WHAT’S GOING ON OUT THERE?
The Oilers are mired in a three game losing streak and nothing looks quite right out there. The latest mar is a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Ottawa in front of a nationwide audience on Saturday night. What the hell’s going on out there? Why is this team who made a quality run to the playoffs last year all of a sudden flailing like that fish at the end of Faith No More’s “Epic”?
There’s a few reasons why. Some are injury related. Some are just plain bad luck.
- Holy cow, this team misses Andrej Sekera. Until Sekera returns, this team can work with the top pair of Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson, though the pair struggled last night. Kris Russell and Matt Benning have not been an effective pair early on, and the Oilers have been outscored by a margin of 14-5 since winning their season opener by a 3-0 score. A top four that consists of Andrej Sekera will immediately change the look of the defence, and his recovery can’t happen soon enough. December seems like forever away.
- Right now, Cam Talbot isn’t playing like Cam Talbot 2016-17. It’s easy to throw everything on the goalie. I’m not trying to do that right now, but Cam Talbot’s been pulled in his last two starts. A .886 5v5 SV% isn’t going to win very much, plain and simple. Remember that Cam Talbot struggled a bit when he first got to Edmonton and a small minority was clamouring for Anders Nilsson. Shortly after, it all worked out.
- Nothing is going in the net. Piggybacking on number 2. The Oilers are shooting at a dismal 3% while 5 on 5. That’s garbage and it’s not going to last forever. I’ve got hopes that the bag of goals gets ripped open sooner than later, but we wait until then.
- Kris Russell does not quarterback the power play. Not now, not ever. God.
- The only line that is scoring is the top line. Not only are the Oilers having it rough on the scoresheet, they’re only getting the usual suspects involved. In four games, McDavid-Draisaitl-Maroon combine for 4-7-11. The rest of the squad combines for 4-6-10. Quick shout out to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who has half of those other four goals.
- Leon Draisaitl is out. This one can only be applied to Saturday’s thumping at the hands of Ottawa, but an eye-injury turned concussion is no bueno. Any time missed by Draisaitl will have a dramatic effect on the club’s success.
PANIC ON THE STREETS OF WHYTE AVE
Deep breaths. There are things that can’t be fixed by waving a wand (like a concussion or the loss of a top pair defenceman), but a 3% shooting percentage and a sub-900 SV% can likely be worked out without too much headache. The Oilers still have a very shallow depth pool on the right side, but a couple of four goal games should see a few more wins coming in.
In short: hold off on the shrieking until November. If needed, we’ll all shriek together, and I gotta get through October before we begin any of that in earnest.