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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 3, Flames 0 post-game Oil Spills: An excellent way to kick things off

This is a next day analysis feature we’ve taken from out friends at Flamesnation. It’s the first time we’ve done it on this site, so let us know in the comments what kinds of things you’d like for us to include for a more in-depth analysis of the previous day’s game. 

The Oilers kicked off their season with a bang, dominating the Flames for a 3-0 win. Not counting the pre-season, the Oilers have now won five games in a row against Calgary.

Highlights

The Oilers make it 1-0 in the first period as Connor McDavid, the reigning scoring champ and Most Valuable Player, fittingly opens the scoring. Look at the way that Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl battle down low, get it up to the point for Oscar Klefbom, then battle down low again before Drai feeds McDavid for an easy finish. But isn’t this supposed to be a one-man team?

This is just nuts. McDavid steals the puck in the defensive zone and proceeds to just break away. He makes Calgary’s defencemen (TJ Brodie who certainly isn’t a slouch) look like somebody who’s never been on skates before. Look at him fly.

https://twitter.com/JeffVeillette/status/915803868256227329

And finally, McDavid completes the hat trick. Milan Lucic posterizes a Flames against the boards, Draisaitl makes a slick no-look pass, and McDavid buries it into the open net.

https://twitter.com/JeffVeillette/status/915801261664014336

Here’s our first scrap of the season, as Zack Kassian throws down with Tanner Glass.

By the numbers

This is one of those games where the eye test and the statistics perfectly come together. If you watch the game, you saw a fast and energized Oilers squad dominating the Flames wave after wave. It was relentless for most of the game. Seldom did the Flames win a puck battle, and when they did have the puck, there was virtually zero time for them to work with it. The Oilers, on the other hand, were generating chances left, right, and centre. Honestly, as much as we like to joke about the Flames and their goaltending, had it not have been for a strong showing from Mike Smith, this score could have been a lot more lopsided.

In total, the Oilers had 71 shot attempts to Calgary’s 52. Since the Oilers are a team that actively tries to generate higher quality shots while their defence tries to stop the other team from doing the same, I prefer to use Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts) to analyze this team. In that category, Edmonton dominated 57 to 36, which is a serious testament to how effective their defence was last night. And you can see that on the heat map above, where it shows the Flames were able to get virtually nothing going in Edmonton’s crease.

The defence looked like a strength, not a question mark

Let’s stick with the blueline, because I feel that was such a key part of last night’s performance. Heading into the season, the defence was probably the biggest question mark on this roster. Everyone knows the Oilers have an elite offence led by Connor McDavid with solid depth behind him and everyone knows Cam Talbot is a great goalie. But the blueline, especially without the steady presence of Andrej Sekera, is less of a certainty. Well, last night, it looked like a major strength.

Woodguy has a very accurate quote here. The Oilers played better without the puck than we’ve seen in years. Like I mentioned above with the heat map, the Flames weren’t able to get anything going in Edmonton’s zone last night. They played hard and aggressive in the defensive zone, but they were also very impressive in the transition game. Last year, we often saw defencemen quickly throwing the puck off the glass and out of the zone, hoping a forward would scoop it up, but last night, the defencemen were consistently either looking for a pass or carrying it up with speed.

Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson, I thought, looked especially good last night. Klefbom led the game with 12 shot attempts on his own and was a major offensive catalyst. After a full season of playing together, the Swedes look very comfortable, which is key to them evolving into a true top pair.

McDavid has found another gear

Baggedmilk produced some BaggedContent (ContentMilk?) on this earlier already, but it’s worth mentioning again. If it was possible to have a single complaint about Connor McDavid last year, it’s that he was too selfless. He obviously has the ability to totally dominate on his own, but didn’t do it as much as he could have, instead opting to get teammates involved. I mean, that isn’t a bad thing by any stretch. It’s a big reason why he had 70 assists in 2016-17, far and away the most in the league.

But in the off-season, Wayne Gretzky said McDavid needs to shoot the puck more to really dominate. What we saw last night was McDavid revving up the engine and doing what he’s capable of. The line of McDavid-Draisaitl-Maroon was relentlessly dominant and that came down to them utilizing each other, especially in the offensive zone, but this absurd goal was an example of McDavid dominating. I would love to see more of this throughout the season.

The Zack Kassian effect

May 7, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) celebrates a first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks in game six of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of good individual performances last night to mention, but I’ll run on for thousands of words if I get into all of them. But one that stood out was Zack Kassian. In the second period, Kassian got put on the second line with Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, filling Kailer Yamamoto’s role. After the switch, the second line really took off. Kassian added an element of speed and nastiness to the trio they didn’t have during a sort of sluggish first period. I think Kassian, who’s currently pencilled into the bottom six, could be a missing piece in an offensive role, especially if the Oilers are going to keep Draisaitl on McDavid’s wing on the top line.


Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 10/05/2017, 11:30am MST



    • Hemi

      The trolling on both sites has gotten out of hand. A poster the other day mentioned that the amount of comments have been decreasing and it is my belief it is due to the very child like trolling. Don’t get me wrong, a little jab here and there is part of the BOA but my Lord, some of the trolling is just bloody stupid and disgusting.

      Anyways, I love beating the Flames! Always have and always will.

      GO OIL GO!

      • McDavid_POTUS_2018

        Amen to that, both fan bases definitely have their fair share of trolls that just disrupt civil conversation about sports. But there’s no way for them to get rid of it unless they moderate these things, and let’s be honest, why would they put resources into a full-time comment babysitter? The only way I could see it happening would be a system similar to Reddit.

        Agreed, jabs are fine. I mean we definitely endured a lot of that during the decade of darkness.

        Whatever. #GoOilersGo #OILERSBETTER

    • Dreadguy

      It really is trollish over at FN. I’d apologize, but the Flames trolls here are just as bad (not today for some reason, hmmmm). Here is my apology: sorry your team wasn’t more competitive last night. Good luck against another big, fast, talented team (Jets) next game, then the Ducks after that (26 Flames losses in a row in Anaheim).

    • camdog

      I used to post a bit on Flamesnation, but I was just there to talk hockey, with a bit of Oiler slant of course. Won’t do it anymore because Of the trolling. There used to be a few good Flame posters over here as well, but I am sure they have gone silent as well.

      • HockeyGuru

        As a Hockey fan, I enjoy the love/hate competition between both groups. Anyways, we should all be happy that at least some Canadian teams have a chance for the cup.

  • kormega

    Aside top-line and before Zack was put in the second tier other three looked pale. Ok, Yamamoto is a kid, but Strome, Cagg and Jokkinen have to step their game up

  • Jordan88

    Can we mention Nurse? He had some really bad pre season plays and puck reads and last night… he dominated even joining the rush and the big man can skate.

    Like seriously fly. If he ever finds that offensive touch he had in junior he will be a weapon.

  • Kassian reminds me of an in-his-prime Cam Neely. A tough, banging winger with speed and scoring touch. (And in a different way, of MacT: a risky move, bringing in a guy with a checkered past and giving him a second chance.) Kassian’s was the first new sweater I’ve bought in ages. How can you not love the guy?

    • camdog

      Tough day for Matt his boy Marancin aka “the most underated d-man in the NHL ” got waived by Leafs, and whe Schlemko comes back from injury Davidson (aka “let’s trade him for Shattenkirk” might be the next to get waived.

  • Dan 1919

    Everyone (mostly Flames fans) talks about the Flames’ defence. Let’s compare straight across to see how overrated they actually are.

    Klefbom for Giordano, not a chance… same point production, I choose a younger more upside Kelfbom, and quite honestly, probably better at straight up defending than Giordano.
    Larsson for Hamilton, again I don’t make that trade. Larsson is hands down way better at defending, Hamilton puts up points sure, but past Oilers have proven you need defence to defend, forwards should be used primarily for scoring(revolutionary idea).
    Brodie for Russell, yes edge goes to Brodie although Russell is still a solid defenceman, first one for Flames.
    Hamonic for Sekera, Sekera is better and that trade doesn’t happen either.

    Nurse or Bartkowski, I take 6’4” 221 solid playing Nurse for the bottom pairing.
    Benning or Stone, both good puck movers, edge to Stone for experience but considering this is the bottom pairing and Benning is 23 and Stone is 27, I would stick with Benning.

    I’m not saying the Oilers are the best D group in the league, I’m saying the Flames aren’t as good as th

    • Dan 1919

      The famous Flames comparison is to say Brodie would be top pairing or they’re all top 4. But at the end of the day that’s just garbage linguistics that’s irrelevant. Sure Brodie is a good d-man and we’d trade our prospects for him, just like the Flames would love to trade us Bartkowski for Klefbom or Larsson.

      In fact, the Flames don’t have any d-men that I would even trade Larsson or Klefbom for. This Flames best defence is all just BS created by the Flames fans, they’re solid group and that’s it.

      • pkam

        There is only one defenseman in the Flames that I want – Hamilton. Imagine if we did acquired him from Boston instead, our top 4 will be Klefbom – Larsson, Sekera – Hamilton (and Nurse replace Sekera in 2 years). How scary good is this defense core?

        • Dan 1919

          Fair enough, he does produce points. I honestly wouldn’t prefer him in the Pacific division though. He’s a great player just like Schultz, just seems like your value goes further in this division with strong defensive guys rather than the softer offensive type.

          • pkam

            I like a balanced pair, an offensive player pairs with a defensive player. Klefbom is the softer offensive player type like Schultz and Hamilton, but makes a good defensive pair with a strong defensive Larsson. I believe Hamilton and Nurse would make another great pair. Now we not only have two very good pairs, we also have two very good pp defensemen.

    • pkam

      Two years ago, Giordano would be the best of them all. But he wasn’t as good in the past 2 seasons and I believe he is already on the decline. Up to this moment, Hamilton has to be the best. 2 years ago when we failed to acquire Hamilton, everyone here said we should trade Klefbom for Hamonic. At that time I had said that in 2 years, Klefbom will be better than Harmonic, and will be as good if not better than Hamilton. This is the year to prove if I am right. If I am correct, by the end of the year, Klefbom will be the best of them all.

    • madjam

      A little more complicated than that , due to new rules and style of game so prevelant in todays NHL . The speed factor functioning on defence as well on defence . The ability to implement your game plan over opposition . On a scale of 1-6 , I give Flames a 3 out of 6 for defencemen having above average functional speed . By same token I give the Oilers a 4 out of 6 rating , which increases to 5 out of 6 with Sekara’s return . Speed makes Oilers defence better than they are given credit for , and major reason they can take advantage of moving the puck up into offensive players and zone . Speed makes implementing game strategy much easier than if you lack it from backend . Speed is the stat/criteria that should be used in comparing defences in todays NHL . Nurse , Benning , Klefbom and Russell meet the functional speed required in todays NHL . Gryba and even Larsson not as fast as liked , but Sekara will be on his return .

    • Big Nuggets

      I wouldn’t want to trade Klefbom for anybody. The man is a stud. He has been underrated so far because of his injuries the first few seasons. This season will be his true breakout. 12 goals last season, 12 shots last night; the dude wants to score 20 goals this year. Barring injury, this season him and Larsson show they are an elite pair.

  • vetinari

    We finally have functional toughness on this team… guys who can hit, check or throw down while still generating scoring chances and logging regular shifts without looking like a pylon out there.

  • Connor McFly

    Give the team credit. There were only a couple of passengers I thought. Letestu was almost invisible. He is a character guy and I hope he picks it up. I was wrong about the D. They looked strong. Even Gryba didn’t muff much. As long as he and Nurse play that way. The D will only get stronger once Sekera is healed and back up to speed. Good to see Sekera in the building tonight.

    • OilersRidersChargers

      Once Kassian was put on the 2nd line, and with very few penalties, there wasn’t much for Letestu to do. They basically went with 3 lines because they couldn’t play Yamamoto, so Kassian was moved up. Letestu only played 9:25, Kassian played 16:49, and JJ played 9:54.