I like to look around the league and see what other teams are doing. For instance, I think the Avs are the best built team in the NHL when I look at their cap and players. I think they could be good for a long while right now. Like us, they are missing their backup goalie Pavel Francouz to injury. 10 points in 8 games and a .625 points percentage. Hasn’t really slowed them at all. Like us they have superstar forwards. Unlike us they have guys like Nazem Kadri in the bottom 6. Unlike they us, they have a collection of D not seen in Edmonton since the 80’s.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions are the Tampa Bay lightning. Like us they have some elite forwards. They won the cup without Steven Stamkos who is their captain and one of their top offensive players. This year they are back and are playing without Nikita Kucherov. You may recall that Kucherov won the Hart, Lindsay and Ross trohpies in 2018/19.
The Bolts are currently playing with a .700 points percentage. Kucherov won the same trophies Drai did. Imagine us without Drai for the season? What they do have is Vasilievsky cruising along with a .932. They also have Hedman. Those are 2 things we don’t have. So when they lose a guy like Stamkos or Kucherov they are still damn good and a cup contender.
However, today is not about the Avs or Bolts. It’s about the Caps and the Bruins.
Two traditional powerhouses which are dealing with a tonne of adversity.
I’ll leave the Covid politics aside. The Caps are missing 4 players for 4 games. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Samsonov. To put that in perspective. They are missing their top forward, their 2nd/3rd best forward, their 2nd/3rd best Dman and their starting goalie. To add to the woes, they signed Henrik Lundqvist in the offseason but the King needed heart surgery and didn’t make it to camp. So they are also missing their backup.
To put his in Oiler terms. That would be the equivalent of us losing Connor, RNH, Bear, Koskinen and Smith. Can you picture what we’d look like without those players? The Caps are starting their third string goalie Vitek Vanecek who had never played a single game in the NHL. Caps have yet to lose a game in regulation! They are sitting at a .813 points percentage and on top of their division.
Second in that division are the Bruins. The Bruins are playing without Tory Krug, David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase and Zdeno Chara. That would be like us playing without Drai, Kahun, Nurse and Bear. Can you picture how we’d do without those 4? The B’s are second in the division and have a .786 points percentage. They have been riding very good goaltending, Marchand/Krejci/Ritchie/Bergeron and a D crew that was mostly developed and drafted by them (eg. first round ‘bust’ Jakub Zboril is averaging 18 minutes a night in his first season).
Back to the Oilers. We are sitting at a .333 points percentage which is 6th (out of 7). Our team is healthy. We really have very little adversity. We have our D in tact (we knew about Klefbom since summer). Our number 1 goalie is playing (sub .900). All 3 of our elite forwards are playing (and playing very well). Yamamoto has been great as well for a bonus. We have almost zero adversity in comparison to the 4 clubs mentioned above.
What do they have that we don’t?
- Real NHL depth
- Built in history of winning culture
- Structured D and systems
- Great to elite goaltending
- 3 of them have Elite D
- All have strong management
- None have an Old Boys Club filled with former stars
- Homegrown talent (which we’re getting much better at)
I’ve been writing her for a long time now. When I joined I felt we were close. I’m not sure I feel that way right now. Not because of a bad start but because we don’t have those things. If Connor/Drai get hurt, our season is over. With them, our season may be over. The problem with the Oil is not our top guys, it’s everybody else (starting with Management).