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
Sat, 31 Oct 2015
Tue, 3 Nov 2015
Fri, 6 Nov 2015
Sun, 8 Nov 2015
Wed, 11 Nov 2015
Thu, 12 Nov 2015
Sat, 14 Nov 2015
Wed, 18 Nov 2015
Fri, 20 Nov 2015
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.
- 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:
- Nurse recalled, Reinhart to IR
- GDB 8.0: Capital Punishment
- Winning helping Oilers and Yakupov
- Random thoughts on Wings, Oilers and more
- Oilers recall Miller