The Edmonton Oilers played a fantastic first period against the Nashville Predators last night, outshooting their opponent 22-4 but not managing to score. NaturalStatTrick had the HDSC’s in the first 20 minutes at 4-1, that seems about right. In the second period, Nashville outchanced Edmonton in HD’s 4-2 and scored on every damned one. I agree there should have been penalties, I agree luck loves country music, but I don’t think fans should fret about last night’s loss. The Toronto game was far more frustrating to my eye, that was a game Edmonton should have won going away. Last night? The first period should have been more kind, the referees are clearly sending a message to Connor McDavid (“we could call a penalty on every shift, so we’re not going to call any”) but this team has enough holes to lose a game they play well in. Surely we can agree on this statement.
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- New Lowetide: Jesse
- New Jonathan Willis: McDavid as defensive liability is fiction
- New Lowetide: The Leftorium versus unicorns
- Corey Pronman: Around the farms (Maksimov)
LONG DECEMBER, YEAR OVER YEAR
- December 2015: 6-0-0, goal differential +7
- December 2016: 2-1-3, goal differential +1
- December 2017: 3-3-0, goal differential +4
Not much change here, this year’s team is about as effective as last year’s, with the 2015 club absolutely lashing opponents for the team’s 14th win in 31 games. Of course, that Oilers team would win just 17 of the final 51 games—something the 2017-18 group should easily cover.
AFTER 32, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 14-16-2, goal differential -11
- Oilers 16-17: 15-12-5, goal differential +7
- Oilers 17-18: 13-17-2, goal differential -11
I figure this out in the minutes and hours after each game, and it’s stunning how that damned rut from two years ago hangs around like a virus (as a comparable). It’s damned difficult to turn a season around, it’s like a death march even getting to “fake .500” (which would be represented by 17-17-2, above). A day game in Minnesota beckons, like a loaded gun in 110 degree heat the day you lost your job, your wife left you and the dog ran away.
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 0-1-0)
- 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: 3-3-0, six points in six games
The Oilers are performing as I predicted, it’s a 2-3-2 step from here through the end of the month. I’m sympathetic to the toughness of schedule, while also realizing the “free bingo square” so far this season has been the Oilers on their home ice. Lordy.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Davidson-Auvitu went 24-9 together in 13:27 together, 3-1 in HD’s. Went 10-2 with McDavid’s line, went 8-3 against Aberg-Jarnkrok-Forsberg. This pairing played less at 5×5 than the other two, Todd McLellan’s not going to keep doing that if these two keep delivering 75 percent Corsi.
- Nurse-Russell went 22-13 together in 15:34 together, 3-1 in HD’s. Went 11-5 with 97, 9-8 against Bonino-Johansen-Arvidsson. There was a strange sequence in the third period where Nurse drove down low in the offensive zone on the rh side and backhanded it net front—to Kris Russell in the slot. Strahnge. Nurse was on the ice for three goals against last night.
- Klefbom-Benning went 8-21 in 13:21 together, 1-5 in HD’s. This pairing was saloon doors to my eye, not much finesse from two guys who can do some things with the puck. Went 5-7 with McDavid, 3-11 against Aberg-Jarnkrok-Forsberg. If Larsson’s back Saturday, I’d put him here.
- Edmonton received 23 shots from defensemen, 23 from forwards.
- Laurent Brossoit stopped 19 of 23, .826. He has not earned an NHL job during this period where Cam Talbot has been unavailable; that’s my opinion.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon-Nuge-Cammalleri went 15-8, 2-0 in HDSC’s. Went 6-3 against Subban and had good possession numbers against most opponents but were 2-5 against Aberg-Jarnkrok-Forsberg. I like the line. Nuge is having a good year and Cammalleri was a good find.
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi were 21-13 (McDavid-Puljujarvi) and 15-13 (McDavid-Lucic) with another 4-0 McDavid-Slepyshev and 3-1 McDavid-Khaira. Folks, we’re going to see ML moving off this line soon, no doubt in my mind. I’m a fan of the big man, but passes have to be concise or they just bounce off of him now. Slepy, Khaira or maybe Caggiula could replace him, but it’s probably going to be Maroon. Trio went 9-6 against Johansen line. McDavid took a frustration penalty in a bad spot, that probably comes from getting the squeeze from officials. I can’t blame him, but he put his team in a tough spot. Puljujarvi had some 10-bell chances, just a little shy on getting there in time. He’s coming along nicely.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome were 12-9 together, I thought Khaira was the most effective player on the line. Leon took a weird hit early but kept his feet moving. He played just 11:47 at 5×5, not enough. Went 4-0 against Bonino-Johansen-Arvidsson.
- Slepyshev-Letestu-Kassian were 14-16 together, Slepy moved up the dial for a time. I like this line, would keep them together if the other three trios are firing.
If you look at last night’s lines and run 5×5 scoring/60 for the last 10 games, you get this:
- Lucic (1.75)—McDavid (2.77)—Puljujarvi (2.83)
- Maroon (1.96)—Nuge (1.48)—Cammalleri (2.29)
- Khaira (3.33)—Draisaitl (0.48)—Strome (1.49)
- Slepyshev (0.95)—Letestu (3.22)—Kassian (3.00)
What’s up with Leon? He hasn’t looked right for awhile, expect for flashes. I thought he and Strome performed well together in the Boston game, mentioned he was laboring against the Coyotes, seemed flat against the Leafs, had a breakaway against the Flames (didn’t cash), played a strong game against Philly, had some jump against Montreal, a strong game against Toronto (ravaged a post on the power play), faster boots and good decisions against Columbus, you saw last night. The big man has been like his team all year: Consistently inconsistent.
KHAIRA VERSUS LUCIC VERSUS MAROON VERSUS CAGGIULA VERSUS SLEPY
At some point this morning, I believe Todd McLellan will back his car out of the garage, hit “shuffle” on his CD player and listen to Boston, Foreigner, BTO, Garth and Reba on the way to work (note: This is an estimation, I don’t know if he likes those artists, and maybe he’s figured out how to hook up his phone to that contraption dammit stupid frack).
Once he gets to the rink, I think he’s going to hit shuffle again. BTO moves from the McDavid line to Leon’s line, MFSB to the McDavid line, and maybe Foreigner to the Nuge line. I think Khaira is the wild card, he could end up anywhere.
Sometimes events conspire and allow a small ray of light to the role player. The Edmonton Oilers keep moving Jujhar Khaira up the depth chart and he keeps outplaying alternatives. Could we see him with Nuge? If Patrick Maroon moves up to the McDavid line (I think it’s inevitable) and Lucic moves down to help Leon (also a strong possibility), then Khaira would be the most likely candidate for Nuge-Cammalleri. It’s been surreal.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A big show this morning, lots to discuss beginning at 10 on TSN1260:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Star Wars! Plus Oilers.
- Sarah McLellan Star Tribune. Those Minnesota Wild.
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Point Counter Point on the Oilers: Is the coach safe? GM? Who’s leaving?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Could Cam Talbot’s return be the turning point of the season?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!