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Time to vent

As the Oilers work their way through this four-game eastern conference swing a few things have popped up that I need to chime in on. Let me start by saying that even if they lose to Florida on Thursday they are still ahead of the game and off to a better start than most of us expected. Even though things haven’t been perfect for this club so far it has still been a solid 15 games to open the season.

HITTING PEOPLE ISN’T ENOUGH

Early in the season, the story on Lucic was that he may not be producing but he’s still doing things that make him effective. Can we really say that anymore?

The big man is on pace for a worse season offensively this year than he had last year and the second half of last season was an absolute train wreck. I’ll admit it, I was guilty of it myself, saying, “There is no way he will ever struggle that much in a season again.” Was I wrong? It’s starting to look like it.

At some point, people need to stop using the term “snake-bitten” and realize he simply can’t finish. Not scoring a goal in a 15 game stretch is one thing, but scoring just twice in 61 games is something completely different.

I had a few people suggest to me that Lucic will get his game back on track after jumping on the Joseph kid. If that’s what it takes to get him going I’d be very concerned about his motivation moving forward.

As for anyone complaining about Lucic receiving a $10,000 fine please stop. It’s essentially a slap on the wrist, no big deal. If a message ended up being sent, well worth it, if not, who cares about a stack? I believe people with money refer to 10K as a stack. I could be completely wrong.

REFEREES ARE AWFUL

This isn’t a complaint about missed calls on McDavid, I’m sure there are plenty of those elsewhere. This a game management concern from officials. Lucic wouldn’t have felt the need to send a message to Joseph if the refs did their job properly and called the original penalty on the kid. I know there are a lot of serious injuries in the NHL but hits/elbows/crosschecks from behind into the boards will be the one that kills someone.

NO GOALTENDING CONTROVERSY

I know a goaltending controversy is sexy — I’m talking Denise Richards in Wild Things sexy — but we aren’t there yet.

Cam Talbot hasn’t been great, but he has been good in a number of games and was very important to the team as they worked their way throw a killer schedule to start the season.

Mikko Koskinen has better numbers so far but outside of the 40-save shutout, he’s been below average in my opinion. The Big LeKoski’s early season numbers are being skewed very heavily by one brilliant performance.

In 75% of his starts, he has finished with a save percentage below .890. Talbot has had a save percentage below .890 in five of his eleven starts, or 45%. Overall Talbot’s numbers aren’t great but I don’t think we are yet at the point where he’s giving up every second start to Koskinen.

I know some of you won’t like this but I’d give Talbot the next three starts.

BEST FIT WITH McNUGE

I was asked this question on The Nielson Show this morning. Who has been the best fit with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins so far this season?

Drake Caggiula has done the most with the opportunity but I’m still ok with Ty Rattie getting the job back. Kailer Yamamoto looked like he may be able to play in that spot a couple of years from now.

Who do you think has looked the best with McDavid and Nuge? Who would you like to see in the spot over the next five to 10 games? Will that spot always be a revolving door that Jesse Puljujarvi doesn’t ever get a chance to fit through?

SEND THEM DOWN

I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi are supposed to develop while bouncing in and out of the lineup. Even better, when they do get into the line up they are on a line with a guy who has two goals in his last 61 games. Please stop this insanity. SEND THEM BOTH DOWN. This is bordering on just plain stupid at this point. In the three games he’s played recently, I’d say Puljujarvi started to look most comfortable in the third game and then it’s back to the press box. Will the same thing happen with Yamamoto? Likely.

The fact we are currently talking about Rattie, Caggiula and Chiasson as top six options on the Oilers right now is the exact reason Puljujarvi and Yamamoto need to go down to Bakersfield. The Oilers don’t need to develop them into third line wingers, they need them to be staples in the top six.

THAT FEELS BETTER

It’s always nice to vent a little bit, it’s the perfect way to reset. I’m sure this is the same way Lucic feels today. Please help yourself by venting in the comments below and I promise nobody will be fined $10,000.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • puckle-head

      What’s more important than any of this is Joel Quenneville is no longer the Blackhawks coach. Fire McLellan and hire Quenneville. Right now. It’s 100% worth whatever disruption a coaching change costs.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        If we had a worse record, I’d say go for it. But we have a decent record, we’re sitting nice and pretty at 3rd in the division (a playoff spot) and we’re playing pretty well considering the horrendous schedule we have. Todd’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Soccer Steve

    Nice vent, glad you feel better. Lots of issues on the team and we are sitting pretty good still. Can you IMAGINE if we were 3-10-2, etc, like we all predicted? This city would be on fire.

  • Mitchvar9412

    I agree with all of these points. I wish the oilers would call up a guy like Malone that we all know is not developing any further to sit out. Let Yamo, Puljujarvi, Benson, Marody, Hebig, Bear, Jones and a plethora of goaltending to have a good successful season in Bakersfield winning games and playing top line or top six minutes with other young skilled players.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I may get trashed, but I would say that Scottie Upshall would be a better option that most of those Bakersfield Bound players you mentioned.
      Look what a surprise Chaisson has been after he sat out all those games at the beginning of the season. Upshall’s secured a contract on his last few PTO’s. He’s gotta have some upside?

  • Like Yakupov, if Puljujarvi and Yamamoto continue to stay on the team and in and out of the line-up without any development direction, they too could combust. The best and smart scenario is to send them down to Bakersfield, score a bajillion goals, gain confidence, and then actually hit the ground running in the next couple years.

    Meanwhile, we have players like Rattie, Caggiula, Reider, and Chaisson who are happy to fill in.

    I mean, isn’t that the whole idea?

    • Devolution

      While I agree those players should be sent down for seasoning, let’s stop with saying Oilers management ruined Yakupov. I think that his history post-Oilers will show that he was a flawed player to begin with.

      • A-co

        How was he ever the consensus #1 overall for his draft year?? Sure he put up amazing numbers in the OHL his draft year BUT there must have been red flags about his game nor translating to the nhl?Oilers weren’t alone on that one…and any truth to the owner stepping in and telling management to pick Yakupov?? The horse is dead I know..but for the sake of conversation I would like to know…
        7-2 Oilers over the Panthers

        • Mike Modano's Dog

          There were red flags. He had had a concussion, and after his concussion his numbers in the OHL were quite pedestrian for a long time. Yes, it was a bad year, but if the Oilers had traded down they could have selected Tom Wilson instead. I’d suggest they would have been better off doing that…or simply selecting Ryan Murray as their scouts wanted to if they stood pat. Very weird draft year, indeed, but even in those years you can do the right thing and come out ahead.

    • Kelly Youngblood

      Trade Puljujarvi already. If they aren’t gonna play him enough to develop him than trade him for someone who can help now. Noah Juulsen, Josh Ho-Sang, Josh Anderson…take your pick. There’s young talent out there that need a change of scenery just as bad as Puljujarvi does. For the record I think Puljujarvi will be a serviceable NHL’er somewhere, just not here.

  • Natejax97

    This is not Dallas Eakins and Craig MacTavish (and these are 2 smart hockey men…they have to be in their positions, they just didn’t have the horses available to them like we do now). This is a more professionally managed professional hockey team. I would love to see the young guys sent down for development as well but there has to be a reason to keep them here. These things are not simply overlooked by this coaching and management team. They have shown to be diligent to the needs of the organization, maybe the moves don’t always work out but there is an end game here. Let it develop…patience with this. If the oilers feel there is more value having Yamo and Pulji here then I will take the fan stance on that one rather than the armchair GM stance. That doesn’t mean I am on board with past decisions but I truly believe there is actually a plan in place here.

  • Ted

    Too early to vent … Unless it’s about Talbot. Love the Lucic … Bringing it!!! But since we are talking about Denise Richards I worked with her on the movie Undercover Brother. It’s worth taking in she played White She Devil. And YES during filming of this supreme being I touch her spandex clad roast as I needed her tighter to camera for eyeline. I haven’t wash this hand in fourteen years. I actually I just washed it. 🙂

  • jesse says yep

    Was I the only one who felt that McDavid in the penalty box just looked plain wrong? That shot of Connor being forced to celebrate Strome’s first goal from behind the glass almost brought me to tears.
    Seeing as players get away with numerous fouls against Connor every shift he is on the ice, Refs should just know better.
    I’m sure there was a memo sent out about it.

    • Natejax97

      No shyte…he gets mauled the whole game and then gets penalized…where is the consistency. It is getting beyond old that teams below the border always seem to get the push to win…must suck to try to operate a league where a team like Tampa can’t fill a rink so they need to help that powerhouse win even more games so people give a crap about them. Sad actually. Ps…great job last night Lucic!! If the stupid refs can’t control a game I’m glad he stepped up. Would have loved to see Kassian bury that kid again even if it meant another fine.

  • Abagofpucks

    I agree Jesse and Kailer need to go to bakersfield, also we need to find a bonafide right winger and another defensemen so we can put Nurse back on the 3rd pairing because i just don’t think he can really handle the top 4 just yet, hence all the giveaway’s and poor defensive decisions he’s making.

  • GK1980

    Reffing has been strange this year. That one penalty against koivu at the end of the game that resulted in minni winning the game on the PP still p$&sses me off. Both players were tied together heading towards the net and koivu goes in the net bid they whistle it down.

    That play happens all the time. It cost Edmonton at least a point.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Ya’ll know where I stand on the goalie controversy so I’ll talk about something else. While I am happy Looch didn’t get suspended, fining him is an absolute joke. If you’re gonna discipline someone, suspend them or don’t. To a guy like Lucic, who’s making $6M and change per year, a $10k fine is going to do didy squat to his wallet.

  • KMA

    Have to agree about Lucic. Unfortunately I think he is done. Lucic was good once, however the game has passed him by. If the Oil can’t off-load his contract, he will remain a financial drain on the team and take a roster spot from a prospect. For the sake of all concern the Oil should cut their losses and buy him out.

  • GRC

    Appreciate the article Dustin…the thing that stands out for me in terms of the goaltending is that the numbers do not accurately reflect Koskinens play so far. The thing that I think needs to be factored in here is the amount of high danger chances the team in front of him has given up. So in his starts so far I would suggest to you that the numbers simply dont represent the level of his play so far. Below average is simply not an accurate description.

    I suggest that if you dont allow the sv% to influence your perspective and watched these games again you would come to a different conclusion.

  • CTP66

    I noticed a couple things about Puljujarvi, in the last game he played versus Washington. He looked uncomfortbale/unsure at times. Like he didn’t know exactly where to be on the ice, and in turn it made his skating look awkward. He looked like I do golfing after taking a couple lessons. Too many technical things going on in his head, and he isn’t loose enough to just perform. You can argue that both he and Yamamoto should go to the AHL to get some offensive confidence, but Puljujarvi also appears that he needs to go down and find some fun in the game. Work on things he needs to, but get some joy in playing again.

  • The Immortal

    Unless yamo goes to the ahl and grows a foot and outs on 50 pounds i have no use for him. I haven’t seen him win a puck battle to date and we certainly don’t need another perimeter player like strome on the team…much less the same line…or with mcdavid