Saturdays in October ranged from chilly to beyond severe winter. We lived 17 miles north of Maidstone in an old school house. You drove to the Allan Store from Maidstone—past Silver Lake—and turned left at the store, drove to the first crossing on the north road. That was us. One summer, riding my bike to Allan Store from the house, I encountered hundreds of “bertha armyworms” and they killed a lot of crops around my house. Dad told me to run over as many as I could with my bike, so I did. Don’t think it helped much, though.
In winter, say 1970, I used to get up early on Saturday mornings. My Dad went to work at Husky about 5, and I would watch the headlights fade before quietly putting on my boots and coat to head outside. We had this incredible outside light, must have been 10 trillion watts, it lit up the night and gave the entire a yard an impressive look. I would take one of my Dad’s saw horses, which was about the size of a net, and put 10 gallon buckets in front to represent the goalie. I was always the Bruins (when my brother would play with me, he got to be the Bruins and I had to be the Habs or Leafs. I went Leafs) and would play for a long time before the sun would come up or Mom would call me in for breakfast.
I can still remember the cool air in my lungs—it can be hard to breathe when the air is that cold—and playing road hockey all alone. Keith Schwartz, our neighbor, would drive by about 7am and yell “he scores” but that was okay because I liked him fine. HNIC was 11 hours away and there was a full day to go. Me? I was running through the lines in my brain and beating the Habs in the SCF. I could tell you what year it was based on Orr’s partner, although Dallas Smith had the job for a few years there. Me, a puck, Sher-wood or Victoriaville stick, and an imagination forged by love of the game, isolation and the fact it was 5am and my feet were frozen. Damned fool if you want the truth. I loved every minute of it.
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +3
One of the key elements to last season’s success was a quick start for Edmonton. By the end of October there was a sense the formula had a chance to work. The stated goal was playoffs and it should be again. Looking past making the postseason would be a ridiculous thing to do.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCTOBER
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- At home to: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Carolina (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Washington (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-3-2, 12 points in 10 games
- Current results: 1-0-0, 2 points after one game
The Oilers are on top and that’s a good thing but the major item is Vegas, baby! James Neal scored twice last night, driving up the eventual price for Edmonton to acquire him at the trade deadline. That was a fun win for the expansion kids, they could be more entertaining than the 1974-75 Washington Capitals.
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINEUP
- Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
- Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Kailer Yamamoto/Zack Kassian
- Drake Caggiula—Ryan Strome—Jussi Jokinen
- Jujhar Khaira—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian/Iiro Pakarinen
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Kris Russell—Matt Benning
- Darnell Nurse—Eric Gryba
- Cam Talbot (Laurent Brossoit)
Based on practice yesterday (Bob verbal) we could see Iiro Pakarinen drawing in and Kailer Yamamoto sitting, but that’s a guess and we’ll know more later in the day. The team will want to see Yamamoto settle in and perhaps running him out there again is the best plan, with Kassian able to slide up from the 4R slot as required.
OILERS FORWARDS 2017-18
- This is the format I plan to use this season. Boxcar numbers are 5×5, I do include 5×4/60 but not the power-play numbers. Corsi For (I’m abandoning Matt Fenwick, again) and Corsi Rel explains itself. I’m using NaturalStatTrick’s high-danger chance number but there was some wobble a year ago so may not continue or could replace.
- Not much to say early days, beyond McDavid’s insane scoring number and the pure dominance of his line.
- That McDavid line had 11 high-danger chances according to NST, seems about right.
OILERS DEFENSE 2017-18
- Same format as above.
- The Klefbom-Larsson pairing was fantastic, Nurse-Gryba did well.
- Russell-Benning’s numbers did not shine but I liked their game. Oilers Nerd Alert explained it in a brilliant tweet yesterday.
- I might delete the final column and run something else there. We’ll see.
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) October 7, 2017
The Bakersfield Condors outshot the Stockton Heat by a bunch and still lost 4-1. The highlight was Ethan Bear’s first pro goal, assists to Jesse Puljujari and Caleb Jones. The Condors twitter feed is outstanding, and Ryan Holt (pbp guy) offers excellent insight as well. Condors were zero for five on the power play, plenty of talent but the centermen lack offensive acumen as a group. It’s going to be an issue. Finally, that Stockton team is very good. There are a few guys at the NHL level with less talent than men like Mark Jankowski and Andrew Mangiapane. Flames are doing curious things.
PROSPECTS MAKING NEWS
- Stuart Skinner is having a nice start for Lethbridge, 33 stops last night in a 4-1 win. He sits at 5gp, 2.82 .919 this morning.
- Ostap Safin had another big night for the Saint-John Sea Dogs. He is now 7gp, 3-5-8 on the year.
- Kirill Maksimov is under suspension currently for the Niagara Ice Dogs but is 5gp, 3-4-7 so far.
- Filip Berglund is 6gp, 1-3-4 early in his SHL season. His NHLE (early days alert) is 31.7. His team is in action currently and he has one shot on goal.
- Dylan Wells is 6gp, 3.12 .918 for Peterborough Petes.
- Bogdan Yakimov is 18gp, 2-2-4 for Neftekhimik (KHL).