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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – New Year’s Resolutions

My friends, it’s that wonderful time again. It’s that time when you have all the things you’ve always wanted to know about the NHL and about life in general. I like to think of us as a much cheaper alternative to a college education. As always, the mailbag depends on your questions so I need you to send me anything you want to know. If you have an Oilers or life question that needs answering you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. Enjoy.

Oct 22, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

1) Sharry asks – In the last few games the Oilers have played, Leon Driasaitl has been barely able to skate back to the bench after his shift, or skate back to play defensively. Do you think he has been overplayed by this coach, or is it conditioning… or something else?

Jason Gregor:

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He is struggling and even the best players in the game will lose confidence. I sense he is frustrated. Conditioning isn’t a factor. He trains extremely hard and is in great shape. The past 14 games have been a complete reversal of fortune for him. The good news is they are a major outlier, and he should be able to rebound. But I sense more frustration than anything in his play.

Robin Brownlee:

No question Draisaitl has been used a lot — he leads all forwards in average ice time at 22:39. The problem, as I see it, is the length of his shifts. Struggling to the bench or to get back defensively isn’t overall conditioning, it’s being gassed and used up on any particular shift. A general rule of thumb is shifts should be under one minute, if not closer to 45 seconds. In his last three games, for example, Draisaitl has played 20:40 on 21 shifts, 22:30 on 20 shifts and 23:54 on 22 shifts.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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I think it was just some fatigue from playing a lot of hockey. Both mental and physical. He goes all out trying to push the pace offensively and generate goals for this team because not a lot of other players will and he simply isn’t putting in at the other end of the ice. There’s no denying that both he and Connor McDavid cheat for offence and I think they need to if this team wants to win. I don’t blame them for a defensive lapse or a tough stretch of games in their own end.

Baggedmilk:

He’s being played a tonne and also going through a slump at the same time, that’s a tough combo.

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Oct 12, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

2) Clay asks – If you were to pick out one major thing that has changed for the Oilers from October and November to what’s happening on this recent tough stretch what would it be?

Jason Gregor:

Mike Smith struggled mightily. Hard to win when your goalie has a .856Sv% at 5×5. But the biggest difference I see from the players is early on they weren’t making the major mistake. Now they are, and often it ends up in the back of their net. RNH horrible giveaway 11 seconds into the game results in a goal. Ethan Bear doesn’t shoulder check and see Tkachuk wide open. Koskinen has a shot go right through him. The first three Flames goals were easily preventable. Those types of plays weren’t happening early on.

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Robin Brownlee:

Goaltending. Mike Smith has been awful and Mikko Koskinen has also dropped off, although to a lesser extent.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

They aren’t getting top ten goaltending from both of their netminders. It’s really as simple as that.

Baggedmilk:

They’re sloppy in their own end, they’re not getting as many saves, the PK is struggling, and that’s just a few things that I can think of off the top of my head.

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Apr 1, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) looks on from the ice in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

3) Tim asks – What is your favourite Oilers moment from 2019?

Jason Gregor:

I like offence, so I will say Draisaitl’s 50th goal of the season. Fifty goals is an amazing feat, and unless your name is Alex Ovechkin, it doesn’t happen very often in today’s game.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s not so much a moment as a game. Most memorable for me is the 6-3 win over Philadelphia on Oct. 16. Connor McDavid had five points (1-4-5) and Koskinen made 49 saves. Oilers had no business winning that game — they were outshot  52-22 — but Koskinen was stellar and McDavid did the rest.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

From the past calendar year… it might be Leon getting his 50th goal of the year. Either that or the winning streak to start this season. There was some serious optimism at that point and it was fun.

Baggedmilk:

I was in Calgary for Draisaitl’s 50th. That was cool. I also liked October of this season. *remembers*

Nov 10, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.

4) Trev asks – My questions is this: Andrei Svechnikov has scored two lacrosse style goals this year and there seems to be a bit of a mixed reaction among journalists and fans about this type of goal. I’ve seen some people feel that the lacrosse goal “shows up the competition”. What does the panel think about this type of goal? As a follow-up, are we going to see Connor McDavid pot one of these this year? Thanks and happy holidays!

Jason Gregor:

Shows up the opposition? People who think that need thicker skin. It is a highly skilled play and to do it at full speed in an NHL game is awesome. I’d be surprised if McDavid scored one that way. I’ve never seen him practice it in practice. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t in the summer, but I don’t think he focuses too much on that specific move.

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Robin Brownlee:

The NHL is supposed to be in the entertainment game so why would people complain about a display of skill like that? Players or teams that use the “showing up” excuse are really reaching. Showing up an opponent is scoring the seventh goal in a 7-2 victory and windmilling, fist-pumping and chirping in front of the opposing bench. If a team doesn’t like being scored on “lacrosse style,” then do something about it — stop it.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s sweet. If you don’t want a player to score a nice goal, then defend him better. I have no issues with it. As for the odds of McDavid doing it, I’ll say there slim. Doesn’t really seem like his style.

Baggedmilk:

Connor certainly has the skill to pull it off. Who knows if it happens or not? I love this style of goal and hope it’s only the beginning of new and wild ways to score.

Nov 24, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

5) Kevin asks – I’d like to know what everyone’s New Year’s resolutions would be for the Edmonton Oilers in 2020?

Jason Gregor:

For the organization: To realize you haven’t won anything in a long time. How you go about things hasn’t worked, and a new approach has to occur at all levels. Ticket prices, food prices, in-game entertainment needs to change if you want fans to show up regularly.

Robin Brownlee:

Stop chasing the game. Specifically, stop falling behind 2-0. The game plan goes out the window when that happens.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

To get better depth scoring. If they can continue getting production from the Sheahan/Archibald duo and find a winger for Nuge, I’ll like their odds of making the playoffs a lot more.

Baggedmilk:

I have two: Attention to detail. Respect your fanbase.

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