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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Observation Deck: BOA Edition

Time for another installment of the Observation Deck from Rogers Place as I ventured up to press row for a view from the top for the Battle of Alberta.

LOOOOOOOO

Milan Lucic had two goals in his last 75 games heading into last night’s Battle of Alberta but the fans at Rogers Place were still supporting him. I can understand chanting Looooo when he scores a goal or gets in a fight but last night there were people actually dropping a Looooo when he skated in on the forecheck at the beginning of the game. I know there is a lot of vitriol online but in house last night at least for a few moments the fans were still behind him.

Fans got even more fired up later in the first when he took a fight with Peluso and likely would have pummeled him if the linesman didn’t step in.

A number of people have been talking about how Lucic has been playing well even though he can’t score to save his life, I’m not usually one of them but I was really impressed with his game. With that being said I’d still never have him on either power play unit.

KEVIN GRAVEL

I’m ready to label Kevin Gravel as steady. He rarely makes a mistake and at this point, based on the eye test, I think he’s actually become a stabilizer for Matt Benning. He still doesn’t see much time on the PK but I think he could handle himself in that situation.

BOB COLE

I was at the game so I didn’t get an opportunity to listen to the final Oilers game for Bob Cole but I’m sure it was a classic. For what it’s worth Bob Cole will always be my favourite hockey play-by-play announcer. In my opinion, it’s a major fail that his final game won’t be the Habs and Leafs. Oh Baby!!!!

GOALTENDER INTERFERENCE

Heck of a challenge from Ken Hitchcock last night. I honestly thought it wasn’t going to be overturned. I figured they could justify the Flames forward having position and Koskinen moving his leg into the player’s space. I was wrong like I am most times when it comes to goaltender interference. I know you are all pumped that the goal didn’t count but do you actually think it should have been called back?

SKITTLES

The Oilers provide the media with a couple of snack options up here in the press box. Popcorn, warm pretzels and Skittles are made available at every home game. The popcorn is absolutely delicious. The pretzels just make me thirsty. What I want to know is who keeps approving these damn Skittles. I’ve never liked Skittles and I’m not sure I’ve ever met another person who likes them.

Correction, Matthew Iwanyk is sitting next to me and he just said he likes Skittles, what a weirdo.

JUJHAR

I don’t think any player has benefited from the coaching change more than Jujhar Khaira. He has the second best Goals For % on the team since Hitch took over being on the ice for six goals for and just three against. The Oilers have something nice developing on their second line and Khaira is a huge part of it. Hitchcock has praised both him and Puljuajrvi for making the second line dangerous. I don’t see any reason to break that trio up anytime soon.

THE BRASS BAND

I’m starting to come around on the music the new brass band is providing but someone has to get them some new outfits. I played the trombone in elementary school and if I showed up to school wearing an orange shirt and overalls I would have been beaten up even more.

HOME KOSKINEN

This guy has been absolutely lights out at home. Outside of a flurry of chances in the second period, I thought the team did an excellent job in front of him. His numbers at home are phenomenal. He is now 6 and 0 with a shutout in half of his starts with a .972 save percentage at home. I’m not sure what it is about Rogers Place but the big Finn is feeling it.

BENNETT’S MOUSTACHE

If Lanny McDonald’s moustache ever bumped into Sam Bennett’s moustache I’m almost certain it would laugh and then beat the shit out of it.

7-2-1

The Oilers are now 7-2-1 since the coaching change and have been doing most of the winning without a lot of run support offensively. The Oilers have 15 of a possible 20 points since Hitchcock took over, 75% of available points.

Is it sustainable? Well the Tampa Lighting have picked up 75.8% of available points so far this season and they are the best team in the league. So I’m not ready to say the Oilers are the team we’ve watched for the past ten games but I am willing to say they are better than the one we watched for the first 20 games of the season.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Redbird62

    On the goaltender interference call, while Koskinen moved his leg hitting a player who had position, that position was in the crease which is a clear violation. From rule 69.1: “goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal”. The situation room got it right, and Kudos to Hitchcock whoever advised him to make the challenge.

  • Simba99

    Let’s see against col and jets before we go any farther and let’s not mention flames on a back to back. So there’s some insight there flames looked tired. And the score would have been racked up if we had a one timer on it he powerplay see at least 3 chances if they only put a righty out there or at least switch 29-97 on opposites side for Christ sakes

  • Natejax97

    Feels like 2016…just saying. Actually have confidence that the we can win each game. Next 2 will be tough ones in Colorado and Winnipeg but for the first time in 2 years I’m not scared…lol

  • KennyG

    Was expecting a call to Lucic this morning telling him he is getting 2 game suspension. That hit was clearly the edge Hitch was talking about playing on without falling off.

    • jesse says yep

      shoulder to the chest, didn’t leave his feet and the player was making a play on the puck which was in the “vicinity”ish. At worst it was interference.

  • Fireball

    I’d been saying since Lucic has dropped in the points department that he does much more for the team.. not just by his presence or his leadership. He’s been top 3 in league in hits every year., it’s the type thing you don’t notice until it’s gone. Good to see Hitch deploying him in a roll and line mates he can succeed with. Since putting the ID line together it’s drastically impacted the out come of the games.. It’s not Sexy but you don’t win without it. There’s way to much emphasis on scoring in Etown and not enough on playing the game the right way. Can you blame a City of fans for thinking otherwise?? After buying into player that it was all they could offer for almost a decade. First Stars with a goal and two assists that’s minus 2 and thrash the guy who was even that didn’t score..

    • Fireball

      After all the guy with three points and is minus two is the guy who lost you the game. Is the point I’m making there. The other guy didn’t win you the game but he didn’t loose it. Que the Hall / Eberle era

      • Fireball

        I’m sure happy Pete’s making up for his mistakes by correcting them with Bringing in Hitch., all of sudden some of the holes we thought we had are filling themselves.. Surprisingly hmmm. Everyone wants to talk the bad news.. We got the best goalie on home ice in the league for 2.5 mill per.. We got Alex C for nothing., Top 6 winger JJ. Impact line 2 of the 3 guys would had been burned at the stake 15 games ago if nothing else traded for anything we could get.

        • Fireball

          Top 6 wingers ?? We had two sitting right under our noses in JP and JJ.. trade the farm for a guy to play with McD ?? How bout AC.. anyhow Pete’s biggest mistake to date appears to be not firing Todd M last November. I’m not claiming victory this early but to you who wanted to burn down the house a for the last year and half there’s some of us who could see what we had and how it needed to be deployed., having a coach that sees that too sure helps

  • grumpyKoala

    LOOOOO

    I think people can recognize what he brings and how he contributed last night. He created pressure and had like 4 TK. Impressive for a guy deemed like he can’t even skate

  • Redbird62

    At the 13 game mark of the season under Todd, the Oilers had a .653 winning percentage including an 11 game stretch with a 0.772 winning percentage. Then the wheels fell off. I am liking what I am seeing under Hitchcock, but it is only 10 games. That being said, in my mind, there is no question the team needed a change in attitude. For whatever reason, the team would go through long stretches (games or periods within games) where they played tentative both on the forecheck and in the defensive zone, and McClellan seemed powerless to get them to change that. I don’t think that’s how he wanted the team to play – they certainly did not play that way in 16-17. Whether they stopped believing in Todd, or themselves, bringing in a guy like Hitchcock, who deservedly demands instant respect, seems to have the players believing in themselves and in the process. Hopefully that continues.

  • JudgeDredd

    I was liking the Loooo last night, even the girlfriend asked if they were booing or saying loooch. I was cheering for him all night, say what you will about the contract and his play but it sucks seeing someone that was so dominant not be, he needs something to go right for him

    • Spydyr

      There has not been enough said about the Oilers team toughness. The Oilers went through a very long period where they got pushed around. Not anymore Khaira crosschecking Tkachuk into his bench as he turtled away after Tkachuk took a few liberties with Nuge. Khaira is developing very well. Lucic keeping Peluso honest. The term and dollar amount may be too long but I bet all the players especially 97 love having Lucic on the team.

      One of the first things Hitch said when he got here was he wanted the players playing for each other and with each other.The Oilers look like a team not a collection of individuals. It has been a while.

  • Spydyr

    There has not been enough said about the Oilers team toughness. The Oilers went through a very long period where they got pushed around. Not anymore Khaira cross checking Tkachuk into his bench as he turtled away after Tkachuk took a few liberties with Nuge. Khaira is developing very well. Lucic keeping Peluso honest. The term and dollar amount may be too long but I bet all the players especially 97 love having Lucic on the team.

    One of the first things Hitch said when he got here was he wanted the players playing for each other and with each other.The Oilers look like a team not a collection of individuals. It has been a while.

  • The future never comes

    What I would like to see from Hitch is a change on that second PP unit, they are wretched out there. I would reward JJ and put JP out there instead of Luc and Spooner. Get the big bodies pounding pucks to the net.

    • Oilman99

      The first pp is not getting it done either. Draisaitl is slowing down the puck movement all the time due to tunnel vision trying to connect will McDavid. He needs to be put on the second unit. Rattie or Jujhar could be replacements on the first.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Looch Destroys a Flame in each game. That changed the way the entire Calgary team played. Hard to put a dollar value on that I’m loving Looch making them turtle and crushing their shells every chance he gets. Loooooooooooch!!!

  • Heschultzhescores

    That was the right call. I’m surprised Toronto got it right, but zero doubt it was correct with the skate in the blue paint and in contact with Cosko

  • Dave2

    There were many in the main stream media (which includes TSN radio) who were saying that the issue with the Oilers was with talent level of the players . Now it appears that the team is playing sound hockey under Hitch.

    I think something happened last year that spoiled the relationship between the coaches and the players. Canning all of the assistant coaches did not help so TMac was the problem. Rightly or wrongly, it is difficult for the media to be totally objective when they have a relationship with the team .

    • Rufio Barcoli

      As an expert insider I still believe Chia is an id!ot for getting rid of Eberle.
      I would still rather have Eberle at 6 million instead of Kosko and Chia’s son.

      • Spydyr

        Eberle his season:

        GP G A P +/_
        28 6 7 13 -10

        He brings nothing to the team but offence, not much as you can see and as his plus minus shows he is a defensive liability. You can get all the above for the low price of six million.

        Yeah, that is a hard no.

        • Spydyr

          Chiasson this season:

          GP G A P +/-
          24 12 3 15 8

          All for a cool 675K

          Oh by the way, Eberle is a career -53 plus minus
          Chiasson is a career +232 plus minus

          Finally Chiasson is a recent Stanley Cup champion, Eberle has made every NHL team he has played on defensively weaker.

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            So you’re comparing Eberle with a player that the entire league passed on and nobody expected to have the numbers he’s having? Some sound analysis there.

          • Rock11

            +/- is a trash stat and what’s more is you know it. Eberle has played only for the two worst organizations in the NHL in his career and Chiasson just came off a stint playing for a perennial cup contender and current champion. All +/- does in this case is illustrate the strength of the teams they played for.

          • Rock11

            Plus you lied in your stats. Chiasson, according to Hockey DB is a -18 player for his career. You only overstated by +250. Close but missed by just a little. Not saying Eberle is a world beater but if you want to make a case then do so honestly. Here they are per 82 games
            Eberle-26G and 61P and -6
            Chiasson-14G and 28P and -4

          • Spydyr

            You are right I pulled his PM instead of plus minus. My bad.
            If you still want Eberle over Chiasson this season you just don’t understand hockey. Their play alone never mind the over five million difference in salary.

          • Spydyr

            Your math is wrong Chiasson already has 12 goals. You are saying extrapolating over the rest of the season Chiasson scores 2 goals not to mention his points?

          • Rock11

            Nope I’m saying that historically over fairly long careers those are what the two players average. Has nothing to do with projecting though if I were I would be willing to bet on Eberle outscoring Chiasson from now until the end of the year. This of course is mitigated a bit by Chiasson having 97 and the Islanders don’t even have a reasonable facsimile of him.

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            Of course Chiasson’s had a much better career when you pull the numbers out of your azz. And +/- is such a meaningful stat. Further sound analysis. What’s just plain silly (and you know this) +/- doesn’t account for the pts Eberle has on the power play.

            Are you the Spyder from Goodfellas?

  • Rama Lama

    Agree with your assessment on all the players you mentioned. I know that most people see Leon as a great match on the first line, but to my eye he loses puck battles far too much. I know that he is a passer but most times it looks like he is standing around waiting for Mc David to set him up. He does not look like the same player form last year.

    I’m thinking the best name for him would be “ give away machine”.

    • jesse says yep

      Leon Draisaitl
      34 Games played
      15 goals
      19 assists
      More assists than goals and over a ppg doesn’t seem like a player who is “standing around waiting for McDavid to set him up”. Sounds more like a player this really complimenting the best player in the world quite well.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        If he passes the puck to a guy named McDavid, there’s a pretty good chance he gets an assist. So there’s that. Personally, I love Drai but every time he makes the no-look backhand pass that leaves the zone or goes east-to west across the rink I cringe. He’s so much better than that.

  • OldOilFan

    If Hitch can go 6-4-0 in each of his remaining ten-game segments this season, then the Oil will have 94 pts, with 2 games left…

    Since the playoff cutoff will probably be 94-98 pts, those final two games might be very BIG…

  • Shameless Plugger

    If Pelusos skate wasn’t in the blue paint I’d argue it was the wrong call to overturn the goal. However being that the interference occurred in the crease, I think they got the call right.

  • Gary Chalmers

    Absolutely got it right on the goaltender interference, RNH was trying to move the Flame forward out from, forward went back to the net and initiated contact with Koskinen in the crease. The Flames forwards right foot seemed to hook Koskinen’s left foot and prohibited him from getting over far enough left. Toronto got one right!

  • We’ll all take the win, but the score should have been higher for the Oilers being that the Flames played the night before at home and gave it their all to beat one of the best teams in the league despite not having Gio and Grandlund. Rittich played well against the Oilers and kept his team in the game, but the Flames looked very tired in the 3rd period.

    Peluso got beat up by Lucic and cost his team a goal by interfering with Koskinen.

  • Kepler62c

    Going by what the NHL “usually” calls as interference, yes, that was interference. I said as much to my girlfriend last night when they were reviewing it and she said “What do you mean it should be but might not be?” and I proceeded to explain the total lack of consistency when the NHL reviews goals – frustrating quite often – but this was one where I believe (fan bias aside) it definitely was interference.

  • The Plan

    I loved the “Looooch” chants from the crowd. Very classy. Let’s face it. Looch isn’t going anywhere so we might as well support him so he can be his best. Stay classy San De…Edmonton.

    • nbandito

      I agree, it was good to hear the cheers on television and you can sense Milan is playing with less weight on his shoulders. He’s been first to the puck, finishing checks, disrupting plays on defense…we should be cheering that. Kass also played very well last night.

  • nbandito

    I agree completely with the goal reversal call. There is just no way a call like that would have gone our way last season. Perhaps McLellan’s name is mud with the situation room somehow? Perhaps Hitch greased someone? Or maybe it’s the orange jerseys?
    Even the timeout during the final powerplay was refreshing to see!

  • The Plan

    I’ve been watching the Oilers for a long time and I don’t remember a time when the team has played so well defensively. Way to go Hitch. TM is a great coach but something came off the rails. I actually believe that the Oilers are going to make the playoffs now.