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Monday Mailbag – What’s going on with the penalty kill?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
Happy Monday, dearest Internet friends, and welcome to a brand new edition of the Mailbag to help you start your week and break down everything that’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at what’s going wrong with the PK, Nuge’s 200th goal, Dylan Holloway, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Apr 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) in the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
1) Darren asks – After seeing RNH score his 200th goal against the Blues, will he break 300 in his career?
Robin Brownlee:
Easily. Should hit it with a couple of seasons left on this contract — during the 2026-27 season.
Jason Gregor:
Easily in his career. But I don’t see him hitting 400.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Absolutely. 20 goals per season for 5 more years will be easy. Better question… 400? If he rips off a few 25+ goal campaigns and plays until he’s in his late-30’s, which he totally could, them 400 isn’t out of the question.
Baggedmilk:
2000%. If he can stay healthy, he’ll get there.
Oct 15, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Calgary Flames celebrate a goal scored by forward Andrew Mangiapane (88) during the first period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) James in Peterborough asks – The Oilers are not defending well in the early part of the season. How would you rank the following elements: personnel, execution, or systems? Why?
Robin Brownlee:
I don’t see a lot of numbers that lead me to completely agree with you. There have been some stretches where they’ve been too loose, but we’re nine games in with two new goaltenders and a blueline group that’s settling in.
Jason Gregor:
Sloppy October hockey happens to most teams. Too early to make an accurate assessment of their defensive play. However, I said at start of the season they need a different makeup (players) on their blueline and I expect that to be addressed before the deadline.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
This team defended fine last year under Woodcroft so I’ll put systems third. I’ll go with execution as number one, key players have just been making really poor mistakes far too often. So that leaves personnel as number two and I think that’s fair. This is a fine group of defensemen, they should be at least league average if everyone is playing well, but this isn’t a Stanley Cup calibre blueline.
Baggedmilk:
I think the defense needs an upgrade in both personnel and execution. I believe in Woodcroft on the systems.
Feb 14, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft stands behind the bench before the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
3) Taylor asks – The penalty kill has had a brutal start with goals coming in eight straight games, and I’m wondering what everyone’s take is for what’s going wrong?
Robin Brownlee:
They’re spending a bit too much time shorthanded — 6:50 per game, which is fifth in the league — for my liking. They’ve allowed 10 PPGA, but they also have two shorties.
Jason Gregor:
Stop taking penalties will help. Way too much time on the PK is first issue. They need someone other than Draisaitl to win a faceoff on the PK and reduce the cross-seam passes. The PK will improve.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Partially poor early season luck, partially execution from key pieces. Some really bad blown coverages (game against Carolina) and bad decisions with the puck. Also, some guys are being asked to kill penalties for the first time with this team so I think there’s just been a bit of a learning curve.
Baggedmilk:
As Robin said, the Oilers are taking way too many penalties in the first place. Secondly, they look like they’re still trying to remember how the PK systems are supposed to work. We’ll get there. Killing off all three penalties on Saturday night in Calgary was huge.
Oct 18, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Dylan Holloway (55) and Buffalo Sabres defensemen Jacob Bryson (78) battle for a loose puck during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) Blake asks – Though not uncommon by any means for a player his age, Dylan Holloway’s first NHL season has been anything but smooth to this point and I wonder if anyone thinks the Oilers should return him to Bakersfield to try and boost his confidence? What do you believe is best for him at this stage?
Robin Brownlee:
Every single player on the planet would rather be in the NHL than in the minors. That’s how you find out exactly how you measure up. I don’t know where the cut-off point is for ice time — an amount where it doesn’t make sense to have him here — but I don’t think we’re at that now aside from that one game vs Buffalo.
Jason Gregor:
Too early yet. He’s been fine. He is learning and hasn’t looked out of place. He picked up his first point in Calgary and that will boost his confidence. As long as he plays close to 12 minutes a game I’d keep him here.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t think it’s a terrible idea at all. He’s made some tough mistakes and part of that I think has maybe been nerves or a lack of confidence. I’d rather have him playing 20 minutes a night in Bakersfield versus > 10 minutes a game at the NHL level in a checking role. Let him keep developing and if you want him in a checking role late in the season, you can do it then.
Baggedmilk:
Holloway picked up his first point in Calgary and I think he’s looking more comfortable by the game. I don’t know what kind of timeline the Oilers are working with for him, but no matter what happens, I think we’ve got a player here that will be worth the wait.
Oct 27, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Jujhar Khaira (16) and Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) fight during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
5) Sara asks – The Evander Kane non-goal call from Thursday night was very frustrating for a lot of Oilers fans as it seems the NHL is very inconsistent with these types of reviews. How can the league improve the process to ensure controversial calls like the Kane non-goal can be avoided as best as possible?
Robin Brownlee:
Start by not calling the goal good and then trying to tell people the original call was no goal. Making it worse, it actually was a good goal. Kane was in the crease and back out well before he scored.
Jason Gregor:
Goaltender interference is more an opinion than a hard rule right now. Every play is very different. They could just make it anyone who touches goalie in crease is interference. I wouldn’t like that though, but that is only way to make it consistent.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I honestly have no idea. Goaltender interference is just seemingly impossible to get right so I don’t have a good answer for you, unfortunately.
Baggedmilk:
Horrible call, but completely predictable based on how inconsistent the refereeing is in the NHL. How do they improve? Start by taking goal reviews out of the ref’s hands and into the war room in Toronto. We’re humans, we don’t want to admit when we’re wrong.

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