Long Promised Road

The Edmonton Oilers rolled through the Capital last night, with the Nuge-McDavid-Rattie line posting nine points and Pontus Aberg finding his way on a new roster. Ethan Bear played a lot, Drake Caggiula cashed and the team ended a successful road trip on a strong note. Back at home, Pacific Heights awaits.

THE ATHLETIC!

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. Offer is here.

SURF’S UP, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • March 2016: 6-5-0, goal differential -1 (12 points)
  • March 2017: 8-2-1, goal differential +19 (17 points)
  • March 2018: 6-4-1, goal differential +6 (13 points)

The Oilers were quality on this road trip and have a good record in March, plus the goal differential is heading in a good direction. Important not to get fooled by any of the positive, Ottawa and Edmonton are running out the string now. Still, better to win these games and it’s certain the coach remains hungry for victories. Why? My guess is the organization (as Bob Nicholson stated) is wary of change, believing continuity is a key element for long-term success. A strong run to the end of the season (say 4-2-2) would make the final record 37-38-7, 81 points. It’s easier to defend an 81-point season, that’s about 14 points shy of the playoffs, than it is a 70-point season. These games matter to someone, just look at the lines and pairings.

AFTER 74, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 29-38-7, goal differential -45 (65 points)
  • Oilers 16-17: 40-25-9, goal differential +34 (89 points)
  • Oilers 17-18: 33-36-5, goal differential -25 (71 points)

Unforgivable to miss the playoffs with so damn much talent, but you can’t change the results they are in the history books. You can change the approach and we’re two precious weeks from finding out the plan. There’s a difference between what they should do and will do, suspect we’ll be talking about pawns as opposed to Kings.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH

  • At home to: Nashville, NY Rangers, Arizona, NY Islanders, Minnesota (Expected 2-3-0) (Actual 3-2-0)
  • On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • At home to: San Jose (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-1)
  • On the road to: Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Ottawa (Expected 1-2-1) (Actual 3-1-0)
  • At home to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Columbus (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 6-7-3, 15 points in 16 games
  • Current results: 6-4-1, 13 points in 10 games

March is tracking far better than my projection, with two winnable games at the end of the month. This homestand will be interesting, three teams playing and points matter for them. Will the Oilers get swept?

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Nurse-Larsson were 24-17 in 18:16, 4-1 in goals. Just three offensive zone starts, nine neutral and seven defensive zone draws. Pairing was 14-8 (4-0) with McDavid line, 13-6 in seven minutes against Hoffman-Duchene-Dzingel. A strong night.
  • Russell-Bear went 11-13 in 14:04, 5-6 in scoring chances and 2-1 in high danger scoring chances. Ottawa has some injuries and took a period to get going but even with that this pairing held its own. Were 4-5 in five minutes against Hoffman-Duchene-Dzingel. Ethan Bear is smart. Full stop.
  • Auvitu-Benning were 9-15 in 12:01, they were dominant in the first period. I keep wondering why the gap between Bear and Benning exists but it’s real. Bear played almost seven more minutes last night than Benning. Were 1-9 against Burrows-Smith-McCormick.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 33 of 35, .943. He’s a big part of this late-season surge.
  • NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Nuge-McDavid-Rattie are tearing up the blacktop, this might be something. The key is Leon being able to score on a separate line, and we should still discuss 93-29 as an option for next season. 93-97-8 went 17-11, 4-0 goals. The line was up against the pairing of Chabot-Ceci and the trio of Pyatt-Smith-Paajarvi and went 16-10 and 12-6, respectively. Rattie has now scored three goals in 16 shots over six games. Hot. Is he earning a job for next season? History suggests no, but this team needs value contracts so you never know.
  • Slepyshev-Khaira-Pakarinen were 7-8 in nine minutes, 0-2 in HDSC. They didn’t score but the job is making sure the other guy doesn’t either.
  • Caggiula-Draisaitl-Aberg were 11-12 overall, went 7-5 against Hoffman-Duchene-Dzingel. Leon had a bunch of chances but his timing was off a little. Line could have had at least one more goal by my estimate.
  • Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi were 7-10 in 9:13, 0-1 GF. Lucic got the only point for the line, a power-play assist on Caggiula’s second goal. Strome had a couple of brilliant chances, JP was a little out of the mix on the second Ottawa goal. Otherwise I thought he played well and was heavily involved in the play. I like this line.

JESSE PULJUJARVI

  • Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. -Max Ehrmann

I’m not going to quote the rigmarole out there, you’ve no doubt seen and heard much of it. Bottom line: Sometimes a situation is perceived as being a test for one (Jesse Puljujarvi) when in reality it is a test for another (Edmonton Oilers).

I’ve mentioned this many times, but the Oilers view young talent as an endlessly renewable resource. It’s the thing that allows the organization to preach patience even during Connor McDavid’s entry level deal. If you view Jesse Puljujarvi as vital to the future, you are moving heaven and earth to find a productive path for this young man. If you view Puljujarvi as the latest flame, easily replaced after another season of failure, then none of this really matters.

Jesse Puljujarvi is a child of the universe, and this is unfolding as it should. If you are pointing at Jesse Puljujarvi, perhaps a quick browse through Oilers history will benefit you. Blaming teenagers is an ugly look.

I’d move the first-round pick in a deal for Dougie Hamilton, if the selection landed between No. 6 and No. 10 overall. Not a chance in hell Calgary does it, but it is a lovely dream. I wanted to touch base on a theory of mine and it goes like this: Both Alberta teams are in a very dangerous spot. It’s possible we see Hamilton or Johnny Gaudreau or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Oscar Klefbom sent away this summer, with management in both cities experiencing panic at the disco. I think the team that focuses on what they have, and builds on that, will come out of this as the winner. If either team enters summer with the idea that the “mix” or the “leadership” or the “chemistry” needs a fix, then they’re bloody doomed. The California teams and Vegas merely have to keep on keeping on, while the Alberta teams chase the intangible. It’s pretty incredible.

I had Frank on the Lowdown yesterday, we covered his story as it hit the web. It’s a very good summary of the season, and in my opinion the “layered” nature of the problem and the fact so much went wrong will offer cover to Peter Chiarelli in his role as general manager. I’m less certain about Todd McLellan, the possibility exists that he will have at least one new assistant coach and perhaps he balks at that idea and announces he has been too long at the fair. My guess is an assistant coach from the NHL team and a shuffle in Bakersfield is what we’ll see first week of April. That’s not the same as saying I believe it to be the right move, but it’s the one we’re most likely to see based on evidence (Nicholson interview on HNIC, brazen trade this week with risk involved the absolute personification of a Chiarelli trade).

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun, busy show this morning on TSN1260 beginning at 10. Scheduled to appear:

  • Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. The Flames are out, meaning Winnipeg or Toronto. Which team goes deeper into the postseason? Also, can McDavid win the Hart on a team that misses the playoffs?
  • Warren Currie, The Easy Rider. Warren has been snowboarding for decades and running Easy Rider for 20+ years, and plans to celebrate over the long weekend. We’ll chat about the industry’s growth and what’s to come.
  • Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Point counter Point will discuss Jesse Puljujarvi and his handling, March Madness and why Canada can’t support Toronto.
  • Paul Almeida, SSE. Do the auditions of Ty Rattie and Pontus Aberg have any long-term meaning?

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

 

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208 Responses to "Long Promised Road"

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  1. OmJo says:

    Andy Dufresne: Technically speaking I beleive Trouba could be fit in under the cap.

    I think there is an above average probability that the plan is to sign Darnell to a bridge contract that keeps him happy until Sekera and Russell are moved.

    I think that would be the best case scenario, yeah. Unfortunately probably not as realistic as we’d like it to be though, if Nurses agent has anything to say…

  2. OmJo says:

    Wilde: I have to go and can’t give you a full write up on this, but if you have a subscription to the Athletic this is a good piece on the specific subject of Trouba’s on ice play and his value in contract negotiations

    https://theathletic.com/278453/2018/03/18/everyone-knows-jacob-trouba-is-extremely-valuable-to-the-winnipeg-jets/

    Thanks, I’ll give it a read tomorrow morning. If you do have time tomorrow, I would like to hear why you think he’s significantly better than Nurse still. If not, no worries.

  3. OmJo says:

    Bobcaygeon: Honestly, with all the talk on Nurse for Trouba….RW IMHO is right up there with NEEDS to get this fixed talk….

    I would take a run at Stone, forget the Hoffman or Trouba talk, this is the guy I target from Ottawa…
    RFA and a real need, the plus is….. I’m not sure Ottawa has a real taste for the salary demand Stone is going to be asking.

    The thing with RW vs RD, I mean right now you could argue we need a RW moreso than a RD (and vice versa) but in terms of the reinforcements coming within the system, I think the glaring issue is RD.

    For RW we have Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Maksimov, Saphin. We also have Connor McDavid, a C who can make any RW he plays with better.

    We don’t have that kind of solution at RD. We have Bear coming up, and Berglund a few seasons away. Larsson is a 2RD, I think we can agree on that. A very good 2RD, mind you, this isn’t an insult to him. Benning can be a 3RD, I still have faith in him. We don’t have a LD who can do to a RD what McDavid can do with his wingers. Sekera was that LD (Fayne, Russell, maybe Benning) but who knows if he still can be after his injury.

    I think RW can be fixed, at least temporarily, through free agency. Give time for the young RWs to grow and develop in the AHL and hopefully turn into useful NHL players – scratch that, useful Oilers.

    That being said, I would go Stone over Hoffman as well. I’m not sold on Hoffman.

    Ottawa might be the place to go this summer for deals. Sad time for the franchise… This is not the way you put butts in the seats..

  4. kgo says:

    Y’all might have noticed I haven’t posted since the first month of this dastardly season….LT is probably happy to see my account sit dormant….prepare for some rambling.

    Here are my thoughts that have been fermenting and marinating for months.

    This roster needs elite Right handed players on D and on the Wing.

    Picture MCD charging through the neutral zone, or any zone…he needs Rightys playing the right side to pass him the puck at speed…the milliseconds it costs for a lefty to make that pass, or the milliseconds it costs for MCD to take the pass on his backhand are magnified and immeasurable.

    In terms of RHD, I think Benning belongs in the AHL or on the third pariing at best ( I realize the fancies disagree) , I’d move Larsson to the 2nd pairing RHD and try to upgrade 1RHD….perhaps trade JP or Klef for a cost controlled, borderline elite RHD assuming at least 90cents on the dollar. (I’d bring Bear along in the AHL, with callups at every opportunity when a RHD goes down). Don’t get me wrong on Adam Larsson, I think him and MCD should play 30 mins a night each reciprocally.

    In terms of RH FWDs:

    Strome should be qualified on a 1yr deal.
    Pakarinen should be shot into the sun, to rest next to Mr. Pettrel
    Sleppy should be brought back only on a league minimum deal
    Yamamoto shouldn’t see the NHL for another 2 years (his ridiculous deployment by a desperate TMAC is partly to blame for our slow start)
    JP should be stapled to CMD for the entire next season…If he scores a ton and costs us money that’s a great problem to have.

    I think Talbot shitting the bed this season is, in hindsight, somewhat predictable. Everyone thought the birth of his twins would wreck him last season….but any man with kids should have known that the first 6-8 months are a savage burden on the mother, but the father’s burden appears later in the equation..

    As far as coaching and mgmt:

    Tmac is a conundrum…on one hand he’s clearly an amazing sports psychologist…which might be the most important part of his job…but his loyalty to Woodcroft and vets such as Lucic, Letestu, and even Pakarinen (perhaps via Chiarelli) have cost the Oil immensely…I’d fire everyone but TMac and install some strong experienced voices whilst stripping TMac of some strategic authority.

    Seeing Lucic on the PP all season in almost inexcusable….the PK format equally so

    Chia has to go….I was one of his most ardent supporters until now. His NMC with Russel, knowing an expansion was on the horizon, in inexcusable…I’m praying he has the personal clout to get Lucic, Russel and or Sek to waive there respective NMCs or the next expansion draft is going to be extremely painful. My nightmare scenario is that Bear emerges and promptly disappears to the Seattle Totems….but it could be worse than that.

    My Schadenfreud has been strong as the season closes, Seeing the flames die a miserable death has been enjoyable…seeing the islanders flounder has been fun (although I feel for Duggy W)
    If the Panthers can knock out THall and the Devils I might even be able to rest easy until October.

  5. Munny says:

    OmJo: Larsson is a 2RD

    Larsson is a 2D. A better Seabrook, Gator, whatever.

    He’s no Huddy. But he has some Steve Smith in him. Manson. For the modern day.

    Rough J-Bouw.

    Trees. They fall off trees. YMMV.

  6. Munny says:

    treevojo: Good question.

    My brother suggested this blog.

    My love for the Oilers was the reason.

    I have been reading daily for over ten years.

    Today thisis what I value about this blog in order.

    1.Humour

    2.Banter

    3. Potent potables

    4.Recipes

    5.Ol time stories

    6.Music

    7.Finances

    8. Hockey

    Honestly the order of this list can change daily but we are seriously lacking in number one.

    This place is hurting for some Chachi.

    Joansin’ for it.

  7. GMB3 says:

    Man Ostap Safin has some ridiculous skill. Maksimov and him are great bets where they were drafted. Looking forward to the rest of his time in Bakersfield

  8. Bruce McCurdy says:

    speeds:
    Andy Dufresne,

    the definition they list says less than 80 games.

    https://www.capfriendly.com/faq#ufa6

    I cant speak for Bruce, perhaps he was assuming/thinking that Rattie would be an RFA?

    Yes I was. My bad he is a Group VI. I still think a 1-way deal at or below the AHL burial rate gets it done. He has to recognize this as his best opportunity.

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