Drivers and anchors on the penalty kill

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In case you missed it, I recently dug into the Oilers recent powerplay success as well as their penalty killing failures.

Aside from seeing the powerplay shot generation and penalty kill shot suppression rates increase, oddly resembling one another, the other takeaway were the poor numbers being posted by defencemen Kris Russell when the team has been shorthanded this season. The team has allowed a team-worst 11.66 goals against per hour (GA/60) and 59.38 shots against per hour (SA/60) on the penalty kill with Russell on the ice.

Listed below are all of the Oilers defencemen who have played at least 15 minutes on the penalty kill this season, sorted by the rate of goals against per hour. Included is the time on ice (TOI), as well as the TOI%, which calculates the players proportion of the team’s total time on the penalty kill (328 minutes).

Player GP TOI TOI/GP TOI% SA/60 GA/60
Gravel 35 55.77 1.59 17.0% 53.80 5.38
Klefbom 44 83.10 1.89 25.3% 51.99 6.50
Larsson 65 137.75 2.12 42.0% 49.22 7.84
Jones 17 19.07 1.12 5.8% 47.20 9.44
Benning 53 67.45 1.27 20.6% 42.70 9.79
Nurse 65 133.20 2.05 40.6% 56.31 10.36
Garrison 17 16.87 0.99 5.1% 28.46 10.67
Russell 55 113.17 2.06 34.5% 59.38 11.66

Note that after 65 games, the Oilers are allowing 8.96 goals against per hour (29th in the league) on the penalty kill, and 51.95 shots against per hour (17th in the league). The league average rate of goals against per hour and shots against per hour this season is 7.16 and 52.0, respectively. As I wrote in my previous article, the Oilers rate of shots against has steadily increased over the course of the season, with the Oilers posting a shots against per hour rate of more than 60.0 over their last 20 games (red line in the graph below). That’s well over the league average rate and deserving of some attention.

Oilers - Special Teams - Shots per 60

Aside from Russell’s struggles, it’s worth looking into which other defencemen are impacting the team’s penalty kill numbers – both positively and negatively. To do this, I broke the season up into three segments: the first 31 games when Klefbom was in the line-up, the next 21 games with Klefbom out (and Russell only available for 10 games), and the next 13 games with Klefbom and Russell back. Losing both defencemen forced the team to change-up the powerplay and penalty kill combinations, giving us a little more insight into how the other defencemen did with more or less ice time.

2018/19 Season Games Team TOI SA/60 GA/60
Klefbom and Russell healthy 31 159.20 48.62 8.29
Klefbom injured, Russell healthy for 10 21 111.40 51.17 9.69
Klefbom  and Russell healthy again 13 57.38 62.74 9.41

Segment 1: Klefbom and Russell healthy (31 games)

In the first segment of 31 games, the Oilers did a pretty good job on the penalty kill limiting shots against (48.62 per hour, 13th in the league), but unfortunately their goaltending was one of the league’s worst, posting a team save percentage of 82.95 (24th in the league). It’s a trend that’s continued from last season when the team would go on decent stretches limiting shots and chances, but couldn’t get consistent goaltending.

Below are the Oilers defencemen who played on the penalty kill  in this first segment (sorted by TOI%), including their on-ice rate of shots against and goals against.

Player GP TOI TOI/GP TOI% SA/60 GA/60
Larsson 31 66.32 2.14 41.7% 48.86 6.33
Nurse 31 65.28 2.11 41.0% 56.06 9.19
Russell 31 65.27 2.11 41.0% 52.40 11.95
Klefbom 31 59.72 1.93 37.5% 44.21 5.02
Benning 26 30.50 1.17 19.2% 41.31 9.84
Gravel 16 20.28 1.27 12.7% 50.29 5.92
Garrison 12 10.22 0.85 6.4% 23.49 11.75

The team had the most success on the penalty kill when Klefbom was on the ice. Not only did the team have its lowest rate of goals against when he was deployed (5.02 GA/60), but the shots against were also low (44.21 SA/60). The other notable player here was Benning, who was fifth in TOI% and posted an on-ice rate of shots against of 41.31, the second lowest among defencemen. Russell and Nurse were on the other end of the spectrum with the team allowing their highest rate of shots against with them on the ice. Thankfully the play of Larsson, as well as the depth players like Gravel and Garrison, offset some of the team’s deficiencies on the penalty kill.

Segment 2: Klefbom injured, Russell healthy for 11 (21 games)

When Klefbom and Russell were injured against the Avalanche on December 11th, the team had to make adjustments to their penalty kill. Over the next 21 games, the coaching staff rightfully increased Benning’s proportion of the Oilers penalty kill ice time from 19.2% in the first segment up to 27.3%. And Gravel saw his proportion of ice time increase from 12.7% to 25.2%. Also seeing ice time in this second segment was young Caleb Jones, who played just under 20 minutes and posted respectable on-ice shot-rate numbers.

Player GP TOI TOI/GP TOI% SA/60 GA/60
Larsson 21 49.08 2.34 44.1% 41.56 7.33
Nurse 21 48.30 2.30 43.4% 52.17 13.66
Benning 18 30.38 1.69 27.3% 45.42 9.87
Gravel 14 28.07 2.00 25.2% 49.17 4.28
Russell 11 24.48 2.23 22.0% 78.42 14.7
Jones 17 19.07 1.12 17.1% 47.20 9.44
Manning 10 11.48 1.15 10.3% 62.70 10.45
Garrison 5 6.65 1.33 6.0% 36.09 9.02
Petrovic 6 5.28 0.88 4.7% 56.78 0.00

Over those 21 games, the team’s penalty kill did see their rate of shots against increase slightly from 48.62 per hour to 51.17 – but this increased rate was still right around the league average of 52.0. The actual rate of goals against remained the same due to poor goaltending, but the skaters were doing their job of limiting the shots getting on net. Key drivers for their relative success limiting shots in this second segment was the play of Benning and Gravel, both of which posted good numbers in their limited minutes over the first 31 game segment. Worth noting that Benning has a history of success on the penalty kill, dating back to the last two seasons.

What might get overlooked is the fact that even when his proportion of ice time was reduced, Russell continued to struggle on the penalty kill, with the team allowing 78.42 shots against per hour with him on the ice. Nurse’s on-ice number’s actually improved, likely due to playing half of his minutes with Benning and spending less time with Russell who was his primary partner in the first 31 games of the season. Manning and Petrovic also struggled and have since fallen down the depth chart.

Segment 3: Klefbom  and Russell healthy again (13 games)

In the recent 13 games with Klefbom back from injury, and Russell playing in every game, the Oilers penalty kill has actually been getting worse. As mentioned above, the team is allowing over 62 shots against per hour, one of the league’s worst, and it’s a little unclear as to what the exact problem might be. Below are the defencemen’s on-ice numbers over the last 13 games, sorted by TOI%.

Player GP TOI TOI/GP TOI% SA/60 GA/60
Russell 13 23.42 1.80 40.8% 58.93 7.69
Klefbom 13 23.38 1.80 40.7% 71.85 10.26
Larsson 13 22.35 1.72 38.9% 67.11 13.42
Nurse 13 19.62 1.51 34.2% 67.29 6.12
Sekera 7 8.05 1.15 14.0% 29.81 14.91
Gravel 5 7.42 1.48 12.9% 80.9 8.09
Benning 9 6.57 0.73 11.4% 36.55 9.14

Despite all of the evidence from the previous 52 games, the coaching staff increased Russell’s ice time on the penalty kill, where he leads the team in total proportion of ice time over the last 13 games. His results have improved from the previous segment, down from 78.42 shots against per hour to 58.93, but we are dealing with a small sample size and can probably expect his numbers to regress towards his career numbers. What’s also interesting is that Russell’s primary partner is Nurse again, as he’s played 19 of his 23 minutes with him. That again goes against the evidence we uncovered in over the previous 52 games when Nurse was doing much better playing alongside Benning (who along with Gravel saw his proportion of ice time drastically reduced).

The other issue has been Klefbom’s play on the penalty kill since his return and his on-ice rate of shots against. Considering how well he was playing prior to his injury (in the first 31 games), and even dating back to last season, it’s surprising to see his on-ice rate of shots against climb up to 71.85. My guess is that we’ll see his numbers regress towards his career averages over the remaining 17 games, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye on. He’s looked fine in every other situation – especially on the powerplay where the team has excelled since his return – so hopefully it’s not a lingering injury issue.

My sense is that the Oilers are fine to continue playing Klefbom on the penalty kill with Larsson, as his numbers should improve as he has had success this season. But the team should also be looking into getting Benning and Gravel more ice time, either together or have Benning with Nurse or Sekera. Benning has posted good on-ice numbers on the penalty kill all season, and it’d be in the Oilers best interest to do whatever they can to reduce the shots against considering how poor the goaltending has been.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

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Special Teams Link

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One area of the club that has be driving the Oilers coaching staff crazy is the special teams.

While the powerplay has been solid, generating shots and ranking 9th in the league scoring 8.10 goals per hour, the penalty kill has been the complete opposite. The Oilers rank 29th in the league allowing 8.96 goals against per hour when shorthanded, and have gradually been allowing more and more shots and chances against over the course of the season – more on that in a second.

Simply put, any production from the powerplay has pretty much been off-set by the dreadful penalty kill. The Oilers have scored 40 goals on the powerplay, but allowed 49 on the penalty kill. The biggest problem has been the Oilers goaltending in penalty kill situations, which ranks dead last in the league with an 82.75% save percentage. Had the Oilers received league average goaltending in penalty kill situations (currently 86.07%), the team would have allowed nine fewer goals and would be slightly higher in the wild card standings.

Oilers - Special Teams - Cumulative Goals

Digging into things a bit, I found the shot-metrics for the powerplay and penalty kill interesting, as they’re both trending in very similar directions. Below are the rolling 20 game segments for the special team units – shots-for per hour for the powerplay and shots-against per hour for the penalty kill. Note that the league average rate for shots-for and against this season is 52.0.

Oilers - Special Teams - Shots per 60

Looking first at the rate of shots-for on the powerplay (blue line), you can see how the team started off well but took a hit when Klefbom was hurt in game 31 against the Avalanche in mid December. The Oiler’s low-point came in those first 20 games without Klefbom (generating just under 39 shots per hour), but unsurprisingly improved once Klefbom returned in game 53 against the Blackhawks in early February, with the team generating 64.4 shots per hour since his return. Any team would have an issue replacing Klefbom’s skill-set on a powerplay with four forwards and one defenceman, but the Oilers especially struggled trying to replace his minutes with guys like Nurse and Benning.

What’s especially interesting in the graph above is the rate of shots against on the penalty kill and how it closely mirrors the rate of shots-for on the powerplay. While we can attribute the improved powerplay shots-for rate to Klefbom’s return, I’m not entirely sure what could have caused the spike of shots against shorthanded and why it’s so aligned with the powerplay shots-for numbers. Definitely something worth asking the coaching staff about.

One thing I’d look into is potentially scaling back Kris Russell’s minutes on the penalty kill. Over the last 20 games where the team has been allowing a rate of 60.7 shots against per hour and a goals against rate of 10.41 – both of which being one of the league’s highest – Russell has seen his total ice time (44:37) and ice time per game (2:22) gradually increase on the penalty kill, currently leading all defencemen. In the 20 games prior when the team was doing well on the penalty kill, allowing 50.7 shots against per hour and 7.1 goals against per hour, Russell had missed 10 games due to injury and only played about 14 minutes on the penalty kill (averaging under one and a half minutes per game). In those limited minutes, Russell was extremely poor, posting an on-ice shots against rate of 77.23 (!) and a goals against rate of 12.87 – both rates being the team’s worst among defencemen on the penalty kill.

Oilers Dec. 1, 2018 to Jan. 12, 2019 Jan. 13, 2019 to Mar. 2, 2019
Player GP TOI TOI/GP SA/60 GA/60 GP TOI TOI/GP SA/60 GA/60
Larsson 20 44.25 2.21 50.17 6.78 20 40.77 2.04 50.04 10.30
Manning 3 1.25 0.42 0.00 0.00 9 12.58 1.40 76.29 9.54
Jones 13 10.47 0.81 63.06 11.46 4 8.60 2.15 27.91 6.98
Nurse 20 39.32 1.97 48.83 10.68 20 39.10 1.96 69.05 10.74
Garrison 5 6.65 1.33 36.09 9.02 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Gravel 18 31.60 1.76 53.16 1.90 7 12.52 1.79 62.32 9.59
Russell 10 13.98 1.40 77.23 12.87 20 44.37 2.22 68.97 10.82
Benning 17 25.67 1.51 39.74 7.01 16 16.08 1.01 52.23 11.19
Klefbom 6 8.80 1.47 47.73 0.00 13 23.38 1.80 71.85 10.26
Sekera 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 7 8.05 1.15 29.81 14.91

I wouldn’t say Russell’s the sole reason for the penalty kill gradually getting worse, but he’s one of the factors that the team should probably address. Considering how many goals (and wins) their penalty kill has cost them, it’d be imperative for the Oilers coaching staff to critically examine their tactics and player deployment, and make the necessary changes.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

CBC Edmonton News (TV): Loss against the Leafs, trade deadline re-cap and the penalty kill

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Alicia Asquith on the CBC Edmonton News for my weekly television segment to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 19:15 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2019, February 28)

Topics we covered:

  • Wednesday night’s loss against the Leafs on national television. Good reminder of how far the Oilers are from being a competitive team and becoming a legitimate contender. The Oilers could not match up with the Leafs skill and depth. And if there’s anything the Oilers can learn from Toronto, it’s the long-term vision and strategic planning that needs to happen before a general manager is even hired.
  • The Oilers penalty kill, which remains as one of the league’s worst. After 64 games, the Oilers rank 28th in the league at 4v5, allowing 8.15 goals against per hour. In their last 25 games, the Oilers have allowed 9.44 goals against per hour. What’s especially alarming is the increase in the rate of unblocked shot attempts (i.e., Fenwick) against over the course of the season (Data: Natural Stat Trick). Note, the red line indicates the league-wide average of 70.5 Fenwick against per hour.

Oilers - 4v5 - Fenwick - 25

  • Early on in the season, the team was allowing one of the lowest rates of Fenwick against on the penalty kill in the league, but unfortunately their goaltending had been dreadful. The team has seen a gradual increase in Fenwick, and are now one of the league’s worst at preventing unblocked shot attempts – something that the coaching staff needs to address considering the penalty kill is bleeding goals and  off-setting the goal production from the team’s powerplay (currently generating 8.2 goals-for per hour, 8th best in the league). Considering Hitchcock’s previous success with penalty kills, I was expecting a lot better.
  • We also touched on the Oilers passive approach to the deadline, and the importance of leveraging opportunities like the trade deadline and the upcoming draft to get things on track. Asset management and finding efficiencies in the cap (i.e., value deals) are critical, and the Oilers have got to be better at this, and far more aggressive and ruthless, if they want to win championships.
  • With playoff hopes dwindling – Moneypuck had the Oilers at a 1% chance of getting in to the playoffs – we discussed what the Oilers should hope to accomplish over their remaining 19 games. It’ll be important to give Koskinen lots of starts to get a sense of what they have, and give ample ice time to the younger forwards who have contracts with the Oilers next season. The off-season should be busy for the Oilers, so they need as much intel on their own players to make well-informed decisions. Hopefully the Oilers are gathering more information on every other roster as well, and getting a better understanding of what the market will be like – pretty much for every position – this summer.

Big thank you to everyone at CBC for putting it all together. 😉

 

Trending Upwards

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The Oilers have been an absolute disaster over their last 10 games, winning only twice and getting outscored 21-13 at even-strength (the second lowest goal-share in the league with 38.24%). For a team desperate to make the playoffs, the results have not been there, likely making them sellers at the trade deadline.

What’s interesting is that even though the results haven’t been there, the team is playing considerably better than they were earlier in the season. And it’s reflected in their various shot-share metrics at even-strength (5v5).

Corsi For% 50.77%
Fenwick For% 51.33%
Shots For% 50.36%
Scoring Chances For% 53.38%
High Danger Scoring Chances For% 47.87%

The Oilers for the most part have been a poor shot-share team this season, taking a significant drop since Hitchcock replaced McLellan as head coach, so seeing their numbers above 50% is a positive sign.

One of the main drivers for this has been the return of Klefbom to the line-up. He’s only been back for eight games, but he’s already leading the team in average ice time per game at even-strength. Klefbom is also posting some outstanding on-ice numbers since his return to the line-up, leading all the Oilers regular defencemen when it comes to shot-share metrics: 55.69% Corsi For%, 57.30% Fenwick For%. His return also means a slight decrease in ice time for Nurse and Russell, both of which have struggled this season when it comes to on-ice shot differential at even-strength.

Another factor in these improved on-ice shot shares is the Oilers performance with and without McDavid on the ice over their last 10 games. As you may recall, the entire team, including McDavid of all people, saw their numbers take a significant hit since Hitchcock arrived.

Last 10 Games (5v5) CF% FF% SF% SCF% HDCF%
With McDavid 54.17 52.58 51.24 60.27 48.33
Without McDavid 49.02 50.63 49.84 49.72 47.44

What’s worth noting is that while the Oilers overall shot-share numbers have improved, it’s largely driven by their declining rate of shots against. The team is still struggling mightily to generate offence.

Below is a graph displaying the Oilers rate of unblocked shot attempts (i.e., Fenwick, a proxy for scoring chances) for and against, broken out into rolling 10-game segments. I’ve included a black line to represent the league-wide average rate of unblocked shot attempts.

20190222 - Rolling Fenwick Rates - 10

While it’s encouraging to see the rate of unblocked shot attempts against gradually decrease at even-strength, the team continues to fall below the league average when it comes to generating offence. We’re definitely seeing an uptick as we might have expected with Klefbom returning to the line-up, but it remains obvious that the team lacks the talent and depth to compete in the modern NHL. It’s also worth reiterating that the upcoming trade deadline is not the time to find a solution for this significant problem. Better deals can be had in the summer and at the draft, so it’s wiser to acquire picks and prospects for now that can be converted into other, more impactful assets down the road.

Quick note about the special teams: The Oilers powerplay continues to produce, ranking 9th in the league with 8.08 goals per hour. What’s especially encouraging is that they’ve seen an uptick in their rate of unblocked shot attempts for. Over the full season, they rank 18th in the league with 69.43 Fenwicks per hour. However over their last 10 games, they’ve been generating 83.83 Fenwicks per hour. Maintain that level, and we can expect the Oilers to finish the season as one of the top powerplays in the league.

Penalty kill has been a different story. The Oilers are third worst in the league, allowing 8.95 goals against per hour. What’s troubling is that they’re allowing more and more unblocked shot attempts against. Over the season, they’ve been alright ranking 9th in the league with 67.15 Fenwicks against per hour. However in their last 10, they’ve allowed 81.34 per hour – one of the worst in the league.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Appendix:

  • Corsi For% (CF%) – The proportion of all the shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the Oilers generated (i.e., Corsi For/(Corsi For + Corsi Against). This is used as a proxy for possession and can predict a team’s future share of goals.
  • Fenwick For% (FF%) – The proportion of all the unblocked shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the Oilers generated (i.e., Fenwick For/(Fenwick For + Fenwick Against). This is used as a proxy for shot quality and considers shot blocking a repeatable skill. It can also predict a team’s future share of goals, slightly better than Corsi.
  • Shots For% (SF%) – The proportion of all the shots on goal that the team generated and allowed that the Oilers generated (i.e., Shots For/(Shots For + Shots Against).
  • Scoring Chances For% (SCF%) – The proportion of all the scoring chances (as defined by Natural Stat Trick) that the team generated and allowed that the Oilers generated (i.e., Scoring Chances For/(Scoring Chances For + Scoring Chances Against),
  • High Danger Scoring Chances For% (HDCF%) – The proportion of all the high danger scoring chances (as defined by Natural Stat Trick) that the team generated and allowed that the Oilers generated (i.e., High Danger Scoring Chances For/(High Danger Scoring Chances For + High Danger Scoring Chances Against),

CBC Edmonton News (TV): The Oilers GM search and the upcoming trade deadline + radio spot

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Tanara McLean on the CBC Edmonton News for my weekly television segment to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 16:40 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2019, February 21)

Topics we covered:

  • The Oilers last 10 games and the areas that they’re starting to improve on.
  • The general manager search, and what type of leadership the Oilers need in the front office. Touched on a few things from my recent article. 
  • The recent acquisition of Sam Gagner and some of the benefits he brings to the roster.
  • The upcoming trade deadline, and why the Oilers need to be acquiring assets for next season.
  • Upcoming games against New York and Anaheim, and what to expect from each club.

I also joined host Tara McCarthy on CBC Radio Active to talk all things Oilers. Full segment is here: CBC Radio Active (2019, February 21)

 

Strategic planning

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In case you missed it, CBC Radio’s Mark Connolly had a great interview with Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson on Edmonton AM. A lot of topics were covered,  including the Oilers’ current state and the general manager search, making it well worth a listen: CBC Edmonton AM (2019, February 19)

Mark was kind enough to ask Nicholson a question I had sent in:

Below was Nicholson’s response:

Yeah, definitely. You know, you look back four years ago in the analytics side, we were using it a lot. I think when Peter came in there was a decision to use it but not as much. But it’s certainly something that we’ll be going over again with our search with the general manager. How we’ll use analytics in a decision making process for making trades or doing our drafts.

A couple things.

It’s been fairly obvious that the Edmonton Oilers hadn’t been making evidence-based decisions during Peter Chiarelli’s tenure as general manager. The team made countless moves that either downgraded the talent on the roster or created salary cap problems – sometimes a transaction would even do both. Had the Oilers relied on even the simplest pieces of publicly available information, a lot of the mistakes that have lead them to where they currently are could have been avoided. Make no mistake, this was completely preventable had management been willing to think critically, digging deeper into the on-ice product and if Nicholson was properly evaluating the transactions being made by Chiarelli and the management group.

All of this has been well documented on this blog and elsewhere.

For example, if the Oilers knew and understood the on-ice impact of Taylor Hall and his true value to the team, they may have held on to him or asked for more in a trade return. Had the Oilers looked at player aging-curves, they might have avoided signing Milan Lucic to a heavy, long-term contract. If they knew about Jordan Eberle’s on-ice shot-share numbers and concepts like statistical variance (i.e., PDO), they may have waited for his value to improve or just held on to him. Or if they were paying attention to the Oilers goal-share and shot-share with and without Connor McDavid early in the 2016/17 season, they might have recognized their eroding talent early on and did something about it. If they relied on simple shot-share metrics and avoided using only goal-metrics to predict future results, so much damage to the roster and salary cap problems could have been avoided.

With so much money and assets involved, and the importance of finding roster efficiencies, it’s baffling that the Oilers would make a decision early in Chiarelli’s managerial reign to use less information (i.e., analytics, sports science, etc) to inform their decision-making process. Building and managing an NHL roster involves so much risk – so many short-term and long-term implications – it would behoove any executive to implement sound, mitigation strategies.

I also found it odd that the Oilers left it to the previous general manager to determine how much information would be involved with the decision-making processes for roster construction and salary cap management. And it appears they’ll be relying on the new general manager to determine how much information is involved going forward.

If there is one lesson to takeaway from the Oilers previous management regime, it should be that information (including analytics, sports science, etc) and evidence-based decision-making should be a core part of the Oilers larger organizational strategy. When it comes to evaluating talent, the roster and the team’s salary cap, the team needs to use as much relevant information as possible and build a front office that supports the process. It should be something that has the support from the owner and is implemented by the CEO so that every corner of the organization – from the general manager’s office to the scouting staff to the rest of the hockey operations – is aligned and supports one another.

There should only be one end goal of winning a championship – and it’s really up to the CEO, whose job it is to maximize the value of an entity, to develop a strategy that will help the Edmonton Oilers achieve that goal.

Related articles:

CBC Edmonton News (TV): Loss to Pittsburgh, progress in Bakersfield and approaching the trade deadline

cbc edmonton logoI joined host Alicia Asquith on the CBC Edmonton News for my weekly segment to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 16:00 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2019, February 14)

Topics we covered:

  • The loss against the Penguins and where the Oilers actually did well.
  • The Oilers current goaltending situation, which was driven by the Oilers hockey operations’ lack of foresight.
  • The success Bakersfield is having right now, the young prospects getting ice time and what impact they could have for the big club in a few years.
  • The upcoming trade deadline and how, because of their current state, they should be working to shed salary and recouping the skill and assets they’ve lost over the last few seasons.
  • Upcoming games against Carolina and Long Island, and what to expect against a couple of good teams on back-to-back nights.