After a 6-2 victory on Saturday in Montreal, the Oilers lost a heartbreaker to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, where they were beat by both Curtis McElhinney and his posts. That 1-0 loss was one of the Oilers’ better efforts on the year, and was reminiscent of a 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals in 2015-16 that was arguably the best game Edmonton played that season.
While the Oilers outplayed the Leafs, they walked away with no points to show for the effort, putting them that much further back in the hunt for playoff position. With 40/52 remaining games against the West (there was definitely something hinky with the scheduling this season, as many of their Eastern matchups are already completed yet there are Western teams the Oil haven’t yet met), there’s definitely still a chance to get back into the picture. The problem is that they have to win 40 of their last 52 to essentially guarantee a spot.
Tonight the Oil are in Columbus for the 3rd of a three game road trip. Getting a point in this game, and coming home 0.500 for the trip would be a pretty big deal.
This may not go well.
Keys to the Game
- Just. Win. Baby.
- Honestly, if the Oilers play like they did in Toronto, they should find some puck luck somewhere. Hopefully not on the stick of Kris Russell in the defensive zone.
- Maybe score first. Or don’t. Whatever.
- Score first and watch the world burn.
- No for real, score first and rattle Brossoit and see what happens.
Players to Watch
- Jujhar Khaira had a heck of a game the other night, and it was awesome to see him register his first multi-goal game. He’s a big body on the 3rd line, and it’s nice to see that maybe the Oilers didn’t rush his development.
- Sergei Bobrovsky is pretty good at stopping pucks, and is 6-3 lifetime against the Oilers. If he’s on his game, the Oilers are looking at another loss.
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Michael Cammalleri
Jujhar Khaira – Leon Draisaitl – Ryan Strome
Anton Slepyshev – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Brandon Davidson
Artemi Panarin – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Josh Anderson
Nick Foligno – Alexander Wennberg – Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Boone Jenner – Lukas Sedlak – Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Jack Johnson – David Savard
Scott Harrington – Markus Nutivaara
After the Montreal pregame post, there were a few requests for more angry writing. I don’t have any anger anymore. I’m just ambivalent, so here’s a repeat of what I said on Saturday and maybe it’ll work:
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.