Random thoughts on Wings, Oilers and more

random-thoughts

The Oilers were back on the ice today, after a day off, and in much better spirits due to consecutive road wins in Calgary and Vancouver. The crazy part about the weekend was the Oilers won two road games against the Pacific division.

They only won one road game against a division rival last season, which illustrates how non-competitive they were within their division. Defeating divisional rivals is a must if the Oilers want to compete for a playoff spot and last weekend’s success had Oilersnation excited once again.

Now the Oilers need to keep winning.

Detroit is very beatable. They are 3-2 and have outscored their opponents 15-13, but they have not been dominating games. Far from it, in fact. They won their first three games, have lost the last two, but they’ve been getting out shot badly. Carolina out shot them 36-20 and 47-19, while Montreal peppered them 41-20.

The Wings are averaging a league-worst 21.4 shots/game, and they are 28th in shots against/game at 33.4. They have the worst SF/SA ratio at -12/game

Their CF%, 44%, is worse than the Oilers. The Wings are a team the Oilers need to beat.

QUICK HITS…

  • I’d argue Eric Gryba has been the Oilers’ most consistent defender. He isn’t their best, but he’s been very steady. Over the weekend his puck movement was good and he made some heady plays in the offensive zone. The Oilers need others to play better, but Gryba has been a solid addition. He doesn’t get knocked off the puck easily. The Corsi crowd will disagree, but Corsi is not an accurate stat to evaluate individual players. Even Dallas Eakins, who many analytic fans felt was very receptive to advanced stats, said Corsi was not the stat he looks at when evaluating individuals. 
  • I asked McLellan about Gryba and what he’s done to earn more icetime (he had the second most TOI among D-men in Vancouver). “He’s been honest. Now honest and perfect are two different things. When his skateblades hit the ice he gives us what he has. There are mistakes, there are some obvious mistakes, things that we are working on with him, but his minutes, as he chomps them up and eats them up with his size, are honest minutes. He is trying to get in the right position. He makes our backend heavier, harder to compete against and our penalty kill has been good thus far, knock on wood, and he’s been a big part of that. And I think our players feel comfortable with him around them.”
  • Lauri Korpikoski has had a strong start. He was excellent in Vancouver even before his OT winner. He’s added some speed and size in the bottom six and he’s been very good on the penalty kill. He is strong along the boards and on the puck, and he’s another new player who has made the Oilers harder to play against. They haven’t been getting knocked off the puck nearly as easy as in previous years.
  • Taylor Hall leads the NHL with 29 shots. He has fired 18% of the Oilers total shots, 161, which is the highest % in the NHL. Zach Parise is second in the NHL at 14.2%, 19 of 134, in five games. McDavid (12) and Yakupov (16) have combined for 28 shots. McLellan is a huge believer in putting pucks on net and Hall’s increased shots is a direct result of listening to his coach. Hall would like a few more goals, and mentioned he needs to shoot to spots other than the five hole.
  • Speaking of Hall, he had food poisoning, not the flu in Dallas. He had one small bowl of oatmeal in the 24 hours leading up to the game. Anyone who has had food poisoning knows how bad it is. I’d take the flu over food poisoning any day.
  • Andrew Miller skated alongside Hall and Nugent-Hopkins today and will play with them tomorrow. Miller plays in straight lines and should be a good fit on that line. He does not bring the size or physical play of Hendricks, but he will try and make more plays with the puck. Nugent-Hopkins and Hall really enjoyed playing with him. They said he added good energy and felt opponents backed off from him because he plays so honest and aggressive. 
  • Miller’s recall made sense to me based on how he’s played this year, but McLellan added these thoughts on why Miller was recalled instead of Leon Draisaitl: “We wanted a right-handed shot. We wanted somebody who had had some success with Taylor Hall before, and Nuge, not that Leon wouldn’t have that, but Andrew has played well down there (Bakersfield) and produced, and he’s earned the right to come up.”
  • Griffin Reinhart didn’t skate today and he’s day-to-day. If he can’t go tomorrow, McLellan hinted Andrew Ference would draw in for him. 
  • Good news on the injury front: Matt Hendricks does not have a broken foot according to McLellan. How his foot reacts to treatment to reduce the swelling will determine when Hendricks returns to the lineup. It sounds more short-term than long-term.
  • Mac07

    Gryba is doing what he was brought in to be. A solid 3rd pairing that can handle it in their own end. A huge improvement over NIkitin and Aulie.
    You’re right about the food poisoning. Brutal.

  • Petrolero

    Nice to see management didn’t just bring in other teams’ garbage and expect them to somehow be better in Edmonton.

    Well, actually Korpikoski was Arizona’s garbage, but by all reports he was playing injured on a team trying to lose for a better draft pick, so I’ll take that with a grain of salt.

    In fact, Sekera may be struggling a bit with his top line duties and Fayne instead of Faulk as a partner, but even he is getting his feet under him game by game.

    Point being, I think the new additions have been good, though nothing game busting. But, this team has been missing, well, the rest of the team for some time so it’s nice to see Chi go and get that.

    As for the Wings, I’m hoping for 2 out of 3 wins int he next few games. Hopefully we see an Oilers squad out to absolutely carpet bomb the opposition in shots.

  • Oilerz4life

    Good thing Reinhart is day to day as well, with talk of Ference coming down out of the press box. I don’t know but when I hear that it makes me nervous for wed. Hopefully Talbot is on his game with the Reinhart out Ference in scenario.

    Come on Nurse, where are you? I can’t wait for next year already where hopefully PC picks up another D, Nurse is in the line up and we can put all of this defensive trepidation behind us.

      • Oilerz4life

        What you said, especially the future part! Hopefully he works Jultz further down the line-up. How did that one guy word it, fruitcaking around in your own end.

        Sid just scored his first goal of the year against Fla, yeah! Speaking of first round picks, Fla. has 7 first rounders and they’re looking good, Ekblad. Nurse, speaking of hope for the future.

  • Sean17

    We need to take advantage of some teams playing second game of back-to-backs. Seemed last year we were often the first team on opposing team’s road trips!

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Honest= I know what I get and there are no surprises. Last season and it seems like forever we would get players that could be oh so hot one game and then nothing for three weeks. When it comes to Defense “Honest” is great.

    • stonedtodeath61

      I was at a restaurant here in Ottawa last year sitting across from a few Sens. One was Chiasson, he played with Gryba at Boston U and was saying everyone hates playing against him, he’s nasty and a rock. That even in practice he was tough in the corners or out front.

  • Wax Man Riley

    It sounds like “honest” is the new “sandpaper” or “heavy on the stick” around these parts.

    New drinking game idea: take a swig every time a Oilogger or poster uses the term “honest”.

  • Harry2

    I’ve thought Gryba and Korpikoski have also looked great thus far.

    Willis hasn’t spoken very highly of either Korpikoski or Gryba and seems to be critical of Chiarelli for the moves.

    I realize its a small sample size so far but give the guys some credit.

  • Nostrum Right

    Solid pick up that Gryba. Looking at his db it appears he’s never been a point specialist, which likely indicates a strong proficiency in other areas… particularly where the Oilers are lacking. Furthermore he’s only 27, and was a steal when you consider that they gave up Ewanyk and a 4th round pick for him.

    Who knows, he might not have even hit his ceiling yet, as some defensemen tend to blossom in their late 20’s

    • stonedtodeath61

      Agree and I believe the number is 300 games to get a proper read on what you have in a NHL Dman. He will never be a offensive guy in any way but he is making a name for himself with some huge hits. I heard something about the Habs disrespecting the Oilers last year, something from Eller maybe ? Well I can tell you that when MTL. is in town later this month you will notice they will boo Grybs every time he touches the puck. It’s not just the Eller hit or Subban turtle last year.

  • Serious Gord

    ottawa resident here, oilers are my second team. glad to see gryba appreciated.

    i know its small sample size, but would u say korpikoski is better than boyd gordon?

    • ziyan94

      Gryba may not be flashy, but he’s consistent, and that’s what we need from the supporting cast here to bring success.
      It’s hard to compare Korpikoski and Gordon because they play different positions (C vs winger), however Korpikoski has played well and done what the coaches have asked him.

        • ziyan94

          The numbers:
          Gordon is 32 years old with 1 year left at $3m
          Korpikoski is 29 and has 2 years at $2.5 per year
          Gordon’s like-for-like replacement, Mark Letestu, is 30 and has a 3 year contract, $1.8m per year.

          I’t’s tough for me but I’d take Korpikoski and Letestu for $4.3million combined over Gordon at $3million alone. Gordon was undoubtedly an unsung hero over these past years of misery (which led to McDavid!), yet I like how Korpikoski has already pitched in with some points so early in the season.
          Knowing that hockey is a business first nowadays, Chiarelli did a good job getting guys who were younger and cheaper, as we need that space for the future. In addition, Chiarelli would have been forced to make a tough decision on re-signing Gordon at the end of the year anyways (would he be around long enough for a cup run? how much would he cost?)

          All in all I am happy with the switch, but Gordon should seriously get an honorary Cup ring or tribute if/when? the Oilers win, considering how he went far and beyond the job he was paid to do during his time here.

          • Spoils

            Agree with everything you said except “he went far and beyond the job he was paid to do”.

            He was getting paid $3M to be a darn good 4th line centre, and he was a darn good 4th line centre. But he definitely wasn’t going beyond what he was paid for considering he was probably the most expensive 4th line centre next to Mike Richards.

            Not saying it was money wasted, far from it as he was fantastic and I was sad to see him go – but if he’d played any bit below the level that he was, it would have been a terrible contract.

  • Spoils

    this article actually scares me. GRYBA!

    so the plan is wait for Nurse and Klefbom to develop. Hope Schultz gets better. See how Griff develops…

    way too many IFs.

    Meanwhile LeLaggia and crew are not inspiring a lot of confidence for the future, and a draft pick is likely 4 years away from making an impact.

    TRADE TRADE TRADE

    • ziyan94

      We are not making the playoffs his year unless a lot of things come together much quicker. Chiareli knows this. We have a good mix of vets and youth, added some grit. Pieces to be added but until the 20 game mark both Mclelland and Chiareli are in assess mode. Get the players you want to add and get rid of the ones that are not part of the whole they are trying to build.

      • Spoils

        wow wildly trashed today!

        Look I like Gryba but he is a 3rd pairing guy that’s what scares me.

        Our D is an absolute unmitigated disaster and when you look at what is coming and the timing… how can you not think trade???

        I’m not saying we have to trade this instance, sure – wait a bit on Nurse. wait a bit on the forward assets.

        But is anyone with a pint of a brain actually looking at our D and the D we have in development and not filling up their britches?

        just tossing it out there but I bet if you took the top 4 teams of the last 8 stanley cups they’d all have extreme D.

        • Randaman

          What’s your rush? You think anyone is looking to unload their #1 or #2D?

          Give it time man. Lots of cap space after this year or are you thinking they will make a run this year. Bahahahaha

          *Realistic Oiler Fan*

          • Petrolero

            Is there any realistic trade scenario where the Oilers would trade Nurse? I can’t think of one. Teams don’t usually trade elite d-men. The only way to get them is through the draft (or free agency but then you’re paying Suter money).

            Is there an elite #1/2 available in the off-season?

          • ziyan94

            Byfuglien is a UFA in the summer if I’m not mistaken, and the Jets will have a hard time keeping him as they also have to sign Ladd and Trouba. However I think he will be dealt to a contender and sign a deal there.

          • ziyan94

            Byfuglien is a UFA in the summer if I’m not mistaken, and the Jets will have a hard time keeping him as they also have to sign Ladd and Trouba. However I think he will be dealt to a contender and sign a deal there.

        • ziyan94

          “Complaining without proposing a solution is called whining”-Teddy Roosevelt. Chiarelli isn’t going to suddenly flip the whole team’s present and future for a couple stud D-men, because it doesn’t work like that.

          Like you said, “wait a bit on Nurse”, the same can be said for Klefbom, Reinhart, and hell even possibly Schultz the way he’s playing right now. They will all grow, just like how most top-end teams you speak of have done with their D.
          Those 4 in the future, in addition to Sekera once he reaches optimum performance, and 1 more guy, who Chiarelli WILL find, and we have a solid core. Maybe he already did and Gryba could be that #6 guy, we’ll find out.

          The “extreme D” you refer to, save for Chara, were all the product of patience.
          Keith and Seabrook? Homegrown by Chicago.
          Drew Doughty? Drafted by LA.
          Chris Letang? Same with Pittsburgh.
          Niklas Lidstrom? One-team man.

          Other teams are the same too. Weber, Josi, Pietrangelo, Girardi, Marc Staal, John Carlson, Erik Karlsson, PK Subban, the list is endless.

        • Al Theeathoone

          Extreme D? Hogwash…

          Just because Chicago won the Cup this year and had what you or some would call two extreme D – does not mean all the other former Cup winners, division and conference finalists had extreme D.

          That is an “extreme” case of generalizing.

          What the former Cup winners, runner ups, Division and Conference finalists did have was skilled goal scorers, good role players and hot Goal Tending combined with capable Defense.

          Did Ottawa in 2007, or Pittsburg in 2008, who were both finalists in those years have extreme D? Did Vancouver in 2011, New Jersey in 2012, or the Rangers in 2014 or Tampa Bay this year have extreme D?

          Because you are the only one on here with a “brain” would you name the extreme defense men who were on each of those teams please.

          How’s Nashville doing with their “two” stud D Weber and Jones? Are they making it to the finals? How’s Ottawa doing with their two time Norris winner? How many Stanley Cups did Detroit win in the last 15 years with their stud Dman Lidstrom who was one of the best NHL Defense Men ever (the answer is “one”). How did L.A. do last year with Doughty? How did Minnesota do with their stud Dman Suter? How did Boston do last year with Chara and their Golden Boy Dougie? Is Subban the reason for Montreal’s present success or is it Price?

          Oiler fans on here have been constantly whining daily that the Oilers need a “stud defense man” since Dougie went to Cowtown. Envious much?

          They are willing to trade away Hall, Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov, Draisaitl, Klefbom or Nurse or virtually anyone but McDavid to get the stud D that they believe will lead the Oilers to the promised land. Since Dougie went to Calgary all we’ve seen on here is how we needed him and we should have somehow gotten him, our new Manager is a failure for not getting him and now we need to get another Dougie if we ever want to be successful.

          The Dougie babble has overshadowed the acquisition of the most important highly skilled and player to come along in decades and has filled this site with negativity and childish whining and bickering instead of positive thoughts about what McDavid, our new coaches and Goal Tenders will do for this team.

          Folks – time to curb your obvious jealousy and your constant whining about Hamilton going to Calgary instead of coming to Edmonton.

          Check the Flames Nation site or the Calgary Newspapers, Radio or TV on how happy they are with their extreme D Dougie today. They are already calling for him to be traded and their coach and manager to be fired for getting their Golden Boy and for making everyone in Calgary and elsewhere believe they now have the best defense in the NHL and a Cup is not far off.

        • Al Theeathoone

          For me its an issue around timing. If we look at the examples of all the “trashers” responses they are not looking at the long term game. Yes Keith and Seabrook are home grown they were also drafted 3 years before toews and kane. In our case we drafted forwads as our top prospects from 2007-2015 basically. The true issue and why we are not already in playoff contention is because we have not developed in the d position until about two years ago.

          So say Nurse and Reinhart and Klef all hit there peak in 3-5 years. That means that as they are coming into there own our elite forwards are coming up on contract renewals. Our elite forwards right now are both wingers (Hall, Eberle). We know that the wing is the easiest position to fill. I think that CHIA will trade one if not both this or next off season for some help on D he will not rely on a free agent signing. To be honest it is the only way I see us coming into our own as a contender for the next decade. I am however not in a rush to trade an elite player the timing would have to be just right. It is possible we get two great number 1-2 guys in free agency next summer too just doubtful (absolute best case scenario).

          New Core – Nuge, Drai, McD, Nurse, Rein, Klef and new D man from hall or eberle trade.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Red Wings are absolutely a great team to play next. A similar team in skillsets, but at this point we have more firepower and a good stopper to have our back. If they don’t physically intimidate the Oilers dominate!

  • Derzie

    Food poisoning is rare. It is tossed around whenever someone has an upset stomach. Food poisoning is hospitals and IVs. Hall didn’t have food poisoning. Also, if you are trying to make a point about what to do right, using Eakins as an example is not a good strategy. i do agree that Detroit is beatable though.

    • Kevwan

      I am in the medical profession, and disagree with you totally. There are several types of food poisoning, the more severe cases require IV fluids, some can be treated at home through pushing the fluids and a bland diet. Strangely enough, my husband was diagnosed with food poisoning from eating a Monster Pizza at a restaurant close by Rexall on home opener night. He woke the next morning sick as anything. He was in the washroom at EIA the whole time we waited to board our flight and in the washroom on the plane – the flight attendants were very concerned. He was sick for 3 days, but we managed to control his symptoms with common sense. Perhaps once you have a dose of food poisoning you will appreciate just how debilitating it is. Until then, perhaps you’d like to study for your medical degree, you seem to think you know it all. Sympathies Taylor, it’s NOT fun.

    • Oilerz4life

      I have some experience with food poisoning and although I eventually was able to take a cab to my Dr, there was no hospital and IV required!! I lost 12lbs off a buck sixty five in four days of fetal position squirming. Although there are degrees I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!!

      I am certain as it was the 1st Vancouver Indy and buddy and I ate the same all weekend…until I made the tragic call for Chicken Fajitas post race,…hello salmonella ?!! Oh yes, the image dancing through my mind was track worker Jean Patrick Hein (sp??) getting spit out by the rear wheel of Willy T Ribbs on lap 7…google it!!

  • mithaman

    Word on the street is Columbus is looking for a new Defender….Two words – Nikita Nikitin!

    PC is a god if he makes it happen. Maybe throw in MacT and Howson too if you can 😉

  • Kevwan

    Good new on Hendricks, we need that warrior in our lineup. So they did consider Drai over Miller. Sounds like Drai is definitely on the top of the list for call ups. Miller should bring speed and creativity to the line. I think they will match up well against the red wings.

    Hall had FOOD POISONING. He didn’t hit up the peelers and get loaded the night before like so many posters here labeled him as. Give the guy more respect please.

  • #97TRAIN

    Capitals are lighting up the Flames tonight down south!! I’m telling you almost every goal is Hamilton not taking someone in front. Well 2 goals for sure!
    I think Sweeney did Chiarelli a favor!!

  • Petrolero

    Looking at the toilet from the cankucks game, I think only hall and nugent had more ice time than some d men. The top 8 were all 6 d men and those two forwards.

    This is the game plan with our database corps, d by comitee. Yes they were far from perfect but they got ithe done and no one got overworked.

    It was hard to see how bad the coaching really was a times here but now that I see McLellan making intelligent decisions like the deployment of the day on Sunday I just shake my head and thank the heavens for the draft lottery.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Hamilton played poorly again tonight and honestly looks like he needs AHL seasoning. Gryba might not be flashy but he is a legit NHL D man. Who knew?

  • So far it is appearing that Reinhart is playing better that Hamilton although not playing as much. Maybe they’ll turn out to be similar players and there for a wash. If he can continue to grow as a D and Nurse develops as expected, next year could be play off bound or at least in contention late in the season which would be a nice change. I don’t expect the Oilers to make it this year, but I am expecting around the 20th place or better. I think if they finish lower than that it is a bad season.

    I have been surprised the past few games watching Gryba fake and skate his way out in his own zone. That is showing confidence which this team needs.