By any measure, this is an unusual fall. Although we are mere hours away from being thrown into the deep freeze beside the leg of lamb, standing rib roast, pizza’s and whatever the hell Grandma sent over to eat last Christmas, it has been a most pleasant fall season for Edmonites. And the hockey team? Well hell, boys and girls, we seem to have fallen into a playoff race. Anyone want to talk about the 2017 draft? Didn’t think so.
Today, I would like to discuss Jesse Puljujarvi. The gentle giant from Finland, the mannish boy, won over the locals the moment he flashed his smile while wearing the worst fitting bucket since Petr Klima rocked the oversized Jofa many years ago. I think we can all agree that the young man has exceptional skills, and that he is going to be a diamond some day.
The problem, as I see it is this: Puljujarvi’s underlying numbers are excellent, but he isn’t cashing enough to play on a major skill line with the team in playoff contention. Fair? Let me explain my reasoning. According to Corsica.Hockey, JP has been part of the most productive line on the team if we use scoring chance percentage. And you know what else? He is also on the second most productive line:
- Maroon—Draisaitl—Puljujarvi 76.47
- Lucic—McDavid—Puljujarvi 71.43
The McDavid line outscored opponents 6-2 and the Draisaitl line was 2-0 on their sorties. One of my observations of Puljujarvi on the McDavid line is that he has seen plenty of fabulous chances but hasn’t been able to cash. So, no matter how good his 5×5/60 numbers, there are probably opportunities left on the table. Fair?
JPs 5×5/60 number is good (1.62) for an 18-year old, so we have to be careful not to frame him as a poor offensive option. I think he will eventually play on one of the top two lines and flourish, but we don’t really know what he is an offensive player.
- JP has two points in 91 minutes with Leon, a 1.32/60 number at 5×5. Since Leon is playing on a scoring line, that number is a little shy.
- JP has four points in 76 minute with McDavid, a 3.15/60 number at 5×5. That is a very strong number, in fact it is stronger than Leon with McDavid (1.96/60).
We always argue over numbers versus ‘saw him good’ and in this case there isn’t enough of a sample size to make any sweeping statements. Despite being a devotee of the math approach, my eyes tell me that Puljujarvi was leaving too many offensive opportunities on the board when playing with 97. Do you agree?
- Note: I am not saying Puljujarvi is less than expected or that he is in any way disappointing. Seriously.
I bring this up because it is important for this organization. If JP can establish himself as 1R or 2R, it allows the organization to either move Leon to C or make a decision on Jordan Eberle. Stay tuned.
At the time of publication we haven’t heard of any lineup changes apart from Gustavsson starting so we’re going with what the Oilers won with last night.
Lineups (subject to change) courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com
- Last time the Oilers had a winning run, Todd McLellan changed out a couple of players to get some sitters into the lineup. Edmonton lost, and that created a storm of rather large proportions. I think a coach should dress his top lineup without regard to the previous game result. Never thought it would be controversial, but these are tense times for Oilers fans.
- I would find a way to place JP back into the lineup but don’t ask me who to take out of the starting 12 forwards.
- The Milan Lucic interview on After Hours was outstanding. Scott Oake and Louie DeBrusk asked great questions, and I was so impressed with Lucic’s honesty and composure. You could go many years without seeing as revealing an interview from an active player.
- Darnell Nurse’s injury hurts the team, but there are reports that it might be weeks instead of months.
- Hat tip to Jordan Eberle, three assists last night. He was ripped from Morinville to Beaumont for sins real and imagined earlier in the year, but he can help offensively and that has high value. Glad to see he is having some success.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
- Michael Russo, StarTribune: As for the 0-1-2 trip so far (0-1-1 this week), Boudreau, who you know goes in week to week segments, said, “If we win [Sunday], then we would have lost one game in regulation in the last seven, and I think most teams would take that percentage. If we win, we tie the week and we’ve got a chance to win the five-game road trip with a win in Toronto.”
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers start well, but then realize it’s Sunday against the Wild and the game becomes plodding. Someone behind the Oilers bench yells ‘Jacques Lemaire!’ three times and Minnesota scores instantly. 1-0 after one.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The second period sees the Oilers cash twice, both on the power play. McDavid scores one and sets up another, 2-1 home side after two.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
Minnesota pushes all through the third period, finally scoring to tie it with 34 seconds let. OT solves nothing but the Oilers win it in the shootout for a very successful weekend.
A GOOD OL’ HOCKEY GAME
- When: Friday December 9th with doors opening at 2pm (the game starts at 6pm).
- Where: West Edmonton Mall at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace
- Who: Edmonton takes on Minnesota
- Why: Because we love to party
- What else: We’re going to have prize giveaways all night long
- How much to get in: FREE!
Huge thank you to everyone at West Edmonton Mall, The Brick, Vimy Hockey, Donnan, 1st RND, TSN 1260, Eddie Bauer, The Bear and everyone else that worked so hard to help us get this event off the ground. Your hard work is appreciated, and I can’t wait for December 9th to get here. It’s going to be a fantastic night.