Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. A game that had been built up (some said ‘game of the year’!) beyond its actual importance, the Oilers started well and then threw a shoe. McDavid owned the game early and late, but Cam Talbot couldn’t make a stop and the coverage was dog whistles most of the night. It happens. In a month that has seen some spectacular moments, I think we can move on and allow last night to serve as a reminder that balance and depth are not where they need to be at this time. We’re on to Boulder.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH, 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: 5-3-1, goal differential +7
- Oilers after 73, 2015-16: 28-38-7, goal differential -40
- Oilers after 73, 2016-17: 39-25-9, goal differential +23
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to:
Detroit, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Montreal(Expected: 2-2-0) (Actual 1-2-1)
- At home to:
Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles(Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 4-0-0)
- On the road to:
Anaheim, Colorado (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- 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
- Current results: 5-3-1, 11 points in 9 games
Still no reason so panic, but if you feel a great deal of anxiety, I have always used singing in the shower to punish all living things. Edmonton has two winnable games straight ahead, and if they win both then we can call this month a success based on our own line in the sand.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Ducks dominated the second period, coming in waves and getting fantastic looks. You’ll read a lot below, but that fact and McDavid is all you really need to know.
- Sekera-Russell went 21-11 together, including 10-7 with the Nuge line and 5-1 with McDavid. That’s all this pairing needs to do imo, help the top two lines run at a 15-8 clip every night. Russell picked up a secondary assist but had some wobble defensively, Sekera had a few quality moments with the puck on his stick and carried it well. Went 10-8 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves and 5-2 against Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg.
- Klefbom-Larsson went went 13-6 in 10:49 together, including 7-5 with Connor McDavid. That’s good. Larsson, who is a very good NHL defender, backed in inexplicably on the Manson goal (giving up the blue line). Went 2-5 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves. Larsson took a penalty for an effective axe chop that had full major impact. He is no fun for the opposition at any time.
- Nurse-Gryba chased a lot, the Ducks were demons on the forecheck and Gryba got caught by the lot of them at one point or another last night. Went 6-10 in 11:21 together, both men seemed to be too relaxed in making decisions and got overrun by Ducks. Went 4-4 in seven minutes against Ritchie-Vermette-Perry. Nurse had his poorest game of the year by my eye, reflected in the Corsi number above. Gryba’s pointing to Kassian to identify the goal scorer was cool, but the big defenseman might have considered covering the freaking guy.
- Cam Talbot had a poor evening (stopped 14 of 18), one of very few nights where he has been a negative. Laurent Brossoit looked good save some rebound control. The rookie stopped all 16 shots he faced and has a .924SP for the season.
- Numbers via NHL.com, NaturalStatTrick and Hockeystats.ca.
- On Connor Mcdavid: It is an extreme pleasure to watch this player perform. Pushing the limits of the speed-skill boundaries and imposing individual will on a team game. Awesome.
- The line went 2-5-7 and posted eight shots on goal.
- The line (Corsi) was 14-12 as a trio including 12-7 against the Kesler. Someone mentioned in the comments section that the Ducks broadcast was pleased with this matchup, which tells you just how good 97 is even at this early point in his career. Went 7-3 in five minutes against Bieksa.
- The 1line isn’t going to be a problem for many years. The other three lines have some work to do.
- Line went 13-10 together and had good numbers with Sekera-Russell. If this line could perform well with that pairing, and Benning plays third pair, I like the Oilers chances of getting McDavid in good spots, and that’s the ballgame.
- Line went 11-8 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Eaves, that’s pretty good. The facts are less complimentary, and Eberle’s being pushed off the puck (and falling) by Getzlaf before the goal by Rikard Rakell was the nadir. It reminded me of many previous nights against the Ducks.
- I think the line might be getting stale. I have no idea how Todd McLellan will shake it up but suspect he will if things go as they have recently.
- Despite the Corsi, they are an adventure in their own zone. It’s like Splash Mountain out there.
- Went 7-7 (duh) together, including 6-3 against Ritchie-Vermette-Perry, which is good except the Oilers trio finished -1. Played most with Darnell Nurse among defenders, his mobility should help but chaos in the defensive end doesn’t help the young defender.
- I wonder if we see Caggiula back in the middle soon. Suspect Pouliot is bringing enough to remain in the lineup.
- Only the top line and Milan Lucic have more goals this year than the 4C. Huh.
- Line went 5-7 together and 1-3 against Ritchie-Vermette-Perry. That’s probably a match Randy Carlyle was satisfied with, not sure if Todd McLellan felt it was a good idea (3:37 against each other).
- The EV time on ice is fascinating for lines 2-4. I understand special teams played a factor, but folks, Desharnais played slightly more than RNH and Letestu (this is all at evens) was only one minute behind.
- Lines two and three may want to light up the Denver night.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) March 23, 2017
Mr. Eronko is a reliable source and the story he linked has enough detail to make one suspect this has legs. I am happy for Lander, but remain convinced the player has enough talent to play in the NHL. We’ll spend time on this over the spring and summer, but his handling from fall 2011 through this day reflects an organization with very little idea about putting young players in a position to succeed. As we wait to see if young Jesse Puljujarvi will develop as hoped, Lander serves as a sober reminder of the Oilers handling of forward prospects. Godspeed, Anton Lander.
Keep an eye on RW Spencer Foo at Union. Speedy & gritty. May return for senior yr though, as his brother will be freshman there next season. https://t.co/eb0uYo6BMi
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) March 20, 2017
If this young player decides to turn pro, my guess is that the Oilers have a chance on him. Local fellow, he is a righty and has speed/skill. The Oilers’ depth chart isn’t overwhelming and he might get a fast track to the show.
- My RE from July: 72gp, 33-54-87 (1.21) (Source)
- Actual numbers: 73gp, 26-59-85 (1.16)
He is a consistent impact player, never going more than a few periods without cashing in one way or another. Incredible player, if Talbot had been Talbot, this morning we would be talking about this team’s drive for the Pacific Division crown. Fact is, no goals were scored by other lines last night, and even one would have given the Oilers a point. I think this is a good time to have a look at 97’s stunning player card.
- 5×5 points per 60: 2.70 (2.69 last season) (No. 3 in NHL)
- 5×4 points per 60: 5.84 (6.68 last season) (No. 33 in NHL)
- Woodmoney DFF% v. Elite 5×5: 54.3
- Woodmoney DFF Rel v. Elite 5×5: 7.8
- Shots on goal/percentage: 216 shots/12.0%
- Boxcars: 73, 26-59-85
The last five games are almost like someone told this player the playoffs are close but the next run of games were vital. In posting a searing pace, he is both securing a strong playoff spot and cementing his status as the most valuable player in the game. A giant walks among us.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Last night’s game, curling worlds, sun moon and stars.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. MLB almost ready, a big season for your favorite team?
- Doug Marshall, CVS Hockey. Scouting young hockey players is a moving target.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.