Connor McDavid has played 19 NHL games, and has 24 points. Don’t be upset, he’ll get the hang of it. In a season where the Oilers have looked both hopelessly immature and heavenly in the same game, it is perhaps fitting that a child should lead them all.
RIDE A WHITE SWAN, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
- Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1
- Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2
- Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-3-0
- Oilers after 56 in 2014-15: 16-31-9, 41 points (-56 GD)
- Oilers after 56 in 2015-16: 22-29-5, 49 points (-27 GD)
The current Oilers are 12 points away from last year’s total with 26 games to play—they should get there, but let’s see how close the old club can get. I do think the Goddams are impressive, that is some nice improvement.
OILERS DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse—Schultz were not visually good during the first period, but the overall sway of the game favored them in the final two periods. Nurse played a lot, third most on the team at evens among defensemen, went 11-4 in 5:19 with Hall when the two men were on the ice. He took too many penalties, but he was also 12-2 against the Komarov line. Weird.
- Schultz is so damned casual with the puck and in coverage, if you watch both GA’s it is on display.
- Davidson—Gryba were 8-2 with McDavid, what an insane line (more in a minute). I have to say that Davidson’s ability to make plays, including passing the puck well, is a welcome relief from the chaos. Splendid player, fantastic story. Gryba was 2-1 with Nurse, suspect that could be the third pairing when OK returns (Klefbom-Davidson 2nd pair).
- Sekera—Fayne played fewer minutes at evens, and had the worst Corsi results. They played with all of the lines, didn’t get good results save for Sekera away from Fayne with the McDavid trio. Weird. I expected to see a big minus with Leon’s line (2-5 for Sekera) but for him it was an 0-6 with Yakupov that killed the evening.
- With Adam Clendening upstairs and Griffin Reinhart in Bakersfield, I believe these are the six best options for Edmonton. I also believe the Oilers should have taken Christian Ehrhoff from waivers.
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- Connor McDavid’s points were impressive, but the ease in which he did it is the thing that lingers for me. His second goal was gorgeous, he is freaky with the puck on his stick. No more in-game bathroom breaks folks, not for the next 20 years anyway. He is 4-8-12 in his last six games, and as we have discussed at length, he could be a strong candidate for the Calder Trophy even if he only plays 45 games. He is currently at 1.26 points-per-game (insanity) and that puts him on pace for 57 points. Le holy.
- Leon Draisaitl and his line were not effective, and their coach broke them up (more in a minute). After being removed from the line, Leon went 1-2 with Kassian, 0-4 with Pakarinen and 1-0 with Yakupov Corsi events. I remain convinced he has some kind of flesh wound.
- Mark Letestu and his line chased and chased, until McLellan placed him with Hall (7-3) and Kassian (8-8). He is not going to be the 3C in Edmonton when this team gets good.
- Matt Hendricks didn’t play much at evens, probably due to all the penalties. Anyway, in all situtations, he was 0-27 Corsi events, incredible.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be back sooner, another day has passed.
The Oilers don’t deserve Connor McDavid. That’s what makes this so difficult.
— Nav Vaswani (@vaswani_) February 12, 2016
He is right. Oilers do not deserve 97. The fans do, though. The best fans on the planet, with the collective faith of a child and devotion that cannot be bought for gold or jewels. The hockey Gods rewarded the peasants of the village, that’s a story you can tell to your children.
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Jordan Eberle got his first hat-trick and reminded us why snipers get paid. Fantastic run on this new line, he is 7-3-10 in the last six games.
- Benoit Pouliot showed all of who care watch the exact reasons he plays on this line and is productive. A four-point night no one will talk about, but that is his role. He is 2-8-10 in the last six games.
- Taylor Hall did everything but score, set up Eberle for his hatty (earlier) but nothing rhymed. He was more effective away from Leon (8-7 w/Leon, 8-4 w/o Leon), and I wonder if we see Hall—Letestu—Kassian (7-3) on Saturday. PJ Stock was rambling on about sulking, I don’t get that from Hall. A dynamic player like 4, in his prime, certainly wants to contribute and he should have had a point last night based on all the chances he created. It did not happen. His line is struggling and he is a part of that, for sure. I don’t see a reason to question his maturity, but that has been the go-to for so long from the media. Taylor Hall is an emotional guy, but that is miles from being petty and jealous. I am very disappointed in the coverage of this player by many in the media.
- Zack Kassian showed up a little more often last night than on the road trip, I wonder if he gets a chance on Hall’s line Saturday (he played with him last night). The key would appear to be Leon, we should watch for maintenance days, etc. I like Kassian as a player, but when he goes quiet offensively it appears to be very quiet. Suspect he needs a center who can push the river.
- Teddy Purcell seemed to be twixt and tween last night, a bad time for the veteran to have a game where things didn’t work. Why? Oilers need his value to be high through the end of this month for trade purposes.
- Nail Yakupov had the puck on his stick in promising situations several times, but was unable to create much. I expect he will play a feature role when Purcell is dealt, but am not 100 percent convinced of it.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 12, 2016
That is about right, I would add that (for me) Hall and Davidson also played well. Either way, Talbot has a .927 SP since December 1 and that includes a game on the weekend where he came in 0-3 and the team played like garbage in front of him. Peter Chiarelli did not fix everything year 1, but the goalie is helping.
LeBrun: "I think (Purcell) is going to be dealt." Doesn't make sense to spend cap dollars there. #Oilers
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 11, 2016
Purcell has been an effective player (56gp, 11-20-31) and is on pace for 45 points this year. I would guess that a second-round pick is possible, although if you look at Edmonton’s AHL team for 2016-17 it would be wise to consider the possibility of a promising young pro being the ask.
The natural course of things would be to have Nail Yakupov move up to the 2line with Leon and Hall, but something tells me that may not be the way it turns out. Todd McLellan has some other options, and one of them involves Zack Kassian and Mark Letestu with Hall, leaving Yakupov to play with Leon Draisaitl and (probably) Matt Hendricks or Lauri Korpikoski. It will be a muddle until Nuge returns.
LeBrun: "I think (Schultz) will be dealt." RFA. Confidence is shot. Teams feel they can rediscover this player. $3.9M qual. offer.#Oilers
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 11, 2016
Lebrun’s choice of words here is inspired. Watching Schultz last night, there is so much about his game that needs to be fixed. He doubles down constantly on errors—the first GA was a ‘region’ pass to no one really, but he followed that up with no urgency to get back. You know, some defensemen put the brakes on and haul ass on mistakes like that one.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 12, 2016
That is an interesting name. The leftists will flip their lids, but I like him as a defender and this is a season in which he is struggling a little—might be the last time to get him before 30. I like the idea of acquiring Brodin, although he has not been a great possession player over these years.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun Friday, as we head toward the weekend. TSN1260, beginning at 10. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. Putting McDavid’s rookie season into historical perspective.
- Antony Bent, FC Edmonton. New GM for the Eddies, how does that impact Colin Miller?
- Kevin Radomski, Edmonton Oil Kings Director of Business Operations. Oil Kings play Family Day at 2, and there is a lot going on!
- Paul Almeida, SSE. He’s back!
- Dan Tencer. WHL scout, compelling broadcaster.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.