Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Day Quick Hits: Oilers @ Blues

On paper, this is not a good matchup for the Oilers, and on the ice at Rogers Place last Thursday it did not go well for the boys in Orange and Blue.

They will need a much smarter effort tonight in order to pick up a much-needed victory.

1. The Oilers had way too many turnovers at the offensive blueline vs. the Blues last Thursday. After a solid first period the Oilers continually shot themselves in the foot, often due to a stubbornness to try and make a fancy play two feet from the blueline. The Blues also dominated in the offensive zone with a relentless forecheck. The Oilers need to play aggressive and on their toes or the Blues will skate them out of the rink.

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2. The Oilers have to be patient, because it is unlikely they will score a lot of goals. In their final 30 games last season, the Blues allowed only 57 goals and started the year allowing 39 in their first 17 games. Over a span of 47 games they surrendered 96 goals for a solid 2.04 goals against average. They had a two-game hiccup where they allowed 12 goals to the Islanders and Flames, but have only allowed four in their last two games, back closer to their 2.00 GAA per game. They roll four lines, which allows more rest for their top forwards. Jaden Schwartz plays the most at 19:56/game, and they are very disciplined defensively and in the neutral zone. Watch how often they force a pass or try a low-percentage pass.

3. Twenty-six year-old Brayden Schenn is having a career year with eight goals and 26 points in 21 games. His career-high is 26 goals and 59 points, established in 2016. His early-season production is a bit of a surprise, but after 59 and 55 point seasons in Philadelphia, where he wasn’t the #1 centre, he has been given the top centre role in St. Louis alongside Schwartz and sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. Schenn has flourished. He has always had some grit to his game and been solid defensively, but this season he’s emerged as a real offensive threat. He was a great passer in junior and he is a great fit with Tarasenko.

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4. Jay Bouwmeester makes his season debut tonight. The Edmonton native fractured his left ankle in training camp and missed the first 21 games. He will skate with St. Albert product Colton Parayko on the Blues second pairing while Alex Pietrangelo and Joel Edmundson are the first pair. Those four are all big —  Pietrangelo is the smallest at 6’3″, while Parayko is the largest at 6’7″ — and all are very mobile. There isn’t much room to maneuver in the offensive zone against them. Even in his 15th NHL season, with 1071 games played, Bouwmeester is still one of the smoothest skaters in the league. The Oilers have to hope he has some rust in his game, but he’ll likely be very excited to return after the longest stint on the IR of his NHL career.

5. The Oilers defence has seven goals and 26 points combined. Pietrangelo has seven goals and 19 points. Parayko and Edmundson have combined for eight goals and 16 points, while Vince Dunn, Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo have five, four and four points respectively. The Blues blueline has chipped in 48 points thus far. They join the rush all the time and even in the offensive zone it isn’t unusual to see them below the hash marks.

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6. The Oilers won both games in St.Louis last year, 2-1 in February and 3-2 in OT last December. They have scored 25 goals in their last 13 visits to St.Louis. They’ve been shutout twice, scored one goal twice, two goals four times and three goals five times. The last time they surpassed three goals was on December 11th, 2009 in a 5-3 victory. Don’t expect many goals from the Oilers.

7. It is time for Cam Talbot to get in a groove. He has handed the opposition 1-0 leads the last two games. Those are mental errors and Talbot needs to be better. The Oilers aren’t good enough, nor confident enough, right now to battle back from their starter handing goals to the opposition, both times from behind the net. Talbot has a 3.10 GAA and a .903 sv%. Both well off his career numbers. His career sv% in 204 games is .920. I don’t want to hear excuses the Oilers aren’t playing great defence in front on him. In 2015, their team defence was much worse and he still finished with a .917sv%. The Oilers are averaging the ninth fewest shots against per game at 30.9. He isn’t being bombarded every night. Yes, the team could play better in front of him, but Talbot simply hasn’t been consistent enough thus far. You don’t win very often in the NHL when your starting goalie has a .903sv%. He is better than that, and he needs to rediscover the consistency he has had the majority of his career.

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8. I’m not surprised Drake Caggiula made the most of his first game alongside Connor McDavid. I like his game a lot. He is smart, quick, has a shoot-first mentality and isn’t afraid to play with an edge. I won’t be surprised to see him produce some decent numbers on McDavid’s wing.

9. After a slow start the Oilers powerplay is back where it should be. Their PP is 11th, clicking at 21.4%. However, they have the fewest pp chances in the NHL at 56. Chicago (87), Pittsburgh and Nashville (83), Colorado (82) and Vancouver (80) lead the NHL in PP chances. If they could find a way to draw more penalties their dangerous PP could win them some games. The biggest change in the PP recently is they are more assertive and aren’t focused on the pretty play as much.

10. Don’t look now, but Arizona is suddenly only three points behind the Oilers. Granted, they have three games in hand, but as woeful as the Coyotes were to start the season, the fact they are within three points of Edmonton illustrates how the Oilers need to wake the eff up, and do it soon, before the season is completely lost. Realistically, it could be over at the end of the month if the Oilers can’t string together some victories in their six remaining games this November.


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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, Official Game Page, 11/21/2017, 9:00am MST

      • chickenStew

        Honestly BM, I appreciate this is a free site with all things Oil, but of all the sites I visit (and there are some shady ones), the only problems I run into are with this one.
        On mobile it is so slow loading it is painful, often requires repeated log ins, had more than one redirects, when resizing the text on tablet the cheers/trash area does not stay aligned, etc.
        From what I gather, I’m not alone in running into these problems, not to mention the loss of edit capabilities and the general layout complaints.
        You’ve got some loyal customers here, but this isn’t the only option anymore…

        • hagar

          I just assumed the site was all glitchy on my phone because I still buy Blackberrys. It takes me a half dozen tries to log in and I am constantly waiting for actions to catch up. Only on this site though. This site moves like dial up for me often, maybe I am on some sh’t list or something. Lol

    • I am Bruce Wayne

      Oiler fan says that’s blame the goalie. We are the lowest scoring team in nhl. Let’s blame goalie. Last time I checked u need to score to win. Of course we need a good outing from cam. But we need goals from more than the obvious 2

      • CMG30

        Of course you need to score to win but that cuts both ways. If your opponent can’t outscore you, you win! absent any moves to improve scoring, the only option left is to do what they did last year and lean on the goalie. Sure, it’s not fair to expect Talbot to be better than an average goalie all season but at this point, it’s our best hope.

  • AustinH1993

    For years, many writers for ON and many in the comments section craved and ranted about having a team with great possession stats. The analytics crowd after every loss during the last few years of the DoD would scream that the team wasn’t good because they weren’t controlling the play 5 on 5 enough.

    Here’s some stats for this season for that same crowd:

    Oilers CF%: 54.8 (1st in the NHL)
    Oilers Fenwick For%: 54.5% (1st in the NHL)

    Oilers Team Shooting%: 7.1 (30th in the NHL)
    Oilers Team Save%: 89.8 (24th in the NHL)

    The Oilers, possession stats wise, are the best in the NHL, yet to the eye test, don’t look like the best team in the NHL, do they?

    I’m curious, and this question goes out to the advanced stats believers: If the Oilers dominate at 5v5, why aren’t they winning? Is the team just shooting with terrible luck? Is it the goaltending? Is it possible for the team to continue shooting at 7.1% for the season? Will the shooting and save % improve in time to turn the season around? What are some of your thoughts?

    • AustinH1993

      Also, if the team is dominant at 5v5, does that mean that the team assembled is a good team? Or does 5v5 stats no longer matter when the losses pile up? Can we praise Chiarelli for assembling a great possession team? Or continue to bash him for the fact that the record stands at 7-11-2? I’m curious to know where your thoughts are on these issues. Because you can’t have it all one way here. What matters the most now? 5v5 Domination, or Wins and Losses: the true stat that actually affects whether we make the playoffs or not?

      • Winterkush

        What Todd is trying to do is cheat with statistics. All they do is give the other teams goalie a higher SV%.
        Sometimes they get lucky and score 6-8 goals a night. Todd has to come up with a different playbook.

      • CMG30

        The Oil have 1 very dominant line in terms of possession but is not scoring at the rate you would expect. They have a 2nd line that’s competitive. It’s the bottom 6 that are killing us.

  • camdog

    Oilers have drawn the least amount of penalties because they don’t have enough skill or speed on their 3rd and fourth lines. Why would anybody hook or slash anybody on our third or fourth lines or any of our d-man?

  • KMA

    This trip may be the make or break point for Talbot in an Oil uniform. Either he is a top ten in the league goalie or another average netminder. We will soon see.

  • GK1980

    The Oilers will be lucky to survive this one tonight. A good game would losing and not be blown out. This is what we are back too ladies and gentlemen. They aren’t getting out of tonight’s game alive unfortunately.

  • Winterkush

    I think what’s wrong with this team the players are having a hard time playing the Coaches style. Strome was believe to be a shooter and the D is more fragile than we thought with Sekera out.
    Looking at the top 6 we have 3 playmakers(Leon, Mcd, Nuge) 2 power forward grinders( Maroon, Lucic) and either bottoms 6 or rookies on the RW usually playing on their off hand.
    Hall was replaced by Lucic
    Eberle replaced by Strome
    Leon moved to RW
    Nuge having his skilled wingers traded away.
    Todd can change the lines around all he wants it’s not going to work.

  • CMG30

    Realistically Talbot is the Oils only hope for the season. PC’s only moves in the off season were to weaken the team and frankly they were not that great last year. Hence why Talbot started a ridiculous number of times. Without Talbot giving his team every chance to win, game in and game out, they are going to lose.

  • Carl the tooth

    EXTRA !! Extra read all about it!!!
    Flames on the verge of Sky rocketing ? Into First Place in the Pacific as The Tooth Predicted!!! Johnny and Mony show at 5 pm Tommorrow. You don’t want to miss this one folks !

  • Heschultzhescores

    Anybody else feel like TMac has coached all year how Maas coached the last 2 minutes of the Esk’s game? He puts himself ahead of the team. He does things that are sure to fail, and then tries them again and again thinking it will eventually work. He needs to free the guys up to play up to their skill level. He has everyone afraid to make a mistake and they’re playing tighter than an azz at the proctologist’s office. We need the guys to have some fun out there, not be so uptight. Great teams aren’t tense, they’re intense.

    • IRONman

      No cap for price. This Leon Draisaitl is being shipped is crap. Other teams want him. Leon and McDavid are the heart of the team. Nuge will go with pieces for someone. I like Webber. Maybe Leon for Webber is PC plan. Hope not.

      • Flint

        That Draisaitl rumor doesn’t make sense at all. However, it goes without saying that he needs to pick it up. Leon is something like 62nd in the league in points per game, while he is tied for 9th highest cap hit amongst forwards. That’s nowhere near good enough. On your ELC you get lots of rope, but at 8.5million, next to none. Leon has been playing almost always with McDavid, and he hasn’t been playing center, but the wing. Draisaitl is underperforming on a team that can’t score much. #generaldisappointment

  • AustinH1993

    “We need to adopt that (shooting) strategy & take more bad-angle shots to create havoc around the net.”

    That was Drake Caggiula today after the pre-game skate. If this is the message that Todd McLellan is sending to his players, than he’s dumber than I thought. The team already has the best shooting/possession stats in the NHL. They are one of the best at generating high-danger scoring chances. Throwing the puck blindly from bad angles is only going to hurt this team even more. It’s going to lead to giveaways, lost possession, and more D-zone time.

    What are you doing Todd?

  • Good to see Connor back on ice for practice today. As baggedMilk says, Connor at 85% is better than anyone else at 100%.

    Unrelated question, though: anyone know what’s up with those little clippy things on Connor’s UnderArmor shirt? You see ’em in post-game interviews sometimes. Like little pagers, up on his collarbone. Or like maybe that’s where he keeps his smokes? Anyone know what I’m talking about?

  • gordo

    sad to say i have little interest in watching the game. i’m very frustrated that the team took 5 steps forward in 16/17, and now appear to have taken 10 steps backward