The Oilers are on a four-game winning streak and sit at 17-17-2 as we enter the Christmas break. Based on where this team found itself in the middle of November, this is a significant accomplishment. Late in the game, Connor McDavid blocked a shot and Oilers fans (and hockey fans) held their collective breath for the results. By 15 minutes after the game, we had a preliminary answer.
“The X-ray came back negative. Foot is sore but expect him to play in Winnipeg.” McLellan on McDavid
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) December 24, 2017
We’ll have to follow this story of course, but the early word is encouraging and things look good, so we’ll conduct ourselves accordingly. Sigh of relief, fifth of scotch, three Hail Mary’s and we’re off. You will encounter legions of “you can’t tell a thing early” individuals and it is certainly true you want to see things in the clear light of day. However, if you come across someone pushing their own expertise, ask for proof of their own qualifications. A lot of internet doctors surround these moments, I have found.
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- New Lowetide: Jones, Bear and Mantha
- Lowetide: Year-end taking stock
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid: The Athletic’s Person of the Year!
LONG DECEMBER, YEAR OVER YEAR
- December 2015: 7-3-0, goal differential -1 (14 points)
- December 2016: 5-2-3, goal differential +1 (13 points)
- December 2017: 7-3-0, goal differential +11 (14 points)
With the team four games over .500 for the month, we can probably go ahead and call this month a success. The question now, with three games remaining, is how successful can the club make the month of December? If McDavid misses time, that will impact things. If Edmonton wins two of three, the twelfth month will end 9-4-0. Music!
AFTER 36, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 15-18-3, goal differential -18 (33 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 18-12-6, goal differential +8 (42 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 17-17-2, goal differential -4 (36 points)
This year’s model is stretching past the 15-16 Oilers a little, this was the period where Edmonton’s first McLellan team began to fade away. I think last year’s team will be a distant bell for the 17-18 crew, this is the closest to range I recall since the early days of the season.
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 1-0-0)
- At home to: San Jose, St. Louis, Montreal (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 3-0-0)
- 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: 7-3-0, 14 points in 10 games
This is a great month, and it comes at time when the organization badly needed it. Any idea how many jobs are being saved in December? A few, I’d guess. Edmonton is 6-2-0 in the last eight games.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Davidson-Larsson were 18-10 in 13:33 together, 6-1 HDSC and no goals either way. Went 7-1 with the Draisaitl line, 4-7 against Pacioretty-Drouin-Byron but dominated all other lines.I like this pairing, although it is fair to say that Larsson is the dominant member. He’s playing so well right now.
- Nurse-Russell went 13-14 in 16:08 together, 4-1 HDSC and 1-0 GF. Were 9-8 with the Nuge line and 4-5 against Lehkonen-Plekanec-Gallagher. Pairing played the most, and against a fine line, not sure if Dourin or Plekanec are considered Montreal’s top line at this time. Both men posted assists, good passing on the night from both and that was reflected in the scoring.
- Sekera-Benning were 20-22 in 14:40, 4-5 HDSC and 0-0 GF. Were 6-11 with the McDavid line; also 4-8 against Pacioretty-Drouin-Byron but 13-2 against Lehkonen-Plekanec-Gallagher. Strange. Sekera seemed a step slow in this one, maybe adrenalin got him through that first game.
- Cam Talbot stopped 29 of 30, .967. Another strong game. When he’s on, and he is, even big time scoring chances don’t appear to be major events. Don’t be fooled, he had a helluva game.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome went 11-2 in 9:51, 1-0 GF and 4-0 in HDSC’s. The line is delivering quality most nights and Leon is playing the best hockey of the season. Khaira is on pace for 18 goals, Strome for 16 goals and Draisaitl is driving toward a 71-point season (all via The Hockey News). Leon’s line received and caved the Galchenyuk trio (8-0) and the Lernout pairing (6-1). Poor bastard got sent down to the AHL the day before Christmas because of it. Sporting is tough business.
- Maroon-Nuge-Caggiula went 19-14 in 13:55, 0-0 GF and 7-4 in HDSC’s. No goals but plenty of chances and if you play that game again surely something rhymes. Nuge’s line got the tough assignment (Lehkonen-Plekanec-Gallagher) and went 9-6 in 7:39. Neither team scored, job well done by the line.
- Cammalleri-Letestu-Kassian went 11-9 in 9:07, no goals, 3-1 in HDSC’s. Went 5-7 against the Deslauriers-Froese-Carr line, a mighty fourth line the Habs have been running successfully. Good job by Edmonton’s own fourth line to saw them off in goals and win the HDSC battle.
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi went 10-19 in 11:25, 1-0 GF, 1-2 HDSC’s and (concerningly) 2-9 in shots. Not good. Went 4-16 against Pacioretty-Drouin-Byron and 2-18 against Jeff Petry, who apparently wanted the Oilers to remember him.
- The Oilers won this game on merit, the 5×5 HD scoring chance total (15-9) flattered the Habs.
Fun Stat of the Day:
Point Pace over 82 games
Wild Card #1: DAL – 95 points
WC #2: CHI – 91 pts
MIN – 89
CGY – 89
ANA – 89
COL – 87
EDM – 82
VAN – 78
EDM needs 1.2-1.3 points per game to hit a playoff spot. Between 6-4 and 6-3-1 every 10 game segment.
Tough… but doable.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 24, 2017
The math remains difficult, but credit this Oilers team with turning north in time. WNO’s numbers give us a guideline for the rest of the season.
Much better period from the Condors. For my 2nd straight viewing I'm loving Caleb Jones. I said last week that after a rough start to the season he is really coming on. Tonight is another positive step forward.
— EDM Prospect Watch (@EDProspectWatch) December 24, 2017
This is exactly what you want to see from a prospect in his first AHL season. Jones is feeling it now, partly because he has a veteran partner who allows sorties and mistakes without the puck ending up in the back of the net. We don’t know that Caleb Jones will be an NHL player, but the arrows are heading in a very good direction.
He isn’t getting the offensive looks of 10 days ago, but my goodness he’s good in coverage. I hope the organization sticks with him on the 97 line, important the young man remains confident.