Random Thoughts on Oilers, World Cup and More

random-thoughts

The most common question in Oilersnation these days is: Are the Oilers improving?

Some say yes, others say no, but what are the guidelines for improvement?

Improving on last season would be akin to saying you have better hair than me. It means very little, and just because you have more hair doesn’t mean you look as good.

For me, until this team wins at least half the games they play, they haven’t made any legitimate improvement.

I’ve seen improvements in their game — better structure, improved puck retrievals — but again, that isn’t saying much considering they’ve been a bottom feeder for the past six seasons finishing 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th, 28th and 28th.

Of course they look better — it’s almost impossible to be worse.

Their 5-10 record suggests they haven’t improved on last year’s 6-8-1 record, but remembering last season’s squad won FOUR of their next 30 games to sit at 10-26-9 after 55 games, it will be virtually impossible to match that level of futility.

Of course they should improve on gaudy numbers like that, and they will, but unless they are close, or at .500, it will be difficult to suggest they have made any meaningful improvements.

This team has a long road to respectability, which most of us said at the beginning of the season, but there will be no magic switch to flip that makes them a competitive team. They need to find consistency in every aspect of their game.

It will come from hard work and a willingness to make the right play the majority of the time. And it will likely come from GM Peter Chiarelli altering the makeup of his team.

The Oilers have added youth to their D corps. Klefbom (92), Davidson (20), Reinhart (15) and Nurse (8),  have played a combined 135 NHL games. They have potential to be good, maybe even great, but it will take time. Winning teams don’t have that much inexperience on their blueline.

Chiarelli will need to add some vocal and emotional players, ones who play significant minutes. Of course you need good players to win, but you can’t overlook the emotional side of the game. You need some vocal leaders, and when Matt Hendricks is not dressed the Oilers are a very quiet team according to Todd McLellan. That matters.

It isn’t a knock on the players they have, because you can’t change who you are inside the dressing room, but it is something Chiarelli will need to address moving forward. He will also need to find a few skilled players, who if they aren’t scoring, can still bring some emotion and energy to the ice.

Nurse will be one of those players in the future, but it is unfair to expect a rookie to instantly become one of your vocal and emotional leaders.

You need skilled players to become a competitive team, but to be Cup contender you need to have skilled players who possess different personality traits on and off the ice.

Chicago has Jonathan Toews, who is fiercely competitive and if he isn’t scoring he finds other ways to contribute. Same with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blueline. They play with an edge and if they feel an opponent is taking liberties with their team they will stand up for them, even if it means crossing the line and taking a penalty or suspension.

The Kings and Bruins rosters were filled with good players, but their better players had different skill sets that helped them win.

The Oilers current roster still has too much of the same.

Again, it doesn’t mean the players are bad, but the overall team lacks certain elements to win. I expect Chiarelli to address these deficiencies later this season and in the summer.

In training camp he said he felt he needed to watch 20 games and be around the team for a few months to get a good read on what they have, and, more importantly, what they will need moving forward.

QUICK HITS…

  • Chiarelli asked the NHL if the U-24 North American team could have a veteran goalie for the upcoming World Cup, and not surprisingly the response was no. John Gibson, Connor Hellebuyck, Malcolm Subban and Chris Driedger are the top candidates, but none of them are currently on an NHL roster. The U-24 team has some very good young forwards and defencemen, but they’ll enter the tourney with the least proven goaltending tandem.
  • The locks on forward for me are: Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Nathan MacKinnon and Brandon Saad. The rest will come from Mark Scheifele, Sean Couturier, Boone Jenner, Jonathon Drouin, Bo Horvat, Sean Monahan, Dylan Larkin, Max Domi, Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, Jared McCann, Curtis Lazar and Tom Wilson.
  • The D will have: Aaron Ekblad, Seth Jones and Morgan Reilly for sure. Dougie Hamilton, Jacob Trouba, Colton Parayko, Nathan Beaulieu, Cody Ceci, Matt Dumba, Noah Hanafin, Damon Severson, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Murray and Ben Hutton will be in the mix as well.
  • These Saskatoon Blades jerseys are awesome.

http://content.sportslogos.net/news/2015/11/Blades-Star-Wars-Jersey.jpg

  • The Blades will wear them On November 28th for Star Wars Night. The jerseys will be sold via a silent auction during the game.

Recently by Jason Gregor:       



    • Jayinetown

      I think the team has lots more compete in them this year which is nice to see, but your right, the record is a losing one.

      This brings me to a different, but related subject, The overtime loss point. This is in my mind the dumbest rule in hockey and I’ve hated it since the NHL put it in place. Your rewarded for a loss???

      I know this was put in place to increase parity and playoff revenue for poor teams, but it’s very flawed. Oiler record 5-10 for 10 points. Canuck record 6,4,5 for 17 points. We all know though that they’ve still lost 9 games. Like the meaningless banners in their rafters they still celebrate a loss by picking up a point? (Just picking on the Nucks) this is obviously true for all teams.

      I think the NHL should still do 3×3 O/T and award 2 points for a win in O/T and 0 for a loss and 1 for a tie and do away with the shoot-out. That’s a lousy way to win a game as well. No Spin a rama’s allowed and it’s really only a showcase. A real bad way to win a game. Show case the shootout at the meaningless all-star game

      Pro sports is about winning, and a win should be rewarded and a loss NOT. Ties happen and in the regular season who cares. It’s the playoffs that count and then they play all the periods necessary to win.

      So my whole point here is that if a team ends in a tie that’s fine, but a loss is a loss. If you looked at the Pacific Teams (and all the NHL Teams our record would be the same, but the standings would look a lot different than they do under this skewed point system.

      Like so many things Bettman’s done to make the game so called better, it’s actually regressed.

      This would make teams want to win that much more also… May even see scoring go up. Bigger nets, yeah right, that’s another going to be mistake.

      I’ve been a fan for over 50 years and I’ve seen lots of good and Bad, but a 1 point loss is idiotic.

      • tileguy

        Points should be like in soccer, 3 for an outright win, 1 each if it is a tie after 3 and battle for the extra point in OT or shootout.

        Can you imagine the battles by bubble teams for points near the end of the schedule when there is 3 points on the table. All kinds of stratergies would be in play.

        Now speaking of playing .500 hockey (here we go again)If our record is 42W and 42L, but all 42 of our wins came in OT, meaning we collected 84 points, but the opposition collected 126 points (84 for the W’s and 42 for the OTL)is that .500 hockey? I don’t think so, not even close.

    • 24% body fat

      Time for the oilers to protest the stupidity of the under 23 team. I get that Todd is coaching but we should not allow Nuge or McDavid to go. Dont need them getting hurt for their “country?”

      • Jay (not J)

        What, are we gonna lose with them out of the lineup? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a player on this team with a positive memory of playing hockey to draw on from time to time?

        • 24% body fat

          I was being sarcastic, but i still think that format is stupid. As for them being out of the line up I would be confident that the owners and managers would rather have them in oilers silks than slings.

    • bradleypi

      It’s depressing that this is essentially a copy/paste job from the same article on whether they have improved that was written last year, and the year before, and the year before.

      • I actually believed that they would come out of the gates screaming hit despite the terrible matchups early on. When is the veteran savvy gonna kick in?

        The NHL isn’t just about the best players in the world, it’s learning and understanding how to play the NHL game. This is key and hopefully McClellan can get these guys to play whatever style is required to get some wins in this league.

    • TKB2677

      Elliotte Friedman had an interesting piece recently about the Capitals. Brooks Orpik was noting that the biggest difference between this year and last year, was that they have had time to adjust to the new systems and style of play. They’re not thinking; it is becoming instinctive.

      They’ve been one of the worst teams of the past decade. They were the worst team in the NHL last year. (The Sabres and Coyotes were tanking.) McLellan is not going to turn things around in one month. It may not be until this time next season before you really see McLellan’s full impact.

      They will also have time to get rid of more players for players who will play the way that McLellan and Chia want. But all the coaching in the world isn’t going to make this defence better. Chia needs to find someone. I like the Zaitsev suggestion. It didn’t work to well with Belov (thanks Eakins!), but it has been good for Medvedev and the Flyers.

      • bradleypi

        So are you saying the oilers jumped the gun when they fired Krueger, Eakins and even Nelson? Krueger and Nelson didn’t even get 1 full season to mold the team the way they would want to if in fact like you say it takes nhl players/teams a full season to figure out hockey systems that they’ve been playing since they were teenagers. By your logic Eakins should have had this team running like a well oiled machine at the start of last year……
        Or… is it finally time to admit that this mix of players just isn’t getting the job done? Same story every year. Injury after injury to someone in the top six every year leaves this team with only 1 true scoring line and the bottom six players can’t score to save their jobs even tho the oilers keep telling us they are running 3 scoring lines out there? This team desperately needs to get tougher and I hope I don’t have to wait till next year for that to start happening….

    • Danglishish

      I think we’re talking about 2 different things.

      1. Is the Oiler record/stats better than last year?

      – This is where the ‘glass half empty’ crowd gravitates to.

      2. Is the Oiler team better than it was last year?

      – This is the ‘glass half full’ crowd.

      With respect to the first group, the biggest factor that is ignored here is that we have a new coach, a new management team, a new system and we’re 15 games in. Did anyone actually expect the Oilers to unlearn 9 years of terrible leadership in a month? Is that the bar for “better”?

      With respect to the second group (where I put myself), I would defend this position by saying that, given the choice, 100 times out of 100 I would take the 2015-16 team and management over the 2014-15 team and management. We have dug ourselves into a giant hole over the past 9 years and for the first time we are climbing out, as opposed to digging ourselves further down.

      I too set the bar at a .500 season. To me that would be a giant step forward. With Ebs, Schultz, Reinhart, Hendo, and now McD getting hit with the injury bug in the first month, I think it’s premature to look at our record and say we haven’t improved.

      • Anton CP

        It matters little how oilers compare to last year’s team as they are not competing with each other. What counts is how they compare to other teams THIS YEAR. Oilers may have improved but so have their competition

    • OilFarmer

      Could you kindly explain why you think Nugent-Hopkins is a lock?? Seriously? In my view his accomplishments are very limited compared to some of the players you have not mentioned….

      • OilFarmer

        Last year 2014-2015 regular season the only Canadian/American center who would qualify to play with the under 23 team that had more points then Nuge was Sean Monahan.

        Add in the fact that he has the most NHL experience of any center that could be on the team I don’t understand how you can argue that he isn’t a lock for this team.

      • 24% body fat

        When I think of that movie and travelling by Tauntaun then I drive to Saskatoon in January. The wind is howling and it’s 40 below but my mechanical Tauntaun is also warm inside…they are about the same.

    • bradleypi

      This team could be 7-7-1 or 6-8-1 very easily. Would that little improvement on the record change the way we think about their season so far? Remember, it’s been a tough schedule to start.

    • TKB2677

      People are waiting for the so called”core” to magically transform into something they are not.
      Get over it , these guys have been around the NHL 4-5 years…they may make slight adjustment to their game, but what you see is what you get…even three /four years down the road.

      Been said a hundred times… ” too many of the same players” a result of picking all those number ones.

      A team with all this youth, skill and speed should be tearing up the NHL, playing a fast paced transition game….

      No so.. how can you with all the slugo’s on the back end, who’s biggest play is wringing it up the boards or ice the puck or even worse grenade it to so open wing .

    • bradleypi

      Only worthy headline that will come from this World Cup of Hockey thing is which players get injured just prior to the season.

      Is the winning team the really the world champion? Of course not, its just dumb. Its a cash grab, and a hope for an Olympic exit. I want nothing to do with it, and will go out of my way to ignore it. Club and country I care about, this is just gimmick. I wonder who’s idea this is? Probably the same guy who wants to celebrate the NHL game by having 3 on 3…

    • Jay (not J)

      The first 15 teams the Oilers faced last year finished last season with a combined 1392 points. (92.8 pts per team)

      The first 15 teams the Oilers faced this year finished last season with a combined 1499 points (99.93 pts per team)

      It could be argued that the Oilers have faced considerably tougher competition in the first 15 games of this season, with just one less win.

    • Danglishish

      I wonder why the players in Edmonton are not playing at the higher levels they are supposed to?

      Noone lead this team to win, no player talk or yell at other players during the game to pump the team up?

      Dubnyk is playing well with the Wild.
      Tom Gilbert and Jeff Perty are playing well with 13-2-1 Habs. Gilbert is plus 7 and Petry is +4 with Habs.

      They were ran out of town by the fans and the management team before.

      The young core is older now and they should start taking over games and win those games.

      With Tom Renny and Ralph Krueger the team was top 8 in power play and penalty kill % in the league. That’s 3-4 years ago, the players should be better than that now. Why can’t they played like that again?

      Maybe the GM should trade some young core for some veterans to lead this team to win again.

      I find this team has become complacent, they are not kids any more.

      I m sick and tired of seeing the team losing games over and over again.

      After the game, each player kept saying ‘they were not ready to play and didn’t play good enough to win’. Why is that? They are Pro, getting paid a lot of money to play the game they love.

      If normal people go to their jobs each day and screw up all the time, they would get fired. They can’t use excuses like ‘oh I was not ready to work today, sorry’.

      Why are they not ready each game to go in and compete?

      Cam Talbot has been playing horrible, he cost the team a game when he gave the puck behind the net resulted in a goal and then let a soft goal in late in the game. He’s supposed to be the number 1 goalie for the team.

      AS fans we can’t put up with these mediocre efforts, head coach supposed to get this team ready each game. The players get ready to play 1st minute of the game, compete and win games.

    • TKB2677

      In my opinion, the time has come for the Oilers to ice the best line up every night. I was on a boys trip for my Bro’s 30th Bday over the weekend so I was in the stands at Chicago. The Oilers dressed 7 Dmen and he was by far the worst Dman of the bunch and his minutes reflected that as he played the least. He played a role in each of the Hawks first 2 goals.

      I know it’s easy for me to say because it’s not my money but as an example, if Mark Fayne isn’t one of your best 6 Dmen, then contract be damned, he shouldn’t play. With Ference having the no move, he isn’t going anywhere so he has to be your #7. So to get to 7 dmen, you either make a trade for pennies on the dollar or if there is nothing there, you put Fayne in the minors. It may not be the best “asset” management but at some point in time, the Oilers need to turn north. They need to play more important games and they need to win more. Confidence is everything to a pro athlete and the young stars on this team are being crushed by losing. What the Oilers would lose in maybe an assest by trading Fayne for next to nothing or putting him in the minors, they would gain by promoting a winning culture. In a league that is so tight and where a few plays can be the difference between wining and losing, there are guys on the Oilers that are costing them games. Fayne is one of them, so do whatever you have to, to get rid of the dead weight. They can’t totally get rid of them all but get rid of as many as you can. Players aren’t stupid. They know who’s better than who on the team and they also know that roster moves are made by the team that have nothing to do with the on ice but have everything to do about the money. At some point, the Oilers need to send the message to the fans but most importantly to the players that says, we are serious about winning and we are willing to do whatever it takes to do that even if it costs us money. If the management and the owner expects the players to give it everything they have, doesn’t that need to go both ways?

      • fran huckzky

        There is this thing called a salary cap. It is not so easy as you want to believe to have more significant dollars playing in the Ahl or not even playing. Do you really think that other teams will take your deadbeat without sending you one back??

    • Jason Gregor

      I wish we would all stop calling on Chia to pull the plug on a big trade for a stud defenceman. It won’t happen in our favor especially from our position of weakness and the need to do something. We’ll all be here afterward complaining like we are on Sekera or Fayne or Nikitin or Ferrence…IMHO the schedule has been a bi^#tch and the rodeo always puts them in a major deficit of home games at the start of the season, they had virtually no chance of winning any of their first 4 games, they should have had a couple more wins but goaltending let them down( ie 7-8). What I do wish we had was a Steve Ott type that agitates and distracts the opponent, we don’t have anyone in that capacity, more emotion like we always had from the Lineseman’s, Hunters, McClelland, McSorley is what we always had on our best teams and played a big part in winning

      • TKB2677

        Agree 100%. Sure I would love the #1 D man but I don’t see it happening. Those that we would or could bring in may prove disappointing. BUT, a difference can be made in the top 9. Just one offensive high energy, take no prisoners type could be a big driver, particularly on a third line. This is achievable.

        Having said this it sounds like Purcell really wants to add more – I hope he does. Or we could graft his hands onto Hendrick’s arms and we would have our man.

      • TKB2677

        Agree 100%. Sure I would love the #1 D man but I don’t see it happening. Those that we would or could bring in may prove disappointing. BUT, a difference can be made in the top 9. Just one offensive high energy, take no prisoners type could be a big driver, particularly on a third line. This is achievable.

        Having said this it sounds like Purcell really wants to add more – I hope he does. Or we could graft his hands onto Hendrick’s arms and we would have our man.

    • Anton CP

      S Chiarelli is starting to accumulate some sketchy signings himself. There is still a stunning lack of competence on the Oilers D. Reinhart, Nurse and Klefbum are coming players but the Oiler ‘learning on the job’ philosophy has not and never will be successful.

      The D vets are the real disappointment for me. Fayne, Ference and Nikitin are a total waste of cap space. That’s a big freaking hole. Those are not Chias signings but Gryba and Sekera certainly are. Along with Korpikoski and Letestu. He is digging a huge hole with his pen. Signing such deals does not bode well.

      IMO there is a concerning disconnect between GM, coaches and too many players. There is either a lack of buy in on the part of some players or a lack of hockey IQ. In any event it is getting harder and harder to live with the annual rite of turd polishing.

      I get the impression the Oiler braintrust are relying on McD and that will only go so far with fans. After that you still have to build a team around him. That lack of maturing later round picks and effective scouting to search out other prospects seems to be ‘ground under repair’ in the Oiler organization. Have the Oiler scouts brought in anyone? None that I can see.

    • camdog

      If the Oilers are going to play 7 d-man I’d rather see Ference as the 7th than Fayne.

      I wouldn’t want him playing any shifts on defence, but on the wing playing 6-7 minutes a night, at least he brings some physicality, energy and some leadership. If he doesn’t take any stupid penalties he could be an upgrade over who’s being filling the role.

    • Anton CP

      IMO, one of the issue is like Gregor said that the team lack vocal leaders. I feel the team need a reliable veteran on their roster that can provide supports when in need. Derek Roy sort of serving the role as experienced former top line player but the Oilers have no one this year. Both Purcell and Pouliot are not former top line players that know what it takes to get the team out of trouble.

    • Canoe Ride 27.1

      Thoughts on today’s practice line up?
      Hall-Draisaitl-RNH, Purcell-Lander-Eberle, Pouliot-Letestu-Yakupov, Gazdic-Miller-Pakarinen, Nurse-Sekera, Klefbom-Fayne, Reinhart-Gryba

      RHN not center??

      • I’m just a minor hockey league coach, but I set my forward lines with at least 2 strong experienced guys and spread the rookies and less skilled guys accordingly. That way every line should give you something or at least hold their own versus a top one or two lines that hold their own and the other lines get eatin alive. A couple quick goals on your weak lines kills the team’s momentum and spirit. JMHO

    • Anton CP

      I realize it is a while before McDavid returns to the Oilers line up, however, one thought which I find intriguing is who to play on his line.

      If Draisaitl progresses well, delivers the 200 foot game over the next few months and continues to improve his face off stats then one candidate for McDavid’s wing could be RNH. He can skate with McDavid, is a play maker, is defensively responsible and can also score. In fact, he could become McDavid’s Kurri and that my friends would be golden.