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INBOX: Defence takes time

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Every Monday, Oilers radio colour analyst and Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer answers questions submitted by fans about the team.
  1. With the way this team is built, lots of offensive power, are we just spinning our wheels trying to teach defence first to this group? Would we not be better served with the old "the best defence is a good offence" mentality? Or do we not have the goaltending and defensive core to pull that off?

-- Jordan in Lethbridge

Jordan, virtually every coach will tell you that it is inherent to a team’s success to have defensive structure and process in their team’s game to return to when a squad’s overall game struggles.

As a teenager in the 1980’s I, like many Oilers fans, had the great privilege of watching the highest-scoring team in NHL history, but that up-tempo out-score the opposition game is long gone.

Improved goaltending and coaching along with greater discipline from players has helped contribute to lower scoring games.

Teams are forced to limit the mistakes in their game.

As a result, even elite offensive players have to be able to play a “200-foot game”.

The Oilers made a concerted effort in the off-season to upgrade their defence by bringing in a couple of legitimate NHL D in the trade-and-sign of Nikita Nikitin and then the free agency signing of Mark Fayne. This should buy them some more time in developing Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse.

The multiple moves made last season to create a more competitive situation in goal acquiring Ben Scrivens and Victor Fasth hasn’t played out yet due to Fasth’s groin injury.

Bottom line, you can improve the personnel on defence and in goal, but unless you get a total buy-in from all the players, you are going nowhere.
  • Hi Bob, what do you think the oilers need to do to improve their team defence?
    -- Raymond in Edmonton


    In a word…time.

    Oscar Klefbom is off to a great start in Oklahoma City with a goal and five points in four games and a +4 rating (photo by Steven Christy / OKC Barons)
    Head Coach Dallas Eakins and his staff continue to work with a relatively young team in an attempt to improve the Oilers overall team defence.

    We have seen better results over the Oilers first four games of the seven-game homestand as Ben Scrivens has settled down a bit in goal and the Oilers have stuck with same pairings: Marincin-Fayne, Nikitin-Schultz, Ference-Petry for all four games. There also seems to be greater attention to detail from the Oilers forward units, so hopefully this is a continuing trend.

    Time should play a factor in the future as well.

    In my opinion, the Oilers two best prospects currently not playing in the NHL are Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom.

    Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said recently on Oilers Now that he sees Nurse and Klefbom as locks to be top-4 NHL defencemen in the future.

    Nurse returned to action this past weekend to Sault Ste. Marie scoring 1-3-4 in three games including going head-to-head against consensus 2015 #1 overall pick Connor McDavid and the OHL-leading Erie Otters. McDavid was limited to a season-low one point and that came on an empty-net goal (McDavid leads the OHL with 34 points in 12 GP).

    Klefbom is off to a great start in Oklahoma City, he has 1-4-5 in four games and is +4 on a team that has struggled out of the gate 5v5.
  • Why haven't the Oilers and Flames realized what a blast a preseason game in Red Deer would be? Sure Sask is cool, but what about us, we're right here?
    -- Gerry from Red Deer

    Gerry, Red Deer is great hockey city and I am really happy that a mid-sized CHL market like Red Deer got the 2016 Memorial Cup.

    Usually the people that manage the Arenas do the bidding to bring NHL teams in for a neutral-site exhibition game.

    It can be quite costly and I would suggest that a facility needs at least 10,000 seats to try to break even, unfortunately that would work against an arena the size of the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer which seats under 7,000.
  • Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer
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