This isn’t the start the Edmonton Oilers were hoping for.
After three games, Edmonton owns a 1-3 record, tied for last in the North Division.
The Oilers earned a split with the Vancouver Canucks, looking a little listless in the first game and then rebounding with a commanding win in the second. After that, the Oilers got completely outclassed by the Montreal Canadiens, dropping both games in the mini-series by a combined score of 8-2.
Next up, the Oilers will hit the road for a couple of two-game sets with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. It’s early, the team didn’t have any pre-season games, and it would be silly to slam the panic button after four games, but the Oilers need to turn things around quickly to avoid digging themselves a big hole to start the season.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (TUESDAY EDITION) question. What should Dave Tippett do to shake things up? Should the Oilers stay the course and give their handful of new players time to settle in? Or does the lineup need a shake-up?
Here are some statistics from the first four games worth looking at…
- The Oilers are 2-for-18 on the power-play so far this season, highlighted by a 0-for-7 performance against Montreal on Monday. The team boasted the league’s best power-play in 2019-20 and that was critical to their success.
- The Oilers are outshooting opponents 69-to-48 and outscoring opponents 4-to-3 with Connor McDavid on the ice at even strength. That’s solid overall, but we saw Montreal do a very good job of shutting McDavid down. The Oilers outshot the Habs 15-to-11 with McDavid on the ice and managed just one goal in garbage time.
- The Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, and Dominik Kahun trio has been just OK thus far. They’re being outshot slightly, 45-to-41 at even strength, and are outscoring opponents 2-to-1 at even strength. This trio was invisible in the Montreal series.
- The bottom-six is where things start to get ugly. The Oilers have been outshot 24-to-14 with Kyle Turris on the ice, 23-to-4 with Jujhar Khaira on the ice, and 25-to-15 with Devin Shore on the ice. Those three (along with Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Ennis, Joakim Nygard, and Alex Chiasson) haven’t been on the ice for an even-strength goal for yet this season.
- Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear are the only Oilers defenders with a positive even-strength goal differential thus far, at 5-to-4 and 5-to-3 respectively. Caleb Jones has been outscored 5-to-1, Adam Larsson 4-to-1, and Slater Koekkoek and Tyson Barrie 3-to-1 each.
What can be changed?
Tippett already made a major shake-up on the team’s blueline ahead of Monday’s game, scratching Jones and Bear in favour of Kris Russell and William Lagesson in order to tighten things defensively. The team loses quite a bit on the offensive end with Jones and Bear, two effective puck-movers, in the press-box.
Tyson Barrie has struggled a bit at the point on the Oilers’ power-play, which is somewhat expected given the fact he’s new to the team and didn’t have any pre-season games. Oscar Klefbom is obviously a huge loss on the top power-play unit, but maybe putting Darnell Nurse, who filled in last year, out there could help things.
Though he hasn’t been on the ice for a goal for yet, Jesse Puljujarvi has been a positive thus far. He’s been carrying the puck with authority and hasn’t been afraid to engage physically. It would be nice to see him get a look with Connor McDavid. Maybe sliding Puljujarvi and a speedy winger like Nygard up to play with McDavid and moving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian down to Kyle Turris’ line could make the lineup deeper.
What say you, Nation? What should Tippett do to shake things up? Do the lines or the power-play need a shuffle? Or does the coach need to be patient in order to give his new players more time to gel?
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