The Edmonton Oilers continue to find ways to win despite a depleted defence corps. A dominating third period produced a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh and improved their record to 16-5. Edmonton woke up this morning leading the NHL in P% at .762, while sitting fourth in points and second in goals per game, with the NHL’s best power play, the third best penalty kill and the only undefeated team when scoring first (9-0).
It has been a fantastic start.
Due to recent injuries, many defencemen have had to play more minutes, and for the short term they’ve done well.
Here are the minutes of the D-men in the first 16 games.
Player GP 5×5 TOI/GP Total TOI
Nurse 16 20:20 26:06
Keith 16 17:12 20:16
Bouchard 16 17:00 21:37
Ceci 16 16:25 19:24
Barrie 16 14:54 18:55
Russell 5 11:47 12:32
Koekkoek 11 9:35 9:47
And here is the previous five games:
Player GP 5×5 TOI/GP Total TOI/GP
Ceci 4 20:57 23:04
Russell 5 18:16 22:12
Barrie 5 16:57 20:50
Broberg 5 16:51 18:18
Bouchard 5 15:15 19:52
Keith 2 14:42 17:51 (left mid-game so lower TOI)
Lagesson 3 12:34 12:55
Niemelainen 1 9:49 10:19
Ceci played four more minutes per game. Russell has logged almost 10 more minutes per game and played extremely well. Barrie has added two minutes, while Broberg has stepped in and played over 18 minutes a game.
It has been impressive, and these advanced minutes will continue for at least one more game.
Mike Smith has skated with the other injured players the past few days. I’ve learned his issue is in his ankle. It isn’t anything structural, just that he is feeling it when he gets in specific positions. I’d hazard a guess one of those positions is the reverse-VH.
The reverse-VH, or RVH, position is especially hard on ankles because of the amount of pressure placed on that joint with either the skate or bottom of the pad jammed tight against the post as the goalie leans back over their anchor leg, with their upper body, to seal the post and up to the cross bar. It is even harder on the knees and ankles for taller goalies because their inherently longer legs push their body further away from that post, requiring a bigger lean back over top of that anchored leg to close the gap and seal that post.
Because of how well Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner have played there is no need to rush him back. They can take their time and let him get to a point where he isn’t feeling pain in specific movements.
Devin Shore might be available late next week. I didn’t get a specific timeline on Koekkoek, but his original diagnosis was 3-4 weeks. Today is two weeks. And Ceci won’t be available until next Thursday and the earliest. He has to be out a minimum of 10 days.
Dylan Holloway has been skating and was given permission last week to do more movement with his wrist. The hope is he could be cleared to play, in the AHL, before the middle of January.
— How many players have had the hat-trick experience without actually scoring an official hat trick? Zach Hyman had his 12th career two-goal game last night and scored a third goal, however, it was called back during an offside review. But after he scored, the building erupted and the fans tossed their hats. For a few minutes he experienced scoring a hat-trick, but then it was officially taken away. I can’t recall seeing that before.
— Caleb Jones wasn’t a big loss at the time of the trade and is even less of one today as Philip Broberg, William Lagesson and Markus Niemelainen fill in for injuries. Jones started the season injured, and since returning he has played four of six games on the 28th place Blackhawks. He wasn’t going to help Edmonton move forward. The only possible complaint of that trade is Chicago didn’t retain salary. I understand why the Hawks didn’t want to. The recapture penalty if Keith retires this summer is massive for the Hawks. I’m not saying he will, but once he was out of Chicago the Blackhawks had no control over that, and I’m sure that was part of the conversation. Not liking Keith’s cap hit isn’t enough of reason to claim losing Jones made the deal worse. Jones isn’t an upgrade on the LD Edmonton has now.
— No agent, player, coach, media member or fan should ever suggest that fans and/or media being hard is the reason players don’t want to play in a Canadian market. It is ridiculous. Do you believe NHL markets like Boston, Philly, or pretty much every NFL and NBA market don’t have the same passion and coverage? I rarely, if ever, hear NFL, NBA, and MLB agents or players claim the media/fans were too negative so they don’t want to play there. Some players might not like how visible they are in a Canadian market. And they aren’t comfortable being hounded in public. I can respect that, but can we please stop with the inane suggestion players don’t play for a certain team due to media and/or fans? Please don’t fall for it. NHL player agent Kevin Epp was completely incorrect when making that statement on the Donnie and Dhali show yesterday in Vancouver.
— McDavid and Draisaitl are still on pace for 150 points. Both are above that at this point of the season. Scoring 130 points in today’s game would be great, but to still be on pace for 150 at this juncture makes the 150 point watch exciting. The scary thing (for other teams) is McDavid hasn’t had one of his ridiculous 10-game streaks where he scores 25+ points. It is coming.
MONTH OF GIVING….
Thanks to Colin for his generous bid of $6,900 on the Legacy Heating Furnace package yesterday. And to Craig and Jackson for their Oilers tickets bids.
Day #2: Package #1: The Ultimate Made to Measure experience.
- $1500 dollars towards two outfits hand-picked by Sterling Derk to fit your style. Options of blazers, shoes, jeans, etc.
- Additional $500 in GCs towards shirt, ties or accessories at Mr Derk. Pick whatever you want.
- All tailoring of clothes is included.
- In store consultation with Sterling Derk to ensure you fill out your wardrobe properly.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.
- 10 rounds of golf at the Ranch Golf and Country Club (hole 8 above) with a power cart for each round and use of driving range before every round.
- One round of golf for three people with their Head Pro Shawn Piercey who will get off his wallet and buy lunch and beverages.
- One round of golf for two with GM Murray McCourt and Kevin Karius from Global TV. This is a spirited match and usually involves some friendly “wagering” and lunch and beverages on these guys.
You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. Proceeds help Brightview Elementary breakfast program (A Rotary Club of Edmonton Mayfield initiative) and Santas Anonymous.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- GDB 21.0: Next D-man Up
- Game Notes: Penguins @ Oilers
- How Good Are The Oilers?
- What If Draisaitl, What if?
- GDB 19.0: Defensive Depth Put To The Test
- Game Notes Oilers @ Coyotes: Injuries Mounting