The third round has been Death Valley for the Edmonton Oilers in recent summers. The club called out the names of Troy Hesketh, Cameron Abney, Ryan Martindale, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Jujhar Khaira, Daniil Zharkov, Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev from 2009 to 2013. Nine men, Khaira and Slepyshev still pushing. It’s too soon to know, but Jujhar Khaira may be arriving as bona fide.
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- New Lowetide: The Price You Pay
- New Jonathan Willis: Ryan Strome
- New Minnia Feng: Emotional Breakdown: Where do you rank?
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect Winter 2017: Kailer Yamamoto
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect Winter 2017: Jesse Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect Winter 2017: Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect Winter 2017: Caleb Jones
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect Winter 2017: Tyler Benson
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 6 Prospect Winter 2017: Kirill Maksimov
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 7 Prospect Winter 2017: Ostap Safin
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 8 Prospect Winter 2017: Filip Berglund
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 9 Prospect Winter 2017: Jujhar Khaira
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 10 Prospect Winter 2017: Nick Ellis
- Lowetide: Oilers No 11-20 Prospects Winter 2017
- Lowetide: Just win, baby. Or else!
- Lowetide: Moonstruck
- Lowetide: Fresh Farm Produce
LONG DECEMBER, YEAR OVER YEAR
- December 2015: 3-0-0, goal differential +3
- December 2016: 2-0-1, goal differential +3
- December 2017: 2-1-0, goal differential +4
That was a smart victory last night in Montreal, gives December some early appeal. The goal differential is basically last night but the road has been more of a friend to this team than home ice this year. G4 2015 was a 4-3 overtime win over San Jose and a year later it was a 4-3 OT loss to Buffalo.
AFTER 29 GAMES, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 12-15-2, goal differential -12
- Oilers 16-17: 14-11-4, goal differential +8
- Oilers 17-18: 12-15-2, goal differential -11
This year’s Oilers are an exact match for the 2015-16 club (they won 31 games) and are six points behind last year’s team (they won 47). I think this team will land somewhere in between. 35 wins? G30 in 2015 saw Edmonton win 7-5 over the NY Rangers with many famous onlookers (including Glen Sather) and last year it was a loss, 3-2 in a Minnesota shootout.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 1-0-0)
- At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Toronto, Columbus (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Nashville (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: San Jose, St. Louis, Montreal (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Chicago, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-2, 12 points in 13 games
- Current results: 2-1-0, four points in three games
I didn’t expect the Oilers to win last night, predicted just one win on the road trip. Another victory tonight would be manna from heaven for an organization that has managed very little traction through the first 29 games of the season.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Benning had the puck going the right way all night long. Went 18-11 in 15:10, and 4-3 in HD scoring chances. The pairing had 11 offensive zone faceoffs, 8 neutral and three in the defensive zone. Went 6-5 against Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher.
- Auvitu-Davidson went 16-15 together in 10:06 and 2-0 in GF. I thought both men played well, very mobile and moved the puck well most of the time. Went 6-8 against Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher. .
- Nurse-Russell went 13-20 in 16:01 together, 1-0 GF. Pairing spent 5:30 against Pacioretty-Danault-Byron, going 5-12, and 6-2 against Galchenyuk-Drouin-Shaw. Had a disastrous sequence where they were chasing 2009 style after a ghastly Zack Kassian turnover at the blue line (he’s been doing it too much). Russell had too many giveaways himself, needs to clean that up.
- Laurent Brossoit stopped 22 of 24, .917.
- Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon-Nuge-Cammalleri were 14-4 and 3-0 in HD scoring chances. Lots of good things from this line, I thought Maroon’s penalty was pretty much the only negative. Went 8-4 against Galchenyuk-Drouin-Shaw.
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi were 17-13 and 7-1 in HD scoring chances. The trio had several sorties that involved creativity and deft passes. I thought JP scored in the first, that was a rocket. Plenty of promise on a night when the line accounted for five points and could have had several more. Went 6-10 against Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher and 6-3 against Pacioretty-Danault-Byron. McDavid had some clean air last night and does seem to have more jump in his step, perhaps the effects of the flu are dissipating.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome went 7-9 and 2-0 GF. Khaira is ridiculous right now, he’s moving up the depth chart and posting offense pretty much every night. Line scored five points on the night. Went 3-3 against Deslauriers-Froese-Carr.
- Walker-Letestu-Kassian got caved in possession but went 3-4 in HD scoring chances. It was one of those nights. Went 4-15 against Pacioretty-Danault-Byron, I wouldn’t run this line as is tonight. That’s the only change I see, although Nick Ellis could make his NHL debut in goal tonight.
Kailer Yamamoto is off his pace of one year ago, I wanted to look into things and see if there were any trends. He isn’t scoring at the same levels during even strength or power play time and we’re going to arrive at 20 games (a reasonable sample size) soon. I think usage may be part of it (power-play numbers are way off, he has two PK points already, three points all of last year in the discipline) and it’s clear isn’t having the same success this year.
Often these things straighten themselves out, but it’s a concern and something to observe. Yamamoto is a big part of this team’s future, still expect he will finish his junior career with a flourish.
HUTCHINSON AND MRAZEK
Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman had some Oilers items on the round table last night, Edmonton among several teams interested in Hutchinson and (according to Friedman) also looked at Mrazek. It tells us the Oilers are interested in upgrading at the position in-season, and some of the cap room that is available (I remain convinced it is far less than the dollar amount many are reporting) may be headed to a strong backup for Talbot. The auditions we saw on the opening night roster (Brossoit, Auvitu, Yamamoto, Caggiula, Khaira, et cetera) are separating and Peter Chiarelli may be poised to make a substantial move.