Traction

The Edmonton Oilers took the train out east, tightened the rhythm section and maybe—maybe—we see a push for the playoffs. There’s a lot of blood on the tracks, it’s possible this runaway train is finally settling in for the push toward April.

THE ATHLETIC

Great new offer! Includes a free 7-day trial so you can try The Athletic on for size free and see if they enjoy the in-depth, ad-free coverage on the site. If you don’t feel it’s worth the $4.49/month, cancel anytime during trial before getting charged. Offer is here.

  • New Lowetide: The Leftorium versus unicorns
  • Aaron Portzline: Post-game wrap with some killer notes.
  • Lowetide: Mike Hoffman a perfect fit!
  • Jonathan Willis: Darnell Nurse will (eventually) push someone out the door!
  • Corey Pronman: World Juniors snubs (Oilers angle)

LONG DECEMBER, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • December 2015: 5-0-0, goal differential +6
  • December 2016: 2-1-2, goal differential +1
  • December 2017: 3-2-0, goal differential +8

This year’s Oilers team is running about even with a year ago, the 2015-16 December was a rocket but that team would come down to earth in a quick hurry (as we’ll see in the coming days). I have to say, this road trip was a very good one for Edmonton. What they make of it is out among the stars.

AFTER 31, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 14-15-2, goal differential -9
  • Oilers 16-17: 15-11-5, goal differential +9
  • Oilers 17-18: 13-16-2, goal differential -7

The Oilers of 2017-18 are tightening up now, forcing their way towards .500 for the season. That’s nothing to laugh at when you’ve been down in the boondocks, we’ll call it plenty of room to grow. The 15-16 team would finish December 1-6-1 from this point, a punishing set of results from which the team would not recover. The 16-17 team went the other way. What will be the direction of the current team?

  • Todd McLellan: “You hope that it confirms that we’re turning the corner & putting some things together.”

 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 2-1-0)
  • 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: 3-2-0, six points in five games
For the second time this month (Calgary game), the Oilers are slightly ahead of my projections. They receive no mercy from the schedule makers, with Nashville next on the calendar. We may not see the kind of progression hoped for in December (due to schedule strength) but if Edmonton can stay within reach (say five points) of the playoffs maybe we see better days when the weather warms. If we make it through December, this team might have a second leg worth watching.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Davidson-Auvitu went 14-12 in 12:57 together, 2-0 GF, 5-2 HDSC’s. Went 6-5 against Foligno-Dubois-Panarin in 4:33, that’s the big line. Brandon Davidson is a quiet player so is unlikely to get credit but I do believe he should be recognized giving more balance to this blue line. Auvitu is electric.
  • Nurse-Russell ran 12-15 in 15:55 together, 1-2 GF, 1-2 HD. Went 7-4 in 6:18 against Foligno-Wennberg-Bjorkstrand. I mostly like this pairing, thought Russell gave up the blue line a little early on the first goal against. Nothing major and the duo was generally effective to my mind.
  • Klefbom-Benning were  10-17 in 16:01, 1-0 GF, no high dangers against with this pair. Were 6-4 in 5:45 against Dubinsky-Jenner-Atkinson, it looks to me as though Oscar is playing the Serge Savard role and Benning has more freedom to wheel.
  • Laurent Brossoit stopped 28 of 30, .933.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Maroon-Nuge-Cammalleri went 13-14 in 12:34, 0-2 in GF (although Nuge cashed from Cammalleri on the 5×4) and 1-2 in the high dangers. Went 6-7 against Dubinsky-Jenner-Atkinson.
  • Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome went 10-11 in 11:34, 0-2 in HDSC’s but nothing on the score sheet either way. I loved Leon’s assist and his coverage down low and he had faster boots last night. Khaira stepped in for  97 when Foligno snapped, hope he didn’t hurt anything. That big man is coming on.
  • Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi-Slepyshev had fine results together. McDavid-JP went 14-16, 97-Lucic went 8-13 and McDavid-Slepy went 5-0 in 46 seconds. McDavid is ridiculous, this is his third year and I’ve already run out of adjectives.
  • Slepyshev-Letestu-Kassian posted four points on the night, Letestu is a fine player. Went 3-6 in 9:31, Kassian’s goal the only crooked number. Went 1-3 against Calvert-Motte-Sedlak.

It’s been a struggle for Kailer Yamamoto since he returned from the NHL, he scored last night and picked up an assist to run his season total for Spokane to 13gp, 2-10-12. The best offensive season from junior players so far comes from Tyler Benson (19gp, 12-17-29) with Kirill Maksimov (28gp, 18-13-31) and Ostap Safin (33gp, 13-19-32) also posting strong numbers.

Might have been a good idea to have a boo, you know, just to have some idea about how the Oilers were deploying their lines. McDavid faced the Dubois line and Seth Jones most of the time at 5×5, four points, three individual HD scoring chances, he was magical.

SLEPYSHEV-MCDAVID-PULJUJARVI

It was 46 seconds, ended in a goal and 5-0 Corsi for—and we may never see it again. I watched that sequence a few times and wonder what the 97 line might look like with a burner on left wing? Puljujarvi can eventually serve the big man role and win the corner battles, what about a bullet train on the port side? I wrote about Mike Hoffman on Monday over at The Athletic, something to think about moving forward.

LEON DRAISAITL

The big man had his feet moving last night and made two excellent defensive plays on goalmouth scrambles. He hasn’t been himself in recent games, fabulous to see him make an impact on sorties at both ends of the ice.

BRANDON DAVIDSON

When the Oilers grabbed Brandon Davidson from Montreal, I wrote an item at The Athletic:

  • Brandon Davidson was excellent in possession his first full NHL season. Edmonton was brimming with quality youth at the time, mostly first-round picks. Davidson, from the bowels of a distant draft, hung with them. He’d also straightened out the skating, showed impressive passing ability and could transport the puck. The Oilers found one, a good one. Only problem? He arrived same time as Klefbom and Nurse, two first-round picks. (The Athletic)

He’s back and has settled down that third pairing (to the point where Todd McLellan doesn’t have to treat it like a third pairing, witness above). A year gone from talk of losing him in the expansion draft, Davidson is back and will be a value contract next season should the team sign him. He could also contribute to the exit of one of those higher draft picks come summer, an ironic conclusion to that fabulous rookie year when he showed us what he could do in the NHL.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy schedule with a lot of good things to discuss. Scheduled to appear, TSN1260 beginning at 10 this morning:

  • Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. About last night, plus questions arising about McLellan’s deployment of young players.
  • Scott Mitchell, TSN. A wild MLB winter meetings, what are the Jays up to?
  • Rex Libris. Our brilliant referee resource will update us on trends, plus we’ll discuss the Oilers and their need to turn north.

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

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208 Responses to "Traction"

« Older Comments
  1. Pouzar says:

    JD_Sigh:
    Pouzar,

    So 4 then?

    give or take yeah

  2. kgo says:

    I slinked over to ON for a minute and holy geez are they CBA uneducated…even the author of the article suggested we could “sneak walker into the minors”

    Comments about waiving Russel and his NMC, people suggesting Lucic’s movement clauses haven’t kicked in yet….

    It felt like walking around at K-days when I was a kid, Carneys everywhere

  3. kgo says:

    kgo,

    Remind me how.long we have to keep Walker on the big roster before we can reexpose him without WASH retaining rights? My memory says 8 weeks or so…I remember Chorney to St Louis raised the question

  4. Thinker says:

    kgo:
    I slinked over to ON for a minute and holy geez are they CBA uneducated…even the author of the article suggested we could “sneak walker into the minors”

    Comments about waiving Russel and his NMC, people suggesting Lucic’s movement clauses haven’t kicked in yet….

    It felt like walking around at K-days when I was a kid, Carneys everywhere

    I’m pretty sure I heard Russel is allergic to his equipment though.

  5. JD_Sigh says:

    kgo: Chorney

    A lot has changed with the CBA and waivers since Chorney, so I wouldn’t assume that info is valuable now.

  6. GMB3 says:

    Connor McDavid is now tied for the lead league in EV+SH points with 30. He’s tied with Schwartz, Schenn is sa few points behind them. McDavid has 9 PP points opposed to the 17 and 19 from Kucherov and Stamkos.

    I take solace in this fact. His recent play reminds me of the tear he went on at the end of last season. I think he could put up 110+ still

  7. JimmyV1965 says:

    kgo:
    kgo,

    Remind me how.long we have to keep Walker on the big roster before we can reexpose him without WASH retaining rights?My memory says 8 weeks or so…I remember Chorney to St Louis raised the question

    Does it really matter? Ideally, don’t we want someone to claim him to get rid of the contract?

  8. texmex says:

    JD_Sigh,

    See CHRIS DiDOMENICO

    TB claimed him on 11/24 from Ottawa.

    TB put him on waivers 12/01 Ottawa claimed him 12/02

    So walker could be waived I believe

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