The Edmonton Oilers won on the road, and both of their scoring lines cashed. That is the good news. The bad news? Injuries continue to plague this team, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has a broken bone in his hand and is out long term. Shiza. If this team ever gets healthy, maybe they can push the river? I don’t think we will know this season.
BAD MOON RISING, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
- Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1
- Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-2-2
- Oilers after 47 in 2014-15: 12-26-9, 33 points (-51 GD)
- Oilers after 47 in 2015-16: 19-23-5, 43 points (-21 GD)
Edmonton has another game tonight—schedule loss—and the Oilers of a year ago also lose G48 to the Minnesota Wild. The 2-1 score saw Viktor Fasth stop 27 of 29 in a solid outing. This Oilers team is on a 75-point pace, and are 19-19-5 since that horrible opening road trip. Edmonton is 11-8-3 since December 1, and has been involved in several one-goal games recently.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse—Gryba had a good night, still too much rambling by the rookie but their size allowed them to win some battles and those quick, short passes found the right jersey more often than usual. The big item for Nurse: he faced the Trochek line. Better result.
- Davidson—Schultz ended up as top pair in terms of even-strength time, and they faced the top forward group most often. Davidson has a big damned brain, he sizes up the situation and makes a good decision—even if it is standing, waiting with the puck, for the forecheckers to fade. A fantastic addition to this team. Schultz is playing his best hockey in a couple of years, maybe back to Ralph.
- Sekera—Fayne had a good night, except for Sekera’s many brain cramps. Man he made some boners out there last night. Fayne is settling in now, Todd McLellan mentioned it post-game and I was thrilled to hear it. And the coach is right, he is more aggressive and it is helping.
- Florida held a 7-6 edge in high-danger scoring chances, and some of the numbers above have score effects attached. I thought this was among the best road games of the last two seasons by the defense.
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was having a great night, including an assist and effective play at evens and on the penalty kill. Absolutely crappy news about the injury, and the Oilers are in a spot of bother at the position. I think this is going to be a large mountain, but it will be interesting to see how they deal with it.
- Mark Letestu stepped up in terms of playing time, led the centers in even-strength minutes. I like him especially below the goal line on offense and defense, he knows his way around. Doesn’t have enough offense to replace the Nuge, but he is going to play more now for sure.
- Leon Draisaitl and his line were a key element in the win last night. There are plays you will remember a long while, and recognize it when they happen. Last night’s streak down the ice to get the puck, ward off the blue, find a passing lane and drive to the net for the resulting Hall goal (to make it 3-0) is such a moment. Plenty of chances during the play for him to break off, give up, lose concentration, chip it to the corner. The big man said screw that, and the result was another cash. Beautiful.
- Matt Hendricks did a little of everything last night, including a fight the entire world knew would happen. I was more impressed with his play beyond that one, including a nice little kick pass in the faceoff circle for a good Eberle opportunity.
- No Oilers center had a high-danger scoring chance, joining the blue in getting shut out last night.
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Nail Yakupov is becoming the second Chance Machine. Seriously. He didn’t cash and he is not the best puck getter-outer out there, but he is going to score a lot of goals in this league.
- Benoit Pouliot took a couple of poor penalties but he also posted an assist and moved the play forward many times.
- Jordan Eberle scored a nice goal, man that guy has hands. If he can keep up his speed past 30, he should be able to post an impressive career number in that category.
- Zack Kassian may not have much for legs tonight in TBay but I thought he kept up pretty well in Miami. Mystery to me how he gets more minutes than all wingers but Eberle and Hall, though. I do not think he is a better player than Pouliot.
- Taylor Hall is a wonder, and he is adding elements to his game under Todd McLellan. He is involved far more in the game now, battling for pucks and making smart plays. I still love him best when he is driving to the net like a bat out of hell. What a player.
- Iiro Pakarinen did a lot of hard work, he is 36 games into his Oilers career. He will have to work like a bugger to stay here but I like him.
- Teddy Purcell is a gem, an absolute gem. If you cut up any of his games right now, it is a long series of great passes, terrific reads, solid positioning and scoring chances. 1-5 against Jagr, they held on though, and that line is going to get their looks. Much credit to Cam Talbot on the night with those two lines on the ice.
- Individual High-Danger scoring chances: Yakupov (2); Eberle (1); Kassian (1); Hall (1); Purcell (1).
Cam Talbot really is something else these days. In his last three games (2-0-1), his SPs are .973, .969 and last night .939. If this team performs a miracle this season—and I know, I know—remember these days or miracle and wonder.
Sounds like RNH suffered a hand injury possibly similar to what the Habs Gallagher had. Gallagher missed six weeks. #Oilers
— David Amber (@DavidAmber) January 19, 2016
Craptastic! Good grief. Some speculation by Matty about Connor McDavid coming online, but I believe he is thinking about the old Oilers. One thing we never really did receive was an explanation about why McDavid’s recovery was so long. A lot about bones, but nothing specific. If he plays tonight, it is a sure sign Edmonton has not given up on the season (Edmonton has not given up on the season).
"If the team is at a point where they are really contending around the deadline then we will try and help the team." Chiarelli.
— OilersNow (@OilersNow) January 18, 2016
What would this look like? Defense. I think Chiarelli will try to make a deal that sets the defense up as a more balanced six. What will it look like? Hell if I know. RH defender who can play, so that is Kevin Shattenkirk, Travis Hamonic and Sami Vatanen.
"He'll be back shortly after the All-Star break is what i'm told." Peter Chiarelli with an update on Klefbom.
— OilersNow (@OilersNow) January 18, 2016
Music! Losing the Nuge is a big damn deal, but they do have McDavid coming back and that will help. Klefbom back in the lineup makes Edmonton’s defense far stronger and it looks to me as though our man Sekera may be wearing under the strain. Godspeed, Oscar!
"I expect him to be in our mix in short order." Chiarelli on Reinhart.
— OilersNow (@OilersNow) January 18, 2016
I have to believe this means someone is heading out of town, probably Justin Schultz, Mark Fayne or Eric Gryba. Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson and Nurse would seem to be guaranteed spots after the trade deadline, so adding Reinhart means someone has to go. My guess is Schultz, but this is becoming an interesting contest. My guess for top 6D after the deadline?
I think they do find a market for Schultz, but do not find a market for Fayne or Gryba (or at least prefer to sign Gryba). They could also send Nurse back, but again last night, the TOI told a story.
Feel for Edmonton. Assembled young talent, started to show signs, but another key player down. Oilers play with heart though.
— BobSchaller (@BobSchaller) January 19, 2016
Oilers do seem to be in good positions these days, but a lot of the points are coming off the back of terrific goaltending performances by Cam Talbot. WG nailed it, this guy was a great bet. Long distance to travel, but credit where due and Peter Chiarelli stepped up in this area to deliver improvement (at starter and backup, imo).
ICYMI I posted another NHL injury update on the site yesterday. Still Oilers as most injured. Still Rangers as least injured.
— Man-Games Lost NHL (@ManGamesLostNHL) January 17, 2016
This will not get better of course, with the Nuge down for many weeks.
On his return to Edmonton, RNH to meet with Oiler doctors and specialists to determine if surgery on hand is necessary.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) January 19, 2016
Yeah, suspect we should wait on a hard target date for return. Must be talking significant injury to the hand. Dammit.
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) January 19, 2016
- Oilers Nerd Alert: Note that the Score Adjusted Corsi is still above 50%. In other words, given the big lead the Oilers had, the degree to which they were outshot is actually well explained by score effects – normal or better than normal for the NHL.
This team has battled through a lot, and honestly they looked pretty damn good after losing Nuge last night. I think the smart play here is to sit Gazdic, bring back Lander and run the following:
However, I don’t know if Korpikoski will play tonight (McLellan sounded like Dallas was more likely). If the Oilers can grab a cheap center, it might be an idea. I am also open to the idea of giving Anton Lander a bigger offensive role, center or wing.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
— ADSAUSAGE (@adsausage) January 19, 2016
A busy, fun morning on the Lowdown, 10 o’clock TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. Last night, the Nuge, what the hell is it with injuries?
- Scott Zerr, Oilers Nation. Condors won yesterday, who is playing well?
- Corey Pronman, ESPN. Your draft questions, I want to know who is the best D in this year’s draft.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Talk soon!