GDB 78.0: ROADHOUSE BLUES

The Edmonton Oilers are in Los Angeles tonight and based on the previous results (Edmonton is 0-4 against LAK this year, being outscored 15-8 in those four games) OilersNation should not enter the evening confident. One thing we can look for tonight? LAK are probably closer to Peter Chiarelli’s vision of the Oilers than the current Oilers.

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The Kings send giants in waves, their forwards are barely contained by boards and glass and opposition defenders are merely shrapnel. Even their skill guys—Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty—are damned difficult to play against. The Oilers, in their current incarnation, also have a difficult time playing against the Kings (record above is proof) because of their lack of experience. Young players, especially defensemen, often make poor decisions with Milan Lucic bearing down on them like a runaway train.

CHIARELLI’S PLAN

Peter Chiarelli’s plan is to make the Oilers more like the Kings, and his old Bruins. Those teams have plenty of skill, but they are also:

  • Big and aggressive in all areas (forecheck, backcheck, PK, hitting, and they are a little filthy)
  • Agitating
  • Punishing
  • Strong, strong, strong up the middle

We can see it in the additions of Eric Gryba, Zack Kassian and Patrick Maroon—but we have not yet seen it at center, which is about the summer. We can see it in the addition of Griffin Reinhart last summer, the elevation of Darnell Nurse to the NHL and his being kept despite struggles over much of the season.

We can also see it in the new rivalry with the San Jose Sharks. The last time I remember San Jose and Edmonton having bad blood, Raffi Torres was looking innocent and Milan Michalek was not doing well. Before that? Dougie Weight was heading off the ice and Bryan Marchment was swearing—and that folks was around the turn of the century.

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What does that mean for this summer? Well, tonight the Kings will ice Milan Lucic, and the former Bruins winger is a free agent this summer. If he comes available, I think it is reasonable to suggest Peter Chiarelli will pursue him with extreme prejudice. In fact, even a player like Kris Versteeg—who has missed the last three games—offers the kind of grit/skill package Chiarelli valued highly in Boston (and is procuring for Edmonton).

Bottom line: When you are watching the Kings tonight, imagine that style with men like McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Klefbom and Sekera driving the offense. That’s the template, I believe.

I am putting this here, so Wanye doesn’t have to.

Along with all of the other terrific things about this young man, he is a hockey fan and hung around on day two of the draft to see where his friends went in the selection. I wonder if Dylan Strome, Nick Betz and Alex Debrincat end up as Oilers down the line.

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

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Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Kings lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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QUICK HITS

  • How on earth are the Oilers going to employ all of these left-handed defensemen next season? We assume that Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart will play next year, and with Andrej Sekera, that’s a lot of lefties! Suspect we will see some trade movement among these names.
  • How much of this summer will be spent addressing defense? Well, I think the Oilers could go into next season with this forward group, Talbot and a substantial backup, and be considered a strong playoff contender IF the defense is sound. Big if, but that will be the summer—along with that big center I suspect Peter Chiarelli has in mind to replace the Nuge.
  • I will be doing some draft work in April for ON, interested to know if you prefer spotlights (entire article on one player) or overviews? Let me know.
  • If the Oilers can win tonight or on Monday, they will have their second .500 month of the year.
  • Edmonton’s goal differential (-37) is no longer league worst. The Vancouver Canucks have passed them with a steaming pile of bad in recent games.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

  • Jewels From the Crown: The Kings’ coaching and dedication to system has certainly yielded
    results. They’ve been the top Corsi For percentage team in the NHL four
    years running. In the 2011-2012 season, they were second only to
    Detroit, and only by a tenth of a percent. Source

GAME DAY PREDICTION

GameDay

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings—who have lost three in a row—come out firing in the first period and take a 1-0 lead. A chippy game turns ugly with some vicious hits and stick retaliations.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings pop two more early in the second period and the game settles in to a typical NHL ‘running out the clock’ game by midway through the second. A late goal by Nail Yakupov on the power play gives the visitors some hope.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:

The Oilers shock the Kings (and the world) by scoring twice in a very physical third period, with Taylor Hall scoring the tying goal just before getting leveled by Drew Doughty. The Kings win it in overtime on a Tyler Toffoli snipe. It is a helluva game, and postgame comments are somewhat similar to recent San Jose Sharks’ players comments—indicating the battle has been joined, if not in the standings, then in the games at least.


  • freelancer

    LT, I’m a big fan of your work, both on Oilersnation as well as your own site and I usually agree with lots that you say. That being said I struggle to find your reasoning that you think the Oilers should go into next year with this forward group. This group currently has the Oilers sitting in 25th for goals for. Injuries have played a part but let’s look at last year when the Oilers were 28th in this category as were they the year before that.

    While I have liked Chiarelli’s additions (most notably Maroon) I personally see way more turnover in our current forward core. The defence is the biggest issue and I don’t see it plausible that we can fix those holes without giving up something more than draft picks.

    • Lowetide

      Great post. The first thing is 5×5/60, even strength scoring. The Oilers have three ELITE players there in McDavid, Hall and Leon (although Leon has to duplicate it next season for us to trust it):

      http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/ratings.php?db=201516&sit=5v5&type=individual&teamid=0&pos=skaters&minutes=500&disp=1&sort=PCT&sortdir=DESC

      Oil are 2, 9 and 10 on that list. If you add a healthy Eberle and Nuge, play maybe Maroon, that is six rocking even-strength players. Fantastic!

      The issues are with the power play, injuries and the defense passing the puck to the forwards under control. I think you can keep those F’s and win the day, but the PP, INJ and D are the problems.

      Jmo.

      • freelancer

        Great site! I’ll have to remember this one. Especially out of this current group Hall, Draisaitl, and of course McDavid I don’t see dealt. We’ve seen deals happen to get top D men for way less than expected (The Boychuk/Leddy deals come to mind).

        I agree the PP and defence are the biggest culprits right now, but once again I am skeptical on being able to acquire the needed pieces without giving a bigger piece up as well.

        It is a huge shame that it looks like RNH might be out for the rest of the season. It seems much more likely to me that if RNH was to be kept it would involve either him or Draisaitl playing the wing in the top 6. I think it’s much more likely that Chiarelli is going to try and build a more typical third line with more guys like Kassian and less guys like Yakupov.

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    LT.

    Then you listen to T-Mac talk about RNH and you become instantly confused.

    If the Oilers can get Backes then ya, I can see RNH moving.

    If you get Lucic, then I see Hall moving too.

    That forward group could get gutted this summer.

    • fasteddy

      Ya because getting rid of 23 yr olds entering their prime years for players entering the down side of their careers would be such a smart thing to do…..

      • Spydyr

        Almost as smart as going into every season for the last decade without a top pairing on defence.Everyone has been playing two spots to high in the batting order.That has to be addressed this summer.

  • JimmyV1965

    I know this is totally off topic and idle speculation, but would ON trade Hall and a salary dump like fayne or someone to Islanders for Hamonic and Lee or Nelson? I’m looking at the east and its either Bruins of Isles not making playoffs. Luv Hall, but just spit balling an idea.

  • fran huckzky

    In response to your ask regarding the draft, I hope you will do some pieces about surprise picks further down who might fit the Oiler template. We get lots of info about the big names but it would be nice to know some more obscure names. The perennial winners in the NHL are teams who find those later round gems.

  • I disagree with you on how Chiapete could go into next season with this forward group. I could see him shop around Ebs, and Yak and push for Lucic if he hits the market. He isn’t scared to make risks to improve the team(eg. Kassian, Gryba) so I bet he’ll be very agressive this offseason in trying to get defense and size

  • Randaman

    LT,

    I would like to see specific spotlight articles on say, the top ten to twelve prospects that are draft eligible this year. I don’t see the Oilers trading down any farther than that. I’m not even sure they keep the pick but…

    “And we have a winner” hmmmmmm. Does lightning strike twice?

    We wait

  • Explicit

    “How on earth are the Oilers going to employ all of these left-handed defensemen next season. We assume that Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart will play next year, and with Andrej Sekera, that’s a lot of lefties! Suspect we will see some trade movement among these names”

    This is what interests me. The only guy I would trade is Reinhart, but I don’t see getting the same value you gave up for him, I guess you can play him in the AHL next year. But Sekera is a good veteran, Klefbom is Klefbom, Nurse bring a little nasty, and Davidson does everything for cheap! I wouldn’t trade any of them. This is going to be an interesting summer

    • fran huckzky

      Since Reinhart has been back up he has been one of their more steady dmen and has been chomping fairly high minutes . The Oil said he needed to become more aggressive and he is now frequently leading the team in hits. Just because some of you didn’t like the trade it doesn’t mean you should hold it over the kid’s head for the rest of his career.

        • Oilerchild77

          Muffin, huh? I’d like to see you block one of Reinhart’s shots, or take a hit in the corner from him. You’d cry yourself off the ice like a 6 year old girl.

          • #1 overall waivers pick

            You’re turning Reinhart into some sort of legend. With one slap shot or hit in the corner, Zeus Reinhart can make grown men cry like little girls.

            Maybe we should pitch that line to the Blues. Sell them on the power of Zeus Reinhart and offer him up for Colton Parayko.

            We all know that the Blues would not make that trade. At the end of the day, Reinhart is not Zeus, he’s a muffin.

            32gp 0G 2A 02Pts

          • Oilerchild77

            I’m not turning him into a legend, I’m just calling out a sh!t talking idiot like you who thinks he knows how to evaluate NHL talent.

            Tell you what, since you think you know so much, why don’t you apply to become a pro scout for the Oilers and show them all how great your powers of observation are?

    • IronX

      “Klefbom is Klefbom ” what does that mean?

      If it means he is “very good” , I’m skeptical of that, I haven’t seen him enough in the NHL, and neither have you. People need to stop assessing players on “potential ”

      Did anybody check who was the oiler with the most hits last game, doubling hits on the second one? Yep, it was Reinhardt…. Hits open space and make you think twice about doing something stupid, plus, kid is settling down. And he stays healthy….

      If the right trade comes along, bye bye to Klefbom, no questions asked…. Kid plays a third each season!

      • Ed in Edmonton 1

        I one had just seen the last few Oilers games and knew nothing of the players other than what you saw in these games, Reinhart would be considered the better choice vs Nurse.

      • crabman

        Klefbom has a staf incection this year and broke his leg another. Both were long term non related and non reocurring innuries. People were crying to trade Hall because he missed too many games his first few seasons too. I’m not concerned about Klefbom’s health just yet but I do agree with all these LHD if the right trade comes along almost anyone is tradable

    • pkam

      Play the LHD on the right side, it is not a mystery and many teams are doing that. It is not ideal but it is not the end of the world like some of you think.

      If I remember correctly, Klefbom played on the right side with OEL in the last World Championship.

      Davidson has been playing on the right side for quite a while this season.

      And Reinhart has been playing on the right side too.

  • Mason Storm

    I personally prefer spotlights. Maybe cover 3-4 players that fall within the Oilers pick range and then a dark horse that you like or a going off the board pick that we all know the Oilers love to do. At least for the first 3 rounds, after that it gets dicey

  • Jay (not J)

    I’m all for spotlights for the top 5 and then overviews by projected round. Depending on a few obvious factors Lucic would be a huge add. I am sure that the summer will be more exciting than the last few months have been. Tonight’s game looks like a good one to skip, but so did the last one. It would be nice to sees them come to play tonight and sustain that for 60 minutes. That will keep me in front of the set, if they pull out a win all the better.

  • Max

    Well, it’s HNIC, and we always suck on national TV on Saturdays – right?

    So today, I am going against the odds and predicting the first win for LB, a hard fought game with the Oilers the winners either by a late goal in the 3rd or in OT. I’m not betting the farm on it, but maybe, once in a while, my hunches will pay off.

      • Spydyr

        I would trade Eberle plus and Yak plus for defensive help. The top three pick should replace some of the offense and perhaps bring even more defence.

        I would even trade Hall for defensive help but the return would have to be fabulous.

        Pick up another top 6 forward as a UFA there are some good ones available.

        • RJ

          I think they need to get that top defender right away, be it Hamonic or someone else.

          I’d love to see them pick up a centre, even if he has to play on the wing.

  • Ed in Edmonton 1

    Certainly swapping a LHD for a RHD is option, maybe even likely. But having a leftie playing the right side is not so unusual. Reinhart played mostly right side with the Oil Kings and Sekera has played right side from time to time. Interesting that the Osterle has been switched to right side rather than Reinhart, maybe trying to give Reinhart best chance to succeed.

  • FireScorpion

    Obvious Game Day Prediction

    The Oilers go into the day finding themselves having moved up in the standings from DEAD LAST to 29th and feeling nervous about losing lottery percentage points for Auston immediately do the appropriately Oilers thing and bend over in an attempt to settle back into “Edmontonth” as opposed to 29th.

    Ahhh the tank is strong with these ones

  • Jimmer

    Remember when Pat Quinn wanted “beef on every line” and McT/K-Lowe gave them plugs like JF Jacques and Teemu Hartikainen to put in the top 6.

    The difference now is….our current GM actually knows what a large skilled forward looks like. Ie. Maroon.

    This is why I FINALLY have hope. Find one more guy like that (ie. Okposo) to add to the top 6 and then we might have something in Edmonton.

    Now about that d-core……….(face plant!)

  • O.C.

    Perfect storm.

    HNIC.
    Oil on road out of playoffs.
    Best team in NHL at home.
    Opponent fighting to stay ahead of Ducks.
    Talbot resting.
    No Nuge.

    What could possibly happen?

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    LT, I would rather see overviews of the draft in general…if I had to pick one.

    However I would love to see an exception for players around where the Oilers are picking after the lottery gives us a better idea. So, as well as everybody’s curiosity around our first round pick I would love a lot of focus around where our 2nd or even 3rd round pick would be…focusing on right-handed D-men and bigger power forwards that Chiarelli would be interested in adding. So maybe instead of stories on JUST ONE prospect, maybe a story on Right-shot forwards in the beginning of the draft on both Laine, Puuljujarvi, maybe others, right handed D prospects rated around the top of the 2nd round, another story on the next round’s prospects for instance…or on Connor’s former teammates and where they all might be available.

    Whatever you do, just please don’t stop those AWESOME overall draft overviews, they are pure GOLD (like the Solid Gold Dancers from years gone by!) Reading back on your pre-draft rankings of guys like Ethan Bear really helps me evaluate after the draft, considering their initial price tag. After reading your earlier rankings I really felt that we did end up in the draft with the value of Connor, plus a 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc… even AFTER trading away all of those picks!