The Oilers are 3-7-0 after their first ten games of the season. For what it's worth, that's worse than they were at this same point with Dallas Eakins on the bench in each of the last two season, just saying. So what do we think about the play of the Oilers so far? Don't worry, you'll get a chance to tell us exactly what you're thinking too, and of course you can have your say in the comments.
Ten games in the Oilers are 3-7-0. How does this compare to what you expected? What's better? What's worse?
I figured 7 or 8 points, so convert a couple of the losses into OT/SO points and it's about right.
McDavid is much better than I think a lot of people could have predicted. His chemistry with Yakupov has been a bright spot. Hall and RNH have basically played without a legitimate winger most of the season and are still producing.
The D is a tire fire. Not sure if it's worse than I figured, but it's been bad. The PP sucked early but had has some better showings... needs to be much better. Goaltending has been about as good as you can hope, given the mess in front of them.
Before the season started a friend of mine from work and I were talking. I told him that in the first 10 games the only winnable games for the Oilers was Calgary, Vancouver and maybe Detroit. Of course he scoffed at me and told me that I was incorrect about the Flames and he couldn't understand how I thought the Oilers couldn't beat the Capitals (god I love Flames fans so much).
I really didn't expect much more from the team except maybe an OT/SO point. I have been surprised by the goaltending, it hasn't been phenomenal but at least they've kept the Oilers in most of the games. The defense is shit but we knew that going into the season.
McDavid is great and playing him with Yakupov has been great to watch. Hall and RHN are playing better than expected given what they've had to play with on RW.
As we all know this is still a freebie season for Chiarelli so any real improvement will come once this "evaluation" period is over. How long that period is? I don't know but this isn't going to be a winning season so I've prepared myself for that already.
There's a lot of talent on the team and I think that McLellan is doing a good job with it. Overall, the team is slightly worse than I expected but I figured the first 20 games would be pretty rough.
I thought we'd be much closer CF% wise, like 48% or something and would edge-up towards 50 as the season ticked-by. But that was way too optimistic. The Sekera-Fayne pairing has not yet gelled and their Corsi numbers are worse than I thought they would be. Sekera continues to make too many booboos for a player with that price tag.
I'm absolutely thrilled to see Yakupov succeeding. At the start of the season I thought he was a talented scorer who was bad at hockey. Today Yakupov looks like a hockey player and he's still scoring.
I'm encouraged by the play of McDavid: he's even better than I thought. One of McDavid's most surprising assets is his ability to get close to the net resulting in his SH% of 25, corresponding to 5 goals for 20 shots. McDavid generates and converts high-percentage chances. I'd like to see him learn Eberle's back-hand - that might sustain his shooting percentage over 30! Ok, maybe 30's not realistic, but you get the point! He will increase our "regressed" PDO.
RNH is making some pretty big defensive errors at times, but he's mostly been excellent. Hall feels like he's starting to click-in to some healthy patterns with his offence. I wish we had two Pouliots, one for each of the top-two lines. He works well on both. Maybe Eberle can step-in and be that other Pouliot, but better!
Gryba's slightly better than I thought. I expected average results from him as 7th D. He's playing way too high. I might be able tolerate him as third-pairing.
Schultz has both surprised and disappointed. He's shown some defensive discipline in a few games. But what Schultz has done for the Oilers in the past, he's no longer doing. He used to increase on-ice GF% by contributing offensively - even when not putting-up points. But he doesn't seem to be doing that anymore. He has some great assets and some great liabilities. So-far this year when he's attempted to minimize his liabilities, he's lost his assets.
From what I saw last night from Nurse, he's going to stay. For one thing they desperately need his shot on the power play.
I expected our goalies to be good, and I think they're doing great!
Faceoffs: 47%, 28th (expected)
Goal Differential: minus 7, 24th (slightly better than expected)
PK%: 83.9%, 13th (better than expected)
PP%: 19.4%, 13th (slightly worse than expected)
5v5 OSv%: 90.1%, 20th (slightly worse than expected)
CF%, 28th, 46.5%, (significantly worse than expected)
SCF% 29th, 44.9, (worse than expected)
They’re about where I thought they’d be points wise. I was hoping for something more like 4-6 but that was not to be.
The biggest positive for me has been the sustained offensive pressure from more than one line. This is in large part due to the Pouliot-Yakapov-McDavid line producing like no one’s business, but I also feel like the third and fourth lines have matched up to the competition better than last year. That’s not to say that they haven’t been outmatched at times, but more to say those times have looked to be happening less and in a less egregious manner. Whether or not this continues, I’m not sure but it’s nice to see more than one line that can reliably produce points.
The defense has been a mess. I was expecting that, but I’m not sure I was prepared for the effect the lack of competitive defense would have throughout the line up. That being said, I know that injuries haven’t helped us, but I don’t believe the defense matches up well in a best case scenario. I don’t like Gryba very much despite understanding why the role they want Gryba to fill is required. (I don’t think he’s particularly successful at filling it.) I agree that the defense has been a tire fire – it’s been toxic at times.
Before the season started, these first ten games looked like toughies and they've proven to be exactly that. A few of the losses were tougher to swallow than others—games when the Oilers kept it close but couldn't get the two points or push for overtime. The 4-2 loss to St. Louis and especially the last two games come to mind (Los Angeles, Minnesota).
I think the two things we can say for certain after ten games are: 1) The defence really is as bad as everyone feared, probably worse, and they'll continue to play garbage island hockey until Chiarelli does something about it. 2) Connor McDavid is better. He's just better all around—than people thought he was, than other NHL players, than his already impressive point totals suggest. He accepts passes four feet in the air, he makes plays in and around the crease that I have never seen done on a twice-a-night basis, he makes NHL defenders look like the pillars of the parthenon with his foot speed. It's already clicking for him, but I think we'll see something truly remarkable once his confidence hits full throttle and those pucks start going in.
The Oilers' dire start is proof it is time for a rebuild. Auston Matthews is the sort of fine young franchise forward a team can build around. This harsh reality has been denied for long enough, but perhaps not too long.
Send out aging players like Hall and Eberle for whichever draft picks we can scrounge from teams in the playoff hunt. Give their minutes to kids, like Draisatl and Slepyshev. Sack McLellan and bring in a coach who can relate to youngsters and introduce them to systems, like Dallas Eakins. Sure it'll make a bad season worse, but is one bad year not worth a decade as contenders?
This is about what I expected. Not what I wanted, but what I expected. The results are pretty similar to what we've seen so many times before but it seems like the team is a little closer to something good than they were in those other seasons. Or maybe I just want that to be the case that I'm starting to see things that don't exist.
What worse than I expected? The defence is an utter mess and it needs to be fixed. We all knew that it wouldn't be good, but did anyone think it would be this bad? There is a feeling among some fans that this season is more about evaluation than results for Chiarelli. That might be the case but it won't take 82 game to evaluate this defence, in fact it shouldn't take much more than 10. It's time to start looking for upgrades/replacements right now.
What's better than expected? Connor McDavid, no ifs, and, or buts. He's better in every part of the rink than I expected. If it wasn't for him there would be a lot more negativity surrounding this team right now. Now, if only we could clone him.
The Oilers are what we thought they were: a team with lots of talent up front and hardly any at the back. Schultz is Schultz, Sekera's no Petry, and Gryba's no good. The Oilers are 3-7-0 in spite of their goalies playing quite well to start the year, and in spite of having the magic on skates that is Connor McDavid. This is troubling.
In saying all that, this was arguably the toughest set of ten games they'll see all season, and they did manage to beat a few good teams and hang with a few others. I thought they'd have 8 points, so they're not far off, but not turning some good outings from their goalies into Bettman Points is unfortunate.
The manner in which they've been losing is more frustrating than how often they lose. The efforts in Dallas and against Washington were both horrific, and the quality of the defense doesn't inspire confidence that it'll get better before it gets worse. Luckily for us, I don't think it can get any worse. I think we're seeing the worst of the Oilers right now and have this weird, nebulous confidence in Todd McLellan that leads me to believe this will be their least successful ten games. I really do think McLellan is the real deal, and I don't think he, or his boss, are going to sit back and watch this team piss away Connor McDavid's career for too long.
The next ten look as tough as the first ten, but I think the Oilers get 8 points. I think they can outright beat the Flames, Coyotes and Devils, and are even money to beat the Flyers and whatever junior team is pretending to be the Ducks this year. I don't see them beating the Kings, Blackhawks, Penguins or Canadiens, but I'm hoping they can grab a couple of loser points from those five games. We'll see.