Monday Mailbag – How do you fix the power play?

Mailbag

It’s mailbag time again, my friends, and that means I’ve taken the questions you’ve sent me and fired them over to our panel of writers to get all the answers you’ve always been looking for. I say it every week, but this segment is entirely dependent on you guys to make it work, so send me your questions. You can email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.com. Enjoy.

1) Ryan C. asks – After the Senators and Leafs, the Oilers play one of the most difficult ten game stretches in the season. How well do they need to do? If they come out of it at .500 can we start talking playoffs?

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Jason Gregor:

You can talk about being in a playoff race, but with 62 games still to go a lot could change. If they pick up ten points in next ten games I’d say they will look like a team that should be able to compete for a playoff spot.

Lowetide:

I think the Oilers need to gather 15 points from the 15 November games. If they do, the club will enter December with 24gp and 29 points. That gives them a good position entering the heart of the season.

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Robin Brownlee:

I don’t see more than three wins in this segment for the Oilers, so 10 points is a reach unless they can pick up four loser points. With the 7-2-1 start, only getting seven or eight points won’t be the end of the world — if it’s eight, for example, they’ll still have 23 points after 20 games. As for talking playoffs (or not talking playoffs) you’re getting ahead of yourself. They won’t be so good or so bad after 20 games that you can count them in or out.

Jason Strudwick:

They did well in the first “easier” part of the season. As a player you don’t get to far ahead of yourself. You just focus on the two points you can grab that night. A coach I had would always say “Two points in November is worth the same as two in April.”

Matt Henderson:

Edmonton absolutely needs to come out .500 in the stretch if we want to talk playoffs. If we want to get really excited they should be above that. If they continue to get mangled then it’s time to worry about whether October was a mirage.

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Chris the Intern:

If we come out 0.75 maybe we can talk about playoffs. If we win five of the next ten games I would still be happy, but the inner Oiler in me will always be paranoid about double digit losing streaks.

Baggedmilk:

If the Oilers can figure out a way to float around .500 then they could be in good shape coming out of the road trip. Unfortunately, they wasted a couple games to start the trip and now they’ll have some work to do in order to catch up.

2) Evan asks – Is it just me or is Connor McDavid taking a lot of abuse that goes uncalled by the referees? Have you noticed this and do you think other teams are taking too many liberties with our best player?

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Jason Gregor:

Honestly, I think some are looking for every touch on Connor to be a penalty. He has the puck a lot, so he will have guys on him and not every play has been a penalty. However, sadly the NHL doesn’t want to call obstruction, so he like many other superstars will be endure more holding than most would like. For reasons I don’t understand the NHL seems okay with obstruction.

Lowetide:

Yes. He got off to a brilliant start and teams will key on him. The NHL is a tough league, but he is a brilliant player. McDavid will not impact every night, but he will post a tremendous season and emerge as the best player in the game.

Robin Brownlee:

All the best players face what McDavid is facing now. That’s how it works. I don’t think he’s taken too much abuse.

Jason Strudwick:

I remember playing against Sidney Crosby his first few years and he would always feel like he was getting abused and talking with the refs. He is a great player and he is a target. Everyone wants to slow him down and not let him get going. I think 97 is going to have to get used to it.

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Matt Henderson:

Yes, I think he takes too much abuse. However, that’s what happens to star players in the NHL. They get beat up all the time. McDavid especially is going to get beat up because defenders need to obstruct him in order to stop him. He’s the best skater in the NHL and he’s a puck carrier. That’s a recipe for abuse. Referees won’t call everything because PPs would be 7-2 in favour of the Oilers every game.

Chris the Intern:

I’m trying not to be too worrisome over McDavid cause he’s a big kid and can handle himself, but I definitely wish Lucic or someone would have punched out Kadri last week. I don’t mind the non-call on Kadri’s OT winning goal, but i’m shocked about the other calls that haven’t gone McDavid’s way. If anything, you’d think Connor should be a little more protected by the officials than an average player (even though I hate talking about this stuff). I just always remember commentators comment how people aren’t allowed to get away with slashing Sidney Crosby like that. Why not McDavid too?

Baggedmilk:

I’ve definitely noticed and I wonder when he’s going to start getting those calls go his way. I’m specifically thinking of when Erik Karlsson had McDavid in a headlock, right in from of the official, and there was no call made. That said, the biggest problem the Oilers have is not that Connor isn’t getting calls it’s that their power play has been brutally ineffective.

3) Brandon asks – How long do you think Cam Talbot can sustain his current pace without getting fatigued? At the time of this question, Talbot has started every single game for Edmonton and I wonder how long he can keep it up?

Jason Gregor:

I suspect he will play over 65 games this year. The Oilers needs a good start and he was playing great so there was no need to rest him. They had easy travel schedule as well. To be one of league’s best goalies he needs to be  able to play 60+ games and be solid in the majority of them.

Lowetide:

He is getting plenty of rest between games and appears to want the net. Ride the wave!

Robin Brownlee:

He won’t sustain his current pace. The Oilers have had a good schedule in terms of lack of back-to-back games so I don’t see fatigue as an issue at this point.

Jason Strudwick:

Every goalie is different but I do know they like to play. If they get enough rest on off days they can go for a while. This is all new for Talbot, he has never been “the man”, so he and Todd will have to figure it out.

Matt Henderson:

I think goalies can play way more games than we credit them for. I would be using the backup in back-to-back situations or once performance dips. That’s it. My starter gets every other game. Twenty games for a backup is way too many.

Chris the Intern:

Talbot has #DadStrength now so as far as I’m concerned he can play 70 games this year without a muscle cramp!

Baggedmilk:

Right now, Dadbot looks like he could play all 82 games if he needed to. The guy is a professional athlete so I think his stamina will be fine as long as they don’t start trotting him out there on back-to-back nights.

4) Layne C. asks – Pretend for a minute that you’re Todd McLellan. How would you fix the power play or what would you like to see them do differently?

Jason Gregor:

I would add a second right shot on the PP, even if the player isn’t as gifted offensively as Draisaitl.  But first I would strongly encourage them to stop being so selfless and start shooting the puck when they are in a good spot. I wouldn’t freak out. I’ll bet they score a few and be over 20% within a week. It is early and one or two good games can change the perception of the PP quickly.

Lowetide:

I would wander down the hall and ask the GM where my RH hammer shot defenseman is.

Robin Brownlee:

Oilers are getting more pucks through to the net from above the circles but they still need more people at the net when the puck arrives. Would like to see more second and third chances instead of one and done.

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Jason Strudwick:

I want more puck movement early and a quick shot within 10 seconds of puck drop. That is what gets the killers running around.

Matt Henderson:

I’d get Puljujarvi playing with McDavid as fast as humanly possible with Maroon in front and Lucic doing board work. Second unit is RNH, Eberle, Pouliot, Draisaitl. Nurse and Klefbom are my defenders. I like the idea of separating Eberle and McDavid. Puljujarvi has a better one-timer and Eberle needs to get back to working for his chances.

Chris the Intern:

What we need on the power play is four more Connor McDavids. To be honest, the power play has “looked” much better this year. They have good puck control in the zone (when they get it), unlike last year when they could never even set something up. They obviously need to shoot more, and recently they have been, they just still can’t score goals. Frustrating stuff.

Baggedmilk:

Until the Oilers get a big shot from the point I don’t know what can be changed aside from getting more shots to the net. As it stands now, the Oilers have no blue line option to fill that power play role and it leaves the other teams only having to cover four guys instead of worrying about a big point shot.

5) Curtis asks – What is your first hockey memory that you can remember? Why do you think you remember after all of these years?

Jason Gregor:

I remember playing road hockey with my older brother, mom and dad on our driveway at the farm. It was fantastic. I loved it. Great times with family playing a game we all enjoyed.

Lowetide:

Sitting with my Dad at my Grandpa’s house watching the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Montreal Canadiens. My Grandpa was drinking Lucky Lager beer and smoking a pipe, and my Dad explained to me why Mr. Horton and Mr. Keon were the best players on the ice. That happened about 100 times in my youth.

Robin Brownlee:

My uncle tying my skates. He had to improvise because he was missing most of his right thumb, but he always got them just right. He also taped my sticks from heel to toe with black tape, old school, at a time when a lot of kids were using white tape and only taping their sticks at the toe.

Jason Strudwick:

I remember the Oilers losing to the Kings in the playoffs. I was crying but wasn’t really sure why.

Matt Henderson:

Flooding the community rink with my dad. It felt like we were out there in the middle of the night. I was cold and bundled up. Not sure how young I was but small enough that everything seemed so big. The lights at the rink gave everything kind of an eerie glow. My dad was my first coach but I didn’t fall in love with hockey until I was older, well past the time I had stopped playing organized hockey. Hockey was one of the few things I had in common with my dad. So that memory in the rink is one of the first memories I have bonding with the old man, doing something together. He died when he was just 53 years old. I like thinking about these memories of us doing things together.

Chris the Intern:

My first hockey memory was probably one of my first ever memories which I think is pretty cool. It was my first time skating. I just remember myself looking down at the ice while holding onto a chair while trying to balance on the ice. After that I remember not being able to stop, so the toes of my skates were always worn out cause I would just skate into the boards to stop myself. Pretty significant memory so I’m not surprised I can still remember it!

Baggedmilk:

My first memory was of my dad bringing me to an Oilers/Red Wings game and then taking me downstairs to stand outside of the Oilers room to wait for autographs. When I was a kid, you were allowed to stand outside of the room and wait for the guys to walk out, and I filled up quite a few game programs with signatures as a result. First game with my dad will always be memorable.


  • 24% body fat

    Matt is correct.

    Eberles shot opposite McDavid is brutal. Put Jesse there.

    Than Have Eberle run the pp from the other side on the second unit. He can pass it to one of the lefties.

  • Suzycue123

    I hate that Chicago is tied with us atop the west. Good teams rise to the top eventually. We need to stay ahead of our division rivals in order for playoffs to become reality.

    Connor vs Sid Part I. Who’s excited???

    I am.

  • stonedtodeath61

    I think it’s amazing that most talk of concerns has moved to the forward group. The D has been much, much better than expected and that’s without Davidson. If you had told me in September that Nurse and Gryba would be counted on to average over 17 minutes and then need to play second pairing minutes in November I would have thought the season was in trouble.

  • Rocklobzter

    “They won’t be so good or so bad after 20 games that you can count them in or out.”
    With all due respect, I think we’ve all seen an Oiler team so bad after 20 games that you can count them out.

  • madjam

    It is looking like Oilers are going to remain in top 20% of league now . I suspect next 11 games in November we could readily be 8-3 . Pitt. and Chicago will be difficult , but rest are certainly winnable games and payback on Leafs and Rangers at home . Double up on Arizona and Dallas possible in that stretch , and singles over L.A. and Anaheim .

    A collapse by team this year does not resonate like it might have from previous years . The team is finally melding and far more consistent .

    It is looking more like how high team can remain in top 20% of league than just a playoff team to be honest . Is that to much pessimism for a Monday ?

  • tileguy

    First hockey memory, watching Toronto and Chicago play Saturday night in the 60’s and hoping for a linebrawl to break out (usually at the end of the game) to prolong bedtime.

  • RyanCoke

    Chris the Intern: I just always remember commentators comment how people aren’t allowed to get away with [slashing] Sidney Crosby like that, etc, etc. Why not McDavid too?

    So do you only watch the game or the commentary as well? I recall Don Cherry saying players shouldn’t be allowed to do that to your best players while specifically talking about Connor.

  • Word to the Bird

    What i like the most about this team is that every game they have at least put up a fight (including the Buffao one, Talbot just laid an egg). Theres no panic that sets in when they fall behind either, they just stick to the process. Gonna be a fun season if the team stays healthy

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      Stay healthy? The Oil have the 2nd highest man games lost to injuries so far this year. The question should be what will they be like when they get healthy?

  • Druds

    Look BM I would Like to think I’m as open minded as the next guy when it comes to music videos …BUT WTF!!! was that MGMT thingee????

    Man the looks I got when that started playing out of my office…They look and sound like the bastard children of Marc Bolan and Ono…. its just too much for a Monday

    • I’d say the PP was still bad, only one of the goals wasn’t a broken play.

      Oilers still struggled on zone entries, setting things up, generating chances.

      I’ve watched a ton of Todd Nelson’s PP setups, where the Oilers had the hottest PP in the league…they didn’t rely on any big point shot.

      So if the Oilers don’t have one, they can manage. Todd recognized that the Oilers have a ton of offensive talent and it makes up for the lack of a big shot D.

  • SALAKAN

    congrats to the intern who said it, kadri needs to be filled in by someone. opposing players need to know that if you do bullcrap like that to 97 you’ll be punished. they’d have to think that a goal scored against them isn’t worth saving, if their face is getting smacked. and i don’t care about al the talk about “the nhl isn’t used to be like old times” reffs still watch players fight don’t they. I hope kadri comes to town healthy and gets a beating.

    • SALAKAN

      go ask our friend polak. you force it on him, because kadri chose to hassle our franchise player he is going to face consequences . it’s time to set boundaries for other teams. I understand that what kadri did may not cause a long term injury but it can definitely cause bumps and bruises that can affect the game of a player. going after matthews is an option but I’d prefer setting things straight with the agitator. tbh I can’t wait for the game and I hope the oil deliver the message properly.