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The trade was one for one. On June 29th, the New Jersey Devils seemed to commit highway robbery of the Edmonton Oilers when they traded Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall. On paper, it was a fourth-overall pick bust for a number-one pick that was under appreciated and unfairly criticized in the Canadian market. The Devils needed more scoring and they got a player that could post up over 65 points on a consistent basis. The Oilers needed a defenseman that can shut down the opposing opposition and could help them from giving up goals. Larsson wasn’t the Nick Lidstrom that some pundits projected him to be, but he was serviceable.

Hall was on a very team-friendly contract that had four years left on it. While Larsson had five years left on his deal. Well it is four years later and Hall’s contact is up after this season. The story surrounding the Devils is what they are going to do with Hall. Could they re-sign him and make him the next captain and cement him in Devils lore? Or would they come out of the gate slow and be forced to move him?

St. Louis Blues Pros And Cons From Game 32 At

We all know the situation the Devils are in. It is the latter and it is worse than we thought. The Devils came down to Earth harder than thought possible. Now the writing is on the wall and Hall will most certainly be moved. The rumblings being it will be sooner rather than later.

At the end of Hall’s tenure with the Devils, the question of who actually won the trade needs to be asked. Yes, Hall did have a career year by winning the Hart Trophy in his second year with the Devils, but one good year of Taylor Hall and one playoff win was not what Ray Shero had planned. So the deal has to be looked at with what the Devils may get for Hall. As it stands, Hall has 208 points in 210 games played with the Devils. He will seem to finish his black and red career as a point per game player while being a talent the Devils could do nothing with.

People can blame Shero for holding on to John Hynes for too long, but Hall has admitted before, without Hynes, Hall would not have had his record year. Hall did miss a good chunk of time with an injury in 2018-19, but without a solid goaltender that team was not going anywhere even with a healthy Hall.

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New Jersey Devils Are The Most Disappointing Team In Sports
Speaking of an injury prone tenure, Larsson still has one more year left on his contract with the Oilers. He missed a good portion to the start of this season due to a broken ankle suffered while blocking a shot. In 2017-18 he also missed nearly 20 games due to an injury. While Larsson has never scored more than twenty points in a season with the Oilers, he has been dependable on the defensive side of the puck. Currently wearing an ‘A’, he seems to be in the future plans of the Oilers with Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, and Ethan Bear. That is a formidable top four to have if Bear can keep up his play and even take another step. With Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard in the pipeline, the Oilers blueline is set for a few years to come. With the team currently in first place in the Pacific Division, Larsson won’t be going anywhere.

With the Oilers only making the playoffs once in Larsson’s tenure, this year could decide who won the trade. With Conor McDavid and Leon Draisatl, the Oilers should be taken as Stanley Cup contenders, IF and only if they can keep the pace of play up and not collapse. They could even possibly trade for Hall, but it is not likely due to the price Shero has set for his former MVP. All signs point to the Colorado Avalanche. To decide who won the original Taylor Hall trade, you have to take into consideration what the second Hall trade will bring in. If the Oilers make the playoffs this season or next with Larsson and get out of the first round while the Devils get an underwhelming return and won’t compete for a few more years, the Oilers would have actually won the original deal.

The Devils do not seem like they are in the mood to compete this season and ironically without a better defense and goaltending, they won’t for a while. The Oilers have Larsson and a core already there. There may be one or two players currently on the team for the Devils that can be considered in their future plans. It is sad that this is the way that Hall’s tenure is ending in New Jersey. It should not have gone like this, but it is the case. However if Hall can be dealt for a bonafide prospect like Bowen Byram, then it can be considered a push deal.

NEXT: 5 Possible Replacements For John Hynes
So in the end there are three ways that the one for one trade can be judged. Player success, team success and team future. For the player success it is an absolute no brainer. Hall won the MVP and was a point per game player. Larsson while being serviceable did not have near an impact as Hall. Team success wise, it was a push until this season. Edmonton seems to be on pace to make the playoffs this year while the Devils look for the number one overall pick, again. Much like the Oilers were in the early 2010s. Both teams made the playoffs once with both players so far, but if the Oilers can do damage this season, that edge goes to them.

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So the tie breaker is what the future holds for both teams. It depends on what the Devils get for Hall in the upcoming trade and what happens with their potential lottery pick. Dealing Hall will make the team worse and #TankForLaff will be on. But even with a Cole Perfetti the Devils will be better off. If the Devils lose the lottery and get an underwhelming return, the Oilers get the edge. They have McDavid and Draisatl. The Devils have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Neither have the potential of those two, but are solid building blocks. It all comes down to Ray Shero and what he can get for Hall. But right now, as it stands, the Oilers should get a little more love for this deal. Because, they as it seems, have won the original Hall trade.

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Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves as the Edmonton Oilers held on for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings Friday night at Rogers Place.

Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored on the power play when his cross-ice pass deflected in off Kings defenceman Drew Doughty’s skate.

“It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day, nobody is going to ask if it’s pretty or not,” Draisaitl said after the game.

“It’s two points for us and that’s really all that matters.”

LISTEN BELOW: Oilers coach Dave Tippett speaks after Edmonton’s 2-1 win over Los Angeles

The Kings celebrated a rebound goal by Blake Lizotte a few minutes later, but the Oilers successfully challenged the play for offside and kept their lead.


“I watched it on the bench. It was close, but we felt confident about it,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said of the decision to challenge the play.

“[Assistant coach Glen Gulutzan] says to me he thinks we should challenge it. I have a look at it and I’ll take his recommendation,” Tippett said, adding the initial suggestion came from Oilers video coach Jeremy Coupal.
“I knew it was close,” Lizotte said. “When you drag your foot, you’re not sure where the line is exactly.

“I knew it was going to be close. Even when I scored, I thought, ‘OK, they’re going to review it.’ Sure enough, it was a centimetre or two. It was real close.”

The Oilers had another power play later in the first period. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid set up Alex Chiasson for a tap-in to make it 2-0.

“That’s been the story lately, so we’ve got to figure it out how not to fall behind,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “Essentially, you get the first goal and play with the lead (and) it’s a lot more fun.

“It’s way better. And we’re going to have to figure it out.”

READ MORE: Senators win over Oilers again in Edmonton

The Kings’ Austin Wagner had two point-blank chances in the final six minutes of the second period, but both times he was turned away by Koskinen.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers Patrick Russell still searching for first NHL goal


Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick kept the Kings within two with big saves on Draisaitl and James Neal in the third.

“If you look at our five-on-five game tonight, we were probably the better team — creating more chances — but the game consists of the special teams, and special teams nowadays are a huge part of the games, and we lost it tonight,” Kopitar said of the Kings.

The Kings’ Michael Amadio finally solved Koskinen with 6:28 to go, sliding the puck in after a scramble in front.

The Kings pulled Quick with 1:45 to go. Koskinen made a final glove save on a goal-mouth deflection by Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter with five seconds left.

LISTEN BELOW: Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen speaks after backstopping Edmonton to a 2-1 over the Kings

“Usually that happens when they pull the goalie,” Koskinen said. “They get a little more pressure and shots to the net, but they didn’t get anything too dangerous, so I’m happy for the win.”


“We just said, ‘Let’s give Kosk a chance to redeem himself,’ because we’ve done the same for [Mike Smith] a couple times and actually got really good games out of him, so that’s what we were looking for tonight and Kosk came in and played a heck of a game for us,” Tippett said.
LISTEN BELOW: Oilers forward Alex Chiasson speaks after Edmonton’s Friday night win over the Kings

The Oilers (18-10-3) will host Buffalo Sunday night.

–With files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston

Edmonton Oilers power play comes through in win over Canucks
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Expect Oscar Klefbom to be a reliable fantasy starter the rest of the season. His 57 projected fantasy points puts him at #57 behind Ryan McDonagh and ahead of Shea Theodore. He has averaged 1.39 fantasy points in his past 93 games, which is more than our projected per game average. He is projected to average 1.21 fantasy points. His rank based on avg proj (#55) is better than his rank based on total fantasy points. He is overrated if you compare his ownership based rank with his projection rank. At 87%, he is the #34 most highly owned defenseman. Oscar Klefbom is expected to improve on this season-to-date’s #72 fantasy position rank.

#55 Brady Skjei (18% OWN) 59 FP, 1.18 per game 98 FP, 78 gp, 1.26 per game (#96)
#56 Ryan McDonagh (47% OWN) 57 FP, 1.12 per game 200 FP, 82 gp, 2.45 per game (#19)
#57 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 88 FP, 61 gp, 1.44 per game (#76)
#58 Shea Theodore (81% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 137 FP, 79 gp, 1.73 per game (#53)
#59 Oliver Ekman-Larsson (89% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 163 FP, 81 gp, 2.01 per game (#34)
These projections power SportsLine’s Computer Picks and Fantasy Data. But for contest winning DFS optimal lineups by top experts like Mike McClure visit SportsLine’s new Daily Fantasy Hub.

Oscar Klefbom is projected for 2.43 fantasy points in 2 games the rest of the week in week 11 which ranks him as the #54 projected defenseman for the week and a starter for most fantasy teams. This is projected to be a better than average week with more fantasy points per game than he is projected to average per game the rest of the season. He is ranked above Rasmus Ristolainen but behind Philippe Myers the rest of the week. Week 12 will be better based on projected rank (#36). He is projected for 4.46 fantasy points.

#52 Miro Heiskanen (97% OWN) 2.48 FP, 2 GP 1.32 FP
#53 Philippe Myers (22% OWN) 2.45 FP, 2 GP 1.28 FP
#54 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 2.43 FP, 2 GP 1.21 FP
#55 Rasmus Ristolainen (78% OWN) 2.4 FP, 2 GP 1.31 FP
#56 Brent Seabrook (14% OWN) 2.4 FP, 3 GP 0.84 FP
#34 Drew Doughty (97% OWN) 4.53 FP, 3 GP 1.74 FP
#35 Erik Gustafsson (82% OWN) 4.52 FP, 3 GP 1.59 FP
#36 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 4.46 FP, 4 GP 1.21 FP
#37 Ryan Murray (11% OWN) 4.4 FP, 4 GP 0.94 FP
#38 Adam Fox (75% OWN) 4.34 FP, 3 GP 1.46 FP
Oscar Klefbom Is a Better Value on DraftKings at $6K Than on FanDuel at $5.5 on 12/12
For each platform we calculate a position specific points per dollar and our projection says he is a better value on DraftKings than on FanDuel. He is projected for 12.7 FD points and is worth -$168 less than $5.5K on FD. On DK he is projected for 15.2 points and is worth +$100 more than $6K. Below are how he ranks based on projected fantasy points on both DFS platforms. Look for players with more FPs at lower salaries.

#12 Keith Yandle 12.9 FD Points $5600
#13 Ryan Ellis 12.8 FD Points $4700
#14 Oscar Klefbom 12.7 FD Points $5500
#15 Drew Doughty 12.2 FD Points $5700
#16 Kevin Shattenkirk 12 FD Points $5100
#7 Seth Jones 15.4 DK Points $5400
#8 Victor Hedman 15.4 DK Points $6100
#9 Oscar Klefbom 15.2 DK Points $6000
#10 Ryan Ellis 14.3 DK Points $5700
#11 Erik Karlsson 13.8 DK Points $5800
The tables below show projected stats (totals and averages) for the rest of the season and upcoming weeks. Also included are actual stats from the current and last season.

Rest of ’19-20 57 24.8 3.5 21.3 113 153
– Per Game (47 Proj) 1.21 0.53 0.07 0.45 2.40 3.23
12/9 to 12/15 (2 Games) 2.43 1.03 0.15 0.89 4.6 6.2
12/16 to 12/22 (3.9 Games) 4.5 1.98 0.28 1.70 9.2 12.9
’19-20 Season 41.5 18 2 16 78 101
– Per Game (32 GP) 1.30 0.56 0.06 0.50 2.44 3.16
’18-20 Seasons 130 46 7 39 245 203
– Per Game (93 GP) 1.39 0.49 0.08 0.42 2.63 2.18

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This in from Bob Stauffer of the Oilers, the team’s line-up against the Minnesota Wild:




Khaira -Sheahan-Archibald





My take
There’s no shortage of Edmonton Oilers players right now with plenty to prove right now.

Mike Smith. Since his huge game against Pittsburgh in early November, Smith has started seven games and won just two of them. His save percentage is .865. That’s not a save percentage that will keep you in the NHL for long.
James Neal. In his first 16 games of the year, Neal pounded 25 Grade A scoring chance shots on net and pumped in 11 goals. In his last 17 games, Neal has just 13 Grade A shots on net and just three goals. The Oilers power play is best when he’s out there so perhaps he can get back his touch on that unit. He’s got the hands and hockey IQ to do it, that’s for sure.
Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom has been riding a rollercoaster in terms of his defensive play this year. He tends to go through stretches where he gets beat on-on-one, and he’s in that phase right now. To start the year, Klefbom was leaking Grade A chances against at even strength, with 24 major mistakes on Grade chances in 11 games. He cut that to just 19 major mistakes in his next 11 games, a more acceptable rate against tough competition. But in his last 12 games, Klefbom has utterly crashed, making 32 such major mistakes at even strength. Not good. Not even close to good. Of course, all players will go into defensive slumps but it’s a killer with Klef simply because he’s so important to the Oilers. When he pulls out of this defensive slump — and he will pull out of it — expect the entire team to step up. One issue for him has been his revolving door of defensive partners, but he should have some comfort playing again with his old partner Adam Larsson, who has stepped up his own play in recent games.
The penalty kill gang of Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl had an off game against Carolina, but has been solid all year. The players need to be solid in this crucial next run of games. Edmonton also had 18 wins after 33 games last year, but fell off a cliff from mid-December to early January, essentially wiping out all the good they had done up until that point. If Edmonton’s PK gang is strong in the next month that is unlikely to happen again, at least if the team gets OK goaltending.
Joakim Nygard gets another chance with Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian, who are flying high right now. Nygard has the speed and skill to keep up, but does he have the confidence and the hockey IQ? I think this line has a chance for some real success, which would allow the Oilers to keep a second line with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Leon Draisaitl’s attacking, scoring and defensive play have fallen off. He’s staying out too long on shifts, desperate to make something happen. I’d like to see him simplify his game, play the centre spot on the second line and focus only on his own play in the defensive zone. If he gets the job done there and keeps his shifts to 50 seconds — two things he’s capable of doing — the offence will come. Does that make sense to you as well?
Caleb Jones is getting yet another cup of coffee in the NHL. He’s got everything he needs to make it as an NHLer, decent size, strong skils with the puck, and NHL-plus skating ability. Now he just needs to have the confidence, smarts and drive to actually play his “A” game at this level. It’s never an easy thing for a player to figure out his role in the NHL — just how much he should do and when he should back off and play it safe — but Jones got this equation right in his last game, and did so in many games last year. Can he put together a run of games where it all adds up? My bet is he can. But he, too, has something big to prove right now.
At the Cult
STAPLES: Franchise value of Oilers has gone up by $405 million since Katz took over team, Forbes reports

McCURDY: Player grades as Oilers lose to Hurricanes

McCURDY: Tippett scrambing for answers during rough patch

STAPLES: Caleb Jones up, Joel Persson down

STAPLES: Can these Oilers avoid the ugly collapse of 2018-19?

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This in from the Edmonton Oilers’ practice, news that Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are both on the ice and practicing with their regular lines. Jack Michaels of the Oilers reported this:





Jack Michaels

Practice lines—


3:13 AM – Dec 8, 2019
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My take
These are indeed glad tidings for the Oilers. This year Edmonton has four classes of forwards, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in a class of their own as arguably the NHL’s two best players, then Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being solid top line attackers, then James Neal being a brilliant power play guy but so-so even strength player, then everybody else, all of them looking OK on defence at even strength and especially on the penalty kill, but generally not providing much on the attack. So to have Kassian and RNH back is huge for this particular team.
At even strength, the team struggles to score, but that is especially the case when the top line of McDavid, Draisaitl and Kassian aren’t united. McDavid and Draisaitl have developed such immense on-ice chemistry that even someone like me — who has long advocated that they play on their own lines — has to admit that having them together is the right strategy for right now.
For his part, Kassian has been the perfect complementary player this year for McDavid and Draisaitl. He’s both a nasty police officer, who can go bad cop in a second if things turn ugly on the ice, and a skilled player, who has the strength and skill to cycle the puck well with Draisaitl.
RNH came into the year craving some chemistry of his own with a linemate or two. He’s yet to find that, though things have gone OK with James Neal and him. Neal is now out of this line-up, so perhaps he’s a bit banged up. If we hear more, we’ll update.
Sam Gagner and Jujhar Khaira were solid against the Kings with Draisaitl, mainly because Draisaitl and Khaira were so effective on a heavy, heavy forecheck. Gagner and RNH are both smart and skilled players. Perhaps they can make a few plays, while Khaira keeps up and adds an element of physical force and protection.
Oscar Klefbom was also not on the ice for practice, with Reid Wilkins of CHED speculating that both he and Neal were getting maintenance days.
Shocking stat of the day
P.S. After 31 games last year, the Oilers had 17 wins and 14 losses for 36 points, 87 goals for, 91 goals against. This year, Edmonton has 18 wins and 13 losses, 39 points, 93 goals for, 89 goals against. What went so wrong last year? Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom got knocked out with major injuries and the Oilers lacked defensive depth.

At the Cult
STAPLES: Player grades: Koskinen leads way in victory over Kings

McCURDY: Time for Oilers to take charge on home ice

McCURDY: Game 21-30 review — Oilers treading water at best

LEAVINS: Player grades from head-scratching loss to Senators

STAPLES: Oilers likely to be outbid on Taylor Hall, Friedman says

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This in from the Edmonton Oilers: “The Oilers have recalled defenceman Caleb Jones from the Condors while also assigning defenceman Joel Persson.”

My take
The Jones/Persson situation has become a head scratcher. I understood it when Joel Persson was first sent down to the AHL. He had struggled in Edmonton, looked like his confidence was iffy, if not shot, and needed a change of scenery, say one or two or three months in the AHL to adjust to the North American game. And he did well in Bakersfield, putting up five points in six games, +2 on goals plus-minus. In Edmonton, Jones struggled in the Top 4 with Oscar Klefbom, but he was at least as good as Persson had been and looked like he’d be fine on the third pairing. He was hanging in there on his nine-game stint. So why send down Jones and recall Persson, as the Oilers did on Dec. 4, just five days ago? I never really understood the thinking behind that change.
In his three games with Edmonton, Persson did OK-ish. In his first game back against Ottawa, the Cult’s Kurt Leavins gave Persson a five out of ten, noting, “One of the few bright spots on the night was that play of Persson which was calmer and more collected than prior to his demotion to Bakersfield a few weeks back. 2 shots and even in 16:17 of a 5-2 loss. Reasonable steps on the road back one would hope.” Against Los Angeles on Friday, I had him as a six out of ten: “Struggled early with the puck, making a giveaway leading to some L.A. o-zone time. He settled down and moved the puck with more alacrity in the second.” Against Buffalo on Sunday, Leavins gave him a five out of 10 grade, writing: “High-event effort. While the puck often headed in the right direction on his watch CF 14-8, 63%), when it didn’t…there were issues. He failed to box out his man in front on the 1-0. Fed Riley Sheahan for a very good chance early in the 2nd. Continues to struggle against the cycle, chased the play badly in the 2nd Period until finally taking a hooking minor that his teammates had to kill off. A 3rd Period giveaway.”
So Persson had three passing grades in a row. Why change your mind on him and on Jones again just now? Persson looked like he was doing OK with Klefbom in the Top 4. I don’t get it. Seemingly there’s little to choose from between the players, so why constantly shuffle them around and upset their apple carts? This doesn’t seem to align with GM Ken Holland’s “steady as she goes” philosophy.
I can’t read Holland’s mind, and I’m no insider, but could it be that the Oilers are showcasing Jones for a trade? Is that a possibility? That’s pure speculation on my part.
Coach Dave Tippett said that with heavy games coming up, Jones would give the team more skating and a bit better defending.
All that said, if I had to pick the player who will help the Oilers win now and in the future, I’d go with Jones over Persson. So I get favouring Jones over Persson, I just don’t get the yo-yo aspect of this.
As for new lines and d-man combos, Jack Michaels of the Oilers reported: “Oiler practice lines— Nygard-McDavid-Kassian, Khaira-RNH-Draisaitl, Neal-Haas-P. Russell, Granlund-Sheahan-Archibald, Nurse-Bear Klefbom-Larsson, Russell-Manning (Jones recalled), Koskinen looks to be starting vs Canes.”
It’s good to see Nygard get a chance on a top line. He needs a run of four or five games there to see if can stick. He’s got the skill and battle but can he execute? I like his chances. As for McDavid, he’s flying so high right now (give or take the odd grievous fly-by in OT) that he can get the job done at even strength with almost any winger on the Oilers. But I like the thought of him playing with a winger in Nygard who is almost as fast as he is.
I liked Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl together against Los Angeles. They were a heavy load on the forecheck. I suspect they could make some noise with a skill player like RNH.
Also good to see the Oilers going back to Koskinen, as opposed to giving Mike Smith two in a row. Koskinen is clearly the better goalie at this point and should get two out of three games until Smith turns around his game.

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Die San Jose tun sich in der NHL weiterhin schwer. Beim 1:5 auswärts gegen die Florida Panthers kassiert das Team mit dem Schweizer Timo Meier im 32. Saisonspiel bereits die 17. Niederlage.

video: youtube/nhl

Für San Jose war es die vierte Niederlage in Folge. Damit sind die Kalifornier derzeit ausserhalb der Playoff-Ränge klassiert.

Gegen Florida, das erneut ohne den überzähligen Denis Malgin antrat, kassierte San Jose drei der fünf Gegentore in Unterzahl. Der Appenzeller Stürmer Meier blieb ohne Skorerpunkt und beendete die Partie mit einer Minus-1-Bilanz.

Eine Niederlage setzte es auch für Gaëtan Haas und die Edmonton Oilers ab. Die Kanadier unterlagen zuhause den von Ralph Krueger gecoachten Buffalo Sabres 2:3 nach Verlängerung, nachdem sie nach elf Minuten 0:2 in Rückstand geraten waren. Der Jurassier Haas erhielt bei der Aufholjagd Auslauf im Powerplay und steuerte in der 36. Minute einen Assist beim Tor von Joakim Nygard zum 2:2-Ausgleich bei. Für Haas war es der sechste Skorerpunkt in der NHL.

Edmonton Oilers

A tip AND a tie.

Love a good 2-for-1 deal. @JoakimNygard | #LetsGoOilers

Eingebettetes Video
10:44 – 9. Dez. 2019
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Der Assist von Gaëtan Haas mit der Backhand zurück zur blauen Linie.

Als einziger Schweizer verliess in der Nacht auf Montag Luca Sbisa das Eis als Sieger. Der Zuger Verteidiger gewann mit den Winnipeg Jets das Heimspiel gegen die Anaheim Ducks 3:2. Der Kanadier Mark Scheifele trug mit seinen zwei Toren entscheidend zum dritten Heimsieg in Folge von Winnipeg bei.

video: youtube/nhl


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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers opened their season at 7-1, with their best player — Leon Draisaitl — performing like a man possessed.

Today, they are 18-11-4, after dropping a 6-3 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes on a frigid Tuesday night in Northern Alberta.

Today, Draisaitl is neither their best player nor does he possess anything other than some of the worst body language you’ll ever see, and a nightly minus rating. He has been a minus player in eight straight games now, and has still somehow managed to stuff 53 points and a minus-3 on the same seasonal stat line.

The Oilers, meanwhile, harvested just three points from a homestand that featured visits from the Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres and Hurricanes. Over its past seven games Edmonton is 2-4-1.

They team is trying to stay positive, which we get. But with each mounting loss, positive sounds more and more like denial.

More from Sportsnet
Sebastian Aho scores twice, Hurricanes beat Oilers

Flames’ Zac Rinaldo makes tone-setting impact in win over Coyotes
“Liked how we battled back. Thought our game was pretty good overall five-on-five,” said captain Connor McDavid. “Tonight our specialty teams weren’t where they need to be. It cost us.”

Carolina ate the NHL’s second-best penalty kill for supper on Tuesday, scoring three times. Obviously, that’s a rare slip for a unit that’s been dominant.

Somehow, despite playing just over .500 hockey over their last 25 games, the Oilers awake on Wednesday morning tied for first place in the Pacific. It has become, after another loss in which they mustered 25, maybe 30 minutes of inspired hockey, a bit of a mirage.

You know how winning teams find a new hero every day? Well, Edmonton is at the opposite end of that spectrum today. Something different is going wrong every night now.

“The two things that were different about this game,” said head coach Dave Tippett, “is that our penalty kill has been pretty good and it got bit, and our goaltending has been pretty good and it got bit tonight. You add those two up and it is not usually a good winning formula.”

Mikko Koskinen was average in goal, victimized by a Hurricanes power play that was clinical, then insulted by a Dougie Hamilton fake-dump-in-slapper from centre ice for the sixth goal.

“We did come back. Made it 3-3,” pointed out McDavid. “I thought our work ethic was there, we battled back from a big hole but couldn’t close it.

“We need to find a way to start better, but I thought overall part of our game was pretty good.”

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We’ll disagree, though we get how the captain is trying to emit the right message here. We’re not halfway into the season, and Edmonton really has not slumped until now. It’s no time to panic, but instead to dig in and right the ship.

There are some holes in the roof, however, for a team that is right in the thick of the playoff race with miles of track left to cover.

The facts are, this team isn’t good enough five-on-five, and not deep enough to win games when McDavid and Draisaitl aren’t otherworldly. McDavid had three assists against Carolina and the other 17 Oilers skaters could not muster another goal by themselves.

The power play is No. 1 in the league, which helps a ton. Without it, however, the Oilers are severely challenged to get to three goals in 60 minutes of hockey.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five goals this season. They need more out of him, plain and simple. And the fact that depth forwards Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan, Markus Granlund, Patrick Russell, Gaetan Haas, Alex Chiasson and Joakim Nygard share a grand total of 12 goals between seven players tells you all you need to know about the potency of Edmonton’s depth forwards.

Look, most of the predictors didn’t even think this was a playoff team. So the fact they are challenged in some areas was to be expected.

The Oilers had a fast start, and it’s a good thing. Because now they look like the team we thought they were, and the battle to stay Top 8 out West is on.

It’s no time to panic. Just time to play better.

The finish line is still a long way out.

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Sam Gagner has been working hard to try and reestablish solid footing in the NHL during his second stint with the Edmonton Oilers.

The former sixth overall pick was back in the lineup Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, playing his third consecutive contest after three straight games in the press box as a healthy scratch.

Gagner, 30, started the contest centring the Oilers second line between Alex Chiasson and James Neal in place of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who missed his third straight game with a hand injury.

“Sam’s a smart guy, he understands the game and understands what his capabilities are,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “I’ve had some good conversations with him way back to when I had him in Arizona. He’s a utility player, he’s smart enough to play in a lot of situations and that’s what you’re going to see; he’s going to go up and down the lineup.”

Acquired from the Vancouver Canucks last season, who had loaned him to the Toronto Marlies after a demotion to the AHL, Gagner was expected to begin the season on the Oilers roster out of training camp.

Yet, he was sent to the Bakersfield Condors to start the year where he had four points in four games before being recalled three weeks into the season. Going in against the Canucks, Gagner had a goal and four points in 11 games with the Oilers.

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It’s time for the hockey world to recognize Leon Draisaitl as one of the NHL’s elite stars. Hidden behind the glow of teammate Connor McDavid, Draisaitl has quietly emerged as one of the league’s best over the past two seasons. He has rolled an incredible 2018-19 into a start in 2019-20 that’s poised to set some huge numbers.

Draisaitl has 41 points through 21 games this season. Let that fact sink in for a moment. His league-leading 41 points checks in at a jaw-dropping 1.95 points-per-game pace. Using some fancy math, we can forecast that he is on pace to tally nearly 160 points should his torrid scoring rate continue. Even factoring in an extended scoring slump or reduced pace, Draisaitl looks like a lock for another 100+ point season.

Are you surprised to see Draisaitl leading the league in points? You shouldn’t be, but that’s a familiar reaction considering how under the radar he flew last season despite scoring 50 goals. How crazy is it that he wasn’t named to the first or second all-star lineup at the end of last season after posting 50 goals and 55 assists? It’s been easy to overlook Draisaitl’s accomplishments when fellow teammate McDavid is routinely making headlines.

Via the National Post, Oilers forward Zack Kassian may have summed things up the best when discussing McDavid and Draisaitl.

“They’re wired differently. They’re the elite of the elite. Edmonton is spoiled to get to watch these two guys every night.”

The Oilers have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their offensive talent. Most teams would be thrilled to have one player in the category of McDavid or Draisaitl, let alone both who can make opponents look silly on a nightly basis. Try to shut down one player and the other will burn you.

With Draisaitl and McDavid sitting atop the league in points scored, are the two worried about a scoring race? Hardly. The two both maintain a humble attitude that makes their achievements look like another day at the office. To say the two are grounded would be an understatement.

Chilling Photos Capture Final Moments From History’s Most Well Known Events
Chilling Photos Capture Final Moments From History’s Most Well Known Events
It’s time for Draisaitl to receive the same level of praise as McDavid. At 24, Draisaitl already has a 50-goal season to his name and appears to be well on his way to back-to-back 100+ point seasons. That’s an incredible accomplishment that shouldn’t be swept under the rug because his teammate is just as talented.

These types of columns almost always end with a “Can this continue?” type of question. It’s a fair question when you see a player putting up points seemingly at will and taking the league by storm. With Draisaitl, his approach to the game makes answering that question a bit more difficult. Where other players have a fairly similar style each game, Draisaitl appears to have a way of adapting to the situation better than most. He can play physical or he can play with finesse. He can play a quick style or grind and wear opponents down. That ability to pick apart opponents has fueled his rapid scoring pace.

You can make a strong argument that Draisaitl is a top-5 or top-10 player in the NHL. It’s time for fans and the hockey media to start recognizing him as such.