The Edmonton Oilers entertained the fans and won the game last night, with Connor McDavid’s first-period goal bringing everyone out of their seats and getting Saturday night off to a rocking start. Incredible skill and speed combined a giant hockey brain. We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.
Edmonton dominated the shot clock and the Corsi’s and Detroit kept it closer than it should have been. I guess we can fret about coverage and why Nurse-Gryba were on the ice with 50 seconds left but I kind of want to rave about the new 3line and that trio’s potential.
OVERNIGHT SENSATION, 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: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
- Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
- Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
- Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
- Oilers in March 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +1
- Oilers after 65, 2015-16: 24-34-7, goal differential -38
- Oilers after 65, 2016-17: 35-22-8, goal differential +17
Edmonton continues their march to 90 points and beyond, and combined with the LAK regulation loss to Vancouver last night, this playoff spot feels closer with each morning coffee. After 65 games a year ago, the Oilers had 55 points. This season? 78. Yeah. I believe we can confirm they turned north, on a fast train.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to:
Detroit, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Montreal (Expected: 2-2-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Anaheim, Colorado (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games
- Overall current results: 1-0-0, 2 points in one game
The Islanders will be an interesting team, not quite certain what we will see from them on Tuesday. The tougher games during the week are later on, another win would set things up nicely for the Oilers. New York could do the Oilers an enormous favor this afternoon by beating Calgary in regulation.
DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
Corsi for 5×5 percentage
- Andrej Sekera 17-10 62.96
- Darnell Nurse 25-16 60.98
- Matt Benning 20-13 60.61
- Eric Gryba 20-14 60.00
- Adam Larsson 20-17 57.14
- Oscar Klefbom 19-16 54.29
- Klefbom-Larsson went 18-13 in 17:01 together, including 8-10 with McDavid. Went 10-3 against Tatar-Nielson-Athanasiou but only 2-10 against Mantha-Zetterberg-Nyquist. Larsson had two assists and played 20:36 at evens, and had 1 takeaway and three blocked shots. Klefbom had one shot and played 20:27 at evens. Excellent pairing, really seem to be developing chemistry. Top pairing in minutes, on merit.
- Nurse-Gryba played a lot last night, went 21-14 in 16:15 together, including 9-3 with the Nuge line. Went 8-7 against Mantha-Zetterberg-Nyquist. Nurse had four shots, 3 blocked shots and his wheels give this team another gear. Gryba had four shots and the pairing had three giveaways. The third goal was a fluke play, Nurse trying to knock the puck down and instead sending it to the net front. Nurse is developing some calm feet now, the game is slowing down for him. Doesn’t mean no-mistake hockey, but it is a very good sign.
- Sekera-Benning went 17-10 in 14:19 and skated miles. The one pairing that knows the value of a re-set on the breakout, they were 8-0 with the Letestu line. Went 9-2 against Tatar-Nielson-Athanasiou. Three blocked shots and two takeaways for the pairing. Going mobile every shift. Love it!
- Cam Talbot stopped 22 of 25, .880.
FORWARDS LAST NIGHT
Corsi for 5×5 percentage
- Jordan Eberle 24-11 68.57
- David Desharnais 13-6 68.42 Top Defense Opponent in minutes: Xavier Ouellet
- Zack Kassian 12-6 66.67
- Milan Lucic 21-11 65.62
- Drake Caggiula 13-7 65.00
- Mark Letestu 13-7 65.00 Niklas Kronwall
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 23-13 63.89 Niklas Kronwall
- Matt Hendricks 8-6 63.64
- Jujhar Khaira 14-9 60.87
- Patrick Maroon 13-17 43.33
- Connor McDavid 12-16 42.86 Mike Green
- Leon Draisaitl 11-14 42.31
- Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl went 11-15 together and went 9-2 against Tatar-Nielson-Athanasiou. Struggled against Larkin 4-6 a little but it didn’t matter. Eight shots, two goals, four points, they were terrific with the puck on their sticks. The line was 33 percent in the dot. Connor McDavid is so good he could have pulled the 1974-75 Washington Capitals into the playoffs, pretty sure. What a thrill to see him play.
- Lucic-Nuge-Eberle cashed on a nice bit of work by the wingers and went 23-11 in what was their best Corsi night as a trio. Twelve shots by the line, kicked the Larkin and Nielson lines. Nuge didn’t score but there were moments and the puck was heading in a very good direction. Eberle scored a dandy, he is heating up and that is a very good thing. Lucic had a strong game too, in my opinion. The clean air this line is seeing (and identified by Woodguy) is having a positive impact.
- Caggiula-Desharnais-Kassian had instant chemistry and went 12-6 on the night. Could have cashed several times but did score one and that is a brilliant month for the third line so far this year. Went 6-2 against Miller-Sheahan-Glendening, the line had eight shots on goal and Caggiula could have had a pair or more.
- Hendricks-Letestu-Khaira went 14-8, went 6-1 against Miller-Sheahan-Glendening. Three shots, Letestu was 67 percent on the dot. I really like Khaira as a player, he had a fantastic look last night but missed the net.
- Numbers via NHL.com, NaturalStatTrick and HockeyStats.ca.
THE NEW ORIGINALS
The Desharnais line looked good out of the box last night, seemed to me the new man had the puck on his stick a lot in good areas, and made good decisions. Two small forwards and Kassian might seem a little strange, but the two short guys were giving Detroit fits and the other guy scored. I am uncertain why Edmonton chose to move Anton Slepyshev off the line last night, but based on early returns it seems to have worked pretty well. Nine shots on net for an Oilers third line is outstanding.
He scored again last night, he is now 21, 8-9-17, his NHLe is 17-18-35 at this time. The current RW depth chart (Leon, Eberle, Kassian and Khaira) based on last night looked pretty good. As long as the big Finn is scoring well (and Lander is his center), I think Bakersfield is just fine for him. I expect we will see him before the end of the season, but if JP can push toward 20 goals in the AHL that is a solid bit of development and a nice bullet on the resume.
Russell did not play last night, and that brings up a couple of talking points. First, how bad is it? Trading away Brandon Davidson suggests to me the veteran Russell must be close to a return. Second, did you like the alignment of the defense last night? No disrespect to Russell, but for me the mobility of Sekera-Benning is compelling. I wonder if that becomes the de facto second pairing by next season. I know we have talked about this before, but I am really hoping it comes to pass.