Do you know the Wally Pipp story? The legend is that he had a headache (he had many, reportedly due to a childhood hockey injury), asked out of the Yankees lineup and lost his job forever to Lou Gehrig. The real story? Well, it might have been a headache but Pipp was also batting .244 when Miller Huggins replaced him. There’s a beauty to baseball statistics, you can see the build of a young career, the blossoming of a hall-of-famer, the incredible sustain the drives results past age 30 for only the men touched by God, and, finally, the sadness of age and arrival of lead feet, a slow bat and the tears of goodbye. Lou Gehrig’s career page is both a soaring opera and a devastating tragedy. His final MLB game was April 30, 1939. He died June 2, 1941, just shy of his 38th birthday. Wally Pipp stepped aside, but only because he was about to get run over.
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- New Lowetide: Making the deadline calls on free agents
- 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!
FALSE SPRING, 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 2016 G2 saw Edmonton win 1-0 in OT over Carolina, Andrej Sekera is made for that game state. A year later 4-3 Edmonton over Boston, Patrick Maroon with the hat trick. Oilers badly need a win tonight to right the ship.
MIDWAY, 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)
January 2016 saw Edmonton beat Carolina 1-0 (as above) and last year G41 was a 2-1 overtime win over New Jersey. Last year’s team was rolling now, they would go 27-13-2 and end the season 47-26-9, 103 points. However, the 2015-16 team went 15-22-5 to wind up 31-43-8, 70 points. If this Oilers team duplicated last year’s team from this moment, the team would finish 44-33-5, 93 points. Too many holes, ladies and men.
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 Edmonton taking this game to overtime tonight, and then playing pretty well on the road. Edmonton did play two good periods against Los Angeles on Tuesday, need to bring it home with two points this evening.
JUJHAR, ANTON AND THE DRAKE
Patrick Maroon is out tonight (and one more game) serving a suspension and, just like Wally Pipp, there’s an opportunity available. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Leon Draisaitl are the best available options on left-wing with McDavid-Puljujarvi but I don’t think Todd McLellan will load up one line. Mike Cammalleri has the skill but not the speed.
Jujhar Khaira brings some of the elements of Maroon but he’s shy offensively compared to Edmonton’s suspended player. Anton Slepyshev is an excellent fit but the coach has him in the Rita slot. Drake Caggiula is fast and he could get the job, although his sniping ability isn’t elite. Milan Lucic is also available but McLellan has been watching the big man miss the net quite a bit lately, so that may not be the option chosen. Thoughts? I vote Slepyshev, suspect it will be Lucic.
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) January 4, 2018
Benson’s final season in junior is healthy and that’s the most important thing. His boxcars (27, 15-23-38) and his NHLE (33.5) are very good arrows. I’ll talk to Bruce about Benson’s performance last night, Benson will be a big story at training camp in the fall. I expect he’ll play at least half a season in the minors but you never know.
- Corey Pronman on draft day: Benson has great instincts, constantly finding seams to get the puck to his teammates or on net. “He never wows you,” said one scout, “but he’s always around the puck, making a good play.” Benson is a quality defensive forward with great work ethic in battles and solid overall positional play. He doesn’t shy away from throwing a hit, and is strong on the puck.
After tonight’s game, we’ll be exactly halfway through the season. Who had Edmonton giving up 260 goals? Four men are on track for 50+ points, three of them centers. The pivots will also score 20+ goals but no winger (unless Lucic scores tonight) is on track for that number. Kris Russell leads the defensemen in scoring, Cam Talbot’s save percentage is .903. Regression on the way?
PATCHES FOR NUGE
Ray Ferraro, who is one of the top hockey people in media, threw out a Nuge for Max Pacioretty discussion point yesterday. I’m a fan of patches but the value here favors Montreal in this trade. Why? Pacioretty is a grand player, even suffering through a difficult season. His cap hit ($4.5 million) has one more year after this one. He’s on pace for fewer than 20 goals this year after being a 30-goal man for five seasons (all but the lockout) in a row. Nuge is having a strong year and has three years after this one ($6 million). Peter Chiarelli has bled talent to address need, to the point where making this trade would represent a talent fracture from which the team might not be able to recover.
HALL FOR CECI?
Ceci had higher value at one time than he does now but that would have been a disaster. I’m not going to re-shovel the Hall trade, you all know my opinion on that deal. That said, Adam Larsson was a more established and (in my opinion) useful player. That would have been a ghastly trade.
Some of these prospects are starting to post good crooked numbers, thought I’d run the NHLE for Edmonton’s prospects in Bakersfield:
- Ty Rattie 27.4
- Joey Laleggia 23.6
- Ethan Bear 20.6
- Grayson Downing 17.8
- Patrick Russell 16.2
- Kyle Platzer 14.7
- Joe Gambardella 12.8
- Braden Christoffer 11.4
- Caleb Jones 11.2
- Ryan Mantha 10.6
- Keegan Lowe 10.5
- Dillon Simpson 9.9
Rattie is in that grey area between AHL and NHL, I wonder if we see him in Edmonton after the deadline. Joey Laleggia keeps pushing, his season hasn’t been as impressive and that’s probably due to Anton Lander’s absence.
Ethan Bear is the most impressive prospect on the list based on offense, we’ll see how he shines for the rest of the season. Caleb Jones and Ryan Mantha are also prospects of note, difficult to project any of these blue onto an NHL roster in the next 12 months. Patience.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. We rock n’ rolla with some spectacular guests. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Tyler Benson, Oilers play tonight, draft talk too soon?
- Josh Lewenberg, TSN. Raptors DeRozan finding another level.
- Rob Vollman, ESPN and NHL.com. All-breakout team, plus Player of 2017.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. World Juniors! BIG day!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!