Watching the Tire Fire Burn – Your Weekly BLH Oilers Review

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Hey folks, Micah Kowalchuk here! I’m filling in to provide your “Edmonton Oilers weekly review” this week.

Well, it’s another week of wondering what could have been as an Oilers fan.  Three games played, three losses sustained, and although they put up a fight, it wasn’t enough on any of the three occasions.

Anaheim 5 – Edmonton 3

What the Oilers can take from this game is they put up a solid fight against one of the hottest teams in the league.  Sekera once again proved he was a shrewd signing, ending up even on the +/- on a night where he logged 24 minutes of ice time, took a couple of shots on goal, and even landed one of those rare Sekera bodychecks.

Hall, Eberle and Pouliot all took 4 shots each on goal, and Hall and Draisaitl seemed to wake up from their slumber, however the Oilers still lack a player for that line with the speed to keep up with both who can help hold the zone and cycle the puck in.  As for the rest of the forwards, the McDavid show managed to put up a point at least in support, but for the rest of the forwards, it wasn’t an overly impressive showing.

As for the defense, outside of Sekera, well..  Justin Schultz continues to log heavy ice team (and probably shouldn’t).  I keep thinking there’s a defenseman there to fix still if he could only log 2nd or 3rd pairing minutes, but we may never find out, at least while he wears Oilers silks.  Nurse continues to improve, Davidson continues to be steady, and the right side continues to be a tire fire burning unabated.

On this night, Talbot was the better of the two goaltenders, but with a .897 to his opponent’s .889, you can’t really say either goalie was the reason their team won.  At least this was a competitive fight against a very good club.

Minnesota 5 – Edmonton 2

Well.. This looked a lot like the last game, but against a less impressive opponent.  Once again the McDavid show chipped in a goal, and Nail Yakupov proved that, even if the coaches seem to think he’s actually a 3rd line forward, he does still have arguably the best shot on the team, when he gets the chance to use it.  Beyond that, it was not a good night for the “Old Core” with Hall getting one shot and Eberle 2 shots on net, compared to 4 by Yakupov, 4 by Draisatl and 4 by McDavid.  At least in the team’s defense, Kuemper was stellar tonight with a .939 save percentage, and the Oilers did out-shoot Minnesota and were, arguably, the better team, except when they were required to defend the puck…

This takes us to the defense who, once again, were solid on the left side and terrifying down the right.  You can see this in the fact the coaching staff had Fayne (14:18), Schultz (19:38) and Clendening (15:53) all under 20 minutes played for the first time in ages.  Minnesota was able to feast continually on the powerplay and it showed.  It also didn’t help that Talbot put up an .846 save percentage.  The Oilers really do need to find a backup who can step in once in a while, maybe it’s LB, or maybe it’s time to find a veteran backup.

Avalanche 3 – Edmonton 2

Oh, to have a defenseman who can score.  On a night where Tyson Barrie put 7 shots on goal and scored twice (Yes, 7, I double checked, some defensemen apparently can not only shoot, but hit the net), you realize how much the Oilers need this component.  Once again McDavid managed to record a point, but Pouliot was the only player on the roster to get 4 or more shots on net (and the only goal for that matter).  On Defense, once again the right-side all logged under 20 minutes each, with Fayne (15:13), Schultz (19:15), and Nikitin (13:41 while attempting to impersonate an overmatched Edmonton RHD, and succeeding) in his recall.

And once again Talbot finished under .900, making it 3-for-3 with a save percentage under .900…  At least the week is over..

Thoughts over a Pint

  • Hall and Draisaitl work well together, but a player like Puljujarvi who has size, speed, and defensive ability who could hold the puck in for them would look oh so nice here. It still makes me wonder why they don’t give Kassian a shot here (since he is a RW), at least he can keep up and would provide a physical edge;
  • The McDavid show is consistent lately at getting that one point a game, and it looks like Eberle’s trying harder, but they shouldn’t be shouldering any of the defensive load yet;
  • Mark Letestu, bless his heart, is not a 3C. He was signed to be our new 4C in place of Gordon, but for some reason they keep feeding him powerplay time and more minutes than he should get. For next season, here’s hoping he’s back logging 4th line minutes and whether it’s RNH or someone else, the Oilers need a quality 3C who can handle defensive duties, win a faceoff and still chip in points;
  • I like Cam Talbot, I think he might be a starter, but the Oilers can’t take two gambles in net at the same time. You don’t bring in a pair of younger backups every year and roll the dice, or prospects, or European gambles. You either have a guaranteed starter (Price, Lundqvist) where you can try out a prospect backup knowing your starter can eat minutes, or you back up your new gamble with a quality backup who’s logged heavy time in the league (Neuvirth, Montoya, Griess, Khudobin all come to mind). Giving Talbot a guy like that next season would be better than letting LB come up in the spot;
  • Ok, finding a right-handed defenseman is hard. Other teams realize that also, and settle for putting their best defensemen on the ice together and living with the fact some of them aren’t right-handed. Once Klefbom is back, the top 4 defenseman are Klefbom, Sekera, Davidson, Nurse, then Gryba. In the minors, the best defensemen to bring up are probably Oesterle, then Reinhart, then LaLeggia. So, in that vein, Klefbom-Davidson might as well be our new top pairing for now, with Nurse-Sekera as the second pairing, and then Oesterle-Gryba as our third pairing. Yes, there’s only one true right-hand D in the mix, yes, it’s not optimal, and yes, we’d probably do better icing the best players over worrying about what hand they use (I prefer lefties and righties together too, but..)

So that’s your Edmonton Oilers weekly review! I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on the week that was for our boys in orange and blue!

Micah Kowalchuk Written by:

  • Lee Dicken

    What’s up with Klefbom, is there some sort of time frame he will be back. I know he is just another Oiler who missed a 1/4 or more of the season , but at least the Oilers should be given the fans some indication as to when he is back.
    Somehow this team needs to be a healthier team next season, When you look at most teams that are top teams, for the most part , they stay healthy. Yes they all have the odd injury, but the Oilers continually have at least one or two of their top players hurt long term.