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GDB Game Notes: Oilers @ Flyers

After a week-and-a-half break, the Oilers are back in action tonight against the Flyers in Philadelphia. It’ll be the first game for the team in the post-Chiarelli era and it’ll be the starting point on an uphill climb for a playoff berth. Here are your game day notes.

1. Connor McDavid, to be blunt, is going to have to drag this team to the playoffs. He’s been incredible this year, but he’s going to have to find another gear somewhere to help the Oilers be good enough over these next 32 games to jump over teams like Arizona, Vancouver, Anaheim, and Minnesota and into a playoff spot. He’s shouldered a lot already and the week-and-a-half break was badly needed for him to rest up for what’ll be a very difficult task.

2. Last season, we saw McDavid really turn on the jets after the break even though the team was totally out of playoff contention. McDavid scored 56 points in 35 games, good for a 1.6 point-per-game pace, which resulted in him vaulting up the league’s scoring leaderboard to another Art Ross trophy. This year, McDavid is operating at a 1.49 point-per-game pace and is already set to shatter his career high of 108 points. A massive finish like we saw last year could see him end up in the 130-point range. He’s currently on pace for 120 points.

3. The Oilers are only three points out of a playoff spot right now. That doesn’t seem like much, but the difficulty now is jumping over the rest of the teams who are in the mix. Arizona and St. Louis have crawled back into things and Anaheim and Vancouver haven’t faded away yet. Poor play from Dallas and Colorado has made this race even tighter. Only six points separate Edmonton in 13th place in the West from Minnesota in sixth place in the West. There are eight teams within that six-point spread and how it shakes out is really anyone’s guess.

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4. It’ll be interesting to see how the Oilers and these other teams in the Western Conference clump navigate the trade deadline. Will a team like Vancouver who didn’t realistically have playoff aspirations be inclined to stray from their plan and buy at the deadline? Could Dallas or Colorado, who have both gone into tailspins as of late, decide to pack up and sell rather than losing to Nashville or Winnipeg in the first round? How these teams decide to handle the deadline will go a long way in determining how difficult jumping over a good chunk of the West will be for the Oilers down the stretch.

5. In 2017, the Blues traded away impending UFA Kevin Shattenkirk and still made the playoffs. Obviously, the Oilers want to make the playoffs, but I wonder if they could look to deal some assets like Alex Chiasson at the deadline to more sure fire contending teams while still managing to compete. I can’t imagine Edmonton being in the market for a one-year rental. Instead, they’ll likely look for an upgrade similar to what Toronto got in Jake Muzzin, who’s under control for another year after this one. Dealing an impending UFA like Chiasson at a high point of value to recoup some picks or prospects would give the Oilers more ammo to acquire a Muzzin-type longer term asset that can help them now and next year.

6. The Kings are the team I’d be looking to pillage if I was the Oilers. They’ve already sold off Tanner Pearson and Muzzin and have a few other players who could help the Oilers. Tyler Toffoli is having a down year, but he’s been a consistent 20-goal guy in the NHL the past few seasons. He’s signed for one more year at $4.6 million. The Kings might be averse to selling within the division, but Toffoli would be a nice fit.

7. We thought Oscar Klefbom would be back for today’s matinee in Philly, but he suffered a bit of a setback and might not be in today. That said, he came on the trip and we could see him suit up against Montreal. Andrej Sekera was practicing with Adam Larsson in what would be Klefbom’s spot at practice. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out. I would hope Sekera goes to the AHL for a conditioning stint before returning to action, though.

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8. How will the Oilers handle their roster when both Klefbom and Sekera are back? They’ll have Klefbom, Larsson, Russell, Nurse, Sekera, Benning, Manning, Petrovic, and Gravel as available defencemen. The top four is pretty obvious at this point and Sekera will likely start as the anchor of the third pair. I wonder if the team will look to move Petrovic or Benning at the deadline for draft picks given the log jam or if Manning ends up going on waivers like Ryan Spooner did.

9. The Flyers, who had playoff aspirations this year, have had a miserable season thus far. When they came to town back in December, they looked horrendous in a 4-1 loss to the Oilers. That said, the Flyers are currently rolling on their best streak of the season thus far. They’ve won seven of their last eight games. Maybe new general manager Chuck Fletcher coming out and saying virtually the entire roster is available for trade fired the team up.

10. Key to Philly’s recent success has been rookie goalie Carter Hart. The Flyers have gone through seven different goalies this year but it looks like Hart might be their answer. He has made 14 starts and has an 8-5-1 record with a .922 save percentage. The other goalies, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth, Alex Lyon, and Mike McKenna, have a combined save percentage under .900.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/2/2019 – 7:00 am MT

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  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The line combinations dont exactly inspire confidence if they stay at what they were reported at on TSN1260 McDavid Lucic and Rattie as the first? Like honestly who thinks that will survive 5 shifts ? McDavid cant be waiting for guys to catch up with him, may as well be out there by himself.

    I get Hitch wants to try and generate some scoring thru the lines, but make the lines at least set up to have a chance at some success.

    why trade Chiasson? Is the return going to net us something better? One of the things the Oilers need is scoring and Chaisson has been putting pucks in the net and he is cheap , even if the Oilers gave him a raise, he’d still be cheap, we have guys making 3 times as much who dont even have 4 goals, not too mention the Oilers are tight against the cap is dumping Chaisson and his more than reasonably priced contract in a trade smart?

    It will be interesting to see what team shows up, the guys are saying all the right things but backing them up on the ice well that has been an issue for them so we will see how it goes.

    And why the hell does the Oilers goalie coach Dustin Schwartz still have a job here?

    • ghost410

      Yes I hear it constantly from other fans WHY?does Swartz still have a job every goalie we have had that sucks for us or struggles stringing games goes to another team and is brilliant see here Dubnyk and broisoua (sorry for name spell )but those two for starters they came in great goalies left when sucked after Swartz to become great goalies again and the common factor is damn goalie coach he must be part of old boys club buddies that don’t have to worry about job loss is sad really

      • Odanada

        Who would be in charge of that? Bob Nicholson?
        Isn’t he the same guy that did hired Chia?
        The same guy that did nothing while Chia turned assets into liabilities?
        The same guy who spews empty, meaningless rhetoric when questioned about this team’s problems?
        Firing Schwartz would take someone who knew what was going on and wasn’t afraid to act on it – you know, a real NHL man.
        Does that sound like Sideshow Bob to you?

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          Well the thing with Schwratz is, the Oilers goaltending has gotten worse since the season started, it was terrible last year it isnt getting better, so how long does Schwartz get a pass?

          Why is it that Brossoit couldnt gain any traction here but yet goes to the Jets, Jets say he developed some bad habits, works with their goalie coach and is sporting a record of 10 wins 2 losses as of today. I have been saying since last yea Talbot goes down too early and stays their too long and everyone knows shoot high on him and they never addressed it at all last year nor this year. Look at Koskinen he too now is going down early and staying down too long, watch Dubnyk he goes down and pops back up right away and is back tracking the puck. Schwartz inability to deal with the rapid change in the NHL when your goalies are getting pummelled in stats and failue to help them fix holes in their games is all due to no NHL experience, the minute other teams scouting the Oilers see the weaknesses in our goaltending they are telling their players where to shoot and what to do to exploit their weaknesses and yet no one seems to think there is an issue with the Oilers goaltending and Schwartz’s coaching. The guy should have been gone last year

      • V88

        What are you talking about ? Swartz has been here what 3 years ! ? He’s like 40?41? Freddy Chabot was our goalie coach throughout those other years, you must be the one spiking the water !…hana

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          What does Schwartz age have to do with it? ZeroNHL experience before the Oiles annoited him their goalie coach from being the Oil Kings goalie coach after Chabot was fired, Dubnyk’s turnaound was after he left the Oilers so was Brossoit’s. That still doesnt change the fact that the Oilers have goaltending issues that Schwartz has failed to address. If you’d like to tell us the virtues of good things Schwartz has done with the Oilers goalies, I am sure we’d all be curious as to what they are

    • CTP66

      Chiasson’s career high in goals prior to this year was 13. He had 16 in in his first 30 games this year, but has 1 in his last 11. He looks like he might regress back to being a 10-12 goal scorer. If you can get value for him now, then do it, but don’t keep him and expect a real goal scorer. Then overpay him this summer based on being good over a short period, like this franchise tends to do.

      • CTP66

        His shooting percentage has also come crashing down to reality. His first 16 goals came on 50 shots – a 32% rate, but has 13 shots on net in those last 11 with 1 goal.

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          true but is that a case of who his linemates where? There has been a lot of change in line combos that he was on since he was having a lot of success during the first half of the season, I think Hitch’s defence first has the guys peeling off and heading back out ogfthe zone is effecting everyone in the hits category, and if you not shooting the pcuk your limiting your ability to get a chance at even scoring a goal, so I dont think it is all Chaisson, I wouldnt over pay him even if the Oil signed him at 1.25 that is still a bargain, I dont see trading Chaisson that is going to bring anything better coming back the Oil’s way. What do you think they could realistically get back in return for him

    • fasteddy

      I suppose it could happen but have a hard time believing a playoff team will be dealing for a $4mill backup. Maybe a serious injury to a starter would make a team take a flier but otherwise I think he’s a tough sell.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Well Chia’s brilliant strategy of negotiating an extension for Koskinen and then announcing a signing before the trade deadline just diminished Talbots trade value even more, it was already low because of last year and this year so far, but then Chia announces the signing of Koskinen and it just told other teams yeah we arent going anywhere with Talbot he isn’t our guy…so it lowered Talbots value even more, if they knew Talbot wasn’t their guy then try and trade him and announce after the trade deadline you signed Koskinen not before it, and why give Koskinen 5 mil, like really? I wouldnt have signed him for over 3.5 and even that is generous he was great at the start but right now? And 3 years, if Koskinen doesnt work out, that is one hard contract to move

  • McHitch

    Looking forward to the weekend. A couple wins will get us to within a point of a playoff spot.

    Teams above us havent created any distance so we have a chance.

    Meaningful hockey in February. Lets go!!!!

  • KootenayDan

    I expect boring close checking affairs from here on in if the players buy into a defense first mentality that Hitch will no doubt try to implement. First game after a layoff can’t expect too much the boys might come out cold.

  • Quoteright

    Why do people keep posting ridiculous trade proposals? Oilers trade too much and loose most and yet we still believe that it will fix this mess. That’s insane!
    Break the blender
    Build consistency
    Develop patiently
    Sell high
    Repeat

  • Ko-D

    Zero point for management to push for the playoffs with this flawed roster. If they make it, good on the players!

    Need to re-work the scouting, analytics and performance staff. Bring in young blood. Old thinking hockey people (professional minglers) are the reason the oilers have be the league joke for over a decade. Another old school GM is trouble.

    I’d like to see a Nuge, McDavid and Drai first line. All other lines can just eat the puck along the boards haha.