CBC Edmonton News (TV): Re-cap of the win against the Jets, McDavid’s performance and previewing tonight’s home opener against Boston

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Sandra Batson on the CBC Edmonton News to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 19:15 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2018, October 18)

Topics we covered:

  • A re-cap of the Oilers overtime win against the Jets, and what the Oilers did well to stage the come back.
  • McDavid’s performance after four games, comparing how the Oilers have done with and without their star captain.
  • The lack of secondary scoring, and how Leon Draisaitl will be the one under pressure to perform.
  • How the Oilers defencemen have performed over four games, and that there is a growing need to improve their depth.
  • Preview of tonight’s home opener against the Bruins.

I also joined Adrienne Pan on CBC Radio Active this evening to talk Oilers. I’ll post the clip if it becomes available.

Any feedback, let me know.


Minor change that represents a larger issue

coppernblue.com.full.54273The Oilers made changes to their bottom six line combinations following their 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Sweden. Centerman Kyle Brodziak became a healthy scratch. And Zack Kassian and Tobias Rieder, his two wingers from the first game, moved up to play with centerman Ryan Strome. That pushed Jujhar Khaira and Jesse Puljujärvi, Strome’s two most common linemates from preseason, down to the fourth line to play with Drake Caggiula.

The Puljujärvi demotion was the most controversial and for good reason. He’s a good prospect with plenty of ability that the Oilers need to be a productive winger going forward. And it’s hard to take a step in your individual professional development when you’re playing fewer minutes and with lesser talent. Worth noting that Puljujärvi had a strong preseason as well, scoring four goals in five games and was much more assertive in his overall play. Demoting him this quickly might be a strategic move by the coaching staff, but it’s hard to envision how this will help the Oilers win hockey games.

Now while the Puljuarvi demotion garners the most attention from fans and media, it’s moving Jujhar Khaira to the fourth line center position that should be raising red flags.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

CBC Edmonton News (TV): The poor start in Sweden and previewing tonight’s game against Boston

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Sandra Batson on the CBC Edmonton News to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 18:20 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2018, October 11)

Topics we covered:

  • The poor performance against the Devils in Sweden and what the Oilers will need to improve on.
  • Todd McLellan on the hot seat and for good reason.
  • Importance of having a good program in Bakersfield and players to watch.
  • Tonight’s match against the Bruins.
  • Realistic expectations for the 2018/19 season.

CBC Edmonton News (TV): Pre-season results, emerging players and previewing tonight’s game against Arizona

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Sandra Batson on the CBC Edmonton News to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 18:45 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2018, September 27)

Topics we covered:

  • Ty Rattie’s pre-season performance and what the Oilers can expect from the forward.
  • Jesse Puljujärvi’s development and how he’s fared on a line with Ryan Strome.
  • Backup goaltending position and Mikko Koskinen’s struggles.
  • Preview of tonight’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, including the projected line combinations.

Generating offence on the penalty kill

coppernblue.com.full.54273Looking into how the Edmonton Oilers and the rest of the league did last season, I’ve started coming up with some rough numbers that the Oilers should be striving for if they want to be in the mix for a playoff berth.

Game state Targets
5v5 >52.0% GF%, 2.5 GF/60
5v5 with McDavid >57.0% GF%, 3.6 GF/60
5v5 without McDavid >50.0% GF%, 2.4 GF/60
5v4 >7.0 GF/60
4v5 <7.0 GA/60

Couple notes:

  • The top 14 teams at even-strength in 2017/18 finished the year with a 52.0% goal-share (GF%) or better. And of the top 14 teams (based on GF%), the average rate of goals per hour was 2.50.
  • Since we’re dealing with the Oilers, I think it’s important to split the even-strength time between when McDavid is on the ice and when he’s not. We can fully expect the goal-share to be great with him on the ice, but the team has got to break even when he’s not. In 2016/17, the Oilers posted a GF% of 48.9% (89 GF, 93 GA, -4 differential) and a goal-per-hour rate of 1.98. Things were worse in 2017/18 when the Oilers posted a GF% of 41.62% (82 GF, 115 GA, -33 goal differential) and a goal-per-hour rate of 1.81 without their captain.
  • Should add here that if McDavid’s on-ice goal-share drops down to mortal-levels, say below 55% GF%, something is wrong (either he’s hurt or someone is dragging him down) and it needs to be addressed right away.
  • I’ve set the targeted rate of goals-per-hour for the powerplay fairly low. This team has to be in the top 10, especially if their even-strength results are average. They have the offensive talent, but it remains to be seen if the coaching staff can put together the right tactics.
  • I’ve also set the targeted rate of goals against per hour fairly low for the penalty kill. Strive for league average, and hope that the goaltending comes through.

The reality is that a lot is going to have to go right for the Oilers this upcoming season. They have enough talent up front and on the blueline to contend for a playoff spot, but their goaltending, special teams and depth have to be significantly better than last season. They’ll also need some of their prospects like Jesse Puljujärvi or Kailer Yamamoto to emerge as productive NHL players, and hopefully the Oilers blue line remains healthy.

I’m not overly confident that everything is going to work out, as we know how random and volatile an NHL season can be. Plus there are a lot of question marks around the goaltending and if the powerplay and penalty kill will be better with a revamped coaching staff. Health always remains a concern and the team unfortunately doesn’t have the scoring depth that a lot of the top teams do.

Since so much is up in the air, it’s imperative for a team with playoff aspirations to look into which areas they could potentially squeeze out more goals from. One game-state in particular that I’d be interested in is when the club is shorthanded (4v5) and if they could try to produce the same rate of shorthanded goals as they did last season. Although they allowed the fifth highest rate of goals against on the penalty kill last season, they scored 10 shorthanded goals – a rate of 1.51 goals per hour, which was best in the league. It’s also one of the best shorthanded scoring rates over the past five seasons league-wide.

What’s interesting is that the team scored seven of their ten shorthanded goals in the first half of the season, when the team allowed the highest rate of goals against. And when the team’s penalty kill results improved in the second half, the shorthanded goals dried up, as the Oilers scored only three more times…..

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

CBC Edmonton News (TV): Previewing tonight’s game, training camp and Nurse’s deal

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Sandra Batson on the CBC Edmonton News to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 16:50 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2018, September 20)

Topics we covered:

  • The importance of getting Darnell Nurse signed to a short-term deal, and what the Oilers can expect from him going forward.
  • How the Oilers have looked over the first two exhibition games, and the key players to watch.
  • Preview of tonight’s exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets.
  • The progression of the Jets over the last few years, going from a 78-point season in 2015/16 to the Western Conference finals in the 2018 playoffs. I put a post together on this topic last week: Looking to Winnipeg for inspiration

Tunnel vision

coppernblue.com.full.54273After watching their playoff aspirations gradually slip away and becoming seller’s at the trade deadline, the Oilers had no other option but to begin a period of evaluation to close the 2017/18 season. After trading away forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu, changes were expected to the group up front including an altered distribution of ice-time as well as roles on the team. And based on the transactions that the Oilers made this off-season and some of the early updates coming out of training camp, it appears that the final stretch of the 2017/18 season had an impact on the management team’s approach towards building their roster and their websites with https://www.webdesign499.com/wellington-seo/.

For one, the Oilers seem content on running the top line that produced so well over the final 12 games, and for good reason. The trio of Connor McDavid, Ty Rattie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played 128 minutes together at even-strength (5v5) during this period outscoring opponents 13-7, a fantastic goal share of 65.0%. Their on-ice possession numbers together were fine (51.34% Corsi For percentage) and their shooting percentage clicked at 18.57%, indicating that they may have been getting a little lucky in terms of actual production. Mind you, McDavid has the superhuman ability to drive up scoring, so we’ll wait and see if this was a one-off or if the line can continue scoring at a rate of 6.0 goals per hour.

It also looks like the Oilers want to keep Ryan Strome as a center with Jesse Puljujarvi as his right winger (Source). Over the final month of the 2017/18 season, the two were deployed often together at even-strength along with Milan Lucic in third a line role, posting some pretty good possession numbers (52.84% Corsi For percentage) over 89 minutes. Unfortunately, they couldn’t translate this into actual goals, finishing the season with a 50% on-ice goal-share (2 GF, 2 GA), and a pretty lousy rate of 1.34 goals for per hour. Early reports from training camps indicate that it’ll be Jujhar Khaira instead of Lucic with Strome and Puljujarvi, which makes sense based on another issue that transpired in 2017/18.

If you recall, Khaira was being tested by the coaching staff as a fourth line center over the final month of the season. But unfortunately for him, the results were dreadful. As a centerman, Khaira’s on-ice goal-share was 20.0%, as the team got outscored 4-1 at even-strength with him on the ice. This was thanks in large part to some poor possession numbers, as his on-ice Corsi For percentage was just barely above 44% over 123 minutes of ice time. His most regular linemates to close the year included the likes of Anton Slepyshev, Zack Kassian, Yohann Auvitu, Pontus Aberg and Iiro Pakarinen.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.