The Edmonton Oilers have a three-game trip through the Western Conference this week, and could come home 9-9-1—and if that happens the fan base might embark on another ‘trailers for Kingsway’ crusade. On the other hand, a 2-1-0 trip has the town team at 11-7-1 and posting nine points in 10 November games. Can this team win two in California?
YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU WANT, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-4-1 goal differential -6
- Oilers after 16, 2015: 6-10-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers after 16, 2016: 9-6-1, goal differential +4
November has 30 days and 15 games, our line in the sand for the Oilers is 15 points. Currently the team is on pace to post just 11 points, meaning that on the current November pace the club’s record will be (something like) 11-10-3 (25 points in 24 games). Disappointing results after such a terrific start, lack of scoring depth has us here. G17 last year was a loss to the Arizona Coyotes 4-1, OEL and Tobias Reider playing well for the home side.
OILERS MOST SUCCESSFUL LINES
- (via Corsica.hockey and using 5×5 Corsi for percentage. These are lines over 50 minutes and posting a number more than 50 percent).
- Maroon—Draisaitl—Puljujarvi 56.91 in 70 minutes
- Maroon—McDavid—Eberle 54.48 in 62 minutes
- Lucic—McDavid—Eberle 54.43 in 122 minutes
- Pouliot—Nuge—Kassian 50.55 in 97 minutes
These are interesting lines and I do wonder if we see some shuffle on this trip. Some combination of Nuge, Leon and Lucic has to start posting strong possession numbers and creating boxcars at 5×5.
- Todd McLellan: “I don’t know what the lines are going to be yet. I don’t think you punish a player forever, I think you give guys an opportunity and in the past he’s (Eberle) shown to be able to play there, in fact he’s one of our top scoring forwards and that line has carried us offensively. One bad night doesn’t make a season so I think there is a chance he’ll get back there.”
Moving Eberle to the Nuge line (with Poo) is probably the most reasonable bet, these three have had success in the past. Trading Taylor Hall meant the team is down to one driver (97) and it is imperative McLellan find a second line that can wheel. Leon on RW might also work, but then you are dealing with a grim landscape on lines three and four.
Leon has scored 0-2-2 5×5 with Lucic in about 70 minutes together (1.69 5×5/60) and Lucic is 1-1-2 (same 5×5), so all is not lost and the possession number comes in around 50 percent. Combined with Pitlick’s magical possession number with McDavid (69.7 in 21 minutes) perhaps the lines should look like this tonight:
Something like that. It is perhaps too much for Pitlick, but at this point I think Todd McLellan may just want to get another line going in hopes of squeezing out sparks. We wait .
OILERS FORWARDS EVEN-STRENGTH POINTS
- Connor McDavid 16gp, 5-9-14
- Patrick Maroon 16gp, 6-2-8
- Jordan Eberle 16gp, 4-4-8
- Tyler Pitlick 16gp, 5-1-6
- Milan Lucic 16gp, 3-1-4
- Benoit Pouliot 16gp, 3-1-4
- Mark Letestu 16gp, 0-4-4
- Zack Kassian 13gp, 2-2-4
- Leon Draisaitl 16gp, 1-2-3
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 16gp, 0-3-3
- Anton Lander 15gp, 1-2-3
- Jesse Puljujarvi 13gp, 0-2-2
- Anton Slepyshev 6gp, 1-0-1
I published the 5×5/60 numbers yesterday, had some questions about differences in totals. This is the list from NHL.com, and that includes empty-net goals and various other stray even-strength moments. Now, one of the things that you should also know is the power-play totals—because some of the struggling 5×5 performers are playing well with the man advantage:
- Connor McDavid 16gp, 0-5-5
- Leon Draisaitl 16gp, 2-1-3
- Milan Lucic 16gp, 2-1-3
- Jordan Eberle 16gp, 1-2-3
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 16gp, 2-0-2
- Patrick Maroon 16gp, 0-1-1
- Jesse Puljujarvi 13gp, 1-0-1
- Ken Hitchcock on Nail Yakupov’s benching and possible scratch: “Yak got out of sorts positionally, and we needed to grab it back. That’s the best way to describe it.” Source
I hope the young man finds a place, but really Hitchock is not the first coach I would have picked for him. Nail is scoring (1.83 5×5/60) enough to stay in the lineup but the team is struggling compared to its own expectations. NHL teams always need some firepower and Yak has some nice things. Soldier on, young man.
- Taylor Hall: “I probably watched every game I could at the start of the year. Lately I haven’t tuned in too much. I’ve got too much going on here and to be honest I just kind of care less and less as the weeks go on.” Source
Completely healthy approach, good to see the young man moving on with his life. I think a lot of Oilers fans have moved with him, ala Peyton Manning to the Broncos. I did not make that emotional journey, but do understand why people have trouble taking a next step—whatever that may be for them. I think Taylor Hall is going set the New Jersey swamps on fire, and hope he wins a Stanley there.
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
- Oilers are unlikely to hold off the California teams much longer, and then it comes down to Arizona and the two Canadian clubs.
- There is a sense that the Oilers have lost six of eight and the other teams have been hot, but in truth no team in this division is close to being consistent. San Jose’s 6-4-0 represents the best record in the division over the last 10 games, and is just three points better than Edmonton’s 4-5-1 record.
- Oilers GF-GA of 45-41 is a hair better than league average (42-42).
- Edmonton’s save percentage (.920) remains clear of league average (.913).
- The power play has scored eight goals, one shy of the rest of the league.
- PK has given up just five goals, nine being the average.
- Connor McDavid (16gp, 5-14-19) is tied for No. 3 in points this season, Jordan Eberle (16gp, 5-7-12) is tied for No. 41. Patrick Maroon (16gp, 6-3-9) and Milan Lucic (16gp, 5-4-9) are tied for No. 101 in scoring league wide.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Today on the show, we kick some butt and take some names. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. Avoiding a prolonged slump will be key to Edmonton’s playoff hopes. How do they do it?
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Edmonton’s fade and the Eastern Conference spike, plus Mark Scheifele emerging.
- Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. Dallas Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl again, the only question is when?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!