Game Day 69: Oilers at Flames

Four weeks and fourteen games remain in the Edmonton Oilers’ 2017-18 season, but it’s not too early to start writing its epitaph. How about this one?


Granted that’s just one alternative in a season that goaltending, defence, special teams, coaching and management have all come under fire, and with cause. But a strong case can be made to weave an ineffectual group of wingers into the mix, indeed to interweave them into some of the other issues, notably the management that constructed this roster.

Consider the group that took to the ice Saturday night as the Oilers wrapped up a five-game home stand against Minnesota Wild. The top six in that game featured three natural wingers who have combined to score ONE goal since Christmas, and a converted centre playing his first-ever game on the flanks. Welcome to the Connor and Leon Show, ladies and gentlemen. Hope you fellows are prepared to score some goals!

Connor McDavid (2) and Leon Draisaitl (1) did just that one Saturday, while the converted centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chipped in with an empty netter and an earlier assist as the Oilers did indeed roll to a 4-1 win over the Wild. But those other top six wingers — Milan Lucic, Mike Cammalleri, Pontus Aberg — added as much spark to the offence as a Zippo lighter. A combined 0-0-0 from those three, even on a night when their cumulative linemates lit the lamp four times. Fortunately, enough of the other parts came together — the goaltending, defensive play, special teams, and offensive production from the centres — for the Oilers to roll to a solid win. This time.

But that black hole on the wings has been an ongoing problem, one that arguably dates back to last summer when the Oilers parted company with a handful of experienced wingers and replaced them with precious little.

This is especially true when considering natural wingers. It must be stated that most nights Todd McLellan dresses at least five qualified centres and deploys at least one of them on the wings. Usually, whoever is the guy playing out of position — Draisaitl, Nuge, Ryan Strome, Jujhar Khaira — is more likely to score than any of the dudes whose full-time job is on the flanks.

I could throw a stack of statistics at you, but for …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Business


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Lack of lift from their wings has grounded Edmonton Oilers on the attack this season

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