If it weren’t for bad luck, the Oilers would have no luck at all when it comes to injuries. Last night, Brandon Davidson went down for the second time this season and it does not look good for his return in 2015-16. I am out of swears, so you will have to continue on without me.
STREETS OF LAREDO, 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: 4-8-2
- Oilers in March 2015: 5-6-3
- Oilers in March 2016: 3-1-0
- Oilers after 68 in 2014-15: 18-39-11, 47 points (-77 GD)
- Oilers after 68 in 2015-16: 26-35-7, 59 points (-34 GD)
A good night for McLellan’s Oilers, they are within three points of the Eakins-MacT-Nelson peace train of one year ago (the 2015-16 Edmonites have already won two more games than a year ago). The key last night was Cam Talbot, who is rising up the SP standings. He is .919 overall (No. 14) and .921 at evens (No. 26) this season—among goalies with 25 or more games.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Pardy looked reasonable to my eye, Nurse played big minutes at evens and made some nice plays. I have not seen a lot of encouraging signs from Darnell in the last 25 games, but was heartened by his decision-making in this game. I also love the fact he is out there in a game like that, because Nurse isn’t going to take crap from anyone.
- Pardy is inconsistent early in his Oilers career but I liked his size and strength. Puck moving is going to be an issue but he has some nice things. He played more than expected because of the Davidson injury and for me he was adequate.
- Clendening looked good with Nurse, but I am constantly shifting on my couch trying to will him to win races—and that usually means there is a speed issue (my couch agrees). Can’t have that, not in today’s game. He did pick up an assist.
- Sekera—Fayne had good and bad last night. I did like their decisions in the neutral zone overall, both men checked up and foiled sorties early. Fayne made at least a couple mistakes with the puck on his stick, Sekera made several impressive plays with the puck, maybe a little shy in coverage. I like this pairing. Sekera grabbed his 24th point of the season.
- Brandon Davidson got hurt and I expect he is gone for the year. I enjoyed his rookie season enormously and hope he will be 100 percent in the fall. The Hockey Gods owe him that much.
CENTERS LAST NIGHT
- Connor McDavid was 57 percent on the dot, had five shots and was generally dangerous (especially on a nifty pass early from Nail Yakupov). He got hammered by Bufuglien once or twice. He also had a third assist (not awarded) on the winning goal. I thought that line needed a shakeup, would not have chosen Korpikoski for the fresh blood. McLellan: We were in a tight game and I thought that line was giving up far too many opportunities against, and Korpi was playing hard on the walls-this team pinches a lot, they do some heavy board work- and Korpi was real strong on the boards, so it was more a defensive maneuver on our behalf.”
- Anton Lander had a fine game by my eye, really thought he was in good spots and pushing for some offense (rare for him this year). He appears slower, wonder about an injury.
- Leon Draisaitl had an assist and did good work to my eye, the line skated miles and had lots of effort. Such a good passer, he had two HD SC.
- Mark Letestu was 62 percent on the dot, but his 10 minutes at evens was about chasing and getting the puck out for a shift change. This line, no matter who plays on it, does not deliver the required benefit.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Two: Nail Yakupov, Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl
- One: Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Adam Pardy, Adam Cracknell, Anton Lander, Taylor Hall, Lauri Korpikoski
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Jordan Eberle had a quiet game overall, while Lauri Korpikoski was full event on the night. The Finn scored again, he seems to do it in bunches, and I thought he was in the play more. Had one of his better nights on the season, but it still an adventure. As mentioned above, he was elevated to the top line when McLellan decided the game was winnable.
- Matt Hendricks and Adam Cracknell were part of the Lander line, they cycled well and did some nice things. Cracknell had an interesting scoring chance early, when he drove to the net by coming out from behind it, surprising everyone—including, possibly, himself! Hendricks is not a fast train, but he can get to the point very well on PK and evens.
- Hall—Maroon are making beautiful music together, the Leon line has new energy with the big man on RW. Who can explain chemistry? One thing is clear: Maroon learned from playing with Getzlaf and Perry, and sweet Jesus he goes to the net like a bandit. Hall, like McDavid, was getting crunched left and right.
- Yakupov—Kassian spent some time together, I did not notice Kassian much. He seems to have trouble being consistent from game to game. Conditioning? Linemates? He should have had a bigger impact in such a physical game. I thought Nail had some good and bad moments. His pass to McDavid was money, and he had two high-danger scoring chances. On the other hand, his rambunctious style is matched by a lack of awareness and the coach made a move in order to ensure victory. This has been happening since the dawn of time, and tells you that Nail is too much of an adventure for McLellan when the game is on the line. A bad sign. That ‘big things’ quote was a double-edged sword, I said it at the time.
Time for people to get off Mark Fayne's back. If he plays with Sekera he's effective. Thought he played a strong game vs heavy Jets team
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) March 7, 2016
I am heartened to see Fayne getting some love, for me he has had a good season. That said, Todd McLellan likes mobile, aggressive types and Fayne was in the minors earlier this year. If his cap hit was lower, a third-pairing job would be ideal. Edmonton’s top 4D is likely to be a mobile bunch next year, we will see. I have zero problem with Fayne as a top 6D next season, he has proven he can play well with Sekera. Fayne is durable too, something the Oilers have to keep in mind.
We are basically in off-season mode now, so I am going to being casting about looking at different (possible) solutions. Today, I wanted to focus on three players:
In terms of qual comp, BTN suggests Dougie Hamilton faces second-pairing opposition, while Hamonic and Demers are facing top opposition. Demers is an interesting option in that he can do multiple things and is right-handed. He plays those minutes without the help of a bona fide top partner and the without Oduya spike is astounding. Hamonic is also impressive in the wowys although he does have a more substantial partner. Hamilton was dragging around Kris Russell all year, so may be available for less than 100 cents on the dollar.
From this group, I would be pretty damned happy with Hamonic or Demers, thrilled with both. Chiarelli clearly had interest in Hamilton last summer, wonder if there is a deal to be made after an uneven season for Hamilton in Calgary. I am uncertain Hamonic will be traded, Demers might be the best target available. Thoughts?
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) March 6, 2016
Lots of verbal on the blog last night about Griffin Reinhart being the logical choice for callup, and while that may be, I don’t see it as a 100 percent lock. Edmonton management sent him down to be more aggressive in his play, and that may be more important to the organization than the final 15 games of the year.
- D Jordan Oesterle. Looked quite good in his recent recall, of course he played a lot with Brandon Davidson. Oesterle is a fast train but does have gaps in his defensive game. I wrote about him for the RE series here.
- D Griffin Reinhart. He has been up twice now, played in 15 games and is 0-1-1. That is about the range expected in my RE (27 games). He did play RH side at times during his Oil Kings days, mostly on the power play.
- D David Musil. Musil’s NHL audition a year ago was solid, wonder if they will give him a look in the final moments of the season. Waiver eligible in the fall. Touched on the subject of Musil during RE series here.
- D Brad Hunt. I would think we have seem enough to know (Hunt has played in 21 NHL games now), but management has him available so it is possible.
- D Joey Laleggia. Unlikely recall, as this is his rookie pro season. He will likely take over from Hunt as the primary power-play quarterback in Bakersfield next season, and we might see him in the NHL during the 2016-17 season if things go well.
- D Dillon Simpson. Steady defender doesn’t get a lot of mention, difficult to know what the organization thinks of him at this time. This is year two of his pro career, no one I know has mentioned him as a possible recall.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Anaheim Ducks on fire, Patrick Maroon a trade deadline gem.
- Jeff Hauser, Radio Hauser. Payton Manning calls it a day, we reflect on a great NFL career.
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper and Blue, The SuperFan. Easy entries, demoting Nail, Bruinizing the roster.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter and we will have Davidson news when it breaks.