Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday Thoughts: Malkin, McDavid, Pouliot and more

It is rare you get to watch three of the league’s top-five scorers in the same game, but tomorrow night in Edmonton we will get to watch Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same sheet of ice. That Phil Kessel guy, currently 12th in scoring, isn’t bad either.

Toss in Leon Draisaitl, tied for 26th in scoring, and hopefully we see an offensive explosion.

Thursday Thoughts and Observations:

  • I keep hearing a lot about Crosby versus McDavid, which makes sense because both are great, but I’m surprised how often we overlook Malkin. Since he entered the league in 2006/2007, he’s produced the fourth most points and has the second best points-per-game. He has scored 830 points in 702 games, good for 1.18 points per game. Only Crosby’s 1.32 is better. Only Alex Ovechkin (915), Crosby (906) and Joe Thornton (836) have more points. Malkin has won the Art Ross Trophy (scoring title) twice, the Hart (MVP) once, the Calder (rookie) and the Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP).Crosby has won the Art Ross and Hart twice, the Conn Smythe once and the Maurice Richard (most goals) once.I won’t argue Crosby is better, but when we talk superstars Malkin seems to get overlooked. The fact he wasn’t in the top-100 recently hammers home the point he gets overlooked a lot because of Crosby.
  • I also loved seeing Malkin own up to his cheap shot of Blake Wheeler earlier this year and drop the gloves last night. He owned it and admitted after the game the hit was bad and he felt it was the right thing to do to oblige Wheeler and fight. It is nice to see a star player not want special treatment or get one of his teammates to fight his battles. His teammates loved him for doing it.
  • Over the past nine seasons Crosby has played 8073 EV minutes. His most common forward linemates have been: Chris Kunitz (3980), Pascal Dupuis (2330), Malkin (1324), Patrik Hornqvist (1195), Bill Guerin (783) and David Perron (573). Kris Letang was his most frequent D-man (2672). Kunitz flanked Crosby almost 50% of the time, while Dupuis was over 28%, but then there is a big drop. I mention it because if you look at McDavid’s first 111 games he’s had similar frequency of linemates as Crosby has.
  • McDavid has played 1686 EV minutes and Jordan Eberle (754), Patrick Maroon (665), Leon Draisaitl (458) and Milan Lucic (430) and Benoit Pouliot (320) have played the most with him. McDavid has success regardless of who he plays with, and while it would be great for him to find an equivalent to Jari Kurri, it is rare to find. Jesse Puljujarvi will likely get a long look on the right side in the future, and he has potential to be a good fit, because he has a good shot, but it is difficult to find players who can see the ice and think the game as well as Crosby or McDavid.
  • Benoit Pouliot will return to the lineup tomorrow. He’ll play with David Desharnais and Zack Kassian. According to Desharnais he and Pouliot played on the same line for about 20 games when they were in Montreal. He feels their games complement each other well and McLellan is hoping two biggers wingers will work well with Desharnais.
  • Pouliot will also see some time on the PK. The Oilers’ PK is 30th in the NHL since January 1st, and Pouliot’s speed and reach should be an asset. McLellan mentioned he liked Pouliot on the PK earlier this season and he’ll use him there tomorrow. Pouliot also took Drake Caggiula’s spot on the second PP unit, but Desharnais has been getting reps there as well and McLellan said he expects to slot him in on the second unit soon. However, a lack of PP opportunities has made it difficult for him to get comfortable on the PP.
  • Pouliot hasn’t scored since December 8th. And today he didn’t shy away from his slump. “They gave me every opportunity to produce and I didn’t. It is on me to play better.” He hasn’t played since February 11th, so there might be some rust, but the Oilers could really benefit if Pouliot wakes up and produces a few goals down the stretch.
  • Kris Russell will also return to the lineup and McLellan wouldn’t say whether Eric Gryba or Matt Benning will come out.
  • Iiro Pakarinen will play on the fourth line with Letestu and Hendricks. Jujhar Khaira didn’t do much the past few games. Part of that could be due to him playing the right side. He looked a bit lost over there, but the concern is that it’s just another dip from him. In the past he has played well for a stretch, but then his play fell off. Was his recent play a continuation of that, or did he look lost because he was playing out of position?
  • The Oilers have three AHL recalls left to use before the end of the season. Khaira was sent down and recalled on traded deadline day, so he counts as one. If they sent him down to get some playing time, and recalled him again, it would count as their second recall. He’d only count if he was recalled again, so they could send him down and let him play because they have two other extra forwards, Caggiula and Slepyshev. I’d send him down and let him play. You can recall him after the regular season, or if you run into some injury concerns, but it makes little sense to me to have three young forwards sitting in the pressbox.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi is playing well and the scouting report is that he isn’t circling as much. Too often he would have his momentum stopped in the offensive zone and he’d stop, where in the defensive zone he would be curling. Ideally you’d like that reversed. You want him to keep his momentum going in the offensive zone when he is stopped or slowed down, while in the D zone you want more stopping, less circling. He is improving in these areas, and the points are coming, but I don’t see him being recalled right away. I could see it in April, but not right away.
  • Today between 2-6 p.m. on my show on TSN1260 we are auctioning off a pair of seats in the Sportsnet Club for the Oilers/Penguins game, and a dinner and wine before at the new downtown Vivo Ristorante, as well as post-game pizza and beer. And you can park for free at Vivo. 100% of money will go to charity. You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Jason Gregor on Malkin.
    He owned it and admitted after the game the hit was bad and he felt it was the right thing to do to oblige Wheeler and fight. It is nice to see a star player not want special treatment or get one of his teammates to fight his battles. His teammates loved him for doing it.

    To Jason Gregor…. Thus.. by the same metrics of integrity, honour and the code, Taylor Hall should throw down with Kassian….. :)). The odds of that happening? Snowballs chance in hell long? Wanye scores with a total babe long? Mandeezy gets piled up at the pint long*? (*not long at all*)

    • Jason Gregor

      I’m guessing you didn’t see the two plays. Hall’s play not nearly as bad. No one thought he would be suspended, where everyone felt Malkin should have been. Situations aren’t nearly the same, nor is fighting ability of Wheeler and Kassian. Wheeler is a scorer.

  • freelancer

    I’m torn with Puljujarvi. I think it is wise to leave him in the AHL and keep racking up points but if the team wants him up for playoffs doesn’t it make sense to bring him up earlier to readjust to game?

  • Consultant

    Interesting point about Puljujarvi, shows the little details that goes into effective d zone coverage. AHL is the perfect place for him right now, keep him there until he forces he way up. AHL playoffs would be good experience for him and if the big club needs a shot in the arm then that is also possible. Wait and see, great to hear he is progressing. His potential is impressive.

    • S cottV

      Straight lines with stops and quick starts, makes it easier to stay in passing / shooting lanes and to keep your yourself in between your check and the goal.

      Every loop takes you into no man’s land

  • Kevwan

    A little of topic but haven’t seen this reported on ON .

    Apparently David Musil’s time in the Oilers organization is over. He’s been loaned to Tuscon and Mark Olver has been loaned from Tuscon to Bakersfield. Best of luck to Musil going forward.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Hey OilersNation devs: it’s hard to read content with the new design.
    – there’s SO much white.
    – the spacing is weird in a lot of places (e.g. check out the huge spaces between Jason’s bulletpoints).
    – there’s a problem with the left margin: there isn’t one! the content is nearly pushing right up against my browser window. it doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t look good.

    Hope you iterate on the design, make some tweaks, and improve.

    Some suggestions:
    – pad that left margin a bit.
    – consider giving the right “sidebar” a background colour that’s not white (maybe grey?).
    – tweak the comments UI. the bar that contains comment author avatar/name and “trash it!”, “cheers”, “reply” buttons is too tall. it’s distracting.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Flames headed to win tonight… Will be tied with Oilers and Ducks… Ugh.

    Last few weeks of the season gonna be damn interesting.

    New website design is okay… Comments section still needs a little tinkering though. Would be nice to have a button that takes you directly to the comments – just in case you’ve already read the article. Also I’ve seen comment sections like this that have little indicators beside any comments that are new since you last viewed the thread…. something to look into maybe?

    It’s obvious a lot of hard work went into the redesign though… Nice work guys.

    • Heschultzhescores

      Ya, but we have a game in hand….oh, wait a minute, it’s against the Stanley Cup Champions. Scratch that game-in-hand ;). Thank God for Wild card spots!

  • Oscarmike

    Patrick Laine scored more clutch goals for the Oilers than that useless Pouloit.
    How come even on 5×5 Pouliot looks like he’s killing a penalty.
    Pouppy pants!!!

  • Oilerchild77

    Looking at those Devils. Wow, they are quietly one of the 5 worst teams in the league. I’m betting there’s some buyer’s remorse there with Hall. They can’t score to save their lives.

    • Hemmercules

      I wouldn’t say they have buyers remorse just yet. He still has the most points on the team right now I believe. They need some more young talent there. Losing a stay at home man in Larsson probably isn’t helping either. I wonder if Hall is still burning about the trade, he may be stuck in another perennial rebuild until he’s 30.

  • Hemmercules

    Not feeling as confident about the Oil as I was in January. Their lead has done nothing but shrink and tonights game doesn’t feel like its going to be a win. Those games against LA and Anaheim coming up at the end are going to be pretty significant if they don’t step up a bit over the next week.

    • Oilerchild77

      This team isn’t quite ready for prime time. That’s why Chiarelli didn’t waste picks on getting a rental. The organization still needs more depth.

      • S cottV

        Agreed – but more than just depth, although a definite factor. Key players need more experience. Some upper end players need to go in trade, to clear cap space and or fill key holes in the bigger and or harder to play against mode. Will need to attract a couple of key ufa’s at the right price. McL needs to give these guys more sophisticated and varied systems, at get them rock solid implemented. PP, PK, DZone, Cycling, Neutral zone, forechecking, back tracking, back checking, transition – the whole bit, leaves a lot to be desired. He can’t keep relying on McD, Drai, Talbot and a few others here and there, saving the day – breaking through with high skill plays. The team systems factor as a solid foundation is very much lacking. McL keeps blending lines for holy grail chemistry and blaming players for not showing up when things don’t go well. How about – giving the players some better mouse traps to work with in a number of areas? Like McL showing up with some systems.
        No – we’re not ready for prime time.

  • Oiler Al

    Dont have a ton of confidence in McLellan & Co., running this team!! Opening the gate and sending the boys out to play pond hockey is not the answer going into play offs. He proved that he could not do it in San Jose. Too many guys
    playing loosey-goosey hockey!! Time to put the work booths on.

    • S cottV

      Might be a touch harsh, but McL is not a systems guy. Although I do think that he would like to be further ahead in certain systematic areas.

      Maybe part lack of practice time.

      Maybe it’s feeling the pressure to make the playoffs. Implementing significant system changes, can result in a few temporary backwards steps, before the benefits kick in.

      The wiggle room is tightening up, so I doubt we see much change.

      It’s the Peter principle. What we have in place may get us into the playoffs, but the level of incompetence is gonna kick in – right at that point.

  • Durtis

    I don’t mean to be that guy but you guys should put the text settings to “justified” for blog posts. The site has a ton of bad spacing and alignment but this would be an easy start at least. Other than the spacing issues I really like the new site! yay!