Next 10 need to be better

ToDo

The Oilers are off to a rough 3-7 start, but when I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season I expected a rough ride early on. Their seven losses came against teams who are all currently top-ten in the NHL standings. The Oilers weren’t going to go from a cellar-dweller to a middle of the road team instantly. The schedule maker didn’t do them any favours out of the starting blocks, but based on how they played in eight of their first ten games (Dallas and Washington excluded), I expect them to have more success in their next ten-game stretch.

They only play three games in their next ten versus teams currently among the top-ten in points; Montreal and Chicago twice (home games in bold):

Thu, 29 Oct 2015

Canadiens
@ Oilers

Sat, 31 Oct 2015

Flames @

Oilers
Tue, 3 Nov 2015

Flyers
@ Oilers
Fri, 6 Nov 2015

Penguins
@ Oilers

Sun, 8 Nov 2015

Oilers

@ Blackhawks
Wed, 11 Nov 2015

Oilers
@
Ducks

Thu, 12 Nov 2015

Oilers
@
Coyotes
Sat, 14 Nov 2015

Oilers
@
Kings
Wed, 18 Nov 2015

Blackhawks @

Oilers
Fri, 20 Nov 2015

Devils

@ Oilers

Todd McLellan will have ample practice time during this stretch. The Oilers have two days between games on three occasions, and they have three days off once. The players should be refreshed as well, with only one back-to-back set of games which coincides with their only three games in four day period.

The Oilers need to take advantage of this stretch and win at least five games.

I believe the Oilers will improve as the season progresses, and they will be a much better team in the second half of the season. Quick fixes are rare, and if the Oilers improve, as I expect they will, then next season is the year they take a serious run at the playoffs.

Despite the 3-7 start, the Oilers will not be out of the playoff hunt by the end of November. They will improve but, sadly for Oilers fans, it is a process and not a quick fix. I expect them to win six of the next ten.

PARTING SHOTS…

TigerUppercut

  • A few thoughts from last night’s game. Korpikoski has to make a better pass on the 2-on-1 five minutes into the game. He and Purcell had lots of time, but Korpikoski put a pass in Purcell’s skates and the play went no where. You need to make that pass and give Purcell a chance to give it back or take a shot.
  • I like Klinkhammer’s effort, but he simply didn’t have the finishing skill to play on the top line. His injury, which was unfortunate, opened the door for Pakarinen and he took full advantage of it. Ryan Rishaug and I discussed giving Slepyshev or Pakarinen a chance yesterday on my show. We both felt they’d be a better fit until Jordan Eberle returns, and Pakarinen had a shift on the top line before Klinkhammer was injured so I think McLellan was already starting to lean at giving the Finn a chance.
  • I didn’t think Dumba’s hit was cheap. It was bang-bang play and Korpikoski was leaned over. I like body contact and I didn’t see that as dirty or late.
  • Give the Oilers credit for battling back from a 2-0 deficit. The Oilers have scored first in six of their ten games, and if they keep that pace going they will win more than three out of ten.
  • Fayne is struggling. He’s making too many wrong decisions defensively, which is odd considering he’s a pure defensive D-man. He has to play better and work his way out this funk.
  • I can’t remember the last time the Oilers extra attacker came off the bench and scored on a delayed penalty. I liked how the refs didn’t deem Dubnyk making a save as control of the puck, which allowed Hall to score on the rebound. Teams need complete control before the whistle blows and I thought it was the correct call.
  • McDavid is getting better every game. It is crazy how quickly he has adapted to the speed and pace of the NHL. It seems almost every shift he made a play that got my attention and made we think, “wow.”
  • The goal was great, but I thought Nurse was steady all game.  I’m a big fan of his style of play. He has so many attributes the Oilers desperately need on their blueline, and as I wrote yesterday I believe he is here for good. His skating, athleticism, toughness and skill are too good not to have in the lineup every night, not to mention his unbridled enthusiasm.

  • Nurse and Klefbom are arguably two of the most important pieces of the Oilers future moving forward.

  • It is ridiculous how often sticks break nowadays, especially when players are in the act of shooting, or getting ready to shoot. Make better sticks or players should switch them more frequently. It happens far too often.
  • Eberle’s acting skills have improved. His, “Come on, man” line was delivered rather well in his ATB spots. He will also be back skating tomorrow. He needs to get back in “skating” shape and is shooting to be back sooner than November 15th.
  • The fourth Wild goal was a killer. Gryba had complete control behind the net, but the forwards did not give him an outlet and instead of just waiting behind the net, he fired a slap shot around the boards. Coyle knocked it down and moments later, he scored. Forwards need to come back and give the D-men an outlet, but Gryba can’t force that puck around the boards, either.
  • Brandon Davidson played his best game of the season. McLellan noticed as Davidson was on the ice in the final minute with Nurse. When Schultz returns, if his injury isn’t serious (he visited the doctor yesterday), I could see Fayne taking a seat for a game. The young kids are pushing the veterans and it’s nice to see how much competition is forming along the blueline.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         

    • Makaveli

      •A few thoughts from last night’s game. Korpikoski has to make a better pass on the 2-on-1 five minutes into the game. He and Purcell had lots of time, but Korpikoski put a pass in Purcell’s skates and the play went no where. You need to make that pass and give Purcell a chance to give it back or take a shot.

      I was thinking that Korp’s best move would be to shot the puck on net. Purcell had taken himself too deep into the play to accept any kind of pass. Korp has to read that better….. then again, I was watching from my couch where its obvious what the right play is haha

      • Jason Gregor

        Marincin?

        The guy who is #6/7 on Leafs D. Sorry man, but Marincin is not close to a top-four D-man, unless you are on a losing team. Fayne has struggled, but Marincin is not the player the Oilers miss or need.

    • Ready to Win

      Its hilarious how this is playing out …Calgary has one less win than us and yet they are in the depths of dispair down there…Here even with the poor record are smiling like cheshire cats…I love it!
      The difference?…..I have 97 reasons and a Nurse.

      • A-Mc

        I’ve been watching Calgary games when i can, and if you’re doing the same you’ll notice that the 2 teams are performing very differently.

        The records are almost identical but the Oilers are playing well for the most part, while the flames are playing well below their capability.

        Its an interesting illustration of how teams can have the same or similar record but be in totally different head spaces.

    • Soiled Trousers

      As others have said, I have seen nothing that leads me to believe the Oilers should be worried about losing Davidson to waivers when he gets sent down.

      He looks like an AHL’er to me. Another “wave stick around” guy as opposed to a “take the body” guy, which we desperately need.

    • I love stats, so here ya go:
      A) 2014-15 season: Thru 10 games: 4-5-1
      2015-16 Season: Thru 10 games: 3-7-0
      B) ’14 season: GF-27 GA: 33
      ’15 ‘ ‘: GF-24 GA: 31
      C) ’14 season: Shots Forward: 274, S.Against: 307
      ’15 ‘ ‘: Shots Forward: 265, S.Against: 313
      D) ’14 season: Powerplay: 5 for 31, .16%
      PK: 23 for 29, .79%
      ’15 season: PP: 6 for 32, 19%
      PK: 27 for 33, 81%

      If you look at these numbers, they are very similar from last year. However, the difference between the first 10 opponents from last year is night and day. Power Play has improved, PK is better and Talbot/Nilsson is dramatically better. You can read a lot into Numbers/stats, but one thing is clear: The Blue Line still needs vast improvement and we already know that.

      In the next 10 games: 6 are at Home and I see at least 5 to 6 wins.

    • Good defense men are hard to find in the NHL.

      Fayne and Sekera are living proof of that.

      I would send Fayne down to the AHL and even consider bringing Niki Boy back if Davidson is a flop. Keep nurse here,cant be worse than the current crew.

      The Sekera contract is already a yoke for this team.He, and Fayne were the weakest D-men on the ice last night.

    • camdog

      Fayne’s a third pairing d-man that kills penalties. He’s still an NHL d-man, but he’s not a defensive d-man or hasn’t been since he arrived in Edmonton.

    • mithaman

      I agree the schedule and injuries have made it more difficult. I see the schedule in a positive light in one respect. With the injuries and “newness” of the team, I would rather they play vs. weaker teams later on in the season when they have all the pieces back and more playing time. I think they may have picked up one more game but not much more.

      I understand that injuries are part of the game but ours have been key. Hendricks with McD and Yak was great. Klink vs. Eberle – not so good. Now Iiro – an AHL callup on our top line. They have just called up Pitlick and Leleggia – more AHL talent – because of the holes they have to fill. Say what you will about Schultz – he was one of their best D this year until his injury. Another key loss.

      Just give me some games with Pou-RNH-Ebs and Hall-McJesus-Hendricks and Schultz back and the competitiveness of the team goes up significantly. Right now, with Pitlick and Leleggia we have 5/23 that started in the AHL due to injuries. That is not normal injury status!

    • albertamann

      Yes it wasn’t a great pass to Purcell. Purcell though has two uses. Size and quick hands. He doesn’t use his size, and rarely uses his quick hands. Gregor you’ve made excuses for him all preseason and regular season up to this point. Time to call it like it is and admit he’s a useless tit. He kills anything that happens on that third line with his lack of effort and refusal to think.