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Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Oil Change: 20 Minutes of Fire

What a third period by the Edmonton Oilers. They erased a three-goal deficit and then Darnell Nurse went end-to-end in OT to win it. That was a gutsy effort by the Oilers. Two bad defensive breakdowns in the first period put them in a hole early, but they kept battling. When the Jets took a 4-1 lead 1:02 into the second frame I thought the game was over. I’m guessing you did as well.

But the Oilers didn’t wilt. They tightened up defensively, and then in the third they attacked. An early goal from Ty Rattie got them going and then Connor McDavid did what he does and produced two more points to give him four on the night, and a new NHL record as he was in on the first nine Oilers goals of the season. ” It’s whatever. I’m not overly proud of it. I don’t think it’s a stat I should be proud of either,” he said about the record. He wants to win, and he is the undisputed leader of the team, and while they need more guys to score, the team did compete hard for the majority of the game and outside of a few tough shifts I thought they were pretty good defensively, especially against the Jets more skilled players.

Jason Garrison had a tough first period and was directly involved in the two goals against.

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He didn’t go after Adam Lowry down low, and I understand his partial hesitation to not leave the man open in front, but you can’t let the guy walk cleanly out of the corner.

He wasn’t the only culprit. Leon Draisaitl lost a battle to Lowry and then got caught up as Matt Benning was battling Chris Tanev.

On the second goal Garrison had complete control of the puck, but made a terrible pass. The Jets intercepted it, Garrison couldn’t recover and Lowry scored again.

It was an ugly start for Garrison and the Oilers, but the team didn’t fold. They kept pushing, and even their penalty kill came up huge, killing off two consecutive penalties including an absolute garbage charging call on Milan Lucic. Watch the replay.

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Lucic didn’t take a stride from the top of the circles. The referee only put his hand up because Ben Chiarot got up slowly. I don’t care what anyone says, that penalty was a direct result from the Elias Pettersson injury. There was no call on the Michael Matheson hit, it should have been a roughing call, but the subsequent suspension now has referees looking to make calls when a guy might be injured. That was textbook body contact from Lucic. Didn’t take an extra stride, arms in, no contact to the head. A perfectly clean body check.

But the Jets PP did nothing. That might have been the best penalty kill of the season for the Oilers. They were aggressive and attacked the Jets and never let them get set up.

The Oilers played quite well, excluding the rough few shifts in the first period, at 5×5 all game. They out shot the Jets 30-25, had a better FF-FA 44-31 and a better team Corsi 55-44.

Obviously they need lines two, three and four to score a goal without McDavid on the ice at 5×5, but they didn’t get outworked and I thought they actually played quite well for the majority of the game.

GAME THOUGHTS…

—That comeback reminded me of the perseverance we saw from the Oilers in 2016/2017. They had the fourth most comebacks in the NHL that year when trailing after 40 minutes. Considering last night was the Oilers first of seven consecutive games against teams with 100+ points last year, I don’t think we can underestimate how big that victory was. If the Oilers finish October 5-5-1 I’d say that was a very good month considering their travel and the quality of competition. If they manage six wins this month Oilersnation would have to be satisfied, I would think.

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—For the past three games the powerplay has set up and run off of the left side, but it has been with Nugent-Hopkins not McDavid. And the Oilers PP is clicking. They are 5th in the NHL at 33.3% with four goals on 12 opportunities. The reason for this is they want McDavid shooting more. He has four PP shots in four games, all at 5×4 and three goals. Last season he had 34 powerplay shots and five goals. In 2017 he had three goals and 32 shots. He is shooting way more on the PP and he is scoring more. A scary combination for opposing teams. But the five lefty powerplay is working very well as they run it off the left wall. They just have RNH there as the distributor, who is also able to take a shot as he did v. Boston and hammered it off the goal post, and McDavid is on the right side in the shooter position. He scored from the right side in the third period.

—We will see Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi as the second line in practice tomorrow? Drake Caggiula played with Draisaitl and Puljujarvi for the second period, but then Milan Lucic was back there late in the third. Lucic skated very well last night. His puckhandling is still an adventure at times, but watching him get in the forecheck on numerous occasions should put a stop to the narrative his skating is an issue. It isn’t his skating, it is his decisions at times with the puck. But his effort was very good last night and 27-29-98 would be a big, strong line with the potential to produce some points. Or Todd keeps 91-29-98 because he liked how they played prior to Caggiula getting banged up.

— Puljujarvi and Caggiula played well and got promoted beside Draisaitl and then Puljujarvi continued to play well. Good for him. My twitter feed was full of “I told you JP was good.” I never said Puljujarvi wasn’t good, but I did say he hadn’t looked comfortable, and most of that I blamed on the organization for not having him develop outside the NHL the past two seasons. Most people wanted him promoted to the second line over Yamamoto, a very fair ask, but he scored playing with McDavid.  I don’t see him playing there. Ty Rattie started the comeback with a great shot of his own, and if he can chip in one goal every four games on the top line (20-goal season) and Puljujarvi can score 15 plus on the second line, the Oilers have some hope. It was a positive game for many Oilers, and now the challenge will be if they can build on it. Puljujarvi should get a big boost from his performance. His goal notwithstanding, I thought he was good in a lot of other areas, before he was put with Draisaitl, and hopefully he can build on it. The key was the third line built on a strong past few games and continued it tonight. Caggiula and Puljujarvi got rewarded for playing well again. The key for them is to continue it. Consistency is the most difficult skill to obtain in the NHL.

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— From the first day of training camp I felt it would be best for Kailer Yamamoto to start the season in the AHL. Not because he isn’t good, but because the NHL is extremely difficult and while he has NHL hockey smarts I think the lack of strength would be a factor. But the main reason I wanted him in the AHL was because he has the most skill of any young Oilers prospect who wasn’t a regular in the NHL last year. It is better to develop those players and bring them to the NHL when they are ready to contribute offensively. It is a hard to league to score in, even for veterans. Four regular season games hasn’t changed my mind on Yamamoto. I believe he will a helpful contributor in the future, but I will stick with my stance from September 15th.

—Nurse’s goal in OT is exactly what he worked on this summer. Not necessarily dangling a guy at the blueline, but making a positive play when he enters the offensive zone. He looked very poised and confident when he crossed the bluelines. At the start of training camp, he said, “I want to improve my play in the offensive zone. A lot of it starts with believing you can make the plays,” he said. Well, he sure looked confident on this rush. Very quietly Nurse has three points in the first four games and he has looked better every game.

Look at the jubilation from the entire team. That goal was huge for them.

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YOUR CALL

Garrison wasn’t a regular NHL D-man last year for Vegas and I don’t see him being one this year. But the challenge for the coaching staff is right now Kris Russell is their best option to play second pair RD, but that leaves Matt Benning and Evan Bouchard to play in the third pair, and one of them would have to play the left side. Not ideal.

With four games at home the Oilers have last change, and could get more favourable matchups for their blueline if they wanted.

So maybe they just stick with the same pairings and look for matchups. I could see that. Or what do you think about these duos?

Nurse-Larsson
Klefbom-Bouchard
Russell-Benning

Nurse and Larsson could play against the red-hot Patrice Bergeron line on Thursday, and then you give Klefbom-Bouchard a lot of offensive zone starts while Russell and Benning would have more defensive zone starts. It isn’t ideal because they are changing up the top pairing, but I’ve noticed Trent Yawney has played Nurse and Larsson coming off of powerplays and other situations.

What pairs would you use Thursday?

Recently by Jason Gregor:


    • Daryl Katz

      Benning isn’t going anywhere because he’s Chia’s pet….meaning he was drafted by Boston when Chia was there and Chia considers him to be some great find for the Oilers from his Boston days.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I would rather have Bear over Benning. Benning is just not going to change how long have we seen Benning make the same errors over the last 3 seasons and no changes at all, lots it is a consistent thing with him when he is on the ice.

      I would waive Benning or trade him for a puck, bank that cash and eliminate a contract, Benning is just not worth hanging onto. Benning shouldn’t even be out of the pressbox yet, he needed to stay there for 4 or 5 games and let him see the ice from above because his view from on ice is horrid, situational awareness is seriously lacking. While I blame Benning for his play, the Oilers coaches deserve a smack on the hand for continually allowing Beiing to play badly and not working with him on fixing the issues in his play. So either Bening isnt teachable, or he doesnt get it or he will always be a tire fire. Either way he is a liability when he is on the ice. The guy has been on for 5 goals in 2 games

    • Jason Gregor

      Benning wasn’t the problem last night. Yes, he can play better, but risking losing players for nothing when you don’t a lot of defensive depth isn’t a wise move IMO. Bear should be here, but at the expense of Alex Chiasson, not Benning. Chiasson was only signed to maximize LTI space, and I question if they will use all if it anyways.

        • ed from edmonton

          Although Benning has not played NHL quality minutes this season, the Oil are so thin on D, I don’t think they can risk losing any D on the waiver wire.

        • crabman

          Matt Benning has had a tough start. I don’t think anyone would argue otherwise. But to be ready to cast him off and lose him for nothing is ludicrous. He is only 24 and has played less than 200 games. Until this year he has been a + player. Last year on a very bad Oiler team he was one of the better players. +5 and 21pts. He isn’t ready to play in the top4 but he is a more than capable bottom pair defender who is still learning the game. He might never get any better than he is today, even then he is an NHL defender, but to think he can’t improve after playing only 138 games just doesn’t make any sense to me. If anyone is to blame for his performance this season so far it is Chiarelli for not getting a better top4 D in the offseason and leaving Benning in the position he has been successful in up to this point of his young career as a bottom pairing defender.
          That said I thought Russell looked good in the 3rd period in that 2RD spot and going forward I think it will be his spot to lose.

          • Big Nuggets

            Benning is the perfect candidate to be sacrificed to the trade gods. Try to swap or package the young guy for a steadier presence. Not sure who that is but with Bear and Bouchard knocking on the RD door he has become expendable.

        • Kepler62c

          What? 7th/8th Dman, career AHLer? Are you sure you’re qualified to make that statement. Benning is easily an NHL Dman, not a top 4, maybe he’s a 7th on deep deep team, but on this team he deserves to be in the top 6 more often than not. He probably could have used some AHL time at the start of his career, but at this point he’s beyond that league.

      • ed from edmonton

        Or how about Kassian on waivers?? He is deservedly in the press box and getting rid of his bloated contract would be a good thing. I don’t think Chaisson would be any less effective than Kassian.

      • Towers-of-dub

        what does it mean to “maximize LTIR space”? What difference does it make if they signed Chiasson or not? Wouldn’t maximizing the LTIR space be accomplished by signing or trading for a serviceable NHL defenseman to a 1 yr $5.5MM contract? How does signing Chiasson maximize the LTIR space? He’s only making $650k

  • Quoteright

    Why can’t Yamo have the keys to driving the 4th line? Why is it 2nd line or Ahl? He seems like he can handle the game but why is he already on the 2nd line when he has no NHL goals?

    • 306fan862

      Yamo isn’t a grinder, he is a skill guy that needs to be put in a position to score points. If he has the opportunity to play top PP mins in the AHL, I am all for him going down. To be a 4th liner at 19 years old is terrible for development.

      • Kepler62c

        I agree to some degree — an opposing view would be that of Andrei Svechnikov right now on Carolina. He’s been playing on the “4th Line”, but they aren’t using it as a standard grinder line. It’s getting the least minutes, but favourable matchups, and he’s getting PP time.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      As a young skilled player it has been suggested that playing lots of minutes is important. Playing 8 minutes a night may not be the best option for development.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      Might as well send him down to the Condors where he can play 21 minutes a night on the first line. I think after a month, he’d be back up playing for the Oilers.

    • bwar

      I thought Yamamoto has looked really good the last two games. He works hard, goes to the right places but so far hasn’t been able to put the puck in the back of the net. When you consider how top heavy our production has been I don’t think you can drop all the blame on scoring depth onto the shoulders of Yamamoto. With the way he plays I don’t see anything wrong with having him on the third line playing 10-15 minutes a night. The coaches must think he’s not a defensive liability because we’ve seen him killing penalties and saw him play in the last few minutes of the victory on Saturday. The game is more than just putting pucks in the net. If we are cutting players based one production four games into the season we got about a dozen guys who’d be getting shipped to the AHL. Yamamoto has drawn a few penalties and generated a scoring chances, once he finds some chemistry with a few other forwards he’s going to be just fine.

    • crabman

      I think Yamamoto would make an excellent 4th liner. He is fast, smart, and aggressive in his pursuit of the puck. He is playing well as a penalty killer for this reason. But to put such a skilled player with as much potential as he has on the 4th line to play 8 minutes a night would be short sighted and do both the player and the future Oilers a disservice. I don’t mind seeing him play on the 3rd line against softer competition and still getting his minutes but the best thing for him is probably a trip to Bakersfield and playing a ton in every discipline.

  • CMG30

    No question, it was a stunning comeback last night. I really hope that they can build off it. But somehow they have got to find a way to come out the same way they went out last night. It’s just not sustainable to sleepwalk through 2 periods, put yourself down 3 then try to make it up in the final 20.

    RNH is and has always been a witch on the PP. Why they didn’t think to have him feeding someone like McDavid before is just a headscratcher. Maybe fresh eyes have paid off…

      • Redbird62

        I think even the Oilers knew the Hopkins would play well with McDavid, the problem has been how Draisaitl plays without McDavid, except for 3 games against Ducks in the playoffs. With Drai at center, his line is still getting out chanced and outscored 5 on 5. And you can say all you want about his wingers, he is still making poor defensive coverage decisions in his own end. Maybe trial by fire now is the way he will improve in this. And since the Oilers started Nuge with McDavid at the beginning of March last season (and probably would have done so sooner if Nuge hadn’t been injured), then are you saying you were advocating this in March of 2017? Pretty hard to fault Todd for his deployment that season taking a previous non-playoff team to within one game of the Conference finals.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Maybe Draisaitl could benefit with RNH on the left? I think I would try maybe Yamamoto, Khaira or even Lucic back up on the first line in his place. So,…. second line would look like this: RNH – Draisaitl – Pullijarvi.
          I think at this point the 2nd line is more important than the 1st, as that will take care of itself. Reider also is not out of the question in RNH’s spot beside McDavid… He’s got speed…

  • OilersBro

    Mentioning the urgency on the penalty kill – that’s a team who wants to kill off a penalty for the guy in the box. BS call and the Oilers weren’t gonna let Looch pay for it.

  • jdubs

    Good Morning Nation. I enjoyed the result last night. Definitely reminiscent of ’16-’17…it was fun to watch the text messages fly in from my buddies when I was unable to watch the game…but watching highlights later was a good rush too. My friend Dave pointed out how pumped Connor was on his second PP goal. That kid wants to win!
    But there is a little issue here with the Oil…let’s not sugarcoat it. As Jason has pointed out, scoring needs to happen on lines 2-3-4. If they don’t get those contributors, it’s going to be a tough one this year. In saying that, I’m THRILLED Nurse scored the OT winner and that #97 was on the bench for it…however…I’m throwing the following out there just as a speculation from my POV. I will preface all this by saying I don’t play hockey, or never have really been in a locker room to understand everything that goes on in there…heck, I know there’s a salary cap that a team can’t go over, but I don’t know all the fancy stuff…but…

    …as long as #97 continues to dominate like he does, then coaching and management will continue to be held unaccountable to surrounding #97 with the best people possible. That’s why breaking the NHL record of being in on the first 9 goals is not a record he’s proud of. I think there’s a couple of messages there. The first one is he just wants to win. Check. But the second message is that he is saying he can’t do it all and needs support from lines 2-3-4. That’s a management and coaching responsibility, so those guys need to figure it out. If it means a shakeup of some sort to get a big blueliner, I say go for it. It’s time to win. No more rebuild(s). We can’t waste this talent.
    So why aren’t lines 2-3-4 not scoring yet (I mean they are technically, but remember, #97 was involved in the first 9 goals of the entire team)? My theory is that the others on the bench are feeling like crap for not being remotely as good as #97. He’s that co-worker or superstar student in the classroom who is awesome at everything and the rest of us just kinda put up our hands and goes “ok, well, he’ll take care of it..” and they may just be going through the motions. There’s no rationalization to them being the “victims of a high performer”, but it’s very much a thing. It exists in many aspects of our own day to day (our co-workers, fellow students, whatever). I even say that it affects these hockey players that we put on pedestals…
    In saying all of this, perhaps that was a little turning point when Nurse scored last night and the team was really ecstatic on the ice celebrating the win as a group! I hope it is. Let’s cheer the crest!

    • btrain

      From a guy who has played the game, McDavid doesn’t love his latest record because it reflects poorly on his team. Its not because he is upset with his team or what management has given him, its actually the opposite. He has a lot of team pride and he likely gets rather irritated when he feels his teammates are being cast aside as nothing without him. Whether it appears to be true or not as the observer, McDavid is a team player, he believes in his guys, and he is going to reject anything that puts him above team. Great Captain move!!!

      • More like, he is intelligent and realizes the brass does not have a clue how to build a competitive team, but classy not to throw teammates (even if they suck) under the bus. He knows who should be, just like the rest of us, and probably realizes by now , that Katz will never get over his 80’s pipe dream. Cant name a time, but if this *hit show continues, he will want out, and who could blame him?

        • BobbyCanuck

          Yeah, he has been tutored on media speak since he was 5 yrs old.

          The real answer…’Yeah the oilers suck, and with our management, chances are we will always suck, so whatevs. I am here to win the Art Ross for the next 7 yrs in a row, and smash every record I can. Look out Wayne, Ima gunning for 50 goals in 38 games!

          That is his inside voice

  • Hemmercules

    Wins, they just feel so good. A comeback for the ages and just at the right time. Love that silence in the building after the OT goal, just a dagger to the hearts of an entire stadium.

    I thought JP looked rough early. He couldn’t keep the puck on his stick or make a decent pass. Just clumsy all over the place. He got better as the game went on though and got rewarded. He is definitely more of a shooter than a passer so hopefully they can get him into some trigger-man situations more often.

    The defence is a real pickle for this team. Chia has to do something if he can. Play Bouchard every game until his 9 are up and send him down. It would be stupid not to even if he’s playing well. Then get Bear up here until some type of trade can be made. The top 4 are going to be playing crazy minutes unless they get some decent help. I’m rooting for Benning but he’s a disaster right now and Garrison isnt the answer.

    • BobbyCanuck

      Winnipeg had some really good teams in the 1980’s, I think we went through them in every Cup win….I hope the current fans remember this…that why it was so quite….the older fans have seen the Oilers pluck victory from the Jets of defeat many a time

  • TKB2677

    The first period was terrible, that 3rd defense pairing was a train wreck.This team has some flaws in the roster but it’s amazing what can happen when the team actually PLAYS HARD and there isn’t a lot of passengers on the team like usual. If as a team you actually PLAY HARD, you can compete.

    • Hemmercules

      I hope the Oil took a look at Vegas last year and try to emulate that. You don’t have to have a powerhouse team if the whole team buys in and works their butts off every night. Lets hope this lit a fire under them.

      • ed from edmonton

        This sounds great but the whole team isn’t what had won the last 2 games. Last night 3rd pair were terrible and the top 4 all had to play huge minutes. Played 3 lines for most of the last 2 periods as well. D depth is this teams achillies heal at this point.

        • Hemmercules

          I don’t remember Vegas having an all star defence and they got it done somehow. Not saying they don’t need to add guy, they do, but they guys they have have to be better too if this team has any shot.

  • btrain

    That was a thrill of a game! I know there have been some comeback victories for the Oilers squad but this feels like a first in a long time against that strong of an opponent. Talk about games to build off of! Its like everyone started to wake up from their off season/pre-season slumber and realized they were playing for real.
    However, the dressing room issues between Nurse & Draisaitl were pretty clear during that OT celebration! haha

  • The Immortal

    We all know the oilers defense has issues…Problem is nobody is going to trade us the type of player we need/want…and PC hasn’t won a trade since he’s arrived so does anyone trust him with this task? I certainly don’t. So we’re stuck with grossly overpaying (Russel) some , senior citizens (Garrison) , and developing kids by playing them and hoping for the best.

    It would seem Sekera was a better dman than most gave him credit for..cause we really miss him.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    That interview with Nurse after the game was fantastic. You could tell he was trying not to smile and laugh the whole time. That’s a look that’s been missing from his face the past year. What a goal.

  • ed from edmonton

    JP appears to be earning his promotion to the 2nd line and some PP time. That’s the way its supposed to work. His starts are still not good (you might say that for a number of players) but he has been getting better as games go on. Agree that unless something changes Yamo will bi in the A soon with Reider moving up.

    With both Rattie and JP scoring last night I am evened more convinced the Oil’s biggest problem is on D. Each of there top 4 D played from 22 to 25 minutes, I don’t know if this is sustainable in a full season. What do the Oil do if Larsen gets hurt?? Still hoping there is a RHD the Oil can get.

    I seems hat TMAc fully appreciates his tenuous position and is coaching each game like a playoff game. Lots of the ice time for the big guns and he (or his replacement)will worry about fatigue later.

    • crabman

      I agree that the D is still the teams biggest weakness but I’m not all that concerned with the minutes per game the top4 play. Some good teams have run their D that way. Nashville and Minnesota both run a very top heavy top4. All of Nashville’s too4 play over 23 minutes a night leaving the scraps for the bottom pair. Minnesota is similar but only at slightly under 22 minutes a night for the 2nd pair but with a whopping almost 27 minutes a night for Suter. But most good teams run a heavy top3 which I see the Oilers doing with Nurse, Klefbom, an Larsson but the problem there is none of them are a defence anchoring, minute munching top guy. I don’t worry about their fatigue I just worry about the overall skill/depth of the defence as a whole.

  • The future never comes

    Gregor, for the fan base could you pose the type of question that has the answer in it already, that is more of a statement and not really a question at all? Such as “Todd, Pulju and Leon looked extremely good together in limited time, it’s probably smart to keep that momentum going isn’t it? – signed fanbase

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Completely agree with you Gregor, the 3rd period is how the Oil can play if their heads are in the game. Top 4 D played well, forwards were back to help, and other guys scored. As for #97 being in on all the goals, that’s why you pay him 12.5 mill/year, have him on the PP and move guys up to get them going, I’d be worried if he wasn’t producing, people don’t complain when LeBron leads his team in points, assists and rebounds every game. The reffing was questionable, Lucic gets that week call, but they miss a trip on #97 as he’s going through the neutral zone in the second period, and a sloughfoot on an Oilers player in the second period that should have given the Oilers 2 PP’s in the period. I’d sit Benning, bring up Gravel and play him with Russell on the 3rd pairing.

  • ed from edmonton

    Good to see JP earning his promotion to 2nd line and PP, this is how it is supposed to work. JP starts to games are always rough but plays better as the games goes on, lets hope he can figure this out.

    Unless something changes Yamo is destined for the A with Reider moving up,

    OIler D depth remains a big concern. Top 4 all had to play huge minutes last night to minimize exposure to poor 3rd pair. Don’t think this is sustainable over a full season. Also what do the Oil do if Larsen gets hurt?? Hope there is a RHD to be had.

    TMAc is coaching like he knows his job is tenuous. Every game is like a playoff game, shortening his bench and not worrying about huge ice time. Fatigue will be dealt with later in the year (either by him or his replacement).

    • BobbyCanuck

      How does one get fatigued, playing 15-20 minutes every other night

      I get fatigued after working 4 12’s, if you do not know what that means ask someone that works for a living

  • yahsper

    3rd period Oilers are the team I want to cheer for. Im die hard fan all the way, and if we can steal a few here and there and earn some then this will be a fun team to cheer for. Theres some talent that is just warming up, and when they start firing we should be in the mix. Stanley Cup? Ya right, but I firmly believe we can stay in it and battle our way to post season. It wont be pretty , probably ugly at times, but I predict a great battle for playoffs with the last 15 games being nail biters. Im Mr. Positivity!!!

  • GriffCity

    If you send Yamamoto down, who covers the middle 6 RW? Say you slot JP on the second line, now you have no RW with any scoring ability on your 3rd line. Aberg would have actually been a decent option here but the Oilers are very thin down the right side despite preseason numbers. Yamo will find the net soon enough – he is undeniably one of the the top 3 RW options the Oilers have in their system.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    this was a type of game that can really rally a team and turn the season around (for the better), but Edmonton is also very inconsistent and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to lay an egg next game either…

  • bwar

    Who’s the next LD up? I think I’d be waiving Garrison and recalling the top LD from Bakerfield. I’d consider doing the same Benning but at least put him back in the pressbox.

    The other 4 dmen really had to step up last night and I expect we see a little more focus on keeping those four guys on the ice moving forward. Probably don’t want to have Nurse and Russell creeping towards 30 minutes every night but when the third pairing is such a liability then you just can’t afford to put them on the ice.

  • Odanada

    McDavid is on a mission and I think he can inspire his teammates not only with his individual play, but also with his commitment to the team as a whole.
    Connor’s presence and drive will lift every one of his teammates and motivate them to become better than the individual sum of their parts. Screw the personal accolades; this guy wants to WIN.
    I saw a fire in his eyes after the 3rd goal that was undeniable. His post game comments were also revealing and inspiring. This guy is an effing beast and can “will” his teammates to be better.
    Buckle up and believe, ON.
    McDavid is taking control of the room.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    It goes beyond saying that what happened last night was special, but I’m really hoping the players and staff on the Oilers realize what kind of a building block it is. For those of us old enough to remember, these were exactly the kinds of nights that #99 served up between about, oh, 1979 and 1981. He’d take over a game with some bring some otherworldly magic that the other teams simply didn’t have an answer for, the younger core guys on the Oilers would follow along and, next thing you know it, they’d pull out a win. Heck, never mind 1979 to 1981. That scenario unfolded a lot after the Oilers were winning Cups. Gretzky and (most often) Fuhr often combined to win the Oilers a lot of games they shouldn’t have won – regular season and playoffs.

    But the $64,000 question is what happens from here. It was heartening to see McDavid a little sheepish (and maybe ashamed) about that scoring record last night. Hopefully his sentiments serve to wake up his teammates and the coaches, for that matter. Hopefully it’s a lesson that when you’ve got the best player in the world best-player-in-the-worlding, you need to step up your game and your efforts as well.

    I don’t think anyone thought last night would turn out the way it was. Not in Winnipeg, not against the mighty Jets (still feels weird to type that). Hell, I’ve been on here quite a bit lately telling people to chill out on the Oilers’ losses, it’s a long season, it’s the NHL, not the NFL, etc., etc., but last night was, potentially, season-defining. I just hope the players don’t let it go to waste.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Watching the 3rd was a treat. The Oilers were flying out there and I can honestly say that was probably their first example of “playing fast”. When they had the puck, they moved it efficiently. When they didn’t, they pressured the Jets into a turnover (my favourite being Puljujarvi stripping a Jets defender at the Jets blue-line). Here are the changes I’d make.

    1. Swap Yamamoto and JP. When that change was made, there were immediate results. JP had a great scoring chance with Draisitl, Yamamoto almost pops his first with Strome.
    2. Klefbom and Larsson look to be back to their normal selves and so I’d keep that pairing. Bouchard hasn’t looked out of place so I think he should be in the lineup Thursday. Only question is, where do you slot him? Do you do Nurse-Bouchard? I’d go back to Garrison-Bouchard?
    3. I thank god for Connor McDavid

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Jason, you and Jason need to discuss it with your contacts and bring that Rattie goal back for highlights and review. More analysis is necessary.
    That goal was not McDavid losing the puck, that goal was McDavid leaving the puck.
    Look again.

    I can see the Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi being a solid long term thing.

    Still believe that is not necessary for Hopkins to play with McDavid.
    I would play Strome and Hopkins as a third line duo with interchangeable options. As well as both of them, mostly Hopkins, when necessary could step up, when and if need be, to spark up McDavid.

    Something just tells me that McDavid needs Khaira with him. Khaira is a smart and hardworking, he would take the opportunity and make the most of it.
    Khaira would be a young Lucic for McDavid to play with, and cause of his play style-Lucic was a favorite player McDavid always wanted to play with.

    I honestly believe the Oilers need to trade Benning right now(before the stock drops more), along with Yamamoto and a pick.
    The need immediate help on defense and a sacrifice has to be made. That trade package should be able to fetch a decent return.

    Nurse-Larsson
    Klefbom-Bouchard
    Russel- ?

    • Big Nuggets

      I’d like to see Khaira get a shot with McDavid as well. The contrast in playing style could work. The common denominator being that they both work hard.

      I’ve thought about trading Benning as well. He must be at an all time low in value right now which is not good, but if they can package him for an actual NHL defender that would be great.