Old man Webster has been up all night, and he still can’t find the words. Watching Connor McDavid cut through Blue Jackets last night was incredible, other-worldly, stunning, and a bunch of words they haven’t invented yet. Bring on the thaw, I am ready for the warmth of the sun and music that swings. Hope rang throughout the north country last night, we have our champion.
IT CAME OUT OF THE SKY, 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: 4-5-2
- Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
- Oilers in February 2016: 1-0-0
- Oilers after 51 in 2014-15: 14-28-9, 37 points (-51 GD)
- Oilers after 51 in 2015-16: 20-26-5, 45 points (-23 GD)
Last night was pretty damned encouraging, and we can talk about equaling last season’s win total (24) by the end of February—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Blue Jackets are not the Islanders or even the Senators or the Canadiens—a 2-2-0 week was a reasonable expectation yesterday and should be this morning. We are on to Kanata, and maybe someone else will experience Tabernac Saturdays beginning this weekend.
McDavid with the INSANE goal in his first game back since his injury ?https://t.co/VBFNTIwsHP
— Hockey Tweets (@HKY_Tweets) February 3, 2016
The goal itself was incredible, but to do it first game back? It is the stuff of legends. I said yesterday that McDavid would have to post a good point total (over point-per-game) and the Oilers would have to push toward a playoff spot (turn a 10-point deficit into five points, that kind of thing). He can win the Calder, the story is there to be written.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Reinhart—Gryba received the second most minutes among the three pairings, and when together they broke even. Score effects were in play in a major way, and they did have to play some difficult opposition during the game. Oilers Nerd Alert did have this pairing at a rather substantial 71.1/60 Dangerous Fenwick Against, and that is a fascinating item. As you know, I like to use established metrics, but the difference between the two measures last night interests me.
- Sekera—Fayne were the best pairing last night to my eye, solid play and good positioning. Sekera is a smart bugger with the puck, and Fayne is standing up like a lion in winter now, God love him. He even did it at THEIR blue line last night, pretty soon he will be doing it at intermission! I hope they keep him, reliable and dependable won’t go out of style in my lifetime. This pairing had a 33.5 Dangerous Fenwick Against.
- Nurse—Clendening bring up the rear and Nurse was taking a lot of heat last night online. I felt the duo had a reasonable night—I didn’t think the Nurse pinch was a bad decision, but the young man didn’t follow through by getting the puck to a good place. After that, he was strong, physical, moved the puck well and (for me) was on the right side of the offenders most of the night. That said, if he ends up in Bakersfield because Brandon Davidson and or Oscar Klefbom have been activated, I don’t think it should drive us to reefer madness. People need to stop dying on all these damned hills. Seriously. G’s DFA number was 17.3, and I encourage conversation about how we marry these two sets of numbers (Corsi and DFA) together. As you know, I am real Rel gone, but like to try to keep up with the smart people. So I welcome the discussion.
In regard to Nurse, I think we have to stop taking every moment and parsing it into minute bits. If you see a critical post or tweet, perhaps examine it to see if it has value. The young man has struggled, there is no denying it. Defense is a tough position to play, he is 20. Give him time, and if it is in Edmonton please be patient. And if it is in Bakersfield, please don’t jump off a moving train or climb out on a ledge. Brandon Davidson is going to be activated in time for Thursday, and Griffin Reinhart has earned the opportunity to stay, in my opinion. Who do they send down? My guess is we are back to eight defenders.
"I lost count of how many souls I owned tonight" pic.twitter.com/lQBmMTMuCI
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) February 3, 2016
MCDAVID’S MCDAVIDS, LAST NIGHT
- Leon Draisiatl scored a terrific goal, 65 percent in the dot and centered the only line that was over 50 percent in possession (keep in mind those score effects).
- Mark Letestu got an assist, reward for lots of hard work, 5:52 on the PK and 52 percent in the dot.
- Matt Hendricks was physical and rambunctious, seems to me coach McLellan has him playing with more edge and swagger. I hope he can keep this up!
- Connor McDavid had a night we will remember a long time, the most memorable night of his young career. It killed us to wait so long for it, but to watch him dominate was something I will remember forever. He is a special player, we are a lucky fan base and the Katz group is fortunate to have him and us. Music! What a future! Watching McDavid last night, especially on the goal, reminded me of that scene in Indiana Jones where Indy is in a hurry but the sea of people parts, revealing an expert swordsman. Indy has no time, so pulls out a pistol and end scene. Hilarious.
Loose quote from McDavid – "last time I tried to go 1 on 2 it didn't turn out so well"
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 3, 2016
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Yakupov—Kassian had a good game to my eye, Kassian got an assist and Nail had two takeaways and was on the right side of the play often. Kassian had a ridiculous giveaway that resulted in a chance, but I liked both men’s performance.
- Hall—Purcell were quality, TP getting significant PK time and handling it well. I know his speed gets people down, but if Chiarelli goes to market and cannot find reasonable trade value, then signing him to a reasonable deal is the best plan of action.
- Pouliot—Eberle were part of the main feature last night, both men going 1-1-2 and the line posting 10 shots on goal. Eberle looks a little slow off the mark, I wonder if he is carrying an injury. Anyway, great night from this line.
- Korpikoski—Pakarinen played more than Yakupov-Kassian, I find that curious but McLellan likes that Hendricks trio.
- I think the Oilers could roll with these eight wingers next season and be successful.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Connor McDavid 3
- Zack Kassian 2
- Jordan Eberle 1
- Mark Letestu 1
- Iiro Pakarinen 1
- Matt Hendricks 1
DO THEY BRING BACK SCHULTZ?
One suspects Todd McLellan would run the current group, but he did say Brandon Davidson will be ready for Thursday. Who comes out? Will Justin Schultz also draw back in? Interesting times for the Oilers, who have some options here. For me, the Sekera—Fayne pairing is golden, and I do like Reinhart—Gryba as third pair. So, if we ask ourselves who Davidson plays best with? Looks like you can play him with damned near anyone. We are reaching a point where the Oilers probably have to think about offloading Fayne, Schultz or Gryba. Could that happen this week? We wait.
Here are the top five rookies (10 or more games) this season in points-per-game:
- Connor McDavid 1.07
- Artemi Panarin 0.87
- Shayne Gostisbehere 0.77
- Dylan Larkin 0.69
- Jack Eichel 0.68
He could win this thing. McDavid is famous, fantastic, and his goals inspire gasps, vapors and rushes of adrenaline from onlookers. This is a story every hockey blogger and writer can dig their teeth into, and the young man is both magic and manic. What a story.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. McDavid, McDavid, McDavid, McDavid.
- Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report. The Super Bowl is Sunday. Cam Newton is the story.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. McDavid, New Leafs logo, Habs spinout.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Did the Oilers handle McDavid’s recovery in the correct manner?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!