 24 minutes, had two points, 4 shots, 4 blocks, a 57% CF (best amongst D on both teams), and double the amount of takeaways as giveaways.
Those are 1st pair numbers my friends and even the best 1st pair dmen in the past have had night’s like our warrior dman did last night.
Right now it feels like it’s pouring on the Oilers but I truly believe that this will bind the team together even more and it’ll be a pivotal moment for them. They’ve had three REAL good games in a row now and Toronto didn’t beat the Oilers best roster they could ice either. Toss in a healthy Adam Larsson, Cam Talbot, and Andrej Sekera and tell me the game wouldn’t have ended the way it did with a straight face.
If I’m correct (which happens from time to time), I believe the Oilers have 13 games this month and three of them they’ll probably be hard up to win (St.Louis, Columbus, and Nashville). The other games I believe they have a 50% chance or higher to take and they play Winnipeg (2x), Calgary, Philly, San Jose, Chicago, Toronto, Minnesota, and Montreal.
Can the Oilers take 20 out of 26 points in December? Probably a high target. What about 16 then? Now, we wait!
Have a good one!
Let’s go Oilers!