The Edmonton Oilers won a road game—again—and put a poor weekend and Toronto behind them. The weekend ahead has its own challenges, but beating the Winnipeg Jets is no free bingo spot—and it was a slump buster for several players badly in need of success. HDSC: 8-9.
- Todd McLellan on McDavid—Draisaitl: “Speed & finesse. The combination of both makes it hard for the opposing team.”
NO SUGAR TONIGHT, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 1-0-0, goal differential +3
- Oilers after 25, 2015: 8-15-2, goal differential -16
- Oilers after 25, 2016: 13-10-2, goal differential +10
Oilers back on pace for more than 90 points (92) now and who knows, maybe they spike at some point, add at the deadline, and push into the postseason for the first time since 2006. Plenty of wobble in that game in Winnipeg though, lots of cleaning up to do defensively. One good thing? The power play!
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Stats via NHL.com, HockeyStats.ca and NaturalStatTrick.
- Nurse—Larsson went 10-5 in 10:19 together, as Nurse played with Benning for less than a minute last night. The pairing went 4-1 against the Scheifele line, 5-3 against Perreault and 6-3 against Lowry. I don’t know if McLellan changed things up because Klefbom was struggling, but this duo did okay together. Larsson picked up an assist.
- Klefbom—Benning went 9-4 in 8:43 together, as the two Swedes played less than a minute (1-3) as a tandem. Went 6-1 in 2:04 against the Scheifele line, the rest was small samples (well, so is 2:04 but that number stands out among small samples).
- Sekera—Russell went 10-15 in 11:19 together. Got caved (2-10) against the Scheifele line in 5:01.
- In fact, let’s run Scheifele against all the blue and his line’s Corsi numbers: Larsson (3:28, 0-5), Sekera (5:01, 10-2), Nurse (3:49, 0-4), Russell (4:33, 9-2), Benning (2:54, 2-5), Klefbom (2:04, 1-6).
- I wonder if Paul Maurice was trying to get that line out against Sekera—Russell more often? I would think, if you saw those numbers (compared to the other pairings), you would want to get that matchup for more than 90 seconds a period, no? Interested in your view on that point.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- The Pouliot—Nuge—Eberle line had a grand night, going 6-0 in 4:10 against the Scheifele line and owning the Morrissey—Byfuglien pairing 11-3. Nuge had an assist, Pouliot got a goal and six shots. Nuge just 27 percent in the dot, and of course 93 took an ill-timed penalty in the third period. I will count last night as a major victory for the trio. Keep it going, men!
- Lucic—McDavid—Draisaitl had a Moonstruck evening to my eye, the points totaled (Lucic 0-2-2; McDavid 0-3-3 and Leon 2-1-3) eight for the trio by the time the whistle blew. The line went just 6-4 against the Little line, but the power play mowed all the lawns in Winnipeg last night.
- Pitlick—Caggiula—Slepyshev had a good night in my opinion, the kid lines are dandy when they work. No points, but five shots for the line and I thought the trio did fine work. Slepyshev made one play that was exactly awesome, driving down the left side, stopping up at the end boards, and then with one hand quietly walked back out toward the faceoff dot. He did it while holding off a defender. Man strength. Speed. I like this player. Caggiula had a physical confrontation and looked promising off the rush, although nothing rhymed. I hope to see this group again.
- Maroon—Letestu—Kassian had a dream night, just stupid good. First the points: Maroon (1-0-1), Letestu (2-1-3) and Kassian (0-1-1) had the best night a fourth line has seen since 1990 in terms of the boxcars (I think, correct me if I am wrong). Just 1-5 against the Andrew Copp line, but who the hell cares? A nice game. (And yes I know I am cheating because PP, but I do like this line despite the slow boots).
A nice article by Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Sun about Nolan Patrick shines a little light on Tyler Benson’s injury history. In the article, Benson suggests that Patrick should be patient in recovery, making sure he is 100 percent ready before returning—and not to worry about his draft number.
- Benson: “I think we rushed back from the first injury, which caused the second injury. You just want to make sure you are 100 per cent when you’re ready to go so you can start playing and nothing else can occur.” Source
This is important stuff, as Patrick has a chance to go No. 1 overall and Vancouver is going to run him heavy a year from now. Heh. For Oiler purposes, this offers some insight into Benson’s struggles a year ago, and perhaps about how junior players get handled. Dangerous stuff here, these are teenagers and they do not make millions to stay in the lineup.
The AHL announced its Player of the Month Awards and Taylor Beck won the whole damn shooting match. The winger posted 9gp, 7-8-15 and would have to be considered the top recall option if the team is in need of a scoring forward. The Condors do not have a lot shaking offensively, Beck is where it’s at in Bakersfield.
Mark Letestu had 5×4 success a year ago, so his 4.65/60 number should not be a surprise to anyone. Milan Lucic has a number that should shock, but last season Letestu was 4.11/60. I have long argued he is a useful player, a rather unusual Swiss army knife, but am pleased he is getting a little sunshine today. Well earned.
I mentioned yesterday that McDavid—Leon would probably have some chem, and eight points later (for the line) we no longer have a RW problem but the center depth chart is less fantastic than a night ago. I wonder if the club recalls Anton Lander? It gives coach McLellan all kinds of options, and with Matt Hendricks sitting another PK man would not go amiss.
Leon with McDavid means the coach can run hell out of the top two lines, and I expect he might. The Nuge line cashed last night late, so maybe better days ahead for the veteran trio.
DADDY RAN THE WHISKEY IN A BIG BLACK DODGE
Sometimes I think I think things, and they aren’t really true. It looked to me as though Oscar Klefbom was replaced by Darnell Nurse on the top pairing last night, and it worked. However, in sussing through the numbers, the top pairing last night appeared to be Sekera—Russell, if only because they faced the Scheifele line most often. The mind boggles. Here are some shift chart items of note:
- Opening faceoff, Klefbom with Larsson. It was a 35-second shift, ended in a goal and of course it did. The Oilers first two minutes of each game have become a thing, and this is something that occurs with young players. Dave Hunter used to take a penalty just before the end of a period as a young player. Sather benched him, the problem went away.
- Darnell Nurse jumps over the boards at 3:04, Adam Larsson at 3:22 and they spend until 4 minutes together. Both men have their next shift at 7:35.
- Oscar Klefbom gets back on the ice at 3:58, a few seconds later Matt Benning jumps over the boards. By 10:14 of the first period, they are a pairing.
- This kind of adjustment happens hundreds of times during a season, and it could be injury or confidence or the coach playing a hunch.
- What I find interesting is this: Nurse played well with Larsson, and the puck was headed in a good direction. Klefbom and Benning also had success. Young men do not develop in a straight line, and this little adjustment is such a good sign in so many ways. Why? Up until this point, I felt the Oilers would have to run Klef no matter, because the options available were so much less attractive. That may still be true—this is a small sample size—but I have to say that the youngsters appear to be progressing a little, and not just Oscar this time. Thoughts?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. Steve and I will talk TFC, the Oilers and Leafs, and NHL players going to the Olympics.
- Guy Flaming, The Pipeline Show. Craig Button’s new list is out, any surprises for Guy?
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Should the Oilers run Leon at RW? Seriously? What about that beautiful center depth?
- Paul Almeida, SSE. We will chat about Edmonton’s line shuffling and if this is a playoff team.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!