The Oilers are back in action tonight in Montreal as they take on Max Pacioretty, a healthy Carey Price and the rest of the Montreal Canadiens.
After a very lacklustre effort against the Flyers on Wednesday, the Oilers are in a spot of trouble. It’s been said before, but this road trip (Montreal, Toronto, Columbus) could potentially be one of the final nails in the coffin for this Oiler season.
Where do they sit right now you ask? 29th. The team with Connor McDavid on it has 3rd rights to waiver claims. CONNOR MCDAVID should not be on a team that is anywhere outside of the bottom 10 for waiver claims.
They’re not out of contention yet (plus there are 50+ games left), but every game they let slip in the standings means that they need to work that much harder with what’s left. Tyler Dellow commented that if the Oilers get 70 points in their remaining games, they’ll put themselves in an okay position but that means winning 35/54 remaining games which feels like a pretty tall order for this club.
It’s not supposed to be this way, is it?
Keys to the Game
- The Oilers have got to be better in front of Laurent Brossoit. He’s not been playing well, and that’s obviously cost the team some goals and wins in the last few games, but the skaters in front of him need to play so that he knows they’ve got his back and in turn, maybe he’ll have theirs.
- See above. Brossoit hasn’t been good of late, and it doesn’t seem to be that difficult to get into his head and get some soft goals behind him. If the Habs can come out early and rattle him a bit, it’s game over.
Players to Watch
- Until the Oilers ruin his love of hockey, Edmonton media blames him for the team missing the playoffs for the 14th of 15 years, and he’s traded away for peanuts, Jesse Puljujarvi is a delight. Even when he’s not playing well, he seems to be having fun out there and while it would sure be nice if his level of fun matched the team’s output, at least someone hasn’t forgotten how lucky he is to play the game he loves.
- Brandon Davidson and Nathan Walker are making their Oiler debuts tonight. Hopefully the team does right by them.
- When he’s playing well, Brendan Gallagher is fun to watch. He’s the kind of player that the Oilers need – tough, gritty, a little bit chirpy, but can also skate like the wind and crash the net and actually score off his own skill instead of lumbering down the ice banging his stick in hopes that a pass from the WORLD’S BEST PLAYER hits his tape.
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon – Ryan-Nugent Hopkins – Mike Cammalleri
Nathan Walker – Leon Draisaitl – Ryan Strome
Jujhar Khaira – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Brandon Davidson
Alex Galchenyuk – Jonathan Drouin – Andrew Shaw
Max Pacioretty – Phillip Danault – Paul Byron
Charles Hudon – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Nicolas Deslauriers – Byron Froese – Daniel Carr
Jordie Benn – Shea Weber
Karl Alzner – Jeff Petry
Jakub Jerabek – David Schlemko
So far this season it’s become pretty apparent that the Oilers have some deficiencies on the roster and in management. It’s unclear where the blame actually lies (though based on twitter conversations, it’s not Chiarelli).
Without dissecting all of the first 28 games, here are some things to think about:
- Connor McDavid is in the last year of his ELC, and is essentially on a value contract because of his skill level. He’s going to take home somewhere around $3.75m (depending on bonuses and what not), and is absolutely worth every penny, and it is a shame that the Oilers organization has essentially pissed away his contract in the name of heavy hockey.
- Jordan Eberle’s output is missed, and there’s no way around that. Ryan Strome isn’t even close to replacement level. For context, Ebs is on pace for 35 goals and Strome is on pace for 32 points.
- Leon Draisaitl’s contract is looking REAL BAD right about now. He’s making $8.5 m this year and is playing 3rd line minutes (with some time on the PP) because he’s being outplayed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who has been, dollar for dollar, the best Oiler so far this season).
- Milan Lucic is older and slower than he was last year and he may never turn it around (Sunil Agnihotri wrote about that here). That means that the Oilers’ 1LW is a boat anchor who can’t keep up with his linemates and scores points because he plays with Connor freaking McDavid. His cap hit sucks too, and the Oilers are stuck with it until the heat death of the universe.
- Kris Russell is a 3rd pairing guy playing on the top pair and his cap hit suggests that’s sort of where he should be but his skill set does not. He’s good at blocking shots because, in comparison with other NHL defencemen, he’s not good at being an NHL defenceman.
- Goaltending hasn’t been anything to write home about. It’s almost like playing Cam Talbot in 73 games last year because there wan’t a lot of trust in the backup wasn’t the best idea in the world. WHO KNEW?!
Oilers gonna Oil because the guys who make the decisions did a bunch of dumb things. Get familiar with draft picks because we need to know who to be mad about missing out on.