Monday Mailbag – Where did the goals go?

OodleNoodleBanner

Mailbag

Now, I’m not going to suggest that you’ve wandered over to this website during company time because you have no desire to work, but I’m not ready to take that off the table. I mean, I get it. You’re back at work after spending the weekend doing whatever it is that you do and you need to get the engine running before you can move forward. Sometimes starting the engine involves spending a few minutes reading the answers to questions you’ve always wondered about, and that’s where the mailbag comes in. If there’s something you’d like to know, feel free to email me your question or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll try to get you in as soon as possible. Until then, I present this week’s edition of the mailbag. Enjoy.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

1) AJ88 asks – Do you think NHL teams (Oilers included) and their coaches in lean towards defensive systems over offensive systems?

Jonathan Willis:

Yes. There’s a reason you hear so many people around the game say that defence can be taught but offensive ability can’t, which isn’t something that makes a lot of sense to me.  You hear that less these days, though, so perhaps we’re seeing an evolution. Regardless, many, many studies have shown that humans tend to be risk-averse, often sacrificing what statistically is a good shot at a big gain if it entails a moderate risk. NHL coaches aren’t wired all that differently from the rest of us.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Lowetide:

Yes, same as it ever was. A coach is interested in controlling outcomes and chances are most nights the actual talent on each team will be about equal. Cutting down on mistakes makes sense in such a close contest.

Jason Gregor:

It is easier to coach defence, but what “system” could you use offensively. They do discuss supporting the puck and staying close, as well as certain ways to cycle. To me it is putting more of an onus on offensive skills. Practice them more. Hockey is so free flowing it is rare to have a perfect alignment to used set plays per se. On the PP they work on it more of course, because the defence is often set up in the same spot.

Robin Brownlee:

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Matt Henderson:

I don’t think there’s any question about it. To some degree every system is about defense.

Chris the Intern:

Defense first, goals come later, right? I do believe in that, however, I think it depends on the circumstances. If you have naturally amazing forwards like Crosby, Ovechkin, Kessel, etc…. you can probably spend more time working on defense systems than offense.

Baggedmilk:

Look at the young guys in the NHL right now. A lot of these players have insane puck skills because they spent their entire lives working on them. When you’re a kid, who wants to work on defense, right? I guess that’s why they have to learn it at the NHL level. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The real answer is I have no idea but I’d rather ramble on and pretend like I do. 

2) Darryn asks – Where did the wheels fall off from the first eight games to the next eight games?

Jonathan Willis:

These things happen to middling teams, which is what I see the Oilers as. The typical wildcard winner doesn’t go through the entire season posting a 5-4-1 record every 10 games. Instead they have highs and lows and in the end those things balance out. There’s a lot of stuff the coaches can work on at the micro level – Edmonton’s scoring chances for have dipped, while chances against have gone up – but from a big-picture viewpoint not a whole lot has changed.

Lowetide:

Regression in goal and injuries are the most likely culprits, although the Nuge and Leon lines slumping this long is probably a real concern at this point (this is written 11/17).

Jason Gregor:

They were overachieving in the first eight games. They weren’t going to stay at that pace. They faced tougher competition in the next eight as well. Their record after 16 games is likely a true representation of who they are a as a team. If they can end up having six or seven more wins than losses (regulation) they will be right in the mix to make the playoffs.

Robin Brownlee:

They didn’t fall off. Just an extended high-speed wobble until they avoided ending upside down in the ditch and on fire by waxing Dallas. Oilers had too many of their go-to guys not getting it done during the five-game losing streak. Oilers weren’t as good at their 7-2-1 record to start and weren’t as bad as they appeared during the losing streak.

Matt Henderson:

The shooting percentage fell to about half the league average and Talbot started letting in 3-4 goals a night. Combine some legitimately bad starts and there’s the makings for an extended losing streak. I mean, it’s tough to win with goaltending below .900 and with no scoring from the 2nd and 3rd lines.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Offseason Thoughts and the Importance of Patience

Chris the Intern:

Our first big loss was Ottawa. We pretty much immediately wrote it off because of the circumstances of it being Craig Anderson’s first game back. Maybe that was a bad decision? Next game was Toronto, and from there we went for a tumble. I honestly very confused by how this whole situation fell apart on us, but it began against Ottawa.

Baggedmilk:

No goals no wins, brah. I don’t know if I remember a time when an entire group of forwards has slumped at the same time like what’s going on with the Oilers right now. Combine a lack of goal scoring with some mediocre goaltending performances and you’re generally in for a bad time. 

3) Craig asks – Obviously, the scoring numbers have been down and I’m wondering what the panel believes the Oilers should do to get themselves out of this slump they’re in especially if you consider that they’ve been outshooting their opponents?

Jonathan Willis:

The Oilers are out-shooting, but the chances have turned south. Over time, chances and shots correlate strongly, but it doesn’t happen by itself – it happens because coaches are constantly pushing their teams to do a better job in the offensive/defensive zones. At even-strength, there’s a need to drive the net more, to generate more second opportunities and more chances from the hard areas of the ice, and I’d be very surprised if that isn’t what the coaching staff is stressing.

Lowetide:

I would run Eberle with Nuge and Pouliot, and push one of the wingers up to Maroon and McDavid. Hell maybe try Leon or Lucic up with that duo. Bottom line, take Eberle from 97 and place with 93.

Jason Gregor:

They need to go to the net more and stay there. They have settled for outside shots and haven’t had enough from in close. 

Get more traffic in front. Make it harder on opposing goalies, and if the PP can get going again their offence should stay between 10-15th.

Robin Brownlee:

Shot quality matters more than the number of shots. Need guys at the net and second shots more consistently.

Matt Henderson:

I think the shooting percentages will normalize. If the Oilers keep outshooting their opponents then eventually nature will take its course. Our brains try to rationalize these things by saying that the Oilers are probably taking lots of low percentage shots. I’d wager that’s overstated. Some players probably are, but not the bulk of the team. Goals will come if they keep up the pressure.

Chris the Intern:

I would recommend drafting a couple more Connor McDavids. He’s an amazing player so if we just had more of him, things should be better, right?

But actually, I don’t know. Shoot better?

Baggedmilk:

Get ugly, man. The Oilers haven’t been crashing the net to chase rebounds and garbage goals like they had been earlier in the year. While it’s all well and good to get a bunch of shots every night that won’t help you when they’re all taken from the outside and no one is there to cash in on the rebounds. 

4) Blake asks – In your opinion, how is the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade looking now that we’ve hit the quarter mark of the season?

Jonathan Willis:

I don’t think many opinions will have moved. Mine certainly hasn’t; I like Larsson a lot but think that long-term not having a real offensive driver on the second line (the gap between Hall/Lucic, in other words) is going to hurt more than the gap between Larsson/Jason Demers would have helped. But for the most part I’m content to wait and see whether that assertion is right or whether Peter Chiarelli’s calculation was correct.

Lowetide:

It remains a massive overpay, but Peter Chiarelli surely knew that at the time of the deal. It is a bet —make the playoffs and people will forget—and from that pov we are still waiting for the answer.

Jason Gregor:

Oilers needed to improve D so added Larsson. He has helped. They miss Hall’s ability to drive a line without playing with McDavid. For me, nothing has changed.

Robin Brownlee:

Just like it did when the trade was made. The Oilers overpaid for something they needed. Can’t assess a trade through less than 20 games.

Matt Henderson:

It was awful in June and it’s still awful today. I’m not sure that can really be argued. Hall was leading the Devils forwards in ice time (and playing more than Larsson) and in scoring before he got hurt. Larsson is about 4th on the Oiler D in icetime per game and he hasn’t been the impact defender Chiarelli hoped he would be. I *like* Larsson and I’ll take the upgrade over Schultz every day of the week, but Edmonton lost that deal big time.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Looking for bargains among the list of players who didn't receive a qualifying offer

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, I’m kind of annoyed at everybody right now. When we were winning, everyone was praising Chia for the trade. Now everyone’s throwing the trade back in his face. I’m still happy with the trade. Our defence is better, and I’m a lot more impressed with Larsson than I thought I was going to be. Do I miss Hall? Yes, but tough cookies.

Baggedmilk:

Supply and demand. That’s all this trade was. Everyone from GMs to fans knew that the Oilers needed a right-handed defenseman and the price shot through the roof. I actually like Larsson more than I expected. I didn’t know he’s as physical as he is and I think that’s something that’s be lacking on the back end for a long time. You can see that Larsson could be great if he develops some more, but that’s still an if to me. Again, I repeat that I like Adam Larsson plenty. I just don’t think he was worth one of the best left wingers in the game to acquire. Don’t @ me.

5) Josh asks – Do you guys ever read the comment section after a loss? If so what is your reaction? Laughter? Anger? Utter disbelief? The trade proposals are incredible and the coaching moves are even better. Reading the comments section on GDBs is one of my favourite things to do, thanks for the entertainment ON!

Jonathan Willis:

Sometimes I read it, though I generally try to keep a more even keel rather than riding the highs and the lows the way so many fans do, just because I find it more helpful for my work. But I’m not going to criticize anyone for feeling these wins and losses strongly – that passion is what makes Edmonton such an exceptional fan base, and is the reason the Oilers are still around. It’s also the reason I have a job. The crazier trade proposals you’ll see are generally a side effect of that emotion which is so essential to being a fan.

Lowetide:

I often read the comments section, it is a good way to get a read on what people are thinking. Oilers fans are a passionate bunch, nothing wrong with blowing off some steam at ON!

Jason Gregor:

I do, but not every game. I hosted the post-game show on radio for the first six years of my career and it was great. The raw passion after a game is the best. Yes, often some will go off the deep end, but there are just as many who can make sensible comments. I prefer the comments now that people have to sign up and aren’t completely anonymous. The comments are mainly about on ice play not lame personal shots. An improvement for sure.

Robin Brownlee:

It is the epitome of reasoned thinking and common sense.

Matt Henderson:

Lots of times the comment sections can get too toxic for me. I try to stick around for the first page or so, but there’s only so many times you can read about how the hours you dedicated to writing the article was a waste of time because Joe X hates Analytics/Pouliot/Critical Thought/Your Face anyway. Some people are really awesome, but for every funny comment there’s someone who didn’t even bother to read the article at all who’s just screaming for attention. That’s cool and all the power to them, but I can’t subject myself to that willingly.

Chris the Intern:

Sometimes I do. Often after a loss, I’m angry at Twitter, the Oilers, and everybody. Looking at the wrap-up only escalates that anger so I usually try to avoid it. Maybe the next morning I’ll take a peek, but I have to give props to Baggedmilk for having to moderate them every night.

Baggedmilk:

The comments section on this website swings the way the Oilers do. Since I write 95% of the wrap ups I’m always around to read those comments and there are definitely times when things get weird. When the Oilers are winning my fellow citizens are a happy lot. When they’re losing, and looking bad while they’re doing it… watch out.

As for how I react, I love that the Oilers get you guys fired up enough to come to the site and yell about it. Without you guys this site is nothing. Period. Sometimes I’ll jump in there and get into it with you guys, sometimes I watch from behind the curtain. Either way, I read the comments and it’s never boring to say the least.


  • 24% body fat

    Perfect Willis!

    We do not need Lucic. We have a lot of other big players with better skill, skating and better contracts.

    Hall and Demers or Lucic and Larsson.

    P.S. Larsson is Great but he is not top 5 at his position in the world. Go for the big hunt next season when a Trouba type player needs to be offloaded because of expansion. I think we all would rather have had traded Eberle and Pouliot for something.

    Go ahead and trash, Lucic is allready 3 million overpaid and we are one year in.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I think one of the problems with the Oilers is that they don’t want to work hard every game or crash the net enough. Still pizzed at them for going on a good long winning streak at the start of the season only to almost lose it all back again. Typical Oilers!

  • Oil Can

    I still find it odd that most of the bloggers still believe that strongly that the Hall for Larsson trade was so one sided. Defencemen take longer to perfect their craft and Larsson is still learning and looks darn good already. Hall is a really good player, and I like him as a player. BUT and that is a really big but, Hall could not make either the World Cup team or the Olympic team, and that was even after a hand full of replacements were needed. If Larsson had a real top pairing left shot defenceman to play with he would look even better. For me the trade was good for both sides and there were no winners or losers in the trade. Just two teams that sacrificed a good player each, to make their respective teams better.

    • Like I said, I like Larsson a lot. He’s actually a better player than what I was expecting coming back so I don’t think the Oilers lost the trade as badly as I did in the summer. That said, Edmonton still needs a power play QB and they already traded away their best bargaining chip. Maybe Larsson can still turn into that guy, I hope he can, but that’s still a maybe. I figured that if the Oilers were trading Taylor Hall, a sure thing, that they would be getting a sure thing back in return. Like I said in my answer, though. Supply and demand.

      • Oil Can

        I agree that the Oil need a power play quarterback, but for some reason it is predetermined that the power play quarterback needed to be a right shot d-man. I would suggest that a top line left shot d-man, that would quarterback the power play and play with Larsson would be the move to make, and should be easier and more realistic at acquiring. On the power play, shift the left shot d-man to his off side (right side for his left shot one timer) and then have Puljujarvi play the right side so he can one time shots from up high or side down to the circle for one timers. Puljujarvi has the stick handling skills and the speed to get back if needed.

    • Klef abs

      If he had a real partner?

      Klef is the best dman on this team. Larsson is 4 th best if that. Hes a second pair shutdown dman. Terrible shot. Weak skater. It is an awful awful trade as most of the bloggers pointed out.

      Homers just can’t see clearly and want so badly for it to work out.

  • camdog

    Generally I find the tone of the comments section reflects the tone of the blog. If the blog is condescending, the comments section turns rather toxic rather quick.

    As to this Oilers team they are going to be alright. The defense int’t quite there yet, but when healthy they won’t have any pylons in the line up, their mobility isn’t a concern like it was in years past.
    Their depth forwards can actually keep up to the play and contribute, it’s been years since that has been true.When some of their bigger names start playing better and it is going to happen, they are going to win a good number of hockey games. As long as the goalie and star centre stay healthy it’s going to be a good year.

  • madjam

    Where is Lucic ? He has only 9 points , but only 9 minutes in penalties despite a 5 minute fight . Less penalty minutes than Eberle and Conner if we take away the fight . Is he going for Lady Byng ? Our rendition of Milan seems different from other teams .

  • positivebrontefan

    This team is exhausting. I’m going to the game tonight and I sure hope the team that played Dallas shows up. Time for Connor to get a Hattrick at home.

  • Boom or Bust

    I like Larson. He is way more physical than I thought he would be. We overpaid for him but I’m glad he is a good defenseman and he will keep getting better!!

  • @Hallsy4

    I like Hall, and it would be nice to have the Hall line and the McDavid line. However, I think that trade was a step in the right direction. Now Chia needs to trade Ebs, Pouliot, and probably eventually Nugey boy. It will be nice to completely move on from the Oiler teams that were so bad. Lowe and Mac T should be dismissed accordingly.

  • Total Points

    I thought the Oilers missed Russel. The last game was so different than the previous 10. The puck left the defensive zone easier

    Looking forward to tonights game to see if the excellent play from the defense to forwards continues.

    • camdog

      The Oiler defence is stronger when slow defence man that are slow at moving the puck are not in the line up. I like the physicality that Gryba brings, but prefer him at #7 or even #8 behind Benning. Fayne prefer he goes to the minors when he gets healthy.

      If the numbers people want to write another blog on how good Mark Fayne is and how bad Russell is, I’d like to see some video attached to show what I am missing.

      A lot has been written about about how PC has built a bigger, slower team. The defence when healthy could have a top 6 of Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera, Nurse, Russell and Davidson. When was the last time the Oilers had 6 d-man that could skate?

  • Mitchvar9412

    How can anyone know if Demers was going to sign here. I dont see the oilers in the position they are without Larsson… It would mean more playing time for Gryba

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    On the first question, do “coaches in [sic] lean towards defensive systems over offensive systems?” The answer is no they don’t, they do both but offensive systems can appear to have a different level of detail and structure to them than defensive systems such as “the trap.”

    Part of the challenge with addressing this question comes when we neglect to think about “offence” and “defence” as something that can occur on all parts of the ice. For example, successfully exiting the D zone is both an offensive and defensive play. Many good teams and players (and coaches) use that transition moment to set up a scoring opportunity as much as they use it to take away scoring opportunities. The same can be said for checking and turnovers at the blue lines, winning face-offs and the resultant puck possession, and even blocking shots, and simply finishing a check any where on the ice.

    The Oilers over the last few years have been a team with poor offence (despite the claim many make that the team has been loaded with offensive talent the Oilers were in the 5th quintile in scoring last year) and poor defence. This is not a coincidence. Poor defence poor and poor offence are closely related, conversely so is a good offence and defence–as part of a holistic system.
    Watch Chicago’s tape-to-tape passing game tonight and ask yourself if that’s part of the defensive or offensive system. The answer is its part of both. The Rangers’ speed game? Both. Etc.

    Systems are player-dependent, of course. Not all systems will work with every team, but when the system and team make up are aligned, they’re working both offence and defence at the same time. I think the larger challenge to address and to think about is how have the Oilers or other teams aligned their system to make the most of the assets they have –and then what additional assets do they need to shed/ add.

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      I agree to some extent that in a game like hockey it can be difficult to separate offence from defence as they are not independent. A team with weak defence that can’t get the puck out of their own end or can’t make an outlet pass will have a negative impact on offence. A team that forechecks well and keeps up-ice pressure will help their defence.

      I think Deffence is often stressed by coaches because it is easier to define or tell someone what their responsibilities are. A winger is supposed to cover the point, pick up the puck along the boards and look for the center for an outlet pass, or whatever. Other than a coordinated forecheck system or some axioms like “go to the net”,it’s a lot harder to tell players what they should be doing in the ozone. Do you think TMC tells McD what he should be doing when he has the puck in the ozone? A lot of offence is improvised on the fly and is difficult to distill down to coaching.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Do you think TMC tells McD what he should be doing when he has the puck in the ozone? A lot of offence is improvised on the fly and is difficult to distill down to coaching.

        I don’t think he does, and I take your Q to be rhetorical and directionally correct, moment to moment in a game. At the same time, I think there’s a reasonable extrapolation from the kind of X’s and arrows that get used in power play diagramming that gets used in overall offensive strategy–with all of the limitations at which your post gestures when it comes to individual players making individual plays on unique rushes.

        For example, patterns do emerge over time and I’m sure that TMC lets McD know (or they talk about) the way his coverage has changed from games 1-5 to games 15-20 which (I assume) will affect what he does on the ice when he’s got the puck in the O-zone (for example: shoot more!)

  • Dinojr

    Whatever your opinion on the Hall trade is, the team is better. Gregor always said we don’t know what went on on the dressing room but something has changed this year.
    We are winning and that’s all that should matter

    • Klef abs

      The team would have been “better” even if Chia did nothing. Healthy McDavid, Klef, Talbot, Nuge and the rest would be just as good. Like Willis said. We d be better off having kept Hall and signing a different dman whether that would have been Demers or someone else.

      • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

        It depends on who that daman might be, and remember Hall’s $6M price tag has an impact on who might be signed. If Demers could have been had, who knows if there was a chance but Chia’s ability to sign free agents (Sekora, Lucic, Caggulia, Benning) has been impressive. So we might have Hall and Demers rather than Lucic and Larssen, or maybe just Hall and ????.

        PS. Suggest you change your handle, hard to take you serious when you are such as fan boy for a specific player. You are obviously looking at Klef through rose colored glasses and have come to a conclusion that any problem Klef may have is really Larsen’s fault. That sounds a lot like the Yak City people who for years were convinced that Yak could play in the NHL if only he had the right center.

        • Klef abs

          Funny that “Chia” signed Benning and Cagg when it was Mact that missed the final rexall game to go scout them.

          Also let’s go back to when Stauffer said it was actually Chia that turned down RNH for Jones (not Poile turning it down as some suggested).

          We could have still had Hall. Jones, and then adding a Demers would have been gravy.

          Team would look a lot better if you ask me.

          PC’s moves have so far been vastly over rated.

        • Aendayana777

          Sekora, Larssen or Larsen?

          Man sorry I don’t want to be the fuzz about spelling but it’s annoying when you can’t even refer to these players we invest so much time in with their proper names.