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GDB Game Notes: Wild @ Oilers

Are the Oilers back to the team we saw in 2016/2017? The numbers suggest they very well could be. The Oilers won back-to-back afternoon games in Nashville and Chicago on the weekend and are now 6-3-1, and in the process, they have looked like a really competitive team. After a rough 0-2 start, the Oilers are 6-1-1 in their last eight games where they faced really good teams in Winnipeg, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago and Nashville twice. The only “easy” opponent was the 30th place New York Rangers.

The schedule doesn’t ease up just yet, with Minnesota in town tonight. They had 100 points last season and are currently tied for seventh in the NHL this season. The Oilers then play Chicago on Thursday and Washington and Tampa Bay next week. The first ten games were difficult, and the Oilers deserve a lot of credit for the position they are in. It looks very similar to their start two years ago.

1. The Oilers were 7-2-1 in October, 2016. They were in first place in the west. They outscored their opponents 31-22, had a 90% PK (27 of 30), but only a 13.8% PP (4 of 27).
Last year they stumbled out of the gate 3-6-1, were outscored 33-22 and were brutal on special teams with a 12.1% PP (4 of 33) and an ugly 70.3% on the PK (26 of 37).
This season the Oilers are 6-3-1 and second in the Pacific division. They have been outscored 30-29, are 25% on the PP (9 of 36) and are 75.8% on the PK (25 of 33).

2. A good start doesn’t guarantee they make the playoffs — just ask the 2018 St. Louis Blues who started the season 10-2-1, but missed the playoffs — but it puts the Oilers in a good frame of mind, whereas a bad start historically can bury a team. It isn’t just the Oilers record that is impressive, but more how they have been very competitive against elite teams like Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and Winnipeg. For long stretches in Nashville on Saturday the Oilers were clearly the better team. They are playing much faster this season, and their defencemen are moving the puck much quicker up the ice.

3. Connor McDavid has 17 points in ten games and is only the fifth Oilers player to have 17 points through ten games.
Wayne Gretzky did it seven times: 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28 and had 30 points in 1984/1985.
Jari Kurri had 23 points in 1984/1985, while Mark Messier (1989/1990) and Glenn Anderson (1985/1986) each had 17 points.

4. McDavid is on pace for 139 points. He has had an excellent start to the season despite only scoring one 5×5 point over the past six games, when he scored seven seconds after the Predators goal Saturday afternoon. Over the past six games he has skated 97:46 at 5×5 and has one point. I’d bet pretty much everything I have he won’t have a similar stretch all season. He is currently tied for 38th in 5×5 points with six. He led the NHL with 71 last year. McDavid still scored 17 points despite not doing much over the past six games at 5×5. That is damn impressive.

5. Since the start of the 2016/2017 season McDavid leads the NHL with 12 OT points (4-8-12). Leon Draisaitl is tied for second with 11 (5-6-11) along with Phil Kessel (4-7-11) and Kris Letang (2-9-11). Right now there is no more dangerous duo in OT than McDavid and Draisaitl. They are even more dangerous when they make solid defensive plays like they did v. Chicago that led to their 2-on-1. McDavid made a great defensive play on Saad, and then Draisaitl stole the puck and went the length of the ice.

6. Oscar Klefbom is averaging 26:01/game so far this season, second only to Drew Doughty’s 26:49. Ryan Suter is fourth at 25:51. Klefbom’s TOI/game has risen steadily over the past few seasons. He had 22 minutes in 2015, was 21:53 in 2016 (30 games), then 22:22 in 2017 and 22:51 last year. He is averaging 1:46 more at EV this season compared to last year and is also playing 1:30/game more on the powerplay. He doesn’t have a goal yet this season, despite averaging three shots/game. In his first 255 games he averaged 2.19 shots/game, so he is shooting more, but so far hasn’t been able to bury one.

7. Don’t expect Klefbom to score a lot on the PP. He has four PP goals in 517 career powerplay minutes. He did have four PP goals over the past two seasons (388 minutes), but on this powerplay set up he isn’t going to be a primary shooter, which is wise. He does have six PP shots, which is fourth on the Oilers behind Draisaitl (8), Nugent-Hopkins (9) and McDavid (12), but I don’t see big goal totals coming from Klefbom this season. He is playing huge minutes and he and Adam Larsson have been much more effective defensively, which is the main priority.

8. Speaking of the PP, McDavid already has eight PP points in ten games. He had 20 PP points last season and 27 in 2017. He is on pace for 64 powerplay points. I’d be surprised if he maintains that pace of course. Only one player this century (2000) has scored more than 56 powerplay points. Sidney Crosby had 61 PP points in 2007. Phil Kessel led the NHL with 42 PP points last year and Nicklas Backstrom has scored the most since 2009 when he had 44 in 2014. McDavid definitely could get 40 PP points.

9. Don’t be surprised if you see a 35-40 point gap in scoring between the low scorer of McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins and the rest of the forwards. They are the Oilers’ big three and if they produce 70+ points each I could see the next forward sitting around 35. Last season in Pittsburgh Crosby was the third highest scoring forward with 89 points, and then Patrick Hornqvist was fourth with 49 points. If you have a few big-time point producers you will see a gap.

10. Expect Ty Rattie to skate with the main group this morning. He isn’t ready to play tonight, but he is getting closer and will likely return to the lineup during the Oilers four game road trip through Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay and Florida.

11. Zach Parise is off to a great start for the Wild. He has eleven points in eleven games. He scored 24 points in 42 games last season and had 42 and 53 points the previous two years in 69 and 70 games respectively. He has battled nagging injuries the past five seasons, but he is healthy now and has played well early on for the Wild.

12. This is a great video. I’m amazed how so many feel you shouldn’t have fun in sports.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • JudgeDredd

    I’m pleased with the way they’ve played since that Winnipeg game, definitely look more like the team from two years ago than last years.

    What is it with hockey people! it’s like they don’t want to have fun, ever. If the players are down and it injects some fun and laughs into the experience, i say go for it.

  • Hey guys, another quick note from me about the comments section. If you’re a regular and your comments aren’t getting through it’s probably because of the new filters I put in to get rid of varying trolls. By no means are we trying to get rid of your comments, but there have been some innocent bystanders in this process. If you’re not getting through that’s probably the reason. Email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com and I’ll make sure your account is unlocked.

  • Oil DAWG

    I hate the Wild so much. They can produce a boring frustrating game the way they play. Plus they seem to beat us more then often… I hate the Ducks more though.

  • FanBoy

    I think when Rattie comes off the IR or at the 9 game mark (whichever comes first), Oilers need to send Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, and Marody to the AHL and Bouchard back to junior. Our AHL team is 3-3 with a top 2 PP and and top 4 PK. Imagine a top 6 of Puljujarvi and Yamamoto on one line and Benson, Marody, and Hebig already firing on all cylinders. Not to mention Caleb Jones is playing really well, Ethan Bear when he gets back healthy sprinkled with Lowe and Gravel. Our team in Bakersfield is boiling right now and the Oilers are doing pretty well. The AHL would be the perfect place for Jesse to thrive right now.

      • FanBoy

        I meant when everybody is healthy it’d be ideal.

        RNH/McDavid/Rattie
        Rieder/Draisaitl/Chiasson
        Lucic/Strome/Caggiula
        Khaira/Brodziak/Kassian
        Could sign Upshall to 650K? Call up Malone to play 13F.

        Klefbom/Larsson
        Nurse/Russell
        Gravel/Benning
        Garrison plays sparingly

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers have p[layed against some really good teams and got some good results, if they can play a full 60 and keep doing what they have been doing, they ought to be able to give the Wild a run for their money, the Wild played the Canucks last night and lost, so we will see how much gas they have in the tank.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Just a thought? Now that the Oilers are doing better I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to check the standings? Would it be possible to have the standings posted here on ON. I find myself navigating away to check them and seldom come back.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Who are some upcoming UFA that the Oilers could package Benning + for an upgrade on defense?

    Not a long term contract, as they are committed by the books to Klefbom, Russell, Larsson, Nurse and Bouchard.
    Or would they maybe package Sekera, Benning, prospect, + for a total upgrade in the dealt salary available.
    They have Garrison, Bear and a few others that can fill the 6-7 roll if injury occurs.

    If they win the next 3 out of four or 4 out of five, Chia should definitely pull the trigger and try to get something to ride and boost the movement and productivity.
    Maybe even dangle of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi, to encourage and sweeten the Sekera offer.

    • ubermiguel

      Detroit beating Pittsburgh in 6 has a bearing on the Hurricanes having some fun? Fun trivia about that series, that was the 2nd of Marian Hossa’s three straight finals appearance with three different teams; that’s got to be some sort of record.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        See, that’s how unfun it is for me. I’ve repressed the entire idea of 2006 and the year of mourning of 2007 and jumped right to 2008. Canes suck.

  • OilCan2

    I think Bouchard has made a strong case for staying the whole year. When you look at how strong our top two pairings are it gives him a nice cushion. Yamamoto may be better served getting more icetime in CA when Rattie is back. A two goal lead for the Oilers would do a lot to crush the wet blanket defence of the Wild and force them to open up the skating game.

    • The future never comes

      We are winning without him, why not let him over-boil as a prospect? That way we don’t need to pay him the big money faster than we need to.

      • BobbyCanuck

        I remember an ‘over-ripe’ prospect comment from an announcer during the last Chicago Cup run, he said a lot of the prospects are getting fed up with limited opportunity to crack the big club, and some have asked for a trade…I cannot wait until we that type of problem

  • Goaltender Interference

    Let’s not plan the parade route yet… The boys still haven’t played any games in their own division. At this point in the 2016-2017 season they’d already played a bunch – including back-to-back wins against the Flamers…

    Not saying they haven’t done well in October cause they have. But the schedule is so fubar that they haven’t got any of the ‘two-point’ games under their belts.

    • BobbyCanuck

      The type of penalties Strome has been taking lately…stupid and useless, I am getting really sick of his game.

      If you’re going to take dumb penalties often, at least score the odd goal

  • jsch999

    Jesse Poolparty reminds me of Taylor Hall. He has all of the elite talent comparable but he had everything come too easy as junior or pre nhl age.

    So the coach is telling poolparty that these are the things that we want to see from him and the rest of the team, but JP keeps reverting to what worked as a younger star. When the oilers were a sub 500 team a they would just accept the problem traits but now the oil has to do what is best for the team as a whole (with JP’s development as an important subgoal).
    That is why TMac is doing the right thing with JP in trying to get him to assimilate into the program without hurting the team.

    Back to Taylor Hall, he had the same problem. Taylor was a superstar but he had lots of warts. He would at times ignore the coaches because he thought he knew better. Horcoff & Smitty often complained about his lack of team concept. Finally Taylor was traded and to his credit he “bought in” in NJ and became a Hart winner.

    With JP all is not lost with him. He has elite talent, size, skill, etc. The only thing the coaches are waiting for is for him to get his head around the NHL system that TMac and the team is using and the consist effort level needed in the NHL. When TMac sees this JP will be a consistant 1st/2nd line dominant player in this league.

      • jsch999

        I somewhat agree but TMac and oil brass probably believe that this is the best course for him. They obviously know much more of the inside perameters then you or I

        I do trust our coaching and oiler brass.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      JP should be in the A until he can’t learn anymore…
      He needs to learn that if he works on what he is shown it WILL pay dividends and make him a better player. Right now, when he loses confidence he is out of position & in the way.
      Him learning the system will entrench that confidence as second nature.
      JP needs to get to that point before he comes to the big team.
      That point being, “when the AHL can’t teach him anymore.

      • jsch999

        I somewhat agree but TMac and oil brass probably believe that this is the best course for him. They obviously know much more of the inside perameters then you or I

        I do trust our coaching and oiler brass.