Archive for 2016-09-25

Well Now, Let's Talk About That Penalty Kill

That was not pretty. Especially for four players who were on the ice for as many as four power play goals against. Adam Larsson (4), Oscar Klefbom (2), Anton Lander (3) and Iiro Pakarinen (3) got absolutely murdered in short-handed action. It's only one game and the Lander/Pakarinen duo may not be a part of the starting roster, but Klefbom and Larsson will and this needs to get figured out (if they are going to play so much time short-handed) in a hurry.

Photo By Bridget Samuel's

Anton Lander


I've written about Lander in the past. This is his last chance. He's being pushed out by younger (Lander is not old) and more skilled players and he's got this pre-season to show he deserves one more opportunity. Last night's effort is not going to help his cause.


Lander is going to need to provide intangibles. Either he penalty kills regularly, wins faceoffs or makes up part of a fourth line energy group. He did none of those things on Friday (he did have two hits) and if he can't provide those intangibles, he won't be needed on this roster. His three goals against and his abysmal 33% percent in the faceoff circle isn't going to do him any favors.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins


Clearly the best Oiler on the ice, which is a good sign. He was free of goals against on the penalty kill, which is amazing if you consider how bad Edmonton's 4 vs. 5 play was. This is a good sign that someone on the ice knew what they were doing and perhaps the four goals against short-handed is not a regular occurrence.

Nuge led forwards with TOI (time on ice) at 18:37 and had five shots in the game. He wasn't great in the faceoff circle, but he was better there at the World Cup, so it's not a huge concern even though it needs to improve.


Areas of Concern


There are players who likely got themselves demoted last night. Matthew Benning, Griffin Reinhart, Anton Lander and Iiro Pakarinen probably played themselves out of the NHL opening night line up. Some had stronger games than the previous one — namely Reinhart — but I don't think it's enough to keep him with the big club. Benning played ok, but showed he needs more time to prepare his game for the NHL.

Benoit Pouliot is playing himself into a third-line role if Patrick Maroon comes back healthy for game one. It's not that Pouliot's game is terrible, but those penalties he's taking (especially in his own zone) are crushing and Edmonton clearly isn't at a point that they can confidently kill them off. Coach Todd McLellan made comment both about how the penalty kill wasn't good, but he also made sure to note that the Oilers can't expect to take these kinds of penalties and win hockey games.


In net, Cam Talbot wasn't strong. This is the second game in a row that Edmonton's goaltending has let them down. One can only hope this just a matter of needing to get warmed up.

Positives


The Oilers out-shot the Jets by a margin of 34-21, with players like Drake Caggiula (who I believe is winning himself a position on the Oilers hockey team) with four shots. Caggiula has now had three strong pre-season games and will likely get some rest on Sunday. I have to assume he'll get a couple more to cement his spot on the roster. One of the things that may keep getting him noticed, is his willingness to play sound defensively and hustle on the backcheck. He took two penalties in last night's game but was also 63% in the faceoff circle. Third line center?

Just when you think that maybe Matt Hendricks is getting a bit too old or too slow for the club who has some promising rookies on the horizon, he goes and shows you where his value is. His willingness to engage Byfuglien after Dustin hit Klefbom with an elbow is something Edmonton still needs on a nightly basis. And he was 71% in the faceoff circle. He's not going quietly and I don't see how he's not a fourth-line regular with contributions like that.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




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Canada Wins, Draisaitl and Sekera Have Good Showing at World Cup

I'm not going to lie... as much as I cheered for Canada as a Canadian hockey fan, part of me wanted to see Europe take it home with the two remaining Oilers in the tournament playing for the Europeans. It would have been exciting to see Leon Draisaitl and Andrej Sekera, as part of the underdog group that scraped together pieces from eight different countries, make a go of it. It wasn't meant to be and Canada took the best-of-three finals in two games.

Good for Team Canada, who was the tournament favorite from day one.


The Oilers Contingent 


In reality, it was because of these two Oilers that I even watched the final game of the World Cup tournament. After McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins got sent packing in the tournament, I was pretty checked out interest wise, but both Draisaitl and Sekera had strong showings and it's great news for Oiler fans who are hoping that the team takes a step forward this year. Draisaitl was one of Team Europe's most proficient scoring threats and Sekera ate a lot of big minutes on Europe's defense. Both will be asked to do the same for Edmonton in 2016-17.


Injury Free


Part of the concern in any tournament is that a player comes out of it injury free. With four Oilers at the World Cup of Hockey, Edmonton stood a chance that one of the pieces significant to their potential success this season would be derailed before the season even started. Fortunately, this wasn't an issue and everyone is coming home safe and sound.

Edmonton already lost Patrick Maroon in Wednesday's pre-season game. The news is still out on the severity of that injury, but with the Oilers track record of injuries hurting their seasons, the fewer health issues, the better. Edmonton couldn't afford to have a top-six forward and top-three defenseman out for any significant amount of time.

Flexible Draisaitl


Part of that group is Draisaitl who had to have learned a hugely valuable lesson from playing in a tournament like this. From working directly with Anze Kopitar to getting a feel for what winning tastes like, what Draisaitl will bring back to Edmonton with him is going to be a huge part of his success moving forward.

Will he play the wing or center? All tournament long media and analysts went back and forth on the topic. Perhaps he sees a bit of both, but he'll need to create offense on a regular basis, use his size and skill on defense and drive the play for whatever line he ends up on. This tournament showed he had the capability to do so.


Big Minutes Sekera


Sekera  will be asked to log some big minutes this season as Edmonton's third most valuable defenseman. The good news is, he showed well in the World Cup and it's making people comfortable with the fact that he'll be a valuable piece backing up Larsson and Klefbom. His work here with Team Europe is a sign of the Oilers have a player they can rely on to do some of the heavy lifting, while chipping on offense.

For a lefty, Sekera has also played a lot of time on the right side blue line for Europe and this could mean moving him over in Edmonton and moving Davidson up to a second-pair left side position. This created options and could be good news for the Oilers.


Glad It's Over


I'm just glad the World Cup is done so that we can get back to focusing on rounding out the Oilers roster and getting some of our main components back into camp. Sekera and Draisaitl will likely get a few days to rest and then join the team in Tuesday's game against the Ducks.

The Oilers are quickly cutting down their roster to make room for the main players and Edmonton is going to want to see if Sekera and Draisaitl can build some chemistry with certain linemates before the regular season gets underway. The World Cup of Hockey was a good sign for Oiler fans that this chemistry isn't just a possibility, but a likely probability .

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




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Caggiula Shines, Maroon Strains and Gustavsson Struggles

On Wednesday night, the Oilers lost 5-3 in their third game of the pre-season. In a contest that saw some good and some not-so-good from an Oilers perspective, the Edmonton power play let them down, ultimately costing Edmonton the game. With the exception of one 5-on-3 situation that resulted in a goal, Edmonton was given a ton of opportunities they failed to capitalize on.

The rest of the game was an example of where the Oilers need work. With a roster of more proven NHL talent, on paper, Edmonton should have defeated Vancouver. They didn't and it's clear, the Oilers miss that threat of a point-shot on the man advantage.

Patrick Maroon


It wasn't good to see Maroon go down midway through the third period and there's been no word on the extent of his injury. Early estimates are that it's not a short-term thing.

This type of injury speaks volumes to having the depth required to compete this season. Maroon was going to be a large part of the Oilers left wing solution and if not available, it becomes Lucic, Pouliot, Hendricks and ? It is a good thing that the Oilers can call upon players like Kris Versteeg and a surging Drake Caggiula can take his place if need be.

Drake Caggiula Shines


Speaking of Caggiula. He was the center on the Maroon line and scored two goals in last nights contest. He had a couple opportunities to pot his third and he looks to be gaining more and more confidence as the games roll along.

It appears to me that if Caggiula keeps this up, Edmonton will find a spot for him regardless of injuries, but if players like Maroon go down, Caggiula becomes a lock in the Oilers starting roster.

Jonas Gustavsson


There was no point in the game where Gustavsson looked comfortable in net. It was a much different appearance than his minutes in Calgary where he was much better. He let in two softies from far out (despite a little traffic in front, he needed to be in better position) and another one in close. Then somehow a goal that Vancouver didn't challenge as going in and ultimately didn't count, was another wrap around that, if it had counted, only went in because of poor positioning.


Other Notes


I thought Davidson looked pretty good. A couple giveaways, but at the same time responded well and was in good position. He was playing his off side which is good news for the Oilers who may still need a righty.

I thought Lucic looked slow but effective. Perhaps he's the type of player who needs some time to get warmed up, but my concern is that he may have trouble keeping up to the pace of play McDavid is going to set for the year.

Dillion Simpson has a wicked shot. He used it a couple times and one thing the Oilers may be looking for is a player who can shoot from the point and demonstrates a willingness to try. Brad Hunt gained NHL employment based solely on his ability and willingness to shoot.If a player like Simpson, or Nurse or Reinhart can develop that aspect of their game, it may give them the edge.

Speaking of Reinhart, he was up and down during the game, most notably down. He scored a goal and played some in tight plays on defense, but he was burned to the outside on numerous occasions and if that continues, he'll be sent down to the AHL sooner than later.

Wednesday's game was a learning experience for everyone. The power play needs to improve, there are some players who aren't ready and some players who might earn themselves jobs.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.




Oilers Cut Seven Players: Some Interesting Names Go and Stay

The Edmonton Oilers wasted no time in trimming down the training camp roster on Tuesday. Seven are gone and the list sits at 51 names.

Photo By Connor Mah



Who's Gone


Among the interesting names cut were late-round draft selection, but ever-progressing Ethan Bear, along with defenseman Caleb Jones. Neither are terribly surprising as they weren't likely to make the team, but some may have given another game to both players to see where they stood. Bear hasn't shown terribly well so far this season, but he's a player with real advancement potential.

Who's Left

There are still 16 defensemen, eight of which might be in tough to make the team. These include Matthew Benning, Dillon Simpson, Mark Fraser, Eric Gryba, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle, Andrew Ference and Griffin Reinhart. Of the group, Gryba may have the inside track.

At forward, there's Tyler Benson, Josh Currie, Kyle Platzer, Ryan Hamilton, Breden Christoffer, Mitch Moroz, Patrick Russell, Greg Chase, Taylor Beck, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepeshev, Jere Sallinen and Ryan Vesce who will be in tough. I don't see any of these names with realistic shots at the opening night lineup, but understandably, Edmonton wants a longer look before moving them.

Fringe prospects are Tyler Pitlick, Drake Caggiula, Anton Lander and Jesse Puljujarvi. I'd suggest Puljujarvi is a 50/50, since to me Kris Versteeg is a lock to make the team and I see Yakupov making this roster.

When It Gets Interesting


Taking nothing away from the players who were moved today and to those about to go, the next set of cuts will be pretty obvious. Where it will get fun to watch is fringe players and PTO contracts that are fighting for a limited amount of roster spots.

I think outside long-shots go to Pitlick, Caggiula and Oesterle. If I'm correct in any of those assumptions, it means that somebody pretty decent at playing NHL hockey is getting cut.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

EDMONTON OILERS: Good and Bad From Monday's Split-Squad Games

The Oilers swept both games against the Calgary Flames in a split-squad series on Monday. A 4-2 victory at Rogers Place along with a 2-1 victory in Calgary gave Oilers fans a few things to be excited about.

Photo By Lisa Gansky

The Good


In Edmonton, Tyler Pitlick shined with a two-point effort. Kris Versteeg had a great first game as part of his professional tryout (PTO) — a first of what will likely be many games. Drake Caggiula showed he's improving in every game.Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson showed well as a top-unit pair and Mark Fayne was steady, which after last season is a wonderful change.

In Calgary, it was a goaltending duel where Jonas Gustavsson and Laurent Brossoit delivered despite a lack of offense from the Oilers.

The Bad


In Edmonton, this was the first time Jesse Puljujarvi didn't amaze. Of course, not every game has to be a superstar effort from the newly drafted Finn, but he often appeared out of sorts. Lucic and Eberle lacked a bit of chemistry early on and the goaltending was ok, but not great.

In Calgary, the offense, led by Patrick Maroon, Nail Yakupov and Anton Lander just didn't show up. All three of these players have no guarantees and are battling for spots. They need better efforts to keep pace.

Finally, both power plays, in both games for the Oilers, were less than impressive. This will be a continued storyline for the Oilers who need much better man-advantage results than last season.

Overall


There's a lot more pre-season for players to show their worth, but tonight was a good sign in a lot of respects. There will be battles in the bottom-six and potentially some surprises and pretty soon, Edmonton will have Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins joining in.

The two wins tonight I realize don't mean much at the end of the day, but they have got a bit more excited for what this team will look like when fully assembled as designed.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

JACOB TROUBA WANTS OUT OF WINNIPEG: DOES HE WANT INTO EDMONTON?

Jacob Trouba has gone public on his desire to be traded from the Winnipeg Jets. His concern is that he's being considered an afterthought on a team that employs Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side defense and Trouba wants a more prominent role with another organization.

Photo By Lisa Gansky

The news comes only days after Trouba finished his involvement with the North American team at the World of Cup of Hockey, where coincidentally, his coach was Oilers coach Todd McLellan and his GM was Peter Chiarelli. He also spent some time with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Of course, I'm being cheeky in suggesting that his involvement with players from the organization has anything to do with Trouba's desire to leave the Jets. It doesn't.  But, could it have an impact on where he'd like to play long-term?

Trouba is an RFA


One of the issues potentially facing Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is that Trouba is an RFA. The Jets have some control over his contract, but any team who might trade for the defenseman then needs to sign him. Part of any concern in trading for an unknown is how much cap space a team would need to commit to said player.

There is likely a long line of teams that will inquire about Trouba's availability. Chances are, they'll be told Trouba wants north of $5 million per season. What if Trouba wants $6 million? Does that change the quantity of teams making a pitch? It should.

What if Trouba looks more at his ability to play a prominent role with a team than the money that comes with it? Might Trouba look at the Oilers as a team on the upswing? He knows the coach, the GM and two of the stars. He also knows he'd slot in immediately at top-four defense on the right side.

Maybe it's enough to make the Oilers a place that Trouba has interest in. It doesn't mean he can dictate his destination, but if Edmonton knows Trouba wants to sign with the Oilers and is willing to fit his salary demands in on a team that will need to pay Connor McDavid, there may be a middle-ground that becomes a win/win for everyone.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

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