Welcome back! The Oiler’s have now completed the first 8 games of the season and this is the first (of 10) 8 game reviews on the season. This used to be called The Good, The Bad and the Chia due to Chia completely destroying our team. However, Chia’s gone (although he still casts a huge dark shadow on our franchise). The title is a work in progress but everything is really good in Oil country right now so let’s begin!
You get a ray of sunshine!
You get a bowl of warm cuddles!
You get a pink pony!
I mean, we’re 7 and 1 and it’s everything Oiler’s right now. If the season ended today we’d win almost every possible award. For instance:
We are on top of the enitre NHL. We are 2nd in goals scored and third for goal differential.
We have the leading point scorer AND leading goal scorer. Before the season began, I think we’d all agree that 20 goals from Neal would be an amazing steal. Well, he’s almost halfway there! His 9 goals would’ve had him 7th in goal scoring (1 behind Nurse’s 10) for the entire season last year.
We are the ONLY team in the NHL to have 2 dmen in the Top 10 for scoring.
Tippet has split our goalies 50-50 and got the absolute maximum out of both of them. Tippet is the ‘goalie whisperer’ and is doing an amazing job with picking the starting goalies.
Our Powerplay is 1st in the entire NHL. Our PK is 6th. They say speciality teams is what wins games. Our special teams are through the roof right now!
Adam Larsson went down with injury. I thought this was a huge blow (in case I haven’t mentioned it, everything about my preseason predictions has been wrong). Instead, Ethan Bear has come in and looked every bit the NHLer. We still have Jones/Bouchard/Lagesson percolating as well for potential action this season. Here are Bear’s last 5 games. Just fantastic! Bear is also 3rd amongst Rookie Dmen in scoring.
I know a lot of people will argue that we should now trade Larsson. I’m never against a trade if the return is spectacular for us. I understand that part. However, I’m going to argue the exact opposite. Put Larsson back in the Top 4 with Klefbom. Have Nurse with Bear. Keep Russel in the bottom pair (where he is exceptional) with whoever is the next best. I’d prefer Benning myself as I think he is a very good bottom pair Dman. I’m now convinced that this would give us a legit Top 4 D crew and a very strong 3rd pair.
The scoring race is all but ours (sidenote: John Carlsson is having a heck of a season himself!).
Connor, Drai, RNH, Nurse, Bear, Klefbom, Neal, Smith and Koskinen have all been exceptional. Kassian is definitely doing his part as well. Our bottom 6 is constantly buzzing with a lot of speed and tenaciousness.
While Canadian Thanksgiving is behind us, American Thanksgiving (Nov 28) is not that far away and we’re on top of the league. This amazing start is very important because being in a playoff spot at American Thanksgiving is a strong indicator of who makes the playoffs. In fact, 78% of teams in a playoff spot on American Thanksgiving make the playoffs.
The AHL is shining too! The Condor’s are 2-1-1 and Yamamoto is killing it! He missed preseason due to injury and I’d really like to see him brought up and given PK and Top 6 time.
If the season ended today we would’ve won the President’s trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, Jack Adam’s trophy, GM of the year, a Vezina nomination, a Norris nomination and a Selke Nomination for Drai.
Everything is great! It’s poll time:
Will the Oil make the playoffs?
This poll is closed
Here is a picture to end the article. GOILERS!
Thanks for reading on this glorious day! Don’t forget to vote ‘yes’.
Still here? To be honest, I do have some growing concerns. If you wanted nothing but positivity, please vote ‘yes’ and move on now.
Let’s revisit the standings again:
I’ve highlighted all our opponents (out of 8) in the top half of the NHL today. If you want to see the rest of our first 8 opponents you need to look here:
6 of our 8 opponents are clustered between 23rd and 28th in the league as of this morning. It’s early, some haven’t played as many games but it would be fair to say we’ve had a very favourable schedule.
Let’s revisit that scoring leaders table:
Note Connor and Drai’s minutes! The only people with more minutes are on D. Pastrnak is currently 4th in scoring and plays 4 to 5 minutes less per game. As Brian Burke said, Drai plays Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals Dman minutes. Connor is coming off knee surgery.
Let’s revisit that Oiler scoring table I posted above. Only, let’s start at our 9th scoring leader:
These are the other 14 guys on our team. They’ve combined for a total of 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points. 8 guys have yet to register a point. Benning got 2 points in his first game and hasn’t seen the scoresheet since. Brandon Manning is the only active player to have a goal in this group of 14.
What do we think of Persson and Granlund so far?
My point? This is the exact same strategy we’ve employed the last 2 seasons to disastrous results. Maybe it works this time? However, I can’t say I’m thrilled to see that our entire strategy is to wait till Connor/Leon score goals while everyone else prevents them. We still don’t have a balanced attack and scoring depth. We are still relying on 5 or 6 guys to win us games. We certainly don’t have the depth to recover from an injury to Drai/McDavid/Klefbom. Everything is great but I don’t feel this strategy will work over 82 games. Our next 8 games are also mostly against the bottom of the league (Coyotes, Penguins, Jackets, Wings, Panthers, Capitals, Wild and Jets). I’m hoping we can go 7-1 again and build up a big league because, eventually, we won’t have such a favorable schedule.