The game started out with great optimism. Jesse Puljujarvi was in the lineup and I was hoping for an excellent performance from him and disappointed I was not. He was the best Edmonton Oiler on the ice tonight and the most dangerous by far.
The 2nd line of Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the aforementioned Puljujarvi dominated the Rangers.
That was the good thing. The bad…
Oscar Klefbom and Leon Draisaitl were not on their “A” game and I’d go as far as to say that Klefbom was a shadow of what we’ve known to expect from him. He did have the most ice-time in all situations but on every goal against, he was a step away or behind the play.
Leon simply couldn’t get anything going tonight and that’s a shame. He’s really been playing well as of late too.
Five Things We Learned
- Jesse Puljuarvi showed us exactly what we’ve been looking for since he was drafted. I wonder where all of those folks are that were insinuating that he was a bust… at 19 years old.
This afternoon he was forechecking hard, getting his stick in there and using his massive frame to knock loose the puck for his quicker pivot. He was shooting at nearly every opportunity possible (those snappers from the blue line surprised me) and the shots were very good too.
In the end, the Grinnin’ Finn ended the evening with a gorgeous goal, 5 shots, and two hits. Here’s to hoping that adrenaline continues to pump through to the game tomorrow night versus Washington.
- Pat Maroon is working his way into the doghouse.
Even though he had a team-high 7 shots on net, with the way that the team is leaking goals on the PK, an undisciplined penalty like Maroon took which led to a Rick Nash goal, is not something that Todd McLellan takes lightly. If he’s going to be taking penalties like that then he’d better be contributing on the offensive side of the puck a bit more.
I’d go as far as to say that Maroon needs to go out there and get in a scrap to try and get back that emotional mojo we all know and love about him. We haven’t seen one of those trademark cellies of his in a while and I think we’d all like to.
- Todd McLellan’s player deployment was not good
Especially on defense. I’m not sure how Klefbom managed to “earn” 24 minutes of ice-time today but that’s something I had a problem with. On the flip side, it wasn’t like Russell or Gryba could’ve stepped up and filled the void.
David Staples said in his post-game podcast that Scotty Bowman once mentioned that a coaches job is to get the right players on the ice at the right time. Situational reading if you will and I agree with Staples in that McLellan wasn’t reading the game well today.
Nuge’s line was flying and as soon as McLellan noticed that Draisaitl was off his game, he should’ve started using RNH’s line as the defacto no.1 line. After the 2nd goal that Klefbom was on for, why not sit him for a shift or two, let Russell take a spin. Nurse and Larsson could’ve handled the extra load for a few minutes.
- Mark Letestu is showing his age.
Our golden boy from last year is struggling to get his game together early on. Nearly 30% of his TOI was on special teams and I have no idea why he’s on the PP right now. I’m hoping that McLellan will replace him with Puljujarvi and let Letestu do what he does best, play 3rd/4th line minutes and take important faceoffs when needed.
The guy isn’t going to have the juice to go in the playoffs if he keeps getting the TOI and assignments McLellan is giving him. Also, is it fair to say that the team has the personnel to cover him on the PK?
- Jussi Jokinen is showing us why FLA bought him out.
We’re 16 games into the NHL season, nearly a quarter of the way in, and Jokinen has yet to show us why the Oilers signed him. I mean he’s not making huge money but I’d rather have had Matt Hendricks for another year at this point. If a player is on pace for under 10 pts a year, I’d like to see a bit of life out of him.
He’s slow, he’s not adding anything to the Oilers’ special teams, and I’m thinking that whole mentoring thing for Pulju is a sham but the analytics folk love him and I can see why, his fancies are outstanding this year.
What I get confused about is if the fancies are that good, why aren’t they translating into goals? JJ’s 5×5 CF%Rel last night was -29 btw…
I’d say he’s a good candidate to be in the pressbox once Slepyshev and/or Cagguila return. He’s simply having too hard of a time keeping up right now.
I’m torn right now because there are two ways of addressing a slumping team,
- let them play their way out of it
- change the personnel and shock the system
McLellan and his coaching staff, I think, have found successful combinations in their top 6 now IF Jesse Puljujarvi can continue to play average to above average. The shutdown pairing of Nurse and Larsson have found some chemistry and I can’t see that pairing being changed anytime soon but the rest of the roster is really up in the air.
The forwards I’m not as worried about because two good forwards are out injured but the defense is still concerning. Andrej Sekera will be returning in the next 4 weeks and that’ll help but how good will he really be out of the gate? You know it’s going to take some time, right? I’m saying at least a month.
Washington will be a great test for the Oilers tomorrow. I had a chance to watch them when I was in Edmonton and the Oilers were keeping up with them until Kuznetsov scored that ridiculous goal. But what Edmonton has to do is get on them fast and stay on them. I believe the Capitals are going to be without their top defender in Matt Niskanen so that is a plus but Washington’s 3rd line of Vrana-Eller-Wilson is a beauty and Eller actually had a helluva game versus Edmonton the game I was in attendance.
Edmonton MUST come away with 2pts one way or another tomorrow night!
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