The last time the Edmonton Oilers scored a goal, we had plenty of turkey in the house and the city was enjoying some time with family over the holidays. A pair of 5-0 losses and a post-Christmas record of 0-3-1 leave the rest of the schedule as part curio and part funeral march. This grind toward spring is going to get nasty.
Great 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: Oilers have no Andrew Mangiapane to recall
- New Jonathan Willis: January is a month of decision for the Oilers
- Julie Robenhymer: Kailer Yamamoto
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid: The Athletic’s Person of the Year!
THE X FILES, YEAR OVER YEAR
- January 2016: 1-0-0, goal differential 0
- January 2017: 0-1-0, goal differential -2
- January 2018: 0-1-0, goal differential -5
January needs to be a strong month for the Oilers, unless getting a slightly better lottery chance is the goal. I can’t imagine that idea sitting well with the organization but there may not be much choice. This is dire now. This is Brooks at the halfway house.
AFTER 40, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 16-21-3, goal differential -24 (35 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 20-13-7, goal differential +9 (47 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 17-20-3, goal differential -16 (37 points)
This year’s team is a mere two points better than the 15-16 edition and 10 points behind last season’s pace. The goal differential was -6 just two games ago. If we’re honest, this team is approaching coach killer indifference based on results. Who knows what lies within a man? The results are the thing and they are not good.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM JANUARY
- At home to: Los Angeles, Anaheim (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, Arizona, Vegas (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver, Buffalo, Calgary (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 4-4-2, 10 points in 10 games
- Current results: 0-1-0, zero points in one game
I have this team grabbing 10 points, the Oilers need 14 to stay in the race. One night isn’t the matter, but that 0-3-1 record after Christmas is bullet hits the bone.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Russell were 16-12 together in 13:00, 0-1 GF. Went 14-3 with McDavid, 8-3 against Clifford-Lewis-Shore. Pairing was 2-6 against Pearson-Kopitar-Brown, and that in 4:21. McLellan’s usage of his defense against the Kopitar line is the most interesting thing (for me) about last night’s game. Russell’s pinch of sin and a struggling fourth line were the culprits on the first goal, the only one worth discussing in my opinion (the third period power play made the rest of this game moot).
- Nurse-Larsson were 12-14 in 13:30 together, they did not score and did not give up a goal (this is all 5×5). Pairing went 6-4 in 6:04 against Pearson-Kopitar-Brown.
- Klefbom-Davidson were 12-12 in 10:07 (third pair in usage), 0-1 in GF. Were 7-3 in five minutes against Gaborik-Kempe-Toffoli, 3-5 in 3:10 against Kopitar. Definitely the third pairing.
- Cam Talbot stopped 28 of 33, .848.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon-McDavid-Puljujarvi looked fabulous to my eye, McLellan tiring of Lucic’s inability to get those pucks on and in the net. Maroon is probably going to skip a few games here (has a hearing) but I’d keep this trio running through January. McDavid was 10-9 in seven minutes against Doughty, 1-6 in three minutes against Kopitar.
- Lucic-Nuge-Cammalleri were 7-8 together, I’d like a RW who can scoot. Were 6-5 against the Gaborik-Kempe-Toffoli line.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome were 11-10 on the night, Caggiula chimed in for a time on that line as well. McLellan mentioned right at the end of the media avail that they had higher expectations of Leon and that was true for the entire team. Disappointing run for Draisaitl post-Christmas, for me the big man had delivered quality play until that point in the year.
- Caggiula-Letestu-Kassian keep getting burned for 5×5 GA, this time it was a pinch by Russell and jailbreak the other way. Who knows what changes we’re likely to see by Anaheim game, I’d tweak this line.
Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon will have a hearing today for interference on Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 3, 2018
The game had its share of belligerence from both sides and for me sending messages is part of the game. McDavid took some significant slashes and at least two tumbles, I have no objection to some whacks and a shot across the bow. The hit, no matter the intent, appeared to get the head (more shoulder than elbow) and that’s five and a game. The hearing suggests there could be another game or two coming.
ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST
There can be good things in a losing season. The Montreal Expos won 75 games in 1977, but figured out their batting order and finished off the youthful outfield, while the young pitchers pushed up from the farm (and would arrive in 1978 and 1979).
Jesse Puljujarvi looks like a young man who has figured things out, Jujhar Khaira is playing regularly and we’ll see about the others.
Peter Chiarelli’s big trades have been searing in assets out but the smaller deals often bring real help. That’s the play here. PC has basically been quiet during this season (he’s the first Oilers general manager who doesn’t like a microphone) and he’s going to need to make a move to save his coach. If that doesn’t fit with the Katz plan, then the owner will have to step in. You can’t fire 23 players and right now this group looks lost in the supermarket.
Kailer Yamamoto reclaims the lead for USA with a great effort pic.twitter.com/yuKK09IZzq
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 3, 2018
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. A full boat of fabulous guests, including:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Todd McLellan says he can’t figure out the ills of the penalty kill. What is he missing?
- Corey Graham, Oil Kings PBP. A nice run for the local junior team, we’ll find out what’s clicking. We’ll also chat about Tyler Benson’s appearance in town (finally!).
- Aaron Kasinitz from Penn Live. Eagles, baby!
- Josh Lewenberg, Raptors Beat Reporter for TSN. Raptors are in second place in the Eastern Conference and getting some giant performances.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!