Joined Lowetide this morning on TSN 1260 to discuss all things Oilers. Link is below.
- As much as I love seeing the Oilers on a roll, the underlying numbers are tempering my expectations. The club has improved when it comes to score adjusted Corsi For percentage, sitting at 47.8% now (22nd in the league), but there are still too many stretches where they either get hemmed in their own zone and allow a play to develop in front of their goal. This five game winning streak is great, but you have to keep in mind that they’re also shooting at 11.3% at even-strength. Before the winning streak, they were shooting at 7.3%, which is around average. (Source: War on Ice)
- The Oilers are in tough after losing Klefbom, and I think they’ve made it harder on themselves by calling up Nikitin to play next to Schultz. I fully expect some defensive line juggling this road trip as opposing coaches will surely target that pair, as well as young Darnell Nurse. Nikitin and Schultz together posted a 42.7% CF last season, but each posted over 50% CF apart (Souce: Hockey Analysis). Nikitin did get more starts in the offensive zone when he was with Schultz, but they did not produce well enough to stay together. Then again, there’s a new system in place this year that pushes for shot volume, so the pair might do better. Who knows.
- Speaking of Nurse, Jonathan Willis put together a nice summary of the young defenceman’s struggles as of late. He’s been on the ice for more shots against, especially in the last five games. Ideally, he should be playing down the roster a bit, but unfortunately the options to play with Sekera are slim. I always thought the Sekera-Fayne pairing would be the top pair this year, with both having experience playing against the top forwards in the league.
- By the way, you cannot convince me that Nikitin is a better option than Fayne. I firmly believe the Oilers intended to showcase Nikitin even before Klefbom went down with an injury. Would not surprise me if we see Nikitin dealt by Christmas.
- One thing to note is the deployment and performance of young Jujhar Khaira. I don’t expect him to be a regular this season once Pouliot, Yak and McDavid are back. But he does have a good chance of making someone like Klinkhammer expendable. He played another game on Friday where he didn’t look out of place, and managed to keep up with core players in RNH and Eberle. The trio are out against the top lines, with Khaira picking up some much needed experience. I also like that the Oilers aren’t trying to force Khaira to play center and instead have started him on the wing to learn the NHL game first before becoming a potential pivot.
I Just Can’t Fayne Surprise – Oilers Nerd Alert
Edmonton’s Beating Heart – OilersNation