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.