Welcome back! We are now done 20% of the season. We’re starting to get out of ‘small sample’ sizes and starting to see what we have. For simplicity, multiply totals by 5 to get projected 80 game totals (yes, I know there are 82 games).
For a quick recap. At the end of the last 8 game review, the Oiler’s were on a winning streak but were still not in the playoff picture. They were just shy of 3rd in the Pacific and not in the Wild Card picture. Well, after 16 games, we are just shy of 3rd in the Pacific and not in the Wild Card picture. This means we weren’t a playoff team after 8 games and we aren’t a playoff team after 16 games either.
After the first 8 games we continued our winning ways and went on a heck of a streak! Even got moved up to Top 10’s in power rankings and were looking like a real threat. For a very brief moment we were first in the Pacific with games in hand. Unfortunately, SJ won later that night but, for 2 periods or so, we were first in the Pacific. The other neat thing was to see that the Pacific was dominated by Canadian Teams. LA has since fired their coach and are very close to already out of the playoffs. Las Vegas has not had a turnaround at all and are stuck near the middle. Phoenix is on the rise and has games in hand. Calgary keeps winning and, somehow, so does Vancouver. San Jose is starting to establish themselves. Anaheim is currently trending down. I’ve said I think the Pacific is very weak. However, a closer look shows me that 3 of the Top 8 teams in the NHL are from the Pacific. I’m going to stick with my prediction that Vancouver doesn’t make the playoffs despite them looking so good.
For this 8 game streak we had 4 wins over Nashville, Blackhawks x 2, Detroit. We also had 4 losses to Washington, Tampa, Minnesota and Florida. For long stretches of this 8 game stretch I was praising the coach and the GM as everything was coming up golden for them. Scratch Jesse and win 3 in a row. Chia signings Brodziak, Chiasson, Koskinen and Caggiula were all stars for mini stretches as well. I was positive I would be retracting all my predictions and was wrong on everything. Turns out, I don’t have to.
Our Powerplay ranks 15th in the NHL at 21.1%.
Our Penalty Kill ranks 26th in the NHL at 73.6%. Hmm, maybe hiring new assistants wasn’t the solution to this particular problem? Maybe we shouldn’t have used our success in ‘garbage time’ last season as an indicator for next season?
Connor continues to be amazing and has 23 points putting him to 2nd in NHL scoring behind Rantanan’s 24 points. Rantanan has almost equaled Jesse Puljujaarvi’s career total of 29 points (in over 100 games) in the first 15 games of the season. Leon and RNH also continue to be all star worthy with 17 points as well.
I said we need Oskar Klefbom to get 40 points on the season. He is currently on pace to do exactly that and is averaging around 25 minutes a night.
- I said: 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.
After 16 games, none of these guys (or anyone else) is on pace for 40 points. Are people still expecting bargain bin player Ty Rattie (3 pts in 7 GP) to be a 50 point guy this season?
Jesse and Kailer combined for 0 points in the Oil’s last 8 games. They both got healthy scratched several times. My views on Jesse are simple. There are at least 60 NHL players, including 2 Oilers, that have gotten less minutes (Jesse is averaging over 12) and have more points than him (Jesse has 1 point). If he wants Top 6 minutes then he’ll have to score from the bottom lines just like Drake and Alex did. The coach has made it clear that if you score, he’ll move you up the line. Currently, Jesse is only outscoring Kevin Gravel (3GP) and Cooper Marody (2GP) on the team. My solution? Swap problems. Trade him straight up for Pavel Zacha who just got shipped to the AHL. Similar salary, one year older and similar pedigree (Top 6 draft picks). NJ would get a player one year younger than Zacha (eg. more potential upside) and Edmonton would get a very good 3C who can kill penalties and is more aggressive than Jesse on the puck pursuits. If we wait too long (which we will) we will get nothing for him just like Yakupov. At the very least, ship him to AHL and get him on the Top line until he scores 10 points. 20 year olds with this kind of pedigree should not be eating nacho’s. Yamamoto should be going to the AHL as well. Kailer’s been given prime minutes and line partners and has 2 points to show for it. I’d be thrilled to have Bensen, Marody, Yamamoto and Jesse lighting up the AHL and developing together. Add in Bouchard and our future, in 2 years, really does look bright. This is assuming Chia doesn’t make a stupid trade between now and then.
Evan Bouchard was sent back to the London Knights after being a healthy scratch, a minus player and averaging very little minutes. This really wasn’t a shock as there was no precedence that the 4th dman taken in a draft should be playing in the NHL a few months after being drafted.
Our last 3 First Rounders (Kailer, Evan and Jesse) have combined for 4 points on the season and have spent a lot of time ‘developing’ in pressboxes all over North America. I wonder if management will learn not to toss these kids in the NHL right away?
I said we’d need Talbot and Koskinen around .920 to be successful. Well, Koskinen is doing his part at .914. He also won 3 of the 4 matches we won in this 8 game stretch. Talbot sits under .900 after 12 games. He was in net for 3 of our 4 losses during this stretch while only being in the net for 1 victory. I wonder what Koskinen has to do to get more starts?
Lucic is on pace for 20 points. I’ve never seen a fanbase so disapointed when one of their ‘top players’ did NOT get suspended. Even more puzzling than this is the constant celebration by the MSM of what a difference he is making on our non playoff team with his grit and hitting. Milan has 2 goals in his last 60 games. Not suspending him was the worst thing the NHL could’ve done to us.
5 of our Top 6 players have been exceptional. McDavid, RNH, Drai, Klefbom and Larsson have been completely carrying this team. Nurse continues to struggle as a Top 4 guy. I think he’d benefit from a stronger D partner. At the last 8 game mark those guys were playing a ridiculous amount of minutes. The coach has since evened out the minutes a little and we’ve had some real unsung heroes in the last 8 games:
Kris Russel has solidified our Top 4. In no way do I think Kris Russel should be a Top 4 Dman in the NHL. I feel he is an ELITE 5/6 that can move up occasionally. He definitely hasn’t been perfect but he can play either side and has given us stability. If you disagree, picture that Ovi shot shattering his back and then who are you putting with Nurse on the 2nd pair? Gravel, Benning or Garrison? That is the depth chart Chia has left his coach with.
Drake is a polarizing player but he was a big part of any success we’ve had in the last 8 games.
Chiasson went on an amazing run and was also a big part of our success. Maybe an unnoticed thing was when he scored on a one timer on an extended 5 on 6. Maybe, just maybe, the coach noticed the benefit of not having everyone shooting the same hand on a PP?
Lastly, Tobias Rieder has really provided stability on the 2nd line. He’s had some glorious chances to score and hasn’t but his hustle and smarts are on display every night. If he could bury a few he’d be a lock for 50 points this season. I feel he’s been a big part of Drai’s turn around in the last 8 games.
Here are our next 8 games (away):
Avalance, Canadiens, Flames, Golden Knights, Sharks, Ducks, Kings, Stars
Hopefully you notice we have 5 Pacific matchups. I feel this is our most important stretch of the season. With 5 Pacific matchups we could really establish some breathing room. We could also completely shit the bed and be out of the playoffs. That 3 game trip to California will be must watch TV. I’m saying now that if the Oiler’s aren’t in playoffs by the next 8 game review, then we aren’t making the playoffs. Also, the next 8 game review will be right around American Thanksgiving. If you’re not familiar with the American Thanksgiving Theory then please read this article on the likelihood of making the playoffs if you are a playoff team on American Thanksgiving.
What I hope happens in the next 8 games:
Fire coach. I don’t think he is that bad and he’s been given a horrid roster. But coach firings tend to spark things. Give Koskinen 4 starts so we can see what we have. Send Jesse and Kailer to AHL or make a smart trade that we don’t lose. Trade Kassian. Make Lucic a healthy scratch at least twice in the next 8 games. Hire Quenneville. Announce on Twitter and Facebook that Chia is fired before letting Chia know. Then fire Chia over Skype. Then fire him in person as well. Last, hold a press conference, with him there, to announce you’ve fired him three times already.
It’d be nice if we could also fire the guy that fired Chia. Fire them all to be safe!