Justin Schultz will be in the lineup tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, giving the Oilers another puck-moving defender and another full tank of chaos. The second game of a back-to-back sometimes mean slow starts or bad endings, but this Oilers team can’t seem to put together 60 strong minutes no matter the situation. Perhaps Mr. Schultz can help in this area.
There are rumours of a noon press avail, and based on twitter, the media is more ready for this PC with PC than at any time in memory. If we’re going to play along at home, let’s take a quick look at how Peter Chiarelli’s adds have been doing through the season’s first quarter.
- C Connor McDavid: 13GP, 5-7-12. Incredible talent, but it would be ridiculous to give the new GM credit for acquiring him. Credit for the McDavid selection belongs to, if anyone, the long suffering fans who have had to endure year and years of futility while Mr. Katz waits for the new building to open and turn north. The ‘controlled rebuild’ has been out at sea for about five years now. You can expect it to reach land about October 2016.
- D Andrej Sekera: 22GP, 2-7-9. Many are down on Sekera but for me he’s a quality addition and gets the organization back to where they were before the Petry deal. His possession numbers are good despite playing in the tough parts of the game and I count him as a quality move by the GM. Source.
- C Mark Letestu: 22GP, 2-3-5. Lots of negative verbal about him but there are some good things and we have to remember it’s early days. I don’t think he equals Boyd Gordon (who he replaced) but is certainly good enough for the 4C role and can chime in at a higher level when required.
- L Lauri Korpikoski: 15GP, 2-1-3. An absolute disaster. The trade hasn’t worked out as expected (I assume they wanted to improve speed while mailing themselves a Pisani-type) and despite protests to the contrary, he’s been very poor and the Oilers are probably looking for a third-line winger as we speak to fill the role Korpikoski should be covering.
- D Eric Gryba: 21GP, 0-3-3. The big man is a good defender and provides the physical element so many fans believe is required. He doesn’t have a lot of offense, and combined with Mark Fayne gives Edmonton two defensive defenders on separate pairings.
- D Griffin Reinhart: 12GP, 0-0-0. A big price was paid for Reinhart and that’s on a lot of minds on the day he is sent down. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here. One of Chiarelli’s major bets this summer, Reinhart doesn’t appear to be a part of the immediate future. Does that mean he’ll be cashed in a deal for someone who can help now?
- G Cam Talbot: 13GP, 3,17 .889. A strong start early has been replaced by a crushing period where he was bleeding goals and costing the team points all by his lonesome. I’m still fine with the bet, and would suggest we’re still in early days.
- G Anders Nilsson: 11GP, 2.85 .906. One of the truly pleasant surprises in a difficult first quarter, we’re still early days but he looks capable.
Griffin Reinhart going to the AHL should cost someone their job. #Oilers
— NateInVegas (@NateInVegas) November 28, 2015
So, if we’re playing along at home, what area of his personnel procurement do we address? I’m not sure his goaltending choices are the problem, or put another way: I think we’d need to see more before making the call on Talbot—Nilsson.
Defense? Sure. I think Sekera has been fine and Gryba is good for what he provides—he plays too much to my eye—but the Reinhart hire was supposed to help this season and it hasn’t so there’s an area that can be fairly questioned. That’s the question that should be asked in my opinion.
I think I’d also go after the Korpikoski trade. Although Gordon is and was slow, the veteran did a lot of good for a young team, too. Defensive zone starts, faceoffs, PK, on it goes. I think that’s the toughest one for Chiarelli to answer (and again understanding that Korpikoski is only 15 games into his Oilers career).
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) November 28, 2015
- The miscalculation on Reinhart (and Darnell Nurse) tells us how very difficult it can be to be a new GM in a new city—with the old management still in place. The question one could ask today has to do with who was advising Peter Chiarelli on trading for Reinhart, not buying out Nikita Nikitin or Andrew Ference, and deciding against acquiring Cody Franson via free agency (although in fairness they may have tried).Surely the forensics sussed out the answer, and yet we are here. Huh.
- Taylor Hall has been working hard on this road trip but has nothing to show for it. A big night in Pittsburgh is possible.
- Jordan Eberle has been quoted as getting closer but his timing remains off. When he does start parking those shots in the back of the net they’ll probably come in bunches.
- I think this team is going to have a good run and will suggest they finish in the No. 22 range for the season. Call me crazy but they have yet to play their best hockey and the injuries—not an excuse—have been impacting the roster from opening night.
- I liked the defense when Justin Schultz was out. I hope he can move things to a higher level. This is a vital period in the young man’s career. No way Peter Chiarelli signs him long term unless he can be a difference maker—his contract history makes him much too expensive at this point for what he brings. He needs another defensive gear, starting tonight.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 28, 2015
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both teams start the game in slow-motion, but a fluke goal by Beau Bennett gets the Oilers down one as the first period ends.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the middle stanza, penalty troubles and poor coverage cost Edmonton two more goals and they head to the intermission down 3-0.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
As has been the case so many times with this team, Edmonton comes roaring back in the third period to tie it, and then win in overtime on an end to end rush by Justin Schultz. 4-3 Oilers on a rather unlikely Saturday night.