Rise and shine, Edmonton. A new generation of heroes have arrived to bring us great joy. We don’t know the year, the hour or the day, but this team, the McDavid Oilers, are bound for glory. Are you ready?
For me, hockey postseason is a lot about memories, going back to my youth. Playoffs were with my Dad. He was a working man (six days a week when I was a kid, he finally stopped working at 75, passed at 80) so time was dear. Cribbage and playoff hockey brought us together. I can’t put into words how much I miss him. By the time the Oilers won their first Stanley, my Dad was 72, and I was down the road finding my own way. Today, with so many great games to come, I am thinking of my Dad and the love of hockey he passed along to me. He loved the headman pass, he hated the Habs but never said a bad word about Beliveau, and big Frank Mahovlich would have been welcome in our house any time. Miss you, Dad. Now. Let’s rock and roll.
YOUR EDMONTON OILERS (against the Sharks)
Playoff numbers rarely become famous, it’s just a thing. The boxcars don’t have time to accumulate gigantic totals, while individual goals and stops are seared into the memory. I can tell you chapter and verse about the first goal in Game 5 1985 SCF, but hell if I know the final scoring numbers that spring. Numbers still have meaning, but, beginning today, it’s all about the journey to Stanley. San Jose and Edmonton met in the playoffs once previously, in 2006 spring. Edmonton won the series four games to two, and the numbers are long gone. The Torres hit and the Roloson save? Right here with me, forever.
Patrick Maroon (5, 3-0-3, 15 shots)-Connor McDavid (5, 4-4-8, 15 shots)-Leon Draisaitl (5, 0-3-3, 8 shots)
Edmonton’s top line went 7-7-14 with 38 shots in five regular-season games against the Sharks. That’s good, real good, we can expect this trio to see a steady diet of Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun. McDavid spent one hour against Vlasic (51.1 Corsi for 5×5 percentage) and that is the preferred matchup for SJS, while Todd McLellan appears content to let his horses run. McDavid v. Brent Burns would be fun, but the Sharks have allowed that match for 16 minutes all year. If the Oilers win this series, the 97 line is going to have a tremendous week. Note: According to Jake Sundstrom of Fear the Fin, Braun sat with a “nagging injury” in G82 but will likely be in tonight’s lineup. Sundstrom also predicts the Hansen-Hertl-Boedker will be matched against Edmonton’s top trio.
Milan Lucic (5, 3-1-4, 11 shots), RNH (5, 0-1-1, 5 shots), Jordan Eberle (5, 0-1-1, 8 shots)
This trio is coming on now, we can hope these numbers spike. In the final 10 games of the season, Lucic (6-2-8), Nuge (3-6-9) and Eberle (6-3-9) have been on fire. Eberle had 32 shots in those 10 games, the line had 72 in total. Some strong totals for the group, if this line can score consistently we are talking about a possible final-four team in my opinion.
Drake Caggiula (5, 2-1-3, 3 shots), Mark Letestu (5, 0-1-1, 7 shots), Zack Kassian (5, 0-1-1, 2 shots)
This line is emerging as the 3line now, and the last 10 games have been promising. Caggiula (3-3-6), Letestu (9, 2-2-4) and Kassian (10, 1-2-3) have been coming on, separately and apart. Too soon to know, but Caggiula is showing some nice arrows. Kassian is going to have a big season next year if things continue along these lines.
Benoit Pouliot (5, 0-1-1, 2 shots), David Desharnais (3, 0-0-0, 1 shot), Iiro Pakarinen (1, 0-0-0, 1 shot)
This line is the misfits, but there is talent here. Benoit Pouliot has helped the PK and has offensive ability. Pakarinen is also used on the PK and has scored pretty well in limited minutes. Desharnais could be the last useful bat in the order, if he can get untracked. Lots of upset about Anton Slepyshev not playing, but Pakarinen is trusted on the PK and that appears to be the difference.
OILERS PROJECTED PAIRINGS
- Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson
- Andrej Sekera-Kris Russell
- Darnell Nurse-Eric Gryba
Based on practice yesterday, this might be the starting six for tonight’s game. I mentioned this a week or so ago, but the third pairing (and second line) might be the major stories (good or bad) in this series against the Sharks. Cam Talbot to start, no surprise.
#SJSharks lines this am: 68-39-8, 27-12-42, 36-48-89, 28-50-20, 38-19-62
— Paul Gackle (@GackleReport) April 11, 2017
As you can see, Logan Couture was front and center at yesterday’s practice, with wingers Melker Karlsson and Joe Pavelski alongside. How effective will Couture be? It’s playoffs. Trust no one. Donskoi-Marleau-Joel Ward and Hansen-Hertl-Boedker are pains in the ass as well. 4line of Haley-Thornton-Lebanc as listed here, will be interesting to see how many (if any) shifts we see from Thornton.
LAST 10 GAMES, OILERS
- Connor McDavid 10, 5-13-18
- Leon Draisaitl 10, 5-7-12
- Jordan Eberle, 10, 6-3-9
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 3-6-9
- Oscar Klefbom 10, 0-8-8
- Milan Lucic 10, 6-2-8
- Drake Caggiula 10, 3-3-6
- Kris Russell 10, 0-6-6
- Patrick Maroon 9, 2-3-5
- Andrej Sekera 10, 1-4-5
No one talks about this, but in the last 10 Oilers games, Cam Talbot has a SP of .889. That’s not a strong number, but when the team in front of you is scoring 38 goals in those same 10 games, not many notice. The Oilers have allowed 25 goals in those 10 games. Someone needs to hasten down the wind, this club needs a Moreau-Marchant-Grier unit badly.
LAST 10 GAMES, SHARKS
- Brent Burns 10, 2-4-6
- Jannik Hansen 9, 2-4-6
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic 8, 1-5-6
- Patrick Marleau 10, 4-1-5
- Joe Pavelski 9, 1-4-5
- Chris Tierney 9, 4-1-5
- Mikkel Boedker 10, 1-3-4
- Tomas Hertl 9, 2-2-4
- Melker Karlsson 7, 2-1-3
- David Schlemko 10, 0-3-3
Not a good run for San Jose, plus Martin Jones has an .882SP in his last 10 games. San Jose scored 25 goals in those games, allowing 34. The injuries to Thornton and Couture were a big part of the struggles, but can the Sharks put it all together in time for tonight? History tells us the playoffs expose injuries and weakness. Are the Sharks all hat and no cattle? My guess is no.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
- Jake Sundstrom: All told: Not great! San Jose played poorly against the Oilers with the exception of the Tomas Hertl line against the Connor McDavid line. That’s one of the few bright spots for the Sharks entering this series as the status of Joe Thornton and Logan Couture remains relatively unclear. Mix in the poor play of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun and … well, it’s not great! Source
I remember 1987 for Stanley and the weather. On May 31, Edmonton won in Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Exactly two months later, Black Friday hit our city and had an enormous impact on all of us. For some reason, in my mind, those two events have always been linked. Funny how the mind works.
- Names on the Cup: Glenn Anderson, Jeff Beukeboom, Kelly Buchberger, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Randy Gregg, Wayne Gretzky CAPTAIN, Charlie Huddy, Dave Hunter, Mike Krushelnyski, Jari Kurri, Moe Lemay, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Kevin McClelland, Marty McSorley, Mark Messier, Andy Moog, Craig Muni, Kent Nilsson, Jaroslav Pouzar, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Steve Smith, Esa Tikkanen, Peter Pocklington Owner, Glen Sather General manager/Coach
- Jeff Beukeboom was an Oilers draft from 1983 who had turned into an NHL player by 1987, Moe Lemay came over from Vancouver at the deadline (Raimo Summanen) and helped with a couple of goals, Craig MacTavish won his first Stanley in his second year with the Oilers, same with Marty McSorley. Craig Muni was a new and very productive arrival, failing in Toronto and flourishing in Edmonton. That kind of thing happened a lot during these years, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘just lucky I guess’ but Sather was a smart GM and these Oilers made even good players look that much better. Kent Nilsson came over at the deadline and was exceptional, he played a substantial role on the Stanley team that spring. Man he was a good hockey player. The Oilers traded for Reijo Ruotsalainen in October (Don Jackson) and his spring was incredible. If you didn’t see Ruotsalainen play, he was a delight.
- There was some heartbreak for me this season and the summer following. Lee Fogolin was traded in March 1987 (with another favorite, Mark Napier) and I loved him as an Oiler. That was a tough trade for me, I’ve remembered it since and often think of Fogolin. He was the least brilliant (skilled) player on the team, but he was heart and soul and the toughest man to ever skate that logo onto NHL ice. I miss him still, and always look for him at celebrations.
- Paul Coffey would go in November 1987 and Moog in March 1988, by then the band of brothers began moving on, ending the Boys on the Bus era.
- Steve Lansky has all of the boxscores from that spring here.
EDMONTON VERSUS SAN JOSE
My prediction is Oilers in six, but the truth is we’ll know a lot more tomorrow. SJS have severe injury woes and are coming into the postseason looking cornered and with no wait out. My Dad always told me to be most worried when the other guy had his back up against the wall. It’s almost time.
Photo by Reggie, with my thanks
- Stan Weir was born in a log cabin that he built with his bare hands.
- Stan Weir can lick his elbow.
- Stan Weir puts the fun in funeral.
- Big Foot takes pictures of Stan Weir.
- Stan Weir once played 18 holes of golf using a 12 inch strip of rebar and a sun dried tomato. He shot a 54.
- When Stan Weir crosses the street, cars look both ways.
- Stan Weir speaks in CAPS.
- Stan Weir won a pissing contest with a Russian racehorse.
- Stan Weir invented teal, but he doesn’t like the San Jose Sharks.
- He thinks they have too many guys with funny names.
- Plus their fans are Edmontonians living in San Jose because they have big brains because they once cheered for Stan Weir.
- Stan Weir will bring us money and shapely, adventurous women with bad eyesight.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Stan Weir!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, the first playoff edition of the Lowdown lifts off. Scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. SJS v EDM at evens, PP, PK, plus EDM with and without McDavid.
- Jake Sundstrom, Fear the Fin. How does Jake see this series playing out? What’s he hiding? What does he know and when did he know it? Trust. no. one.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Scott sees this series same as me (close as close can be with the injury kicker) and we’ll drill down on it.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!