The Heart of the Matter

Late in the first period of last night’s game, the Detroit Red Wings tied the score 2-2 on a strange goal. Oilers fans held their breath, lit a candle, said a few Hail Mary’s and waited for another crippling loss—that never came. Last night’s second period, featuring three Edmonton goals to none, 14-3 on the shot clock and miles of skating and coverage, offers this team a chance to find solid footing. Perhaps it will be remembered as a turning point.

THE ATHLETIC!

The special Lowetide offer is here. Check it out! It ain’t just me, babe:

SNOWBLIND FRIEND, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in November 2015: 4-6-2, goal differential -6
  • Oilers in November 2016: 5-6-1, goal differential 0
  • Oilers in November 2017: 5-6-1, goal differential -4

Edmonton is now marching in lock step with last year’s team, remember we viewed that month as a disappointment one year ago. The three games ahead are against Buffalo, Boston and Arizona: Can the Oilers go 2-1-0 against them? That would put them 7-7-1 for the month.

AFTER 22, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 7-14-1, goal differential -12
  • Oilers 16-17: 12-8-2, goal differential +10
  • Oilers 17-18: 8-12-2, goal differential -14

The chain has not yet been broken, the Oilers aren’t impossibly broken and perhaps there will be something longer than a short story or novella this year. Edmonton needs two more wins this month, at least. This would be a very good time to begin the first winning streak of the year.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER

  • At home to: Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Detroit (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-2-0)
  • On the road to: NYI, New Jersey, NYR, Washington (Expected: 1-2-1) (Actual: 2-1-1)
  • At home to: Vegas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual: 1-1-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 1-2-0)
  • At home to: Arizona, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-7-2, 16 points in 16 games 
  • Current results: 5-6-1, 11 points in 12 games

Last night’s win came on the heels of three difficult games in a row, contests where this Oilers team did not respond well. The win against Detroit, at least partially, allows the team and fans to believe there’s a better tomorrow. I think there will be more moves to come but a strong run through the end of this month could be vital to a playoff run closer to spring.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Auvitu-Benning went 18-9, 3-0 GF. I spoke to Darcy McLeod yesterday on the Lowdown, he was raving about Auvitu and his brilliant chaotica. We saw it last night, he’s wet willie with the puck and a pure headache for the opposition from center ice in. Went 10-7 against Tatar-Larkin-Athanasiou.
  • Klefbom-Russell went 13-14, 1-1 GF. Went 7-9 against Nyquist-Zetterberg-Mantha, Klefbom had a nice recovery game to my eye, seemed to simplify things. Russell’s assist was an area pass to McDavid. Crazy what that guy can turn into offense.
  • Nurse-Larsson went 10-18 together, 1-0 GF. Darnell’s goal (I swear Lucic deflected it) was an important one in my opinion, Edmonton needed to have good things to happen early. Faced Larkin (3-5) and Helm-Nielsen-Glendening (4-11) and were chasing all night but didn’t break.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 20 of 22, .909.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Cammalleri-Letestu-Kassian went 7-3 together and scored a nice goal. It would be a great fourth line, suspect Cammalleri plays farther up the batting order for much of the year. Went 5-1 against Tatar-Larkin-Athanasiou.
  • Khaira-Strome-Puljujarvi went 10-8 on a pretty strong night for the trio. Went 6-6 against Nyquist-Zetterberg-Mantha and posted nice goals from Khaira and Puljujarvi. Music! Now, do it again.
  • Maroon-Nuge-Draisaitl went 9-8, 1-1 GF. The Maroon goal was beautiful, Leon is such a fantastic passer. When he’s using that big brain and making passes like that one, pretty cool. Nice finish by the big man.
  • Lucic-McDavid-Caggiula continued a trend for the 1line, losing the possession battle and posing copious crooked numbers. Went 14-15 as a line, 2-0GF. Went 6-7 against Helm-Nielsen-Glendening, looks like both coaches were okay with the matchup (over 8 minutes). We’ve seen power v power for much of the season, nice to see 97’s line with a chance to wheel.

5×5 POINTS PER 60 FORWARDS

This is God’s flashlight, important to have as many forwards at or near 2.00/60 as possible. We are reaching a point in the season where we can trust these numbers as being reflective of a fairly large sample. I have last year’s total in brackets.

  1. Leon Draisaitl 3.01 [2.04]
  2. Connor McDavid 2.75 [2.88]
  3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2.45 [1.50] 
  4. Milan Lucic 2.27 [1.22]
  5. Patrick Maroon 1.79 [1.81]
  6. Ryan Strome 1.58 [1.58]
  7. Drake Caggiula 1.50 [1.13]
  8. Jesse Puljujarvi 1.30 [1.45]
  9. Mike Cammalleri 1.29 [1.43]
  10. Jujhar Khaira 1.19 [0.66]
  11. Anton Slepyshev 1.14 [1.35]
  12. Zack Kassian 0.84 [1.67]
  13. Kailer Yamamoto 0.52 [nil]
  14. Iiro Pakarinen 0.45 [2.03]
  15. Mark Letestu 0.35 [1.41]
  16. Natural Stat Trick

Some great spikes in there, Lucic is recovering nicely from a poor season in the discipline one year ago. RNH is also running some great numbers compared to a year ago, while others (Connor McDavid, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Strome) are about where we should expect them. Leon Draisaitl is posting enormous 5×5/60 totals so far this year, can he sustain it? If he can, away from McDavid, we’re going to have to credit him for pushing his own river. His numbers currently don’t reflect that (he played mostly with 97) but it’s something to watch closely.

CONDORS

I wrote about Ziyat Paigin over at The Athletic but with all of the other news it kind of got left behind. Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts has a very interesting take on it (I will quote only a portion, please click and read).

  • Friedman: Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling too many of their prospects are not panning out there (Bakersfield). Source

I apologize for being deliberately vague in my quoting, but am breaking my 24-hour rule. Whatever the issue, this needs to be fixed. If it’s a Russian-to-Bakersfield issue (remember Bogdan Yakimov?) then the organization needs to either avoid Russia (that would be stupid) or find a way to make life better for these kids. Part of the problem is talent, if you compare the Condors forwards to the Stockton Heat it’s an insane gap. However, there are quality defensemen who are prospects in Bakersfield, so if there’s a bigger problem it has to be addressed now.

One thing I’ll hang on management: Lack of balance on the roster. Jesse Puljujarvi didn’t have a quality AHL center to run with in Bakersfield this year, that’s a big oversight. I’ll have a lash at the subject of AHL development over at The Athletic (probably tomorrow).

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun Thursday morning, TSN1260 beginning at 10. Scheduled to appear:

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. It’s a rare morning when I get to talk to my friend about a decisive Oilers victory.
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Jason is at the Grey Cup, we’ll get an update from Ottawa.
  • Rob Vollman, NHL.com and ESPN. Is it too late for the Oilers, can Arizona get something out of the season, what about Sidney?
  • Frank  Seravalli, TSN. Oilers get a big win, can they get on a roll?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

 

 

 

 

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208 Responses to "The Heart of the Matter"

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  1. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    OriginalPouzar:

    I think he’s more of a sure thing for the NHL (if healthy) than Yamamoto and potentially more NHL ready.

    – Chia needs many of Kailer/Pulji/Benson to emerge

    – Based on our roster composition, these guys allow us the cap space to win Cups (unless they can find more Maroons @ less than $2MM all the time!)

    – If by year 3 of CMD’s contract, all three of these guys are in our top-9, man do you have a powerhouse team IMO (I know its not likely, but you need some luck)

  2. jake70 says:

    Just browsing CNN website, looks like Darnell made their top sports photos for the week. Wonder if Darnell grabbed buddy’s camera.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/20/sport/gallery/what-a-shot-sports-1121/index.html

  3. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    who: Re wingers; You say the team will be better from here on out but in the same sentence say a huge hole was dug and blame that on management. It’s the same group of players.
    Maybe it was just injuries and an early season scoring slump by these players. Either way, we really won’t know till later this season

    Hmm. I actually said the “blame” is on players as well as management. I also said maybe the team will be better from here on out.

    I agree we need more time to make a more complete assessment, but my opinion was that the first quarter of the season management did bet a lot on young players taking the next step and that likely cost this team some valuable points.

  4. russ99 says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker),

    Good assessment.

    I think part of why he did that was that he’s super gunshy on going over on bonuses and thus having less cap next year, and allow room for a major deadline addition. Also Sekera’s cap hit needed to stick, since he’ll be back for roughly half a season.

    Still, a lot of GMs get in trouble managing for next season.

  5. OriginalPouzar says:

    Kinger_Oil.redux: – Chia needs many of Kailer/Pulji/Benson to emerge

    – Based on our roster composition, these guys allow us the cap space to win Cups (unless they can find more Maroons @ less than $2MM all the time!)

    – If by year 3 of CMD’s contract, all three of these guys are in our top-9, man do you have a powerhouse team IMO (I know its not likely, but you need some luck)

    Maksimov and Safin are behind them (if they make it) along with some of the recent draft picks that are developing well (from accounts) in college.

    A step back this year (if it happens) will further build the prospect pool (i.e. not trading our picks for rental and even acquiring picks/prospects of our pending UFAs – Maroon, Letestu, Cammalleri) – not that I’m hoping for that but there is a silver lining if things do not turn around.

  6. OriginalPouzar says:

    Anticipating news that Slepy is activated to fill the open roster spot created by the Stanton re-assignment.

    Just my baseless speculation but I don’t imagine they are keeping a roster spot open for no reason except to save a days’ worth of cap space.

  7. TO10801 says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    Anticipating news that Slepy is activated to fill the open roster spot created by the Stanton re-assignment.

    Just my baseless speculation but I don’t imagine they are keeping a roster spot open for no reason except to save a days’ worth of cap space.

    I agree. Petrovic talk seems to be heating up a fair bit. I wonder if we could see sleppy for petrovic straight across. Florida needs scoring by all accounts

  8. Matticus says:

    JimmyV1965: JP facing the toughest competition is just asking for trouble and probably not a great way to develop this prospect.

    I agree but maroon has been struggling, nice goal last game, and looch doesn’t have a good history with McD 5v5. Im just sayin it wouldn’t hurt to give JP a shot, he has he speed and the shot, McD can find him for that one timer, that would be awesome!

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