November 2018 – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Month: November 2018

 

Edm wins 1-0 (OT)

 

Game Recap:

It was a tight checking game where both goalies played outstanding. Dallas was playing without their Top 2 defencemen – John Klingberg and Marc Methot. They were also missing their starting goalie Ben Bishop. Dallas had a chance to end it in the dying seconds, but Koskinen made a massive save to keep it scoreless and force OT. I have no idea what Klefbom, Hopkins or Caggiula were thinking on that play but more on that later. 

With all due respect to Cam Talbot, the Oilers lose this game if he is in net. That is how good Koskinen is playing right now…

 

In overtime, Edmonton looked to win it after a McDavid shot trickled over the line, but the NHL decided to do what they usually do and put the screws to the Oilers:

Oilers fans are used to getting the shaft from the NHL. Remember Talbot last year lashing out against the NHL last season? At the risk of sounding bias, honestly I’ve never seen a team have so many calls go AGAINST them in any league more than against the Oilers. I’m sure other fanbases will disagree….

 

DID U KNOW?

Speaking of Talbot, did u know that Cam Talbot hasn’t had a shutout in 81 straight games dating back to last season? EIGHTY-ONE games! Koskinen has 2 shutouts in his first 10 games (JUST missed his 3rd vs. Anaheim). When you are a starting goalie in the NHL, there are going to be nights where your team just didn’t have it, and you’ll be called upon to steal them 2 points. That’s why you’re a starter and get paid the big bucks. But for whatever reason, Cam has just been unable to do that over the last two seasons. Where would this team be right now without Koskinen? Same as last year I reckon. Look at this season’s updated numbers:

 

Official Game Winner

The Oilers won with a Klefbom goal on a beautiful pass from Draisaitl. It was Klefbom‘s first goal of the season. It bumped Edmonton’s record to 11-11-2. 

 

My Thoughts

Did u read the other day when I was thinking out loud “Why is head on a swivel such a foreign concept for these players?” That ALMOST dying second goal against was nothing more than THREE guys PUCK STARING yet again. I just don’t get it. Edmonton has been burned SO MANY TIMES in the past with their lack of defensive awareness. What is it going to take to get it thru these guys heads to LOOK AROUND to see who’s open? Koskinen almost had another shutout taken away from him late due to guys not using their heads. Thankfully, he bailed them out but that stuff can’t happen especially late in a game…. 

The Oilers Powerplay is garbage. Yeah, yeah they were ranked 11th going into last night thanks to McDavid scoring or setting up a bunch off the rush earlier in the year. If Oscar Klefbom isn’t going to shoot the puck with Chiasson providing the perfect screen in front, get him off the Powerplay. Right now, he is a ZERO threat to shoot from the point so teams can just focus on McDavid. All Klef does is pass out there. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Wideman gets a look on the PP1 at some point soon if this continues….

Kevin Gravel is going to have to clear waivers again soon if he is re-assigned by Edmonton after December 6th. Don’t quote me on the exact day but my understanding is, if a player clears waivers then is called back up at some point, once he plays 10 games or is on the roster for 30 days he would have to clear waivers again before getting sent down. Someone will definitely claim him so I would expect a move to come here soon. Either demote or release Garrison, trade Benning or send Gravel back down. I feel like Kevin has shown very well since being up but you can’t lose him for free.

Lastly, I see Sekera is skating lightly now and could be back by January if everything goes well. Not sure how I feel about that, but one thing’s for sure – if Jason Garrison is still somehow in Edmonton by the time that happens, he won’t be when Sekera is activated.

Next game is a rematch versus L.A. this time in Edmonton. Koskinen will definitely get the start and the Oilers need to win this one and put a streak together here.

 

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Edmonton headed into Los Angeles Sunday night looking to complete a successful road trip gaining 5 out of a possible 6 points. Yeaaaah, that didn’t happen.

 

Game Review

It was not a good start as LA had 5 shots in the first 5 minutes including a post on Talbot. The Oilers were scrambling in their own zone and couldn’t get much offensive zone time at all. Talbot stood his ground though and kept the Kings off the board initially. Wideman, then took a bad angle and Nurse took his eye off his man trying to help out, and the puck was in the back of the net 8 minutes in. 

Right around the 12 minute mark, the Oilers finally had their first real meaningful shift. Nurse had a bad giveaway in his own zone then let his man walk right around him for a Grade A chance against while Draisaitl also had a bad pass right before that. But, the Oilers got a PP and Alex Chiasson responded with a PPG from McDavid (Connor actually banked it off Chaser) to tie up the game. The rest of the period was rather uneventful. 

The second period, the Oilers 4th line came out flying and created a few chances. Shortly after, Alex Chiasson chipped in another greasy goal to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead. Dustin Brown then netted his 2nd goal of the game to tie the game back up at two. Chances were traded back and forth, especially the last few minutes of the period as the game really opened up but the period ended tied 2-2.

In the third, Kopitar was able to get by Adam Larsson after a nice bank pass (no idea how that puck got under Larsson‘s stick), and buried it to give L.A. a 3-2 lead. Cal Petersen then made some incredible saves and as usual the Oilers lose to another backup (backup of a backup?) goalie with a 5-2 final. Another disappointing result against a bottom feeder team. 

 

Other Observations

  • The Oilers appear to have scrapped the “get the puck back to the point, cross pass D to D, take a weak shot on net from 65 feet out with no one in front” philosophy and I couldn’t be happier. They seem much more committed to getting to high danger scoring areas where ya know, goals are usually scored from. 
  • What is it with the Oilers and everyone staring at the puck? That 2nd goal everyone was caught staring while no one bothered to watch for the 2 guys coming in from the point. Why is “head on a swivel” such a hard concept for these guys to grasp, especially in the defensive zone? Kevin Gravel is about the only one who consistently does look around while the play is going on.
  • Speaking of Gravel, I’ve pretty much been a fan of his since he put on the Oilers jersey. He has a lot of nice skills, is strong defensively, and appears to be getting better. On paper, that pairing of he and Wideman seems to be a considerable upgrade over the Garrison-Benning pair from earlier in the year. 
  • Darnell Nurse, who I am a big fan of, still doesn’t look like himself. Not sure what it is, but he doesn’t have that same explosiveness we’re used to. Maybe, he is nursing (pardon the pun) a bit of an injury or maybe he has lost confidence in his game (being paired with Benning could do that). I don’t think he’s been awful but he is capable of playing much better than he is. Hopefully, he can turn it around here soon. 
  • I miss Tobias Rieder‘s speed and aggressiveness, especially on the Penalty Kill.
  • That “Elbowing” penalty on McDavid in the last 2 minutes of the game was absolutely disgusting. No idea how that gets called. Not saying the Oilers would have scored anyways but give me a break. 

 

Hitch on Puljujarvi

A lot was made on social media this week about the Oilers bringing Puljujarvi back up with the big club after only 4 AHL games. Many media types were against the move. Case in point:

My take:

It was 100% the right move. The thing these two (and others) don’t realize is, Jesse isn’t going to learn much if anything in the AHL that will help him in Ken Hitchcock’s system. Under McLellan, sure, get him away from Todd and let him learn Todd’s system under the tutelage under Woodcroft and gain some confidence. Even then, McLellan showed he had little patience for Jesse so what did it matter what he did in the AHL? Jesse lit it up pre-season which earned him only a 3rd line spot because of “he liked to play with Strome” b.s. spewed by Todd. It was a no-win situation for Jesse as the harsh reality was – he and TMac weren’t a good match. 

Under Hitch though everything has changed. Jesse gets a chance to reset and prove himself under a new coach. Do you really want him in the minors for a month while everyone else is still in the learning phase in Edmonton? Now was the perfect time to bring him up as he can learn with his teammates the intricacies of Hitch’s system. Plus, Hitchcock pleaded with Chiarelli to bring up now as he wants the responsibility for his development. If you haven’t heard this interview you have to listen to it:

How refreshing is it to have a coach who actually takes responsibility for helping a player get better and is not looking to pass the buck or banish the player if he makes mistakes? When you have a guy like Hitch as coach you get Jesse back in there immediately so he can get up to speed and practice with this coach. You don’t waste him in the AHL to “give him confidence”. Having a coach who believes in him & is willing to work with him should give more confidence then a scoring streak against minor leaguers will. He might not get a ton of ice time to start, but having him up learning from the 3rd winningest coach of all-time versus in the minors under Jay Woodcroft, is 100% the better idea in my opinion. 

 

Trade Rumours

I don’t pretend I have “inside sources” because frankly, no random Joe Blow really does. It is fun to spitball from time to time though to see if something makes sense. That being said, it wouldn’t be a shock if Matt Benning was moved here soon despite what some Edmonton pundits say. My friend Beerleagueheroe mentioned Radek Faksa‘s name today but I don’t think he’s a realistic target. He’s valuable to their lineup there is no real upside to moving him.  

Mattias Janmark however, is a name I brought up last week who could be made available for the right price. He has had a lousy season this year bouncing around from line to line but scored 19 goals last year under Hitch. He can play Center or the Wing and brings a lot of speed to the lineup. I’m not sure if Matt Benning would be a fit there (perhaps in a package with a guy like Rattie) or a 3 way trade would make more sense. Either way, with the addition of RD Chris Wideman you have to think Benny’s days are numbered. He’s an expensive #7D that is young enough to potentially help some other team.

Speaking of trades….

I love the trade for Chicago re-uniting Dylan Strome with his former Junior teammate Alex DeBrincat. Chicago also gets Brandon Perlini in the deal. Strome will breakout for Chicago by the end of this year mark my words. He’s a better hockey player than his brother Ryan, he just needed to get out of the desert and Chicago should turn out to be a great fit for him. GREAT trade for Chicago. 

 

Wrap-up

The Oilers head home after a disappointing road trip with a 10-11-2 record. Any optimism that Hitchcock brought surely is gone on Twitter by now. LOL. Kind of makes me glad I’m not on there anymore to be honest. This team is still a work in progress there will still be plenty of ups and downs as they search for consistency. You gotta feel bad for Talbot though, he can’t seem to buy a win right now. The upcoming 3 game homestand is against Dallas, L.A. again & Vegas. All three are winnable games if there is such a thing at this point. Don’t give up Oilers fans, there’s still plenty of hockey to played yet. Sicker calves have lived!

 

 

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The OilKnight…

 

THOUGHTS ON THE COACHING STAFF:

It amazes me how many media types in Edmonton WENT TO BAT for TMac. Clearly, he was well liked among the MSM. Several of these guys who are on the radio in Edmonton were downright PISSED at callers/texters and are still upset he’s gone. They all had no problems pointing the finger at the GM but refused to lay any blame on the coach. So much for Journalistic integrity and impartiality….

That being said, it was 100% the right move. I’ve been adamant about a switch for months. Intentionally or not, the team was not responding well enough to McLellan anymore and you have to see what a different coach could do with this group. The structure and discipline in this system was shaky at best. 

I love how Hitch is a good communicator. Guys will now know their roles and there will be no more guess work as to why they are not in the lineup.

That being said, there will be a doghouse and my guess is Ryan Spooner might end up being the first one to visit it. Never much for playing defense in the past, it’s only a matter of time before Hitch reminds gets on him about it.

Always known as a great tactician, it will be interesting to see how much input Hitch has on the Powerplay and how much he lets Manny Viveiros do his own thing. Having Looch in front again sounds like it might be in the cards. Will a RH shot on the left half wall also be in play?

Jason Garrison does not strike me as a Hitchcock type player. Wonder if he is replaced soon. 

 

RANDOM OILERS THOUGHTS:

Matt Benning continues to struggle and could be on his way out soon. If Caleb Jones continues to play well and Ethan Bear gets back up to speed, I would not be shocked at all if one or both end up on the big club eventually.

Kevin Gravel, who continues to show some real skill and competitiveness, might be given even more ice time under Hitch as he gets more comfortable.

This team appears to have a hole at #3C again and I could totally see Edmonton going after a guy like C/LW Mattias Janmark who has bounced around the lineup all year in Dallas, but had a real nice year under Hitch last season and could bring some versatility and speed to EDM. Spooner & Benning for Janmark & Johns?

Regardless of how this season turns out (I still think EDM is a playoff team), I fully expect Peter Chiarelli to relinquish his GM title in the offseason but retain his President of Hockey Operations role as he is active with the Oil Kings, and has built up a nice foundation in Bakersfield. Keith Gretzky will take over and hire his own coach.

The Pacific division is the worst in the NHL overall in terms of talent. Vancouver was 3rd place despite losing 5 in a row but just lost to Anaheim who can’t score. The Oilers, when playing up to their capabilities are easily Top 3 best in their division and I still think are the best. San Jose is also concerned with their goaltending.

 

AROUND THE LEAGUES:

The Niagara Ice Dogs acquired one of the best players in the OHL in Jason Robertson. Robertson, had 23 goals and 38 points in 24 games for Kingston. You add him to Kirill Maksimov, Akil Thomas and the rest of that lineup and Niagara looks like a formidable force that could go all the way this year. My prediction of a London-Niagara final still looks good. 

I watched the Carolina-Toronto game last night and Andrei Svechnikov looks like he’s about ready to explode. He had a ENG but also had 8 shots & was a physical force all night. With Carolina publicly stating they want to give him more opportunities now, watch out for Svech.

How about those Red Wings? Left for dead earlier in the season, Detroit is now 9-3 with Mike Green in their lineup. Jimmy Howard has been fantastic during that same stretch and Anthony Mantha has really picked up his game. I thought for sure, Jeff Blashill would be the first NHL coach fired but he’s shown his team has more fight than we originally thought. 

 

LASTLY, 

Congrats to my boy and former London Knight Robert Thomas on his first NHL goal last night:

 

It’s NFL Thursday with some afternoon Thanksgiving games. Happy Turkey day to all our friends south of the Border!

 

 

While I’m no longer on Twitter, I still have plenty of thoughts on the Oilers. Feel free to share via Twitter anytime if you like.

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