Let’s all take a chill pill. The Oilers have lost two in a row to the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. I’m not happy about it either, but there’s something you all should know.
This was going to happen sooner or later, and now Oiler fans are reverting back to their old pitchfork ways.
Eberle is apparently no good, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will never score again, our defense is decrepit, our power play sucks, our coaches are idiots and the sky is falling.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
I absolutely hate negativity. I’ll admit I got upset when the Toronto Maple Leafs beat us, mainly because I thought our Oilers would man handle their defense. It didn’t happen, but we controlled the play most of the game and we were not lucky at all. I was not impressed with the overall game, but compared the last season, this game was a treat.
Todd McLellan got the blender out, putting McDavid out with almost everybody. Even Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a shift on Connor’s left wing.
Let me address the suggestions for fan complaints before I get into the meat of this story.
Jordan Eberle is not playing great hockey it’s true. He looks slower out on the ice and hasn’t meshed as well with Connor McDavid as many were expecting. Solution: Put Ebs back with the Nuge.
Speaking of Nuge, yes, Anton Lander has more goals than him this season, but Nugent-Hopkins is playing a checking line role and he is playing it damn good. I don’t care if he never scores again, because he is preventing enough to help the team win.
Our defense had a rough night. It’s not all going to be roses, but let’s look at the positives and notice how good Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning were. The best two dmen according to my eyes.
Yes the Power Play is pitiful, and I can’t put my finger on how so much talent can produce such a terrible power play, but Jay Woodcroft needs to implement something.
Todd McLellan and his staff have done a tremendous job.
The sky is going to fall someday, and we’re all just going to have to deal with it. How’s that chill pill taste now?
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM LINEUPS
The top line had one off game, and everybody wants to split it up. I don’t think it’s a great idea. The Nugent-Hopkins line with Benoit Pouliot and Zack Kassian struggled to produce offence out of the gate but McLellan stuck with them and they finally got it together.
Lately the best line has been the “third line” with Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon and Jesse Puljujarvi. That group should stay intact.
The fourth line continues to play their role very well and they have been able to produce timely goals. There is no reason to change that group. Anton Lander even scores for crying out loud.
My honest opinion is to put Jordan Eberle with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot. They were one of the best lines toward the end of the 2014-15 NHL Season under Todd Nelson, and they were single-handedly able to win games for the Oilers late in that dreaded season.
Milan Lucic is still a good winger for Connor McDavid, but McDavid needs somebody who is able to keep up with him to some extent. In time it will be Jesse Puljujarvi, and I would even be willing to try it out right away. However, with Puljujarvi likely sticking with the club for the entire season (you know I’m not a fan of that for various reasons) I think that will happen down the road, and Draisaitl has found chemistry with the young Fin.
The fourth line stays intact, so it looks like Zack Kassian could get a chance with Connor McDavid. Kassian has wheels, and he has enough of a skill set to play top six minutes.
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Patrick Maroon – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Anton Lander – Mark Letestu – Tyler Pitlick
Hmm, it would sure be nice to have a veteran right winger that can play up and down the lineup…
No Trin, no! Swallow that chill pill!
THE POWER PLAY
We all know a big shot from the blueline would be beneficial, but we don’t have it on our roster. Matt Benning however should get a chance to at least try to get off his shot. Benning is no Brad Hunt, and I mean that as a compliment. Benning can play.
Another thing is about not trying to have too many cooks in the kitchen. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid both like to pass the puck, so I think they should be on opposing power plays.
Each power play needs one of these; a puck carrier, a distributor, a shooter, a screener, and a keen passer who doesn’t force plays.
Puck carriers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Benoit Pouliot
Distributor: Andre Sekera, Oscar Klefbom
Shooter: Matt Benning, Jesse Puljujarvi
Screener: Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon
Keen Passer: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl
First power play unit: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Andrej Sekera, Matt Benning, Milan Lucic, Connor McDavid
Second power play unit: Benoit Pouliot, Oscar Klefbom, Jesse Puljujarvi, Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl
(Yes I know Eberle is not on my power plays, and there’s a reason for that. Maybe he gets on after Sekera gets the puck in the offensive zone.)
The first unit has Milan Lucic parked in front of the net. Connor McDavid plays down low in Leon Draisaitl’s old spot, allowing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the half wall on his off wing. Sekera/Eberle plays on the opposite half wall and Matt Benning gets to cue up his clapper. The unit can work play down low giving McDavid options of going to the Sekera/Eberle off wall or chipping a sneaky pass in front to Lucic just outside the crease. McDavid also has the option to use a speedy wrap around. When Nugent-Hopkins has the puck, he can fire it over to the half wall or be in good position to set up Benning’s slap shot.
The second unit allows Draisaitl to take his usual spot down low, with Benoit Pouliot portraying Nugent-Hopkins from the first unit. Klefbom is the shooter, and even though he’s not a huge threat, he fired eight shots during the game against TO. Puljujarvi gets to work the opposite half-wall where he did a lot of damage for Finland at the World Juniors. Patrick Maroon stays steady in front.
I don’t know if Jay Woodcroft reads our wonderful blog, but at least I’m throwing some sort of plan out there. I hope his is similar or has a few changes.
YOU’VE RAMBLED LONG ENOUGH COACH POTRATZ
You may be right, the chill pill has made its way through my system, but the big thing here is that the team wasn’t going to keep the same lineup for eternity and we were bound to have some tough luck the last couple of games.
But let’s all take a chill pill and not accept likely doom at the hands of the Rangers.
We have lost only against the Senators, Maple Leafs and Sabres, but we have beat teams like the Blues and Capitals. If we take that into consideration, we have a shot against the Rangers. Let’s just chill.
Let’s go boys.