The final days before the Christmas break are upon us and you’ve got a few work days to kill. As always, the Mailbag is here to help you put those long company hours behind you and bring you one step closer to the freedom that will be your time off. The most important part is that you try to look busy, and nothing makes you look busier than reading intently. The Mailbag doesn’t work without your questions so if you have something to ask you can email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk
1) Clarison asks – Is it surprising that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin only have 1 cup between the 2 of them 10 years into their careers?
Jason Gregor:
Not to me. You need more than one great player to win. Caps are closer now with solid goaltending and good defence. The Penguins have not had great depth for years and you can’t win without good depth.
Jeanshorts:
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Yes and no. It’s more surprising to me that Crosby only has one cup considering the team he plays on. When they won their cup the Penguins had six top five picks in their line up (five if we take out Bill Guerin who was veteran depth at the end of his career), including two of THE BEST forwards on the entire planet in Crosby and Malkin. They had a decent window where they theoretically could have won multiple cups a la the Blackhawks, but for whatever reason they just couldn’t get back to the top of the mountain. 
HOWEVER it’s not surprising in that no one player can necessarily win a team a Stanley Cup. The Capitals have been regular season darlings a few times now, but have always seemed to be missing one or two things when it comes to the playoffs. And unfortunately for them Ovi’s insane goal scoring prowess hasn’t been enough to cover up for their faults. As of right now it looks like Ovi may be destined to join Marcel Dionne and Cam Neely in the “Best Player To Never Win A Cup” club. Connor McDavid could get him a cup I bet…
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Lowetide:
It is difficult to win a Stanley Cup, many all-time greats never won it. Now that 30 teams compete each year, we will no doubt see first ballot, inner circle HOFers without SC rings. I hope #8 gets one though.
Robin Brownlee:
More so Crosby than Ovechkin for me. I thought Pittsburgh had a team capable of stringing together two or three wins in a row, or at least a couple of Cups in three years for awhile there. Not now.
Jason Strudwick:
Yes it is. I think they would be the most disappointed. Top players want those Cups so badly. Unlike basketball it is difficult for one player to drag their teams to the top like LeBron James did last season.
Matt Henderson:
I think the Penguins should have had more Cups and would have if they hadn’t been so strangely loyal to Fleury. I haven’t felt until more recently that the Capitals ever had the supporting cast to win. It’s pretty tough to win a Cup though. Thirty teams want it every year but only one gets it. Just one star player, even a superstar, isn’t enough to win in the playoffs. Teams need a lot more.
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Baggedmilk:
I guess I’m kind of surprised that Crosby one has one Cup with the way the Penguins were rolling for a little while. I’m more surprised that the Penguins can’t seem to get past the second round of the playoffs anymore. 
2) Joe B. asks – Justin Schultz has commanded his fair share of attention by the media and often its for his soft style of play. While he knows that he needs to be harder to play against, we rarely see that side of his game. Is playing a hard-nosed game as easy as making the decision to do so, or is it something in your DNA? In short, do you think Justin Schultz will be able to make the changes he needs to in order to win a Norris just as MacT prophesied? 
Jason Gregor:
Schultz doesn’t need to be tough to play against, he just can’t be easy to play against. It is hard to change a player’s DNA, and my bigger concern with Schultz is that right now he isn’t producing offence. He has one PP goal in his last 173 games. Ouch.
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Jeanshorts:
You’re never going to turn Justin Schultz into Scott Stevens, or even Jason Smith for that matter. He plays a very finesse style of game and I don’t think there’s any coach in the world that would be able to change that. And honestly they shouldn’t try as far as I’m concerned. Teaching him basic defensive zone responsibilities is one thing, but trying to turn a finesse player into a banger and crasher generally isn’t going to work out well. We saw it when Dallas Eakins tried to turn Nail Yakupov into Boyd Gordon, when he was drafted because of his high-end offensive skills. Ideally Justin Schultz would be a well rounded, offensive defenseman in the mould of Erik Karlsson, as we all hoped he would be. But he’s not, and at this point it’s a question mark as to whether he’s even long for the NHL at all.
Lowetide:
I think players have strengths and weaknesses, and Schultz would be ill-advised to try to change his physical game. My issue with him has to do with reading plays and positioning, something players like Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert managed to do well despite also being college defensemen. Schultz trying to be physical would be a terrible sight I imagine.
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Robin Brownlee:
It’s much for difficult to coax edge into a player’s game than it is to pull back on the reins if he’s too aggressive. Schultz can play with more gusto, but he’ll have to make a conscious effort to do it.
Jason Strudwick:
It is difficult to become a hard nosed player mid career. He needs to contribute in tin that way to improve his game and the overall game of the team.
Matt Henderson:
A leopard can’t change his spots. Schultz can learn how to be more assertive within his own style, but I don’t think he’ll be “hard-nosed” ever. If it does happen it will be either by miracle or by some traumatic event that leaves him changed from the man he once was, wandering from town to town like a ghost, a mysterious stranger the children fear.
Baggedmilk:
I can’t wait to see what Chiarelli does with Justin Schultz. I don’t think there’s any way that he’s an Oiler next year but the question will be whether or not Chiarelli can get anything for him before that time comes. Regardless, Schultz has been a disappointment in so many ways. He was supposed to be a game changer for the franchise, but instead he’s been a hindrance. How lame is that?
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3) Ray asks – Who do you see as having the best value contracts on the Oil, aside the obvious ELCs?
Jason Gregor:
Hall. Easy. Top-five scorer and he makes $6 mill for another four years after this year. He is one of the best bargain contracts in the entire NHL.
Jeanshorts:
I’m going with Oscar Klefbom. As of right now it may not be a super value contract, but if he continues to progress the way he has he’ll easily be one of the Oilers best defenders for years to come. And having a top two D-man on the books with a cap hit of $4 mill a year? THAT’S the kind of moves that go a long way to help building a Stanley Cup contending roster.
Lowetide:
Taylor Hall is a great value deal, despite being $6M. I would also list Brandon Davidson and Anders Nilsson at this time.
Robin Brownlee:
When you go beyond the entry level deals on this roster, there’s not much left. Probably Anders Nilsson, if he works out.
Jason Strudwick:
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Matt Hendricks and Anders Nilsson.
Matt Henderson:
Taylor Hall. Six million for everything he’s producing is incredible. Klefbom is a steal as well.
Baggedmilk:
Taylor Hall is a warlord and could be making way more money than he’s making right now. I also think that Klefbom will be a deal in a season or two. 

4) Braden asks – What the hell is wrong with the power play lately? Which area of the PP do you think needs the most work?
Jason Gregor:
Injuries to McDavid, Pouliot, Yakupov and now Klefbom haven’t helped. But the first unit doesn’t have a point shot that teams respect and not a great net front presence. The PP is 18% and if it improves to 20% then it is fine. They aren’t far off, but they have struggled recently. Too inconsistent this season.
Jeanshorts:
As far as I can tell the biggest problem with the Oilers power play is that they’re missing Connor McDavid and Nail Yakupov and Oscar Klefbom and Benoit Pouliot. When your second power play unit consists of Mark Letestu, Iiro Pakarinen and Lauri Korpikoski you’re PROBABLY not gonna get a lot of positive results. So if the Oilers could work on not having their entire second line hurt at the same time, that would probably help the power play out in a BIG way.
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Lowetide:
Oilers need a big time shooter from the point and to gain entry to the zone effectively. A controlled entry is best, and they certainly have enough skill to do it.
Robin Brownlee:
A couple of things. Not having Connor McDavid hurts, but not as much as the lack of a point shot. Justin Schultz is no threat from the point and Oscar Klefbom isn’t there as an option right now. Teams can cheat down low and clog things up below the top of the circles because there’s very little chance Schultz will hurt them from the point.
Jason Strudwick:
I have been saying this for a long time here but they need a shooter from the point. Doesn’t need to be a bomb but it has to get through on a consistent basis.This will make the killers respect the points more.
Matt Henderson:
With Schultz floundering and Klefbom hurt the PP was doomed to struggle. I think what really hurts is that there’s literally an entire line’s worth of players who should be on the PP who are hurt. Pouliot, Yak, McDavid, and Klefbom are 4/5 players who could be on unit two. Right now it’s Korpikoski and Letestu getting PP time. Yuck.
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Baggedmilk:
You want to know how you know the Oilers are having injury problems? Mark Letestu and Lauri Korpikoski are on the power play. 
5) Alyssa asks – My husband told me that the 7-5 victory of the Rangers was one of the best Oilers games he’s ever watched. Do you have a game that sticks out as the “best” game you’ve ever watched, or even a game that is memorable?
Jason Gregor:
Sam Gagner eight point night is most recent that stands out. You don’t see it very often. His line of Hall and Eberle scored on four consecutive shifts in the third period. It was ridiculous.
Jeanshorts:
Thanks to years of alcohol and drug abuse most of my hockey memories just kind of blend into each other at this point. And honestly I don’t really remember games as a whole, just moments that stand out. Team Canada winning gold in 2010. Canadian Juniors against Russia with Eberle’s biggest goal. The one a few years before that where Toews scored all the shootout goals. Pisani’s OT winner in game five. Being in Calgary to watch McDavid when he finally came to the realization he was The One and lit up the Flames in their own barn. All things I’ll probably never forget. 
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Also, that 7-5 game was one of the best games your husband has ever seen? Did he JUST start watching hockey this year? I mean it was fun and all, but, come on!
Lowetide:
Loads. Pretty much all of the Cup clinchers, G5 and G6 SCF 2006, the game Doug Weight snapped on Marchment, 1-0 against the NY Islanders 1984 SCF, Sam Gagner’s big night against the Hawks. If you gave me time, I could list 100. Seriously. I love this team.
Robin Brownlee:
Too many games to recall, but Game 5 of the 2006 Cup final is one that stands out for me because of Fernando Pisani’s shorthanded goal to send the series back to Edmonton for Game 6.
Jason Strudwick:
That was a fun game to watch. I would say watching the OIlers win their first stanley cup would be at the top of the list.
Matt Henderson:
I was at the game where Scrivens set the record for saves in a shutout. I tweeted about how terrible he was in the warmup as it was going on. That night there were at least three standing ovations for him as he stole the show. As for games I watched live that’s the one that stands out.
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Baggedmilk:
I was at the game in 2006 when Ryan Smyth got his teeth knocked out only to come back and get an assist on the winner in overtime. Rexall Place went insane. It was beautiful. 

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