Photo Credit: © Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Hits Oilers vs. Bruins: Slump Busters

Ryan Strome scored the game winner in Colorado on Sunday. It was his first goal in 23 games. “Maybe it will get the piano off my back,” he said post-game.

Strome wasn’t the only Oilers carrying a piano, or monkey, on his back. Many Oilers are struggling through a goal-scoring slump.

1. It is amazing how many Oilers currently have a double-digit goal drought.

Yohann Auvitu hasn’t scored in ten games.
Jesse Puljujarvi is at eleven games.
Darnell Nurse sits at 12 games.
Adam Larsson is goalless in 18 games. So is Andrej Sekera, who is currently on the IR.
Mike Cammalleri hasn’t scored in 20 games.
Milan Lucic’s streak is at 22.
Mark Letestu has played 23 without a goal.
Matt Benning hasn’t lit the lamp in 25 games.
Oscar Klefbom hasn’t scored in 26 games.

2. It isn’t abnormal for D-men to go long stretches without a goal. Prior to this 25-game drought, however, Benning scored a goal once every 13 games. Klefbom averages a goal every ten games. But it is odd to have so many players slumping at the same time.

3. Strome has one goal in 23 games, Jujhar Khaira has one in 21 and Iiro Pakarinen has one in 24. Kris Russell has one goal in 17 games. Patrick Maroon has one in eleven games. He averages a goal every 4.8 games in his NHL career.

4. The list of players who are scoring recently is much shorter. Connor McDavid has eleven goals in nine games. Leon Draisaitl has five in his last eight. Zack Kassian has three goals in nine games. Brandon Davidson has three in ten games, Drake Caggiula has three in his last 12 games and Anton Slepyshev has two goals in his past six games. As I mentioned before, you will always have some players on a bit of a drought, but many are hoping they can follow in the skates of Strome and end their slumps.

5. There has been a lot of talk about the Oilers needing more offence, but I think their defensive zone coverage has been a bigger problem. The Oilers are 10th in the NHL in 5×5 goals, but they are 20th in goals allowed. Last season they finished 9th in 5×5 goals allowed and were 8th in goal scored at 5×5. Their powerplay hasn’t been nearly as good, which is why they are 23rd overall in goals scored, but on top of a bad penalty kill, their 5×5 team defence hasn’t been good enough from the goalie out to the forwards.

6. The Boston Bruins have been the best team in the NHL since November 1st, going 32-10-5 and outscoring teams 155-106. They are currently 3rd in the NHL with 80 points, trailing Tampa Bay (81) and Vegas (82), but the Bruins have played 57 games while Vegas and Tampa have played 59. The Bruins are especially good at 5×5, outscoring the opposition 120-86.

7. The Bruins have been on fire despite Brad Marchand missing 13 games since November 1st. He’s been injured twice and suspended once. Marchand has 55 points in 44 games and is second in the NHL in points-per-game at 1.25, trailing only Nikita Kucherov (1.30). Marchand has become a really good offensive player, and while he still crosses the line with his cheap shots, he’s a major piece of the Bruins’ success. Not only is he good offensively, he’s really improved his defensive play as well.

8. On February 6th I wrote how I’d track the Oilers in seven-game stretches the rest of the season. I felt the previous seven-game stretch would be their most difficult, with six road games, and it turned out it was. The Oilers went 1-6 and were outscored 18-28. Their PP was 7.7% scoring once in 13 tries, while the PK allowed five goals on 19 kills (73.7%). One area they were good was in the faceoff dot going 53.8% as a team. Leon Draisaitl was 57.4% (70-52), Mark Letestu was 58.8% (50-35) and Jujhar Khaira was 54.9% (28-23). The Oilers were 25-14 in the dot on the PK, which is really impressive, but they still allowed five PK goals. Faceoffs aren’t the reason the PK stinks.

9. I wrote it almost four years ago and I still believe it today: Jonathan Toews’ contract was going to hurt the Chicago Blackhawks. In the 2 1/2 years of his $10.5 million contract, Toews is 48th in points with 65-91-156 in 211 games. Patrice Bergeron has played 210 games and has scored 80-92-172. Bergeron makes $6.875 million. He produces more than Toews and based on his Selke trophies, he is considered a better defensive centre. Toews is a good player, no question, but at some point NHL GMs need to realize they can’t play players for what they did, they need to pay them for what they are going to do moving forward.

10. Bergeron is a very good player, but let’s not get carried away into thinking he should be a Hart Trophy finalist. He has 52 points in 52 games and is a great two-way player, no question, but that doesn’t make him a Hart Trophy candidate. His linemate, Marchand, has 55 points in 44 games. I’d take Bergeron on my team in a heartbeat. He’s an exceptional player and he is good with and without the puck, but I don’t see him being a top-five candidate for the Hart.


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  • nijames

    Didn’t know the NHL gave out points in the standings for being good at the DOT. That stat shows just how important it is by the win loss record of the Oilers. It really doesn’t matter if you win the face off if you immediately turn over the puck.

  • GK1980

    I agree with point#5. I think if they shore up the D the offence and goaltending will improve. Thats one change I would make that could make a difference going forward.

    • Silkymits

      Chia said he had a 5 year plan coming in and if the team didn’t greatly exceed expectations last year no one would blink a eye at the standings chia just didn’t change his plan because on 1 good season I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done things differently but he is sticking to his original plan
      And I might be wrong but I think this will be the first draft that wasn’t affected by the previous management and chia has a blank slate

      • btrain

        Its good that there is still someone who has a little faith in the GM. I don’t agree but Chia does need the support these days.
        Here’s the thing, even if the Oilers had been doing decent this season, Chia’s lynching was just a matter of time. 5 year plan? more like impulsive shopper! We are all familiar with the poor moves he has made, so I will not bother to lay them out again. The man has simply robbed this team of its assets in an effort to repair holes as quickly as possible while simultaneously handicapping the team with buyout penalties and overpays. What’s worse, many of the holes he gave up so much to patch, remain unresolved! Also, its simply a cop out not to hang the entire weight of the Reinhart trade on Chia. He was brought in as an experienced GM, he would have been familiar with Reinhart being a GM in the East and said as much following the trade.

        • But they wont be, have not posted for a while. I give up, the Boys On The Bus Comedy Tour will continue ad nausem . When Connor asks for a trade, I will follow whichever team he goes to. Waited a decade for these incompetent boobs to be fired, and have finally realized that it is just not going to happen.

      • crabman

        Chiarelli said he had a 5 year plan (long-term plan) and then traded away picks that would have been blue chip prospects to accelerate the process by trying to bring in an NHL ready Dman. That right there out of the gate tells me he really had no 5 year plan. If your plan is to slowly build your team you don’t trade those picks.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Watching Taylor Hall rip it up hurts. But, if he was still an Oiler I doubt he would have developed as well as he has in the past couple years. We ruin players we don’t develop them like so many other teams seem to do with out cast offs.

    • crabman

      I think it is way to early to give NJ credit for developing Hall. He is without a doubt having an amazing season and if he keeps up this pace in following years then NJ could be given more credit for his development. As of right now he is having a career year but he is only scoring .05 pts/game more over the past 2 seasons with NJ than his .86 pts/game as an Oiler. .86 pts/game doesn’t qualify as a ruined prospect.

  • Rama Lama

    I just can’t wait for PC to make his deals………I’m just hoping he understands that he finally needs to make a deal that betters the team. His track record for making good deals for the team that employs him, is very poor.

    I wonder what they taught him at Harvard……..IMHO it was not the art of making a good deal. Taylor and Jordan are probably laughing their asses off, I know I would be!!

    • Leichs

      Do you think he was laughing his ass off last year while he watched the lottery balls fall and the oil go on a run? Stop with the taylor hall bs. He couldnt get us anywhere in 6 years even playing with McD.

  • Sean17

    Secondary scoring is brutal. Team Stats with RNH still 3rd in points but missing 12 games? You would think someone would pass him. In the time RNH has been out, Lucic has 2 points. Maroon and Strome each have 6 (all in 4 games) and JP has 4 (in 2 games). Flip side McDavid has 17 and Leon 16. If there was a heartbeat off secondary scoring, it might not be so bad. The 1-0 loss to Arizona shows either how terrible the F depth is or how terrible all of Chia bets this year were or how bad all the slumps are? Your choice.

  • Dan 1919

    Katz must be thinking long and hard about Nicholoson’s guy Chiarelli right now. Yes Chiarelli lost the Seguin, Hall, Eberle trade and overpaid for Draisaitl… But now it’s clear Boston identified him as the problem holding them back from being a dominant team in the NHL. I know quick GM turnover is never a good idea, but if I’m Chiarelli’s boss he better have an offseason/3 year plan that sounds better than Disney Land to even consider keeping him around.

    • IRONman

      The fact is the cap is @ 80 million. We have spent 21 million on 2 players. I am not against 97 or 29 but 59 million for 20 other players looks bad. When Kane and towes took 10.5 each I thought wow, do they want to win the cup? Team players is what the oilers need like Kassian and Russel. Heart

          • grumpyKoala

            I agree with a lot you said. Maybe its indeed that I think Kass is more of a 3 line that could even slide into the 2nd from time to time. I don’t have numbers but for a 11 minutes a night guy, his ppg seem very high

            I Appreciated the way you laid out your arguments! Have a good game.

        • grumpyKoala

          Here the comparable around

          Kassian $1,950,000 – 313gp 98pts

          best comparables All 3Y contract exp as UFA
          Fast, Jesper $1,850,000 – 216gp 65pts
          Karlsson, Melker $2,000,000 – 185gp 65pts
          Haula, Erik $2,750,000 – 266gp 89pts
          Calvert, Matt $2,200,000 – 209gp 86pts
          Miller, Drew $1,350,000 – 324gp 85pts

          Player you likely know a lot more

          Yakupov, Nail $2,500,000 2y UFA 192g 88pts
          Ferland, Micheal $1,750,000 3y RFA 173g 48pts
          Pageau, Jean-Gabriel $3,100,000 3y RFA 251g 101pts
          Krüger, Marcus 3y RFA 327g 88pts
          Bonino, Nick 3y RFA 139g 50pts

          Please point me out if I miss any comparable but I personally think Kassian is a bargin deal

          • crabman

            @grumpyKoala, good work on the pay per points comparables. This does support your argument but I’m going to try to play devil’s advocate. There are a few examples of large over pays for what a team is getting currently like Kruger, Miller and to a lesser extent Bonino. I would argue Kassian also falls into the over pay catagory, but at $1.95M not a huge over pay. Bonino has scored 29pts once and over 30 3 times, plays center and has a history of playing well in the playoffs. Kassian has scored 29pts once for a career high and plays the wing in an “energy” roll. Most people you list play on the 3rd line or higher, play more minutes and therefore the contracts hold more value. Maybe it is more of a misuse of Kassian issue then. But $1.95M for a 4th line winger who averages 11.5 minutes a game and is a regular member of the league’s worse pk is still an overpay.

  • Jagrbaum

    Using this website on mobile has nearly become unusable. Every single time I click on an article, I get re-directed to some spam site. Is this just happening to me or does anyone else have this issue?

    • The Heist

      This has also been happening to me consistently for months. Its definitely frustrating. The phone says congratulations but you know you didn’t win anything haha

    • hagar

      I haven’t been redirected yet but still use blackberry so that might matter. There are plenty of other issues with the site in general though, but they don’t seem interested in fixing them. Reminds me of a company getting ready to sell that doesn’t want to put anymore time in because they don’t care anymore.

      • Jagrbaum

        I am currently using a Google Pixel on Android 8.1. Hopefully this information is helpful for the managers of this website.

        I can’t imagine they aren’t aware of this issue, but hopefully if we keep bringing it up it will be addressed. It’s unfortunate, because like all of you, I really enjoy the content of this website.

        • grumpyKoala

          It happen literally 5+ time while reading a single article, both on Galaxy AlphaPrime and Pixel 2.
          I thought the edit btn was so important until this… this is driving me ******* CRAZSZY

      • grumpyKoala

        I have all site popup blocked, did not know you could disallow specific site from doing that, regardless I still receive popups from ON so this is not working for me. thanks for sharing!

    • Jason Gregor

      Jagrbaum…I will tell our tech people. I use my Iphone all the time and have never once been re-directed to a spam site.What type of phone do you have? Thanks.

    • Hey! We’re working through this issue as we speak. We hired a malware firm to come in and get rid of that crap and they tell us a lot of people in the industry are having issues. Regardless, it’s very annoying and we want it gone ASAP. They’re installing some software across the network that should hopefully get rid of this problem like yesterday. Sorry for the inconvenience, they’re very annoying.

  • Oiler Al

    Mclellans dump and chase system is the issue here.They dont win the puck battles, and if they do they are shooting cup cakes from 50 ft. out.This team for the most part is allergic to blue paint. Maybe some coaching might help.
    McLellans only answer is to send out 97 and 29.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Oiler Al, you nailed it… The Oiler’s season in a nutshell…
      A bunch of Apprentice Bakers, “Shooting Cupcakes & handing out “Turnovers.”
      Coaches,… Let’s get back to hockey with this team, no more excuses!

  • McRaj

    I did some research and basically realized that for the Oilers to have a chance to win, McDavid needs to score 2 points each game.
    When McDavid scores 2 or more points, Oilers are 13-5-1 and when he scores just 1 point, they are 9-11-1; so when he has a point, the Oilers are 22-16-2. When he scores no points, they are 2-14-2. Goes to show how bad the team truly is.
    This made me think about the record for the team last year. When McDavid got atleast a point, they were 39-14-6. When he did not, they were 8-12-3. When he scored at least 2 points last year, the team was 22-6-2. Goes to show that the team has not improved from the DOD, adding the Golden Ticket is all that’s keeping us viable.

    • crabman

      no surprise there. He is in on almost 43% of all Oiler goals. When that is the case and the team is the 6th lowest scoring team in the league we aren’t winning many games without McDavid leading the way.

  • OilersBro

    If Lucic wants to get his game going, he can start by keeping Marchand in line tonight.
    If I’m Todd and anything cheap comes from Marchand, I’d give Lucic the green light to get ejected.

    • hammer313

      Lucic will never catch him and from what I’ve seen, he won’t care to! Just watching his bank account grow, think I’ve seen him on the bench checking his cell, watching his bank app, no doubt.

  • Randaman

    I can hardly wait to see the low ball offers PC gets for maroon, Letestu, Cammy, etc. The league knows he will fold like a cheap tent. This won’t be pretty although I hope I’m wrong and he stands his ground.

    • camdog

      In the name of stability they should keep all 3 until the end of the season. It wouldn’t be ideal to dress 10 forwards for the remainder of the season. Remember it all about stability and trading 3 forwards off a roster with nobody ready in the minors is not what NHL ice hockey teams. That’s what KHL and AHL teams do.

      • crabman

        with no chance at the playoffs any UFA not coming back next year needs to be traded for futures. No point in continuity at this point, they’re not going to be around to help next year anyway. It forces McLellan to play younger players in the top 9 with more minutes and can fill those spots with what little we have in the AHL. It’s not like we were going to win a bunch down the stretch.

  • Spoils

    my dream scenario is simple. I win the lottery and buy the team from Katz. I then take all the ex-Oiler personnel and offer them emeritus type positions where they are not part of the mgt of the team. I do it in one-stroke siting crony capitalism – and my deep love of each of them.

    I then bring in a new GM and new Coach – immediately. Why not give a new GM a run at this trade deadline. Why not give a coach some “warm-up” games.

    Then, I do what good owners should do. I give back to the community, invest in the team, and learn how to pray.

    i feel we need to cut off the head of the snake.

    • grumpyKoala

      The team do not win more game, the pressure from the media grow, ON is raging against you but you do not care anymore, you are rich, you have power and you know it will take time but this team will improve. To do that you will surround yourself with people you trust, people that had successful carrier in hockey, that know a lot about hockey, people that know a thing or two about winning, you will try to trade to get that number 1 dman everyone want and nobody want to give, ultimately you will trade a valuable asset to get a 3rd because that what the market had to offer. The crowd will be unfazed and unpleased, your best player will get hurt, your goalie suddenly cant stop a beach ball, everybody hate you and you start hearing from beneath of the tier 4 abyss, fans whispers that they would do so much more

  • VK63

    as an economist would state, “salaries are determined ex ante and the subsequent marginal revenue product (performance value) ex post for a player as a team/GM projects his future worth and thus contract number.

    I like what appears to be recognition by baseball of the above fact. Barros screams collusion….. I note, proper math.
    To be fair, baseball is blessed with some young talent in their C suites that is not constrained by the gross nepotism that plagues hockey. Chicago; a fabulous case in point.

    No worries Hawks. Im sure your self congratulatory anniversary banner raising will be superb.

  • crabman

    I knew the Oilers were having a hard time scoring but that list of players in goalless droughts is UGLY. A group that bad says a lot about team systems I think. When a couple guys are slumping it has more to do with individuals but when the majority of the team can’t score it has to be bigger than just individual performances doesn’t it?
    I agree with your assessment on the Toews contract and that is why I don’t see the Drasaitl contract as much of a liability going forward like some people. He is young and has scored well the past few years before fully entering his prime and should keep that scoring rate up and should increase as the team scores more and the pp sorts itself out.

  • hammer313

    If I was the Bruins, I would really be shaking in my skates with that totally useless 2nd line with the exception of Drai! How many games has it been now, with this crap?! Lucic and has been Cammarelli, are you serious? Those 2 in a beer league maybe! Comeon, if this is the best the Oilers can roll out and nobody has been fired yet, well, the quicker they move to Seattle, the better! I can’t stand the incompetence of this management from the top down! If Nickolson does nothing than he is as much to blame and Katz should can him too! I’m waiting with bated breath on the total loser trade that they make with Maroon. I call it a win if, and only if, they get at least a late 1st rounder for him. Otherwise another trade loss and Chia, get the hell out of town! Coaches, adios, next!

  • ScottV

    We are still essentially a one and done rush team. McL added the mass shoot wrinkle, with the theory that retrieval would retain possession but it ain’t working.
    Guys are throwing dumb@ss shots at net, giving up opportunities to work the possession together, toward higher grade scoring chances. We wonder why we haven’t had secondary scoring?
    Instead – we go into retrieval mode where it’s chaotic and very easy to screw up by giving up counter attack rushes with speed thru the neutral zone.
    It’s just plain stupid.

    • camdog

      That’s why I don’t watching games against back up goalies – lots of shots with no screen to warm the goalie up.

      Retrieval mode also equals d-man caught pinching. In Nurse’s case he gets back into the play and gets his man, problem is there’s usually a forward already back and the third man into zone ends up free.

      • ScottV

        Yes. Part of the chaos. Easy to get caught biting too hard on it. Either all 3 forwards caught deep or a d man biting on a pinch and coming up empty. No man no puck – oh oh – odd man counter attack