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.
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.
- 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:
I hope for Puljujarvi‘s sake he is ready… but rushing players has been Edmonton’s motto for years. I don’t see why the AHL is considered such a bad thing by #Oilers and many fans and some media.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) November 24, 2018
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:
"As a coach, you want to take responsibility for the growth of the player. You don't want to sit there & watch them play in the AHL." Coach Hitchcock on recalling @Jpuljujarvi to the #Oilers today pic.twitter.com/Bx8q8PeM9b
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 25, 2018
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.
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….
Dylan Strome is heading to the Windy City.https://t.co/D88lQ8C4jM
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 26, 2018
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.
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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