Welcome to part 4 of The Good, The Bad and The Chia! This is a series I hope to continue until the end of the season. Don’t worry, even if Chia is fired, his long lasting effect on this team will be felt for at least one more season. You don’t just erase that stink with a firing (eg. no goalies signed for next season, Lucic signed forever, Russel, Sekera, Drai at an overpay, an untradeable Koskinen and only 7 good players on the squad).
Why 8 games you ask? Well, the season is 82 games long. Every 8 games is almost 10% of the season. It’s when ‘small sample sizes’ (the number one comeback of keyboard warriors across the net) start getting a bit more relevant. By Part 5, 16 games, I think we’ll have a good idea what we’re in for this season. If you want a projected total over a season. Just multiply by 10. Or, if you stink at math, add a zero to the points total. Please note it is technically 10.25 by multiplying but 10 will give you a clear idea.
Here were the standings after our rivals had played 8 games (Anaheim lost their 9th game so they were at 11 points after 8 games).
After 8 games we have ...
After 8 games the Oil are 4-3-1 for 9 points (-4 Goal Differential). This puts us tied with the San Jose Sharks and out of the Wild Card spot after 8 games.
Here is the Pacific Division after most teams had played 8 games. Note some really interesting trends. For instance, the LA Kings are near the bottom and having a terrible season so far. Also, the Vegas Golden Knights are off to a rough start as well and have looked like an expansion franchise. In fact, if you had the Ducks, Flames and Canucks leading the division than you should be a professional gambler. I described the Ducks as ‘low hanging fruit’ due to all their injuries. The Duck’s seem to be slowly coming back to reality. To my surprise, the Pacific is off to a pretty average start at best. I said it might be the toughest division in the NHL. Not so far. This is great news for us because it means no one has lapped us. We’re still very much in the thick of our division. Hopefully, by game 16, we will also not always be 2 or 3 games behind the rest after our European Vacation.
We have 9 points after 8 games which puts us 5th in the division after everyone has played 8 games. That is better than what I though we’d be but not a playoff spot. Having said that, I don’t see anyone we can’t currently catch in that Top 3. However, I’m still worried about San Jose and Las Vegas going on a run.
I feel that Chia has built a ridiculous looking squad that is not going to make the playoffs. I put all the blame on Chia. I’m no madder at Milan Lucic for playing like Milan Lucic then I am my wife for not looking like Halle Berry. Chia, after 3 years, has put this group together. In order for this ridiculous squad to make the playoffs I feel that ridiculous things need to happen. Here is what I said needs to happen:
- Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen around .920 ... Laurent Broisoit.
Cam has played ALL the games. He has a 2.88 GAA and a .901 save percentage. So currently Cam has not even regressed to his .908 from last season and is miles away from his career average .918. Mikko Koskinen has not played one game. There are only 2 teams in the NHL that have not played their backup after 8 games (NJ being the other because they ARE playing their backup due to injury). Chia has paid a guy over 30 years old very handsomely to contribute very little. He also gave him a NMC. This is a Chia signature move. Also, Laurent Broisoit (who was horrific last season here) has stolen 2 games for the Jet’s and is sitting at .955 and 2.00 GAA. 2 theories on this: 1) he improved tremendously in 6 months or 2) our D makes every goalie look terrible.
- Connor needs 164 points
Connor has already set an NHL record for being involved in the most points to start a season. He was in on the first 9 goals. He is on pace for 140 points and I hope the ‘who is better’ talk between him and Matthews has settled down.
- Leon needs 82 points on a line completely separate of Connor
Good news. He is on pace for 82 points. Bad news, he has zero points away from Connor and is definitely not carrying his own line. My guess is that he’ll be ‘punished’ soon and put on line 1 with Connor. RNH will be ‘rewarded’ with his very own 2nd line. Leon is currently an elite 6 million dollar winger being paid 8.5 million to be a centremen that can carry his own line. He has also been passed by David Pastrnak as the top scorer from his draft year.
- RNH needs 60 points and a full season
The Nuge is on pace for 110 points. RNH has been awesome in all facets of the game. Trading him would also be a ‘crime against humanity’.
- Klefbom needs to play the full season and get about 40 points (or someone else on D has to step up and do that)
Klef is playing over 25 minutes a night so his health is excellent. He is currently not on pace for 40 points but 30. Nurse is also on pace for 30 points. It could also be noted that Bouchard is a better passer and has better vision. Unfortuntately he’s not ready for the NHL yet. He’s averaging 12 minutes a night and is on pace for 10 points with a minus 5 in those sheltered minutes. I don’t consider that development, I also don’t think he should stay simply because he is better than Jason Garrison. I feel he should go back to the Knights, play about 30 minutes a night with 8th overall pick Adam Boqvist, go to the World Jr’s, dominate the playoffs and dominate at the Memorial Cup. Next year, he should come to camp either guaranteed Top 4 minutes or go the AHL until he is.
- 3 of Ty Rattie, Milan Lucic, Drake Caggiula,
Pontus Aberg, Steve Chiason, Ryan Strome, Juhjar Khaira, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Pullijarvi and Zack Kassian need 40 to 50 point seasons.
I guess we can add Cooper Marody to the list now? Raise your hand if you had Alex Chiasson (not Steve!) leading this group? Alex has played 3 games and has the most goals in this group (with 3) and is tied for the most points (also 3, tied with Lucic and Rieder). So, technically, Alex Chiasson is on pace for over 40 points (technically he’s on pace for the Rocket Richard trophy). No one else on this list (or anywhere on the team) is on pace for 40 to 50 points. Some notables:
Lucic is on pace for 30, Rieder is on pace for 30 (that would be a great signing if it continues), Jesse is now a healthy scratch after getting 1 point in 7 games (he is on pace for 10 points), Kailer is on pace for 20 points. Strome has 0 points but will be immortalized in Sydney Crosby highlight videos for years to come. Ty Rattie is hurt. I’m not even sure where he figures in when he gets back?
- Alternative success. Chia needs to package together some pieces and picks and land a Real Top 4 NHL Dman (not an elite one but a real Top 4 one because we only have 3 Top 4 Dmen right now).
Also, not even close. Chia has actually done nothing since the season began. I think he is waiting for Sekera to come back and slot in the Top 4. Of course, our current winning record, will guarantee Chia a job for at least a few more months.
So after 8 games:
Connor McDavid is a hockey god. Our record is very good given the travel and opponents. We’re not a playoff team compared to our peers but we are damn close after 8 games. I hope people don’t think we’ll start winning 6 out of 8 after this because our opponents are ‘easier’. We are the Edmonton Oilers, a reigning 78 point team who has made the playoffs once in 12 years. We ARE the easy opponent.
The Pacific is weak. We haven’t lost much ground and have some ‘4 point’ games coming up. I can’t see the Pacific standings staying the way they are now. My guess is Vancouver and Anaheim come crashing down while SJ and LV rise up.
Cam Talbot’s not at fault for a lot of this but his save percentage and GAA is nowhere near his career .918. He is floating around .900 after playing all the games so far. Even when his team scored 5 goals, he let in 6. He was outstanding in the victory last night. I don’t blame Cam though. I see a very good goalie playing in front of a very weak D. He’s a UFA at the end of the season. He is playing with a backup who the coach doesn’t trust and in front of a mediocre D core. I could see him traded at the trade deadline for a 5th round pick and going on to win the cup in front of a team with a real good D.
We are playing 7 guys very heavily. This is not sustainable over 82 games. We desperately need balance in the lineup. Klefbom (26), Connor (24), Darnell (24), RNH (23), Larsson (22), Russel (21) and Russel (20) are playing the bulk of games. Our 8th player for minutes is Lucic at 17 minutes then Strome at 15. Note all numbers were rounded.
Why has Cam Talbot played every game? Didn’t we sign a backup for 2.5 million? Where is he?
What exactly are we doing to develop Evan Bouchard? In the first 8 games he’s been given limited opportunity to produce offence, been a healthy scratch and given back to back games with 10 minutes or less. This is not how you develop elite Dmen. I feel he is here simply because he is our 6th best dman. That is on Chia for giving us no depth on D. Just because he is the 6th best dman, doesn’t mean he is Top 6. He is no more Top 6 than Russel is Top 4. This kid needs the puck on his stick and a billion minutes to develop. I agree that practicing with pro’s and having coaches give him things to work on could benefit him. However, if he is still here after game 16 averaging 12 minutes a night and has 2 points I’m going to be pissed!
What exactly are we doing with Jesse Pullijaarvi? He got ‘promoted’ to the top 6 and has averaged around 10 minutes since then. Now he’s a healthy scratch. He seemingly makes a silly mistake every game and then glued to the bench for the mistake. Doesn’t seem healthy or good for confidence. Like Bouchard, he needs opportunity. Either send him to the AHL and have him play massive minutes or give him a legit chance in the Top 6. Having said that. He needs to make something of his opportunties. Chiasson was a healthy scratch PTO for the first 5 games. Came in and scored and immediately got more minutes. He did that playing with shitty teammates on the 4th line with limited minutes. Now he has good teammates, better minutes and more opportunity. Jesse needs to go on a heater soon.
Success for games 9 to 16:
We need Talbot (or Koskinen) to get to .920.
We need Connor to keep being Connor.
We need Drai to continue a .ppg but away from Connor (if not, we need RNH to do it).
We need to stop playing 4D well over 20 minutes a night while the other 2D play 12.
We need to either play Bouchard 16 minutes a night with special teams or send him back.
We need to give Jesse a real chance in the Top 6 for at least 4 games or send him down.
Someone else needs to get some points. We have one guy on pace for 40 points after 8 games.
Chia needs to do something about our very unbalanced roster - getting a legit Top 4 Dman would work wonders for this squad. We need at least a Top 8.