13
Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – I hate my wife’s Christmas present

My friends, it’s that wonderful time again. It’s that time when you have all the things you’ve always wanted to know about the NHL and about life in general. I like to think of us as a much cheaper alternative to a college education. As always, the mailbag depends on your questions so I need you to send me anything you want to know. If you have an Oilers or life question that needs answering you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. Enjoy.

April 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) covers the puck as defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) blocks Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

1) Brett asks – How is it that the Oilers looked so good on their four game winning streak but so bad on the losing streak? Do you have any ideas on what would account for such a drastic swing?

Jason Gregor:

Hard to say. I felt they played okay in Winnipeg, but outside of a great final two min were average vs. The Hawks. Against the Kings, they were in the game until the major penalty and PK did what their home PK does…implode. They didn’t make major errors prior to Christmas, but after the break, they had some major breakdowns in games at home vs. Chi, WPG and LA.

Robin Brownlee:

You’re talking about a span of eight games between the winning losing streak. That’s an eight-paragraph answer if you’re going into detail. The common thread for the Oilers, like most teams, is this: if you get goaltending and win the battle of special teams, you probably get two points. The Oilers inability to present a decent PK has been their weakness this whole season and the PP is no great shakes over the last month, either. When they win, it’s usually in spite of, not because of, both.

Matt Henderson:

Not really. No. If I knew I would charge a LOT of money to NHL teams to tell them. I think that’s just what happens when you have a poor team. They get a little winning streak going, think they’re good, and collapse.

Cam Lewis:

I think the Oilers are a team that gets dejected easily. They were rolling and looking confident during that four-game streak, getting good goaltending and even seeing modest success on the special teams. But then they had a few days off and got flattened by the Jets. The penalty kill has made life really rough on them and it’s just spiralled from there. They allow a goal or two and then just look defeated.

Christian Pagnani:

What’s that quote about never being as good as you think you are when you win, or as bad as you think when you lose? The Oilers were probably fortunate to have the four-game win streak, and less so with this losing run. They beat a shaky Montreal team with Antti Niemi in net, but then lost in overtime to a 32-year old playing his first NHL game. They were 4-3-1 during those games, which seems about right. Fans were expecting a cup contender and a winning streak brought some of that excitement back, so it’s worse than it seems.

Chris the Intern:

This is pretty much the question of the season. We look so incredibly strong for some games and come out flat others. Todd has been asked this multiple times and still doesn’t have an answer. Either way, consistency is what gets you into playoffs and right now we have none of that.

Baggedmilk:

The biggest difference was that the Oilers forgot how to defend over Christmas, apparently. The things that they were doing to box teams out on the winning streak vanished entirely. Not to mention, they were unable to outscore the issues created by their penalty kill and that was too big of a hole to climb out of.

May 5, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon (19) pushes Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Kerdiles (58) after a save by goalie Cam Talbot (33) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2) Francis asks – Patrick Maroon has been fine this year, but isn’t producing anywhere close to the level he was at last year. What do you think the future holds for him as the Oilers approach the trade deadline, likely as sellers?

Jason Gregor:

He is on pace for the exact same amount of points, but fewer goals and more assists and he is playing less with McDavid. He, like much of the team, hasn’t been as consistent as last year, but overall I don’t think he has been that far off from last year. To me, he is a complimentary winger, but not a driver for the team.

Robin Brownlee:

Maroon is at .53 PPG right now. Last season he was at .52 PPG. I’m not sure you can characterize the Oilers “likely as sellers.” I keep Maroon unless he prices himself out of the market.

Matt Henderson:

If he doesn’t re-sign for something that starts with a three then they should trade him ASAP. He’s a very good fit for McDavid but you can’t pay a premium for that.

Cam Lewis:

He isn’t playing with McDavid anymore, so he isn’t as productive. There’s some individual merit to his accomplishments with McDavid, but he’s a complimentary player. At this stage, it’s best to move him for a draft pick at the deadline unless he’s down to sign a sweetheart extension for like three million annually.

Christian Pagnani:

Barring some historic run, they should trade him for draft picks or prospects. They could look at him again in the offseason, but I’d hesitate to sign a 30-year winger who isn’t quick and doesn’t penalty kill.

Chris the Intern:

There’s a lot of good and bad to Patrick Maroon’s current situation. If you want him gone, then he’s playing exactly the way he should be playing for Chia to lose interest and want to trade him. Unfortunately due to his poor season thus far, his trade value is not high at all. Same thing goes if you want him to stay! He’s got no trade value which means Chia could maybe re-sign him for cheap? OR he might just sell him for cheap. Since I have no trust at all for Chia at the moment… I’d rather him not make any trades to avoid any future league-wide embarrassment.

Baggedmilk:

He’s producing at a similar clip, but I kinda get what you’re saying. He hasn’t been the same shit disturber that we saw last season and I think that makes him disappear a bit at times. Aside from that, I think he’s been alright. A little bit hard on ol’ Patty with this question.

Jan 3, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) looks to pass against Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

3) Allan asks – I seem to recall when Craig MacTavish was coaching that the Oilers rarely used their skilled guys on the penalty kill. Do you think the lack of more defensive minded forward options – Fernando Pisani comes to mind – could be contributing to the PK woes?

Jason Gregor:

He used Smyth and Horcoff, but not Hemsky. I think a lack of PK experience has made a below-average PK in 2016/2017, even worse now. Prior to this season only RNH and Letestu had any extensive PK experience in the NHL. Kassian had one year, McDavid, Draisaitl, Caggiula, Khaira hadn’t done a lot and I think we see inexperience errors at times. But to me, the system is not good. It is too complicated and demands a lot of moving and timing from a forward group with not much experience.

Robin Brownlee:

Might be a factor, but only one of many. Oilers box isn’t tight enough and they don’t get their bodies in shooting lanes and sticks in passing lanes well enough. This should be abundantly clear when the video is broken down, but we keep seeing the same cross-seam passes and back-door plays working for opponents.

Matt Henderson:

Yeah, I think that’s part of it. Hendricks, Pouliot, and Lander were all a part of the PK and they were replaced by players who haven’t ever been known for their PK work. I don’t think having 97 kill penalties is a major issue, but the other guys need to do their jobs.

Cam Lewis:

The team lacks good, veteran forward depth which I think is an issue on their PK. Benoit Pouliot was good in this role last year and they miss him. Still, the issue really is coaching as the other team still sends passes across the ice with ease while the Oilers killers don’t fill the lanes. They look weirdly nervous and pensive out there on the kill. At the World Juniors, Sweden’s PK did an amazing job dealing with Canada’s seven power plays in the gold medal game because they aggressively cycled around from a box to diamond formation and made it difficult for Canada to move the puck around. The Oilers, uh, kind of stand there and wait for the other team to shoot like the crowd is telling them.

Christian Pagnani:

Only four of Edmonton’s top nine forwards (in terms of average EV TOI/GP) kills penalties. Drake Caggiula and the three centres. Jujhar Khaira’s been in the top nine recently and he penalty kills too. Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon don’t. You’re not going to ask Jesse Puljujarvi at this point, and Ryan Strome has never been a big penalty killer. They need more forwards options shorthanded. Kassian started to penalty kill last season, but it can’t all be on the fourth line and centres.

Chris the Intern:

I suppose MORE defensively minded forwards would help our PK, but I don’t really think it’s a personnel problem that we’re struggling with right now. Besides a couple players, we have a very similar team as last year and our PK wasn’t a hot garbage fire then.

Baggedmilk:

They can’t stop a seam pass to save their life and they’re not getting the big saves they need when the walls start to cave in. The really weird part is that the PK is actually solid on the road, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Are they feeling more pressure at home? What else makes sense?

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli makes the Oilers pick of Connor McDavid (not pictured) in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

4) Taylor asks – If you were to take a guess, do you think the Oilers will make a coaching or management change before the year is over?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see why you would. Not a long list of great available options during the season to bring in.

Robin Brownlee:

No. I don’t see a change in personnel.

Matt Henderson:

We can only hope. Peter Chiarelli is one of the worst GMs in the NHL and maybe in the history of the organization. There is no reason why the assistants responsible for the PP and PK should have jobs either.

Cam Lewis:

It’s Chiarelli or back to the OBC. I would love to see a fresh, new mind in the GM role rather than somebody else from the recycle bin, but that’s unlikely. Chiarelli is one of the worst GMs in the league, but are you jazzed about, I dunno, Keith Gretzky?

Christian Pagnani:

It’s tough to tell. Usually, a general manager gets a couple coaching hires before he’s on the hot seat, but the Oilers aren’t usual. Todd McLellan is a big-name coach, so firing him would be a massive decision. I don’t think any decisions get more until after the season, then all bets are off. Missing the playoffs with a roster including Connor McDavid should raise a lot of questions, especially given Peter Chiarelli’s suspect offseason.

Chris the Intern:

Nah I can’t see it happening mid-season. If things continue as is, I would expect something significant to happen in the offseason.

Baggedmilk:

I would have gotten rid of Chiarelli after he did nothing all summer and expected the team to be better but that’s just me. GMs always get more time than the coaches so I’d guess that he outlasts McLellan whether that’s fair or not. It’s tough to build a house when the builder only gave you one hammer and a handful of jellybeans. I don’t think either guy will get fired in season, though. What’s the point?

5) Tristan asks – This is a complicated question and I need the panel’s help. My wife spent a lot of money on a Christmas gift for me – it is a gold chain – and I can’t stand it. I want to return the chain but I don’t want to offend my wife because she was so proud of her gift choice. What do I do?

Jason Gregor:

Oh boy. I’m a firm believer in honesty. I think she would want you to love it, rather than never wear it or wear it and not like it. How you present your lack of loving it to her will be important. You don’t want to insult her choice, but I believe letting her know the truth will be best.

Robin Brownlee:

You need the panel’s help? You don’t know what happens if you return that chain? If you’re going to return it, do it right after you’ve told her those new jeans make her ass look fat.

Matt Henderson:

Well, no matter what you’re screwed. However, consider the possibility that if you don’t tell your wife the truth that she may continue this line of gifting in the future. If one is bad, what will the second and third be like?

Cam Lewis:

Just wear it man, it probably looks good.

Christian Pagnani:

Be honest and tell her. It’ll be tough, but it’s better than pretending you like it and it’ll prevent future awkward situations.

Chris the Intern:

Just rock the chain. Only wear it on special occasions when you’re with her (date night for example). It doesn’t sound like something that has to be worn all the time and that’s a pretty easy excuse to make that you only want to wear it on certain nights cause it’s fancy. It’s obviously special to her so I wouldn’t disregard that. If you only wear it on special occasions I don’t think it’s the end of the world.

Baggedmilk:

Your first mistake was waiting this long after Christmas to tell her you didn’t like it and now you’re stuck. All that’s left to do is what any self-preserving man would do and rock that chain until you can figure out an escape route. If you can commit to it for a year then you’ll have built up enough goodwill with the missus so that you can gradually phase the thing out and throw it in some drawer to never be seen again. Think longterm, my friend. You can do this.

THE MAILBAG IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY LEXUS SOUTH POINTE

Lexus South Pointe is the official automotive partner of Oilersnation. As citizens of the Nation, you receive exclusive discounts & perks no matter what you drive!

Our state-of-the-art facility also includes a virtual golf simulator, spa, and rooftop patio. Find us on the corner of Ellerslie and Gateway for all your vehicle needs. Check us out on our website here.

  • GK1980

    The more I think about what chia did to this team the angrier I get. He trades Hall and Eberle and got less return. Larsson is a great defencman but the oilers could shed gotten more for Hall. Of course we all know how the Eberle / Strome deal went….how could anyone mess up that bad.

    • Beer

      I understand trading Eb’s laziness, and understand trading Hall’s arrogance, but I don’t see any reason keep chia or Mcllelan around. gone gone gone gone. as in fired.

      • camdog

        Problem with Eberle trade is Strome is just as “lazy” but less skilled. All they got was cap savings and they didn’t use it. After management expressed dissatisfaction to the Toronto media via some Hockey Night in Canada people about Strome’s poor performance I expect him to as well be traded at an additional discount. When the Strome move happens if PC is involved, it’s not going to be fun times for those in power in Edmonton.

      • btrain

        Well that arrogance and laziness have a combined 29goals, 43 assists, and 72 points half way through this season. Not sure, especially in hindsight how understandable these trades were. There is no question Larsson was a huge addition, but did this team need him that desperately when they were labeled as a “growth team”. I am sure if you dangle Hall’s name long enough and don’t act desperate, you get an even larger return then Larson. Perhaps that means no playoff run last year, but if it means many subsequent playoff runs, then its worth it. The Eberle trade is not even defendable in any way considering it was done for the cap savings and the team has enough to pay him and then some while they continue to sink in the standings. His replacement, Strome, is also exactly as he should have been predicted to be, a shell of the offensive threat of Eberle. I think the fact that fans can still refer to the negative qualities of players like Eberle and Hall is one of the reasons we don’t deserve nice things.

  • ed from edmonton

    The see that PC has given TMAc a vote of confidence in an interview with Spector. Page 3 of the GM manual says to give a vote of confidence before you axe a coach. TMac likely to be gone during the upcoming break week.

  • The only oiler coach

    I am so sick of this! Who is at fault…..everyone but the fans. We pay, we hope, we stand by our team. Well it’s time for the Oiler management to stand up and take YOUR slash to the wrists.
    Stop telling us we need to put this bad game behind us and move forward. There is no forward right now. Tell me why the players are not listening to you, Mcl. Tell me why we have no depth, Cir. Tell me why we are bigger but not tougher. Tell me why players playing bad don’t have to earn their next shift and ice time.
    I’m not your child and it’s not your team boys it’s ours. Stand up and tell us why we are here. Admit what’s gone wrong and the plan to change.
    Stop hiding in the shadows…..show us you care as much as we do. Hold the entire organization accountable. I’ve already paid for my tickets for the rest of the year. So that makes me accountable…HOW ABOUT YOU GUYS (mcl, chi, nic)

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    the issue with firing the coach or even the GM right now is that the options for replacements may not be much better…would you guys be happy to see that idiot McTAVISH as GM again, or one of the assistants as coach? This might be better to revisit in the offseason….hopefully Chicago misses the playoffs and the fire coach Q (that would be something to consider then)….I also want to remind people that Tampa and Winnipeg had these discussions last year, and they rebounded the following year….(although our special teams coaches need to seriously be looked at!)

    what worries me about the constant losing here is that we are becoming the Cleveland Browns of the NHL….some fans are so full of blind rage that their stupidity is getting up there on a leaf fan level….hearing the “we want HALL and EBERLE back!” chants (even though that was already tried and didn’t work), and even laying blame on the best players on the team (like MCDAVID) is going to turn into McDAVID saying “f@*k this!, I want out!” and then we end up even worse….then the chants turn to “why did we trade the best player in the league away!?”

    …the problem with blaming a bad season on the best players can turn to a case of “be careful what you wish for…”

  • WillyWonka

    what I wonder is if, after the DoD, then the expectations missed this season, whether Oiler Nation is ready to embrace a tank for a Dahlin or Tkachuk? or is that too bitter a pill to swallow?

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I’d say if she bought you something she thought you’d love but you didn’t then she really doesn’t know you and maybe you need to reevaluate the relationship.

  • RyanCoke

    Depends on what kind of man you are. If your totally set in your ways and have a specific look your going for then tell her. If your like me and don’t care about a specific look then wear the chain she obviously thought it would look good on you and in the end your with this woman and your not trying to impress anyone but her. She likes it so wear it for her.