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GDB Game Notes: Penguins @ Oilers

It is rare to have so many great centres in one game, but tonight’s tilt features three first ballot Hall of Fame players, although one of them has always been under-hyped. Sidney Crosby has been the talk of the NHL since bursting on the scene in 2005/2006, and Connor McDavid is the new face of the league after winning back-to-back scoring titles.

Those two are exceptional players and deserve all the accolades they receive, but Evgeni Malkin is probably the least talked about superstar the NHL has right now.

1. Since Malkin entered the NHL in 2006/2007 his and Crosby’s numbers are very close.

Crosby has played 789 games and has 372 goals. In 790 games Malkin has 373 goals. In those 12 seasons and six games this year, Crosby has 1,019 points while Malkin has 942. Up until McDavid arrived they were the two best centres in the NHL. But Crosby has always received more fanfare. Crosby was the best centre, but Malkin was right behind him.

2. Since 2006/2007, here are the leaders in points-per-game among players with 200 games played.
Crosby: 1.29 PPG in 789 games.
McDavid: 1.24 PPG in 215 games.
Malkin: 1.19 PPG in 790 games.
Alex Ovechkin: 1.10 PPG in 929 games.
Martin St.Louis: 1.03 PPG in 690 games.
Patrick Kane: 1.01 PPG in 830 games.
Pavel Datsyuk: 1.01 PPG in 669 games.

They were the only players who averaged more than a point-per-game, yet somehow Malkin wasn’t included in the top-100 players of all-time. He has been laughably underappreciated. Malkin won the Art Ross twice, the Hart once, the Ted Lindsay once, the Calder in 2007, the Conn Smythe in 2009 and three Stanley Cups. Enjoy the battle between McDavid and Crosby, but don’t forget about Malkin. He is unreal as well.

3. I think it is unfair to suggest Leon Draisaitl can be like Malkin. I have no doubt Draisaitl can be very good, but I don’t see him in Malkin’s category. I believe Draisaitl can be as good as Anze Kopitar, but if you are comparing him to Malkin you will be disappointed. Malkin is a first ballot Hall of Fame talent. That type of talent is rare. He is red-hot right now with 12 points in six games.

4. No doubt Draisaitl needs to be better though. And for me that is the most important factor. If he was making $7 million the Oilers would still need him to be doing more at 5×5, and that’s why I don’t focus on his salary. He needs to play better. He doesn’t have to dominate like McDavid, or Malkin, but he needs to do more than he has of late. He needs to work harder and smarter at even strength.

5. In six games this year Draisaitl is -7. He has been a minus in every game except the home game v. Boston. He was also -12 in the final seven games last year. That means in his last 13 games he is -19. I know +/- isn’t the best stat, and doesn’t tell the entire story, but in this case I think it matches with what we have seen. His CF% is 38.1%. His FF% is 41.2% and his SF% is only 38% through the first six games. He has been on the ice for 54 shots against and 34 for at 5×5. He is capable of doing more and he needs to get going.

6. Malkin has 7-8-15 in 13 games v. the Oilers. Crosby has 2-14-16 in 14 career games against Edmonton. The only team Crosby has scored fewer goals against in his career is Vegas, and he’s only played them three times. Crosby doesn’t have a goal yet this season, but he has five assists in six games.

7. The Oilers haven’t defeated the Penguins in regulation since January 10th, 2006, when they won 3-1 in Pittsburgh. The last time the Oilers won in regulation on home ice was December 6th, 2003 by a score of 4-3. Noted sniper Cory Cross tied the game 25 seconds into the third and then he assisted on Shawn Horcoff’s game winning goal. The Oilers are 1-5 v. the Penguins since McDavid was drafted, and funny enough their only victory occurred when McDavid was a rookie and sitting out with a broken clavicle. Edmonton won 3-2 in a shootout. Since the 2000/2001 season, the Oilers are 5-12-3 v. the Penguins.

8. The Penguins have the second best PK in the NHL right now at 92.8%. They are the least penalized team in the NHL. They have killed off 13 of 14 shorthanded situations. The Oilers have been shorthanded the third fewest times, 18, and after allowing three goals on their first six kills, Edmonton has only allowed one goal over their past four games (12 kills).

9. The Oilers (18) and Penguins (15) are 30th and 31st respectively in powerplay chances thus far, but both have been good on the few chances they get. The Oilers sit seventh at 27.8% and the Penguins are 10th at 26.7%. Both teams have been outscored at 5×5. Pittsburgh has been outscored 16-14, while Edmonton opponents have outscored them 11-6. Both teams would like to find more offence at 5×5.

10. Kris Letang has had an excellent start. He is second in the NHL in goals by a D-man with four and he is fourth in points with eight. The Oilers entire blueline has combined for one goal and seven points in six games.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/23/2018 – 7:00 am MT

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Well lets hope the Oil shows up for the full 60 minutes because the pens have only lost one game, and they have 3 wins and went to OT twice and the Oil need to get on a roll again to boost their confidence and a win against the Pens would help.

    The question is what kind of line combos will we see tonight, Cagguila is out, Ratttie is out , Benning is out. The biggest thing hindering the Oil is lack of scoring from well, just about anywhere else down the lines. I think TM will have the blender out during the game if he doesnt see some chances from some of the lines.

    I expect the Pens will take a page out of the Preds book and try and have a couple of shadows on McDavid, because he has been such a factor against teams, and if they can try and keep the puck away from him or not give him time to make decisions with the puck that could spell trouble for the Oil even though McDavid is pretty good at creating space.

    Ought to be interesting to see how the Oil will do, I got to give the Pens the edge, but I am hoping like hell for an Oilers win!

  • Spydyr

    Draisaitl is a good player but he was overpaid by 1-1.5 million based on a good playoff run on McDavid’s wing. That kind of over payment hurts the entire team.

    • That's My Point

      Put Draisaitl back on McDavid’s wing and watch them light it up.
      Drai could get 90 points, they are almost unstoppable 3 on 3 in OT so why not more of them together 5 x5?
      Try to win some games here.

      • Spydyr

        Glen Sather once said: “A fire hydrant could score 40 goals on Gretzky’s line.”

        Saying Draisaitl will light it up on Mcdavid’s wing plays right into that quote and playing on Mcdavid’s wing is the reason Draisaitl was overpaid.

        • QuitForRealThisTime

          What do you think Rantanen will make next year? Seeing as he plays with McKinnon. Based on your logic he will be overpaid at at anything above $8. We shall now wait and see.

          • QuitForRealThisTime

            Debatable, Drai was also paid on speculation of what he could do. Not what he can do. If i recall Nuge was considered overpaid in his first deal.

          • Hemmercules

            Thats a real problem with the Oilers. They pay guys for what they hope they will be, not what they are. Thats how you end up with inflated contracts, NMC’s and no playoffs when they players fall back to earth. They should have played hard ball with Leon like the leafs are doing with Nylander.

        • Jason Gregor

          “Nuge is a better all around player than Draisaitl . Nuge makes two million less.”

          He is better..really do tell. Has never scored more than 56 points. And he played with Hall when he scored 80 and Eberle for many years who as a consistent 60+ player.

          Draisaitl better in faceoffs. Not close.
          Go look at Draisaitl’s stats in first three years compared to RNH. Please show me where RNH was better overall.

          RNH was never as great defensively as people say. It was repeated often in Oilersnation, but numbers didn’t match it.

          So please, enlighten me in the ways RNH is a more complete player. I’m very curious to see them.

          • The eye test. Watching Nuge actually play the game. I would be willing to bet the times Nuge has seen a drop in numbers has been due to injury.

            Fancy stats don’t tell the whole story. Draisaitl has been playing lazy under contract and the Nuge has never been accused of laziness. He has earned the respect of every coach he’s ever had and at the moment, has robbed Drai of his spot on the top line.

            I would cut Drai some slack because of who he has been partnered with lately, but he needs to pick up the pace. The Oilers as a whole need to quit relying on CMD to carry the team. That includes Draisaitl.

          • Redbird62

            According to Naturalstattrick, since 2016-2017, when McDavid is not on the ice, the team performs better with Nuge at center than with Drai at center. CF%, FF%, Shots for% scoring chances for%, high danger scoring chances for%, and goal for% and the gap is significant on both the HDCF% and the GF%. And that meets my eye test of watching the flow of play with Drai at center. Some of that is because Leon is not always a good steward of the puck, leading the team in giveaways over that time period, and coughing it up more than twice as often as Nuge. And how is that someone of Drai’s size is actually credited with less hits per game than Nuge? Last but not least, Nuge is a better penalty killer. Hey, I like Drai, and he probably can be a better center than Nuge, but he is only 22.
            So far since Drai and Nuge switched spots last year, Drai has demonstrated why Todd was reluctant to make the switch earlier. Hopefully Drai, with the coaches help, gets it figured out soon.

          • Spydyr

            Last I checked the game is won on the ice not on the fancy stat sheet.

            Nuge is a better back-checker by far. He is way more defensively aware in his own zone often picking up the open man. Nuge has a more accurate shot and plays better positionally in his own zone. Nuge is a much better 200 foot player. It might not show up in the fancy stats sheet but it shows up on the ice almost every night.

        • Its.Not.Me.Its.You

          i get what your saying but do you want to teach Drai a lesson or win hockey games. imo your paying 8.5 for drai he doesnt cut it on his own put him back with mcdavid get more bang for your buck. let him have a couple 40 goal seasons playing along side connor to bring up his value then we might not be stuck with a 8.5 mill dead weight

    • Bills Bills

      He should have been bridged at about 5 million. I am a big fan of bridge deals. There are exceptions but 98% of players should be bridged in my opinion. If you can do a 2 or 3 year bridge, it may cost you a few million on the back end, but if you can ink them to an 8 year deal on the third contract, you get them for 13-14 seasons. That is an entire career of productivity for top end players and at the end of that contract, it becomes not only affordable but moveable unless they drop off a cliff.

    • Rusty

      Totally agree. and that contract will now inflate expectations for the next 8 years and threre’s very little chance, even if he stays consistent of a 70-80 point player throughout the contract, he will live up to the expectations. he is getting paid as a 80-90 point player and i am not sure he is that guy. Dont get me wrong. Good for him for getting paid. bad for the Oilers as an extra 1.5 mill would sure ease some pressure for this team going forward.

  • Abagofpucks

    Yes Ld has to be better, i hope he’s just starting out slow, but until he does pick it up the Oiler’s aren’t going forward as a team. It’s kinda like trying to get to a tire shop with one flat tire.

  • Big Nuggets

    Where are all the commenters that every year since the first year we got Drai were saying that Drai is better than Nuge? From day one people were calling Nuge redundant because Draisaitl is ‘big’. Everyone size and skill equals good at hockey. There’s more to it than that. This is the same line of thinking that has people convinced the Puljujarvi is actually a top 6 player that hasn’t had his chance yet. Not saying this to knock Drai. I think he will likely have a better career than Nuge. But Nuge spent his early year toiling away and learning how to play in the NHL, just like every player that is not a top elite talent must do. This is a just a roundabout way of saying that Puljujarvi should learn to score in the AHL and get called up after he learns.

      • Big Nuggets

        As an effective centerman it seems undisputable at this point. I expect Drai to be better at some point, maybe this year. Drai has more offensive skill but that doesn’t mean he is a better player.

        • Jason Gregor

          Undisputable? RNH never carried a line as a centre. He never produced big points when Taylor Hall was his winger scoring 80 points and then 50 in 45 lockout shortened. And RNH has Eberle, a 25-goal man as his other winger.

          RNH was never dominant defensively either. When he played decent on D he produced very little offensively. Compare RNH’s first three seasons to Draisaitl and you will see RNH is not the better player.

          • Big Nuggets

            Drai offense clicked with Hall for part of a year. Drai has more offensive skill. But we haven’t seen Drai play well at center since those few playoff games. Right now Nuge is the better centerman, he didn’t need Hall to have an effective line. He never carried a line but he kept many lines above water. Draisaitl never carried a line at center either.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Right now RNH is better, offensively & defensively.
        As Spydyr eluded to, “McDavid could score with a fire hydrant as a winger”
        Put RNH on Draisaitl’s line. If Drai doesn’t pick it up,… BENCH HIM for a few games. This is a serious situation. This guy is getting huge money & must show improvement.
        This isn’t a social club,… It’s an NHL franchise. Show some “fargin” pride…

  • madjam

    3 and 3 start despite only basically a one man offence . Other teams get up for Oilers because of McDavid – there is no catching another team taking a night off or lightly because of it . 3 and 3 despite a rough schedule start away , and many good teams to contend with in the month of October .If rest of team hits a decent stride as Connor has already done , then optimism will swell .

    • Agreed. Getting through these early challenges…the tough teams, the wait between the first and second games of the season, loads of travel, etc…and keeping hope afloat (we’re only 4 points out of the wild card) will go a long way. If we’re a game or two over .500 by December, I think the team has a real shot at the playoffs in this logjam of a division/conference.

  • TKB2677

    I thought the Preds kept McDavid in check and he was also a bit quiet against the Preds. So hopefully going up against Crosby, he will ramp it up a little. If someone can find Leon, let him know they are playing tonight. He hasn’t been that good so far.

    • Spydyr

      Nashville is an elite well coached team with one of the best defences in the NHL. The Oilers are not. I just hope other teams don’t watch the tape of how well Nashville checked Mcdavid as a team taking away his time and space . Giving him very little opportunity to wheel with the puck.

      • TKB2677

        Absolutely, the Preds won the Presidents trophy last year, you don’t do that by accident. But the Preds have the best defense in the league by a lot.

        Subban is a #1 on pretty much every team in the league. He can move the puck and can skate.

        Josi is a #1 on pretty much every team in the league and is making 4 mill which is more than half what he should be making. He can move the puck and can skate.

        Ekholm is at worst a really good #3 dman. He can move the puck a bit and can skate.

        Ellis is a puck moving, really good skating, point producing at worst good #3 dman.

        So they have in my opinion, 2 defense pairings who would be the top pairing on pretty much every team. The Sharks since getting Karlsson are up there but I think defensively, the Preds defense is better.

      • theJason

        Teams might watch the tape on how to check Mcdavid, but most teams don’t have that ability. I don’t think the Penguins can play that type of game. They play with more speed and more offence. There will be more room tonight for McDavid to skate.

        • TKB2677

          I do not think the Pens defense is anywhere near as good as the Preds and I think the Pens like to trade chances more than the Preds because they have the high end forwards to do it. The Preds are a deep team but I don’t think they have a lot of high end forwards. Forsberg is a really good forward but he’s a 60pt guy. So is Avidsson. Their centers are Johansen and Turris who are 2 good, 55 pt centers. Then they have a bunch of guys who are 40-50 pts guys. The Pens have 2 elite centers and an elite winger in Kessel.

  • NW2GBU

    Leon has enormous skill and potential. He is still young. Give him a proven NHL sniper to play with maybe? Oh right we can’t afford one. You can bet that if he was on a properly run team he would be dominating. On the other hand he looks lazy and disinterested this year. He has shown that he can be a beast when he wants to be.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I haven’t really looked ahead in the schedule, but when does it “slow down”? ie when do we finally start playing some weaker teams? As long they can keep their heads above water through this early grind and stay within a few points of a wildcard spot, I think we’ll be in decent shape.

    • Hemmercules

      Towards the end of January it lightens up a bit. Until then is a complete mix bag of good and bad teams. I will be shocked if they are above .500 at Christmas but they have a good chance to take some wins after Christmas if everyone is healthy.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      History with this Oiler team is that when they come out of a challenging time, they tend to go “Pheew, that’s over” and then cruise into mediocrity….
      Let’s not hope that they get up for the good teams and take the lesser teams lightly. In this salary cap league, all teams can beat you on any given night. The reason that the great teams are great is that they play hard every night, no matter who they play against… They have pride.
      The Oil have to find that they have more than just McDavid, they have to find their pride & own it…
      That is more powerful collectively than one man…

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Yeah, that’s been a maddening trend with the Oilers for the last ten-odd years, they tend to play down or up to their competition instead of just playing their game. I could deal with a losing season if I knew the boys were working their asses off every night.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    We all know the schedule (first nine game and one game against a team that did not make the playoffs last year). In Jan the have a 10 game stretch of playing teams that did not makes the playoffs last year. If than can remain .500 until Christmas then take advantage of these ten games the should find themselves in a decent position to contend. I am way playing these top teams early could be a blessing. Forces them to bring their game up to the level of these teams then if they can keep it at that level playing the lower teams the should fine. 3-3, on pace.

  • Bills Bills

    This isn’t just a Draisaitl issue. I am still waiting to see what difference this coaching staff is making. The entire defensive zone system is not working. No puck support and no controlled zone exits. Bang or chip the puck out and battle in the nuetral zone for it is not a transition game.

    Their zone entries on the PP are a joke. Yes they have better movement once set up but teams will adjust and that PP rating is going to drop if they don’t figure out a way to give a different look.

    • Hemmercules

      The Oilers dont have a very good defence and the majority of their forward corps aren’t very good defensively. No system in the world is going to change that.

      • Bills Bills

        That is fundamentally incorrect. There are teams all through history with poor rosters that had solid defensive systems. Ask the Minnisota Wild for the better part of a decade.

        • Hemmercules

          Those teams in Minny had lots of hard working grinders and good goaltending when league was played that way. They also made very few cup runs with that system. Their entire system was defensive from top to bottom. The Oilers are almost a polar opposite of those teams. Hardly any of their forwards are great defensively and they have 3 actual NHL defensemen on their roster. Watch how often an Oilers player avoids going hard into a corner when faced with contact, they are afraid most of the time. Maybe they don’t want get hit or they are afraid they will make the wrong move?

          Something happened after they made the playoffs a couple years ago. That team fought for each other and worked hard every night. The attitude now is keep your head above water and let McD win the games on his own.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            I totally agree with everything you say…
            However, all that, can be fixed with coaching. Hell, why isn’t Draisaitl playing a Getzlaf or Kesler type game? (just an example, can you think of more?) Just sheer motivation & pride falls on the coaches. I can see it, if one or two players aren’t showing it, but only one player IS showing it… The rest are either afraid to do anything or they are all collectively, just down in the dumps. The coaching staff should be able to turn this around by playing systems that allow these players to succeed. Use their strengths. That Winnipeg 3rd period was McDavid, pumping up his team & their pride… The coaches should be doing that day-in, day-out… 24/7 & calling out any of the players that are holding the team back. Period… This isn’t a social club & the coaching staff have to reiterate that…

          • Bills Bills

            Hemmer, put McDavid on the Minnesota team that loved defence hockey. What does it take to play a sound defensive system? Certainly not as much skill as it takes to play up tempo speed hockey. To play sound defence you need buy in from the players and work ethic. Coaching to the abilities of your players is a road map to success. Expecting players to make reads and decisions that they are not able to process fast enough and you get what we have here. The work ethic has improved under Tmac, but the system play is what I see the players struggling with. Unless it is their plan of course to just dump the puck to center and turn it over. Then they are executing masterfully.

  • moosewacker

    I hope Drai picks it up too, just like all Oiler fans, but is there something limiting him ? Maybe he is not 100 % ? I know that I’m not ! Pretty hung over today !

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Go Oilers! With the schedule to start the year, 3-3 is about what i expected. So if 29 starts fast, we have a good shot to go 4-3. He needs to take some of that “double-team” pressure off of 97.

    • Randomfan

      I doubt McD will ever win a cup with this team. He may win a lot more scoring titles but with the current support cast it looks very unlikely. All these years of top drafting and we ‘re content with a subpar hockey team and expecting them to be just .500 or above shows how badly this team has been managed or for a better term mis-managed. If McD can’t win this team a cup there is absolutely no hope.

      • Towers-of-dub

        we haven’t really drafted any top talent. Other than Hall, McD, or Nuge, who else was really high end top talent? Hall’s gone. Drai & Nurse are useful players, but they’re not at the top end of the NHL talent food chain. Klefbom & Nurse would both be good 2nd pairing guys but not 28 minute/night, 60 point D men. Realistically, how many current Oilers would occupy the same roll if they were playing in Nashville, Washington, Pittsburgh, SJ, or any other top 10 team in the league?

        • Randomfan

          So whose fault is it that we don’t know how to scout and develop properly. This is a result driven business and oilers as an organization has failed and they keep on failing still. How many more years do they need to ice a competitive team? Thank heavens that they are based in edmonton which is a hockey hotbed. If they were in any other city you would see $5 tickets to the games by now and people lining up to get rid of their season tickets. There is something wrong with this organization because soon players seem to leave or get traded they excel elsewhere and we are left in ruins. Until that something is fixed this organization will not see success (Monetary: Yes…Championships: No). This is beyond frustrating that we have to just get by and accept we suck so bad.

  • Heschultzhescores

    A few things Drai lacks that the truly great have are; work ethic, and poor decision making with the puck. The greats do not make so many head scratching plays as Drai, nor do they play invisible hockey for entire games. If he can improve in these 2 areas he can be a hall of Famer.

  • Oiler Al

    Don’t matter if Dria is making $2 or $8… he is a lazy slug who got the big contract and now is in cruise mode.Suspect he might not be in top NHL condition.Thinks he is so talented that he doesn’t need to work.Nuge too, needs a bit more passion in his game.I can see where McDavid can get frustrated with these guys … talented “but”.

  • Not having Malkin in the top 100 shows why lists like that are a joke.
    You’re right, Draisaitl is no Malkin.

    According to DailyFaceoff, Pittsburgh has the best forward depth in the league.
    1st line: 8th
    2nd line: 1st
    3rd line: 1st
    4th line: 29th

    Defense not as much.
    1st pair: 6th
    2nd pair: 26th
    3rd pair: 16th

    There might be an opportunity for our middle six to score against their 2nd pair, but they’ll have to get through their middle six.

  • Spoils

    I know Bouchard has dominated the OHL, and maybe he’s ready for the NHL – and we certainly need help – but priority one should be player development. priority two should be defending against the cap and not burning a ELA year on a non-contending group of Oilers. Our Yammers and Nurses and Puljujarvis and Bouchards will be much better in a couple years. But their cap hits will be higher too.

    If development is a toss-up, I’d think optimizing for the cap would factor in.

  • Freddie the fog

    I would just ask Mcdavid . Connor who do you want to play with ? If the Oilers are going to struggle then at least keep Mcdavid happy. If it’s Drai , so be it.