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Hitting The Skids At The Break

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Oilers are on a three game winless streak, but it’s not all doom and gloom

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers have hit the holiday break after a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re off until Thursday when Vancouver comes to town. In no particular order, some thoughts about what we’ve seen so far.

Starting out with a bang.

The Lucic deal is an abject failure. Spooner hasn’t impressed much since coming over from New York (he had seven and a half minutes of ice time last night), and there’s been varying degrees of success among Drake Caggiula, Kris Russell, Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian. They’re giving away money to a guy who isn’t in the league any longer, and Eric Gryba is receiving two paychecks now that he’s a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. Oilers are beat up on defence right now, but there’s a lot of cap space spent on players that either aren’t delivering the groceries, or are no longer on the team.

After 36 games, the Oilers are exactly three points better than they were at this point last season, which translates to about seven or eight points better over the course of the season. That would put them somewhere in the late-80s, which probably isn’t going to get anyone in the playoffs. The Oilers had a heck of a run after Ken Hitchcock became coach, but they’ve stalled in the last week.

Lots going on with this goal from last night. First, it’s Connor McDavid’s 200th career point. Secondly, it’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 33rd point in 36 games. Look at Jesse Puljujarvi on the forecheck. I can watch that for an hour and not get tired of it. The 90s line might not last forever, but I’m interested in seeing what the trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi look like in three or four games.

What else?

The defence is in trouble. This is best evidenced by a very good team in Tampa Bay getting 45 shots and six goals in last night’s 6-3 loss. The Oilers are down three regulars on the left side, and that’s going to inhibit your progress no matter what club you play. The Oilers are trying to make it work with Darnell Nurse, Kevin Gravel and Jason Garrison right now. Gravel is probably a 6-7D on a healthy roster, and he’s playing top four minutes right now. The Oilers shouldn’t see Jason Garrison for anything more than spot duty, but until one of Kris Russell, Andrej Sekera or Oscar Klefbom gets healthy, it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.

ETC

  • What’s going on with Chris Wideman? Right shot defenceman has appeared in just three games since being acquired a month ago.
  • Nice to see Edmonton go 2-for-3 on the power play last night. Oilers PP% ranks right in the middle of the league at 15th (20.5%).
  • Alex Chiasson picked up his sixteenth goal of the season last night, and it’s amazing. He’s shooting at 32%, and there’s a pretty good chance he can climb to 25 goals if that completely unsustainable shooting percentage holds up.
  • Mikko Koskinen has delivered. He absorbed his first home loss in last night’s 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay, and more importantly he’s got a rock solid .925 SV% in 18 games this season.
  • The Oilers have forty-six games remaining on the year, and they’ll need roughly 55 points to make it interesting in April. They’re on pace for 88 points, so a little help wouldn’t hurt.