Cam Talbot was good—and lucky—and the Edmonton Oilers overcame some of the most insane officiating I have seen in my life to win last night in the Shawshank laundry room. Up next: Alcatraz.
- Todd McLellan on the Mark Letestu, Matt Hendricks and Zack Kassian line: “Sometimes those guys are stars in their own way, too. The way they grind it out, the way they penalty kill you have to have a whole bunch of different types of ingredients to come up with wins in this League. As the year drags on and games get heavier and harder, those types of players become even more important. We’ve seen them now two games in a row basically take charge of the group and lead us.” Source
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL, 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: 6-2-3, goal differential +2
- Oilers after 35, 2015: 15-18-2, goal differential -17
- Oilers after 35, 2016: 18-12-5, goal differential +9
I am writing this in the moments after the game, and the only words that are coming to me will be wildly inappropriate in the morning. I will say this: 41 points in 35 games, bitches!
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- NaturalStatTrick, HockeyStats.ca and NHL.com.
- Klefbom—Larsson went 12-9 together in 12:52. Went 6-6 in 6:22 with McDavid, 2-2 in 3:04 with Leon Draisaitl. Went 0-4 in 5:07 against the Martinook line and 4-9 in 3:34 against the Hanzal line. Killed the Holland line 9-0. Larsson had several good moments defensively, his is the kind of game I enjoy (intelligent defensemen are cool). Oscar found a way to be effective, if a little slow in moving the puck at times.
- Davidson—Gryba went 12-11 in 11:13 as a duo. Went 8-8 in 5:37 with Letestu, in what were some of the most dynamic and wild minutes in recent Oilers history. Holy lord. Also went 4-0 with McDavid line in three minutes. Went 4-4 in 4:09 against the Hanzal line, 0-3 in 1:30 against Martinook. I did not see the Gryba penalty as the act outside the rules, seemed some bad luck is all. The refs, having a bad night, made a regrettable call. Davidson is finding his way back home now, skating smoothly and make genuinely impressive decisions with the puck in real time.
- Sekera—Russell went 10-17 in 14:01 together. They were 0-5 with McDavid in 5:30, 6-8 in 6:01 with Leon, that was the heart of the game (Edmonton lost those minutes, despite winning the game). Went 3-7 in 3:55 against Hanzal, 2-3 against Jordan Martinook (Doan line). Sekera looked like he was in pain at the end of the game.
- Hanzal line went 10-3 against Kris Russell. Others are far better at identifying key matchups the home coach may have been targeting, but that one does stand out to my eye.
- Cam Talbot was brilliant. Stopped 28 of 30, .933
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Hendricks—Letestu—Kassian were epic. I could write a book. At one point, I think they were carrying muskets instead of hockey sticks. Along with some of the physical blue, this trio had the Coyotes howling all night long. Went 5-4 with the Sekera pair, 5-8 with the Gryba pair. Pounded the Dvorak line 7-1, lost 3-9 to the Hanzal line in just 2:19 against while driving Hanzal around the bend. That was an incredible performance from what used to be the
fourth linethird line.
- Pouliot—Caggiula—Puljujarvi played about five minutes and went 3-2. They did no harm.
- Lucic—McDavid—Eberle sawed off the possession battle and had some strong shifts, but only Lucic cashed (and on the power play). Went 5-6 against Hanzal, 2-4 against Martinook and 9-10 against OEL. I know they didn’t score but I liked this line quite a bit last night. Eberle was going well for much of the night and that gave the line some extra jump. Played 7:40 with the Klefbom pairing, I think that is the smart play.
- Maroon—Draisaitl—Nuge went 6-13 (Nuge) and 10-13 (Maroon) with Leon, who ran with 97-27 for a hot minute. The trio went 6-8 in over 6 minutes with the Russell pairing, 4-4 against Hanzal but 3-6 against Martinook—Doan. I like the line, although the Goligoski—Stone pairing went 13-6 against them last night.
Remember when people would say that the addition of Milan Lucic would change the weather when McDavid was on the ice? Well, and we did know this, the fact is that nonsense happens no matter who plays left wing, and it certainly did last night. Seems we are seeing more holding and mugging and tackling these days, as NHL players try and touch the wind. At some point, the league will alter a rule or two, but we can’t really blame the Coyotes for taking advantage of any and all opportunities. If the refs don’t call the rule book, then it is open season. Same as it ever was.
COME AT ME, BRO!! pic.twitter.com/RvJ7k5fUIR
— TowelJoy 2 The World (@TheTowelBoy) December 22, 2016
I am not a bloodthirsty human by nature, but have no quarrel with Zack Kassian’s actions last night. I think people are missing the truly impressive item (the crosscheck was effective but not earth shattering), which came against Anthony Duclair. That was some real boxing expertise there, the Coyote winger probably regrets his aggression. The Doan dance wasn’t much and I expect the league will enforce the inevitable suspension because it is Kassian.
— Andrew Hockridge (@drewhockridge) December 22, 2016
The Coyotes are not the team they are made out to be at this time. Their reputation is as a classy group of veterans and a ragtag group of youngsters, but most nights they should get Academy Award nominations for their ‘Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up’ antics. I feel bad for OEL, someone needs to get him out of there. Now 14 points behind the Oilers, we wish them well.
OILERS IN REALITY
The Edgraphton Oilers.
Pretty even across the board. pic.twitter.com/kxiZMM9xAT
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) December 22, 2016
This will be day 187 of hammering the Oilers for being a lost highway, but the Corisca numbers via Sean Tierney show the team to be turning north with some enthusiasm. The verbal from many blogs and online communities will focus on the team WOWY McDavid, so let’s have a look. The easiest way to do this (I am using Corsi for 5×5, those who don’t value the metric may find this less than convincing) is to run 97s numbers with and without the goalies.
- McDavid with Talbot: 54.3 (483 minutes)
- Talbot without McDavid: 49.3 (976 minutes)
- McDavid with Gustavsson: 50.8 (71 minutes)
- Gustavsson without McDavid: 52.7 (149 minutes)
If you value Corsi, and I do, can we reasonably suggest there is progress here? Or should we wait for another 20 games to make sure the Oilers can run 50 percent without McDavid? No one should be suggesting Edmonton is a playoff team without 97, but I think it is fair to suggest there is progress in the WO time this year.
- McDavid with Talbot: 52.0 (501 minutes)
- Talbot without McDavid: 47.7 (2036 minutes)
- McDavid with Brossoit: 50.0 (72 minutes)
- Brossoit without McDavid: 48.5 (160 minutes)
- McDavid with Anders Nilsson: 46.1 (51 minutes)
- Anders Nilsson without McDavid: 49.5 (1162 minutes)
Interestingly, the gap is about five points both seasons (McDavid-Talbot) but the without number has improved. I think we can argue about where or not it is enough, and certainly we can discuss sample size. Can we at least agree there are good arrows? Hope so.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, scheduled to appear on TSN1260:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Mugging McDavid, Leon progress, replacing Pitlick, is Hall the hill some Oiler fans die on?
- Jake Sundstrom, Fear the Fin. The Sharks are next up, and they are an interesting team again this year. What does the roster look like now and what about Timo Meier?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Does the NHL have to look at the McDavid muggings, or is the world turning as it should?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!