Game 3 Wrap Up: Cause For Some Alarm
Last night Zack Kassian did not play in the game due to celebrating the birth of his second daughter Olivia. In honour of this fact, the rest of the Oilers decided to also not play in last nights game.
Two of the three games so far this season Edmonton has been completely outworked by their opponent. Is it time to write off the season? Absolutely not. Is it reasonable to be concerned and shake things up? Absolutely.
Final Score: 5-1 Montreal, let's break it down.
- The Kahun, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto line continues to be the Oilers best line at both ends of the ice. The trio actually outchanced the Canadiens when they were on the ice and did not allow a single 5 on 5 goal.
- The numbers actually favor Edmonton far more than I expected in that game. Scoring chances favored the Oilers 21-7 in the second and 6-3 in the third. It was the first period where the Oilers were caved in 6-14 by the Canadiens.
- Kailer Yamamoto has been the Oilers most consistent forward through 3 games. The small forward has been active in all areas of the ice and has been shooting at a a far better clip already than he was last season.
- Devin Shore had a good first game as the fourth line centre, going 71% in the circle. This was the first game the fourth line went positive in scoring chances. I would keep them together another game.
- Slater Koekkoek was rewarded for his hard work by scoring his first goal as an Edmonton Oiler. He has been the nicest surprise so far for the Oilers.
- More on this in a bit but the RNH-McDavid-Puljujarvi line got a brief look together and were sharp, creating chances.
- The third line was a mess last night. Puljujarvi again skated miles and had a couple good looks but Turris has looked out of place. Somehow this line needs to get going.
- The defense let Edmonton down the most last night. Darnell Nurse was directly responsible for the second goal, jumping up to blow up a player which left Montreal on a 3-1. Caleb Jones couldn't hold the line on the 5th goal allowing Tatar to break free. These are a couple examples but as a whole the D was not ready to play.
- The Tatar line was the best line all night but as a whole the Canadiens just flat out outworked Edmonton in all puck battles. The shots ended up being close but it was the periods of long sustained pressure which led to all the goals against.
- Mikko Koskinen was not great and he didn't let in too many softies but his rebound control was poor and while Price robbed a few Oilers players, Koskinen did not.
Again this is a very small sample size but getting outworked that hard in two of your first three games is not a recipe for success. The top two lines are doing exactly what they should be; creating scoring chances and generally controlling play when they are on the ice. The big issues are as followed:
1.) The defense is getting outworked and is not finding ways to create outlet passes to break out their forwards.
2.) The third line is allowing far more chances against than creating
Today is a mandatory day off which is a shame because you can bet Tippett wants to get his guys out there doing battle drills until they puke. Tomorrow Edmonton is back at it against the Canadiens and hopefully we will see a rebound similar to that which they did against Vancouver. Going 2-2 after the first 4 games is fine. 1-3... less so.
It sounds like there will be some shakeups so I will give my best shot at how I would proceed. Here is a shuffled lineup for your thoughts.
Puljujarvi has been firing on all cylinders and I think it is already time to put him up in the lineup where he can be a trigger man for McDavid. Until Turris can get his feet moving and create some chances, the bottom six as a whole may need to adapt a bit more of a defensive game.
Caleb Jones is trying to do too much right now and the Larsson Jones pairing is simply not working. I would sit Jones for a game and hopefully push the reset button on him. Larsson also has not brought much to the table yet and Tippett should scratch him early to send a message.
This also gives Evan Bouchard a chance to get into some game action and potentially give the Oilers a much needed new look on defence. One way or the other I expect a shuffle prior to Monday's game.
DELL ON WAIVERS
The easiest decision Holland will ever make in his career as a General Manager would be to put a claim in for Aaron Dell. It was announced today that Dell was placed on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs, a move which was not seen favorably by the fanbase.
Dell is not going to be a savior but he is a legitimate NHL goaltender. Last season with a poor Sharks team he played in 33 games with a 0.907 SV%. He isn't a world beater but he could be an excellent backup to give Koskinen a break. I would argue Dell is not only the best option now, but he is still an upgrade on a healthy Mike Smith.
If Edmonton claims Dell, he could simply join the team ahead of their road trip to Toronto and would not have to quarantine either. It's a no brainer and the only thing preventing it would be a team like the Devils putting in a claim ahead of Edmonton.