Monday Mailbag – December 21st

Mailbag

The final days before the Christmas break are upon us and you’ve got a few work days to kill. As always, the Mailbag is here to help you put those long company hours behind you and bring you one step closer to the freedom that will be your time off. The most important part is that you try to look busy, and nothing makes you look busier than reading intently. The Mailbag doesn’t work without your questions so if you have something to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk

1) Clarison asks – Is it surprising that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin only have 1 cup between the 2 of them 10 years into their careers?

Jason Gregor:

Not to me. You need more than one great player to win. Caps are closer now with solid goaltending and good defence. The Penguins have not had great depth for years and you can’t win without good depth.

Jeanshorts:

Yes and no. It’s more surprising to me that Crosby only has one cup considering the team he plays on. When they won their cup the Penguins had six top five picks in their line up (five if we take out Bill Guerin who was veteran depth at the end of his career), including two of THE BEST forwards on the entire planet in Crosby and Malkin. They had a decent window where they theoretically could have won multiple cups a la the Blackhawks, but for whatever reason they just couldn’t get back to the top of the mountain. 

HOWEVER it’s not surprising in that no one player can necessarily win a team a Stanley Cup. The Capitals have been regular season darlings a few times now, but have always seemed to be missing one or two things when it comes to the playoffs. And unfortunately for them Ovi’s insane goal scoring prowess hasn’t been enough to cover up for their faults. As of right now it looks like Ovi may be destined to join Marcel Dionne and Cam Neely in the “Best Player To Never Win A Cup” club. Connor McDavid could get him a cup I bet…

Lowetide:

It is difficult to win a Stanley Cup, many all-time greats never won it. Now that 30 teams compete each year, we will no doubt see first ballot, inner circle HOFers without SC rings. I hope #8 gets one though.

Robin Brownlee:

More so Crosby than Ovechkin for me. I thought Pittsburgh had a team capable of stringing together two or three wins in a row, or at least a couple of Cups in three years for awhile there. Not now.

Jason Strudwick:

Yes it is. I think they would be the most disappointed. Top players want those Cups so badly. Unlike basketball it is difficult for one player to drag their teams to the top like LeBron James did last season.

Matt Henderson:

I think the Penguins should have had more Cups and would have if they hadn’t been so strangely loyal to Fleury. I haven’t felt until more recently that the Capitals ever had the supporting cast to win. It’s pretty tough to win a Cup though. Thirty teams want it every year but only one gets it. Just one star player, even a superstar, isn’t enough to win in the playoffs. Teams need a lot more.

Baggedmilk:

I guess I’m kind of surprised that Crosby one has one Cup with the way the Penguins were rolling for a little while. I’m more surprised that the Penguins can’t seem to get past the second round of the playoffs anymore. 

2) Joe B. asks – Justin Schultz has commanded his fair share of attention by the media and often its for his soft style of play. While he knows that he needs to be harder to play against, we rarely see that side of his game. Is playing a hard-nosed game as easy as making the decision to do so, or is it something in your DNA? In short, do you think Justin Schultz will be able to make the changes he needs to in order to win a Norris just as MacT prophesied? 

Jason Gregor:

Schultz doesn’t need to be tough to play against, he just can’t be easy to play against. It is hard to change a player’s DNA, and my bigger concern with Schultz is that right now he isn’t producing offence. He has one PP goal in his last 173 games. Ouch.

Jeanshorts:

You’re never going to turn Justin Schultz into Scott Stevens, or even Jason Smith for that matter. He plays a very finesse style of game and I don’t think there’s any coach in the world that would be able to change that. And honestly they shouldn’t try as far as I’m concerned. Teaching him basic defensive zone responsibilities is one thing, but trying to turn a finesse player into a banger and crasher generally isn’t going to work out well. We saw it when Dallas Eakins tried to turn Nail Yakupov into Boyd Gordon, when he was drafted because of his high-end offensive skills. Ideally Justin Schultz would be a well rounded, offensive defenseman in the mould of Erik Karlsson, as we all hoped he would be. But he’s not, and at this point it’s a question mark as to whether he’s even long for the NHL at all.

Lowetide:

I think players have strengths and weaknesses, and Schultz would be ill-advised to try to change his physical game. My issue with him has to do with reading plays and positioning, something players like Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert managed to do well despite also being college defensemen. Schultz trying to be physical would be a terrible sight I imagine.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s much for difficult to coax edge into a player’s game than it is to pull back on the reins if he’s too aggressive. Schultz can play with more gusto, but he’ll have to make a conscious effort to do it.

Jason Strudwick:

It is difficult to become a hard nosed player mid career. He needs to contribute in tin that way to improve his game and the overall game of the team.

Matt Henderson:

A leopard can’t change his spots. Schultz can learn how to be more assertive within his own style, but I don’t think he’ll be “hard-nosed” ever. If it does happen it will be either by miracle or by some traumatic event that leaves him changed from the man he once was, wandering from town to town like a ghost, a mysterious stranger the children fear.

Baggedmilk:

I can’t wait to see what Chiarelli does with Justin Schultz. I don’t think there’s any way that he’s an Oiler next year but the question will be whether or not Chiarelli can get anything for him before that time comes. Regardless, Schultz has been a disappointment in so many ways. He was supposed to be a game changer for the franchise, but instead he’s been a hindrance. How lame is that?

3) Ray asks – Who do you see as having the best value contracts on the Oil, aside the obvious ELCs?

Jason Gregor:

Hall. Easy. Top-five scorer and he makes $6 mill for another four years after this year. He is one of the best bargain contracts in the entire NHL.

Jeanshorts:

I’m going with Oscar Klefbom. As of right now it may not be a super value contract, but if he continues to progress the way he has he’ll easily be one of the Oilers best defenders for years to come. And having a top two D-man on the books with a cap hit of $4 mill a year? THAT’S the kind of moves that go a long way to help building a Stanley Cup contending roster.

Lowetide:

Taylor Hall is a great value deal, despite being $6M. I would also list Brandon Davidson and Anders Nilsson at this time.

Robin Brownlee:

When you go beyond the entry level deals on this roster, there’s not much left. Probably Anders Nilsson, if he works out.

Jason Strudwick:

Matt Hendricks and Anders Nilsson.

Matt Henderson:

Taylor Hall. Six million for everything he’s producing is incredible. Klefbom is a steal as well.

Baggedmilk:

Taylor Hall is a warlord and could be making way more money than he’s making right now. I also think that Klefbom will be a deal in a season or two. 


4) Braden asks – What the hell is wrong with the power play lately? Which area of the PP do you think needs the most work?

Jason Gregor:

Injuries to McDavid, Pouliot, Yakupov and now Klefbom haven’t helped. But the first unit doesn’t have a point shot that teams respect and not a great net front presence. The PP is 18% and if it improves to 20% then it is fine. They aren’t far off, but they have struggled recently. Too inconsistent this season.

Jeanshorts:

As far as I can tell the biggest problem with the Oilers power play is that they’re missing Connor McDavid and Nail Yakupov and Oscar Klefbom and Benoit Pouliot. When your second power play unit consists of Mark Letestu, Iiro Pakarinen and Lauri Korpikoski you’re PROBABLY not gonna get a lot of positive results. So if the Oilers could work on not having their entire second line hurt at the same time, that would probably help the power play out in a BIG way.

Lowetide:

Oilers need a big time shooter from the point and to gain entry to the zone effectively. A controlled entry is best, and they certainly have enough skill to do it.

Robin Brownlee:

A couple of things. Not having Connor McDavid hurts, but not as much as the lack of a point shot. Justin Schultz is no threat from the point and Oscar Klefbom isn’t there as an option right now. Teams can cheat down low and clog things up below the top of the circles because there’s very little chance Schultz will hurt them from the point.

Jason Strudwick:

I have been saying this for a long time here but they need a shooter from the point. Doesn’t need to be a bomb but it has to get through on a consistent basis.This will make the killers respect the points more.

Matt Henderson:

With Schultz floundering and Klefbom hurt the PP was doomed to struggle. I think what really hurts is that there’s literally an entire line’s worth of players who should be on the PP who are hurt. Pouliot, Yak, McDavid, and Klefbom are 4/5 players who could be on unit two. Right now it’s Korpikoski and Letestu getting PP time. Yuck.

Baggedmilk:

You want to know how you know the Oilers are having injury problems? Mark Letestu and Lauri Korpikoski are on the power play. 

5) Alyssa asks – My husband told me that the 7-5 victory of the Rangers was one of the best Oilers games he’s ever watched. Do you have a game that sticks out as the “best” game you’ve ever watched, or even a game that is memorable?

Jason Gregor:

Sam Gagner eight point night is most recent that stands out. You don’t see it very often. His line of Hall and Eberle scored on four consecutive shifts in the third period. It was ridiculous.

Jeanshorts:

Thanks to years of alcohol and drug abuse most of my hockey memories just kind of blend into each other at this point. And honestly I don’t really remember games as a whole, just moments that stand out. Team Canada winning gold in 2010. Canadian Juniors against Russia with Eberle’s biggest goal. The one a few years before that where Toews scored all the shootout goals. Pisani’s OT winner in game five. Being in Calgary to watch McDavid when he finally came to the realization he was The One and lit up the Flames in their own barn. All things I’ll probably never forget. 

Also, that 7-5 game was one of the best games your husband has ever seen? Did he JUST start watching hockey this year? I mean it was fun and all, but, come on!

Lowetide:

Loads. Pretty much all of the Cup clinchers, G5 and G6 SCF 2006, the game Doug Weight snapped on Marchment, 1-0 against the NY Islanders 1984 SCF, Sam Gagner’s big night against the Hawks. If you gave me time, I could list 100. Seriously. I love this team.

Robin Brownlee:

Too many games to recall, but Game 5 of the 2006 Cup final is one that stands out for me because of Fernando Pisani’s shorthanded goal to send the series back to Edmonton for Game 6.

Jason Strudwick:

That was a fun game to watch. I would say watching the OIlers win their first stanley cup would be at the top of the list.

Matt Henderson:

I was at the game where Scrivens set the record for saves in a shutout. I tweeted about how terrible he was in the warmup as it was going on. That night there were at least three standing ovations for him as he stole the show. As for games I watched live that’s the one that stands out.

Baggedmilk:

I was at the game in 2006 when Ryan Smyth got his teeth knocked out only to come back and get an assist on the winner in overtime. Rexall Place went insane. It was beautiful. 


Bet on the NHL at Sports Interaction with a guaranteed winner…

1. Open a Sports Interaction account

2. Deposit $20 or more and get an instant 100% Cash Bonus up to $200

3. Place a moneyline bet on any NHL game and if you don’t win, Sports Interaction will refund your bet up to $20!

  • fran huckzky

    I love groupies.

    Hall is a warlord, yet the PP sucks because McDavid is not available? What if there was no McDavid at all? What then? Would there be any hope for this team?

    How can someone who is not even present be the problem and the solution?

    • Jay (not J)

      Hasn’t Nurse and Sekera been the top unit for the last stretch? Willis has had a few articles here and elsewhere on the dubious merits of that pairing. There’s no room for Jultz anywhere in this lineup. When Davidson and Klefbom are good to go he should be sent down/ away.

  • stonedtodeath61

    Big game tonight. This is a chance for the lads to send us to break with a good feeling. The D is not as bad as so many believe it to be. Sekera, Klef and Nurse are all close to or at top 4. The ideal add will be a top 2 RHD to play with Klef. Sekera and Nurse would be a very nice 2nd pairing. Davidson and Gryba are a solid bottom pairing and their PK work has been better than just OK. This would be a very solid backend that will not break the bank if the added top guy is under 7 Mill. Up front, I don’t know if there is any better than what your team in the North can ice. The bottom six needs a lot of work. Players like Lander need to provide some secondary scoring or knock people on their asses while being solid on the PK. The bottom six are just too easy to play against. Players like Khaira deserve to get those type of min. IMO. I know that I have not suffered through the long rebuild you Oil fans have but man, this is a team that with some luck on the health side of things can still challenge for a spot this year. Arz, Cal, Van, SJ and Ana, are all beatable. Go Oil Go and Merry Christmas to you all from a Sens fan in Ottawa.

  • camdog

    Lowetide,

    Do you remember last season when the powerplay was on fire and you said on air that you thought it would cool off when Hall came back from his injury?

  • Spydyr

    “What the hell is wrong with the power play lately? Which area of the PP do you think needs the most work?”

    It is not rocket surgery . Get shots from the point on net. Screen the goalie go to the net and pick up the garbage. It can bounce off any player in front.

    The Oilers now set up around the perimeter and try for the pretty cross seam pass. The other thing that fries my bacon with the Oilers is when they are in front screening they move out of the way letting the goalie see and wave their sticks at the puck as it goes past their sticks into the goalies glove.

    Shoot, screen and go to the net.

    • camdog

      Powerplay was clicking 22% with McDavid in the line up and is about 15% since his injury. I know the d-man on the point are not the best, but the forward groups haven’t been good enough.

    • For Pete's Sake!

      I agree. The Oilers powerplay is all about perimeter play.

      These guys love watching their pretty passes. Have we ever seen Eberle or Nuge take the puck to the front of the opposition’s net rather than passing it off?

      Another thing is they execute so slowly with their plays always allowing the other teams penalty killers to set up for blocking shots or passes and their goalie to be ready.

      Successful powerplays are all about executing with speed so the other team can’t be ready for the play and of course, going to the front of the net, a thing too many Oilers are averse to.

      Can’t wait to see McDavid back. That should speed things up.

      • bradleypi

        You do realize that the coach draws up the powerplay right? Almost every team in the league uses the same powerplay the oilers are using. The players don’t just go out there willy nilly and decide where they want to position themselves. The Oilers pp is set up for McDavid to make “pretty passes” cross seam that you apparently think is a stupid play. Classic oilersnation really needs to start watching more hockey than just the oilers……

        • For Pete's Sake!

          Thanks for your input Bradley. I’m sure the Oilers coaches aren’t telling them to speed things up and go to the net. Yeah, right. .

          These guys aren’t listening to their coaches. That’s the problem.

        • Randaman

          Classic Bradleypi (smartest guy in the room)

          Montreal, NYR, Nashville, Detroit, St Louis,
          L.A., Chicago to some extent all use their point guys to set up either the shot from the point or play off the threat of that shot.

          Some of us actually do watch more hockey than the Oilers.

          Have a nice day

          P.S. Schultz SUCKS!!

        • Soiled Trousers

          You’re totally right. I was sitting behind the bench in Denver and I heard TMac tell Jultz if the puck came toward him to let it go out of the zone and give up a short handed break away.

          *rolls eyes and wonders how one man can be such a blundering idiot

  • stonedtodeath61

    I am new to these parts and need some help to understand why LT has such a hard on for Schultz. Is it just the CORSI ? The underlying numbers as they say ? I have only watched him from time to time over the years and this year I have seen every game and all I see is a guy that can skate. He does nothing on the offensive side of things and is absolutely lost in the defensive zone and that’s never a good thing if your a defenseman, unless your a PPG Player I guess. Any ideas as to why this guy gets so much love ?

    • stonedtodeath61

      I believe that is a yes as us Sens fans have gone through this with Nikita Filitov, now only 25 and 6th over all pick by CBJ. Sens could have retained his rights with a qualifying offer two summers ago but chose not to.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Right on, thanks!

        Quick question, I keep hearing Cowen hasn’t worked out at all in Ottawa, same kinda thing as Shultz, I thought he’d be a pretty good dman, how come it hasn’t worked out?

  • stonedtodeath61

    So many great Oiler games:

    * OT against Calgary in 1988 – Gretzky winner

    * Tikkanens OT winner over Calgary in Game 7

    * Messier steamrolling Doug Wilson to score decisive goal against the Blackhawks in 1990 playoffs

    Not too many since 2006, but I have a feeling we will see a few in the future. Can’t wait to watch it unfold.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Taylor Hall has been the Oiler’s best and most consistent player on a nightly basis this year.

    He works harder than almost any other player out there and is willing to pay the price to make plays unlike some other 6 million dollar players on this team.

    I’m so sick and tired of the Hall haters on this site.

    I guess there’s no cure for these guys. Once an idiot, always an idiot.

    • stonedtodeath61

      Would love to have him here in Ottawa but don’t have what it would cost to get him with Pete now being the GM. Thought we had a chance when Mac Tavish was in control, oh well.

    • Delete

      Yes, there has been a lot of discussion about whether moving Taylor Hall could benefit the team in other areas, namely defence. That’s a reasonable hockey discussion. You might have missed that.

      I don’t see too many “Hall haters” around here. You meant to post this on the Flames site, perhaps?

      And calling people “idiots” who don’t agree with you sounds vaguely familiar around here . . .

        • Delete

          So you could get back a player in different position who is actually playing well and can improve your team in an area of weakness.

          Not a surefire way to improve the team, but definitely worth discussion, no?

    • camdog

      The only Oiler that I have been steadily ripping is Fayne. The “Hall hater” thing is a being a little dramatic. Some of the best even strength players in the world don’t light the world up on the powerplay.

      Without McDavid in the line up RNH is the next logical player to QB the powerplay, not Schultz, not Hall. Sometimes when you get RNh, Eberle and Hall on the ice they get too cute together. Last season when RNH was the alpha dog on the powerplay the Oilers lit it up. Of course that was Nelson bringing in a new system, but it did happen.

  • Delete

    What is wrong with the PP………..simple, we have no one that is willing to shoot! Everyone wants to perimeter pass the puck to hell.

    Justin Schultz on the first unit PP is probably the biggest mistake. This player absolutely refuses to shoot the puck. I would be prepared to accept all of his weak wristers, as eventually one will bounce off someon’s behind but even this is too much for him.

    Replace JS with any player willing to shoot the puck and staple his backside to the bench. I remember Eric Brewer getting weak wrister to the net and scoring so no one can tell me this strategy does not work.

  • Soiled Trousers

    Schultz will not excell playing in a Collapse Style defense,Mac-Ls n-zone and o-zone game are inconsistant and cannot support his collapse defenses line of engagement or “Zipper-line” properly like his San Jose assets could,a specific d-man skillset supports Mac-Ls System focus,a 2-way type with Vet acumen….like Sekera.Mobile and physical and stick-smart in equal quantities.The strangest thing of all is that Mac-ls choice of where to set up his Zipper-line supports Everyman type well rounded non-superduper d-men….not “impact players”.

    Eakins began to disconnect like this over player understanding of and interpretations of ONE SINGLE ZONE MANAGEMENT ISSUE as well ,Dallas tripped because he had an elite zone exit he could not support or mesh with his 200 foot gameplan and Mac-L is tripping because he cannot get his d-men to engage and strip pucks and transition them back to offense without falling further back and take bodies as they FALL-BACK into a collapse defense{it takes a different body type and style of hitting to seperate man from puck in open ice skating backwards lol}, instead of micro-managing current assets up or down impact-wise to fit into his Player-Template Mac-L and PC may be simply looking for the finished product to plug-and-play.Mac-Ls defensive focus SHOULD SUPPORT Schultzes skillset 100% because it does not force him into consistant defining contact like a Hammer and Anvil Standup Defense might do jif he wasnt allowed to step out of Process VIA Process creating the CONTRAST he was recruited and signed to create.At the core of eveything we must find contrast to find motion and action.

    The Slapshot is a detterant a projection of intentions to goaltenders and shot-blocking teams.The Oilers backed off of its use long ago to manage zone time better,to remove zone clearing rebounds which no one could control from high angle Slappers.Instead of re-positioning the Slappers we made them nearly obsolete,killing an Ant with a Sledgehammer…lol.We need to see this type of shot integrated with regularity…1/2 and 3/4 slappers as well,there is lot more to it than just the puck coming off of the stick,there is an entire Symphony Orchestra playing a constellation of dynamic notes you have to train your ears to hear when you bring this type of shot into play properly.

    Sidney has lost organisational confidence….done deal…when Wayne went to LA the dipstick Head Coach undermined him in the Playoffs because he didnt have confidence in Gretzky …..Stamkos was recently undermined in Tampa….right now Crosby is undermined ,he wishes the Pens IMHO to evolve their System Management processes to more current focus,they arent budging,and he needs to move on and he knows it.The Pens are rolling with Malkin

    I know the Oilers are trying to KISS.The Oilers PP lacks urgency and intentions,you cannot “slow down” exiting your own zone and transiting the n-zone and simplify your zone transitions during a PP like you can when you undulate them as you are switching gears 5 on 5.The Oil are misreading their woes,they are over-focusing on the zone entry,and by the time they get it in the opposition is structured up,this ignites immediate PP OVERPASSING which can hurt you 5 on 5 but KILLS you on the PP…..Open it up,stick the blade in,cut, and get out,end of story,do it quick and painless.

    Lack of a Slap shot we went through this dialing in Ralphs PP….a PP shouldnt last long enough to use the Slapshot,it should be over most times on the 1st zone penetration catalysed by their FIRST DEFENSIVE TRANSITION we force.Like Moma2 says a lack of urgency and intentions.100% Coaching issue and easily cured.Just to rub some salt in this open wound so we REMEMBER…why doesnt Mac-L use the Leon-Hall tandems nice little quick-strike chemistry on the PP,it should be money in the bank with a man advantage right,the simple dam reason it works for them is because it STRIKES ON THE OPPOSITIONS FIRST DEFENSIVE STRUCTIURAL TRANSITION OR ADJUSTMENT IN THEIR ZONE.Its not SPEED which makes it quick-strike it is TIMING .Why dont we see J Schultz taking Halls spot in that playaction with Leon from time to time?Its not speed its timing,anyone can execute.

    The Rangers game was not as good as some of the Oilers games during the Renney/Krueger days when they were using the NHS unknowingly but on par with some of the Playoff games we have seen since 2012 specificlly with the Kings/Hawks Systems .

    I have a few questions for Struds….if I take a tape of any NHL Hockey playaction ever recorded and ask an NHL Head Coach to show it to me on the ice with his men within 2 or 3 or 4 shifts….could he do it?I mean if I put 100% accountability on the Coach and gave him random players of various skill levels could he on demand put it together and give me the dynamic sequence of events history has proven can be manifested on the ice?

    Two more questions for Struds….do you think an AHL Team using a Superior System of play Coached by a man well versed in it could consistantly defeat an average NHL Team?Could a superior System and acclimated Coach bridge the percieved “gap” between AHLers and NHLers raw skill and talent and cerebral levels,because right now I think Nelson Griffins would turn the tick,what say you?

  • Soiled Trousers

    It would be nice to see Hall and Yak use there shot on the PP like in previous years. Also I think having Nurse or Davidson on the pp would be better then having Jultz on the PP.

  • CDNinATL

    WTH is Schultz in the line up at all tonight??? I’d rather play Ference than him!! I’ve seen tougher peewee dmen than that useless twat!

    He should have been placed on waivers earlier today!! He has no business being in the NHL!!!!!!!

  • stonedtodeath61

    The power play would be more effective if the players would run more pick plays and interference . Many do (other teams ) , and almost always get away with it . If your scurrying for open ice then your pretty much being victimized by the box defence , and playing on the periphery almost all the time . Being as we have a lack of true power forwards it is even more pronounced.