Loss to Blues shows that Oilers are not deep enough yet

Edmonton Oilers' Oscar Klefbom (77) reacts to a St. Louis Blues empty net goal during third period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday November 6, 2019. (Amber Bracken/CP)

EDMONTON — “Not enough.”

Dave Tippett could have been answering any one of a number of questions, after the St. Louis Blues beat the Edmonton Oilers for fun at Rogers Place Wednesday.

Like, “how much did everyone else help Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, coach?”

Or perhaps, “the Blues really tested your roster tonight. What do you think of your team’s depth?”

Maybe, “what about the scoring from your right side, coach?”

The actual exchange began with a post-game question about whether the Blues give Tippett a gauge on where his team is at right now.

“You look at that team, they are deep all the way through,” began the Oilers head coach, after a 5-2 loss to St. Louis. “You see who measures up to that and who is not up to the standard. How many players you have in that standard.”

“What did you think you had in there tonight,” Tippett was asked.

“Not enough.”

That assessment is, of course, both big- and small-picture.

On the night, the Oilers didn’t have enough players on their roster who can match the heavy, stout Blues as they roll four lines and three pairings. It is ‘big boy’ hockey at its best — the kind of game the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to have to figure out how to play if they’re ever going to win anything. Same for the Oilers.

There were two St. Louis empty netters, and the Oilers did have their goalie pulled on a late power play, with a chance to drag this one into overtime. But that doesn’t fool Tippett for a second: the Oilers are better than they’ve been, but they’re nowhere near deep enough to beat a Blues team playing that style of hockey.

No chance. Not for a team that relies on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to get the job done, or it doesn’t get done at all.

From Wednesday’s game:

• Three of the Oilers’ four right wingers haven’t scored yet this season.
• Three of their four centres have just one goal.
• Behind Leon Draisaitl and James Neal on the left side, there was one goal in the Oilers starting lineup.
• Draisaitl (13 goals) and McDavid (8) have scored 21 of the Oilers 48 goals — or 44 per cent.

“We have lots of guys looking for a lot of extra ice time and extra opportunities. But there is not much happening,” said Tippett. “There is just not enough, right through. The guys who have been killing penalties have been doing a pretty good job, even though we gave up two tonight.

“We need some help there, that goes without saying. Hopefully (Joakim) Nygard will give us a boost coming back with his speed. He was just getting going and could help us. But there are some other guys who we need to chip in.”

Alex Chiasson is snake bit — he gets chances, but nothing goes in.

Jujhar Khaira has one kicked in goal all year. It was his fourth goal in 77 games.

Tomas Jurco is showing us why he is on his fifth organization at age 26. Gaetan Haas, Patrick Russell, Colby Cave… Sam Gagner as a first-liner?

To all of that, we’ll borrow a quote from Tippett.

“Not enough.”

“I for sure look at myself as a guy who has to get going, secondary scoring-wise,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has one goal in 17 games. “Those two guys, they’re getting big goals for us almost every game. We’ve got to find a way to help them out, support them. Get an important one.

“We’ve got to find a way to start producing — every line.”

Look, they’re a much better team than last season. The Oilers can kill a penalty most nights, get goaltending and move a puck far better than a year ago.

After a 7-1 start, however, the Oilers have gone 3-4-2.

It’s time to have all hands on deck, and Dave Tippett is looking around his ship.

You can guess what he’s finding.

Not enough.

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