The 1971-72 Boston Bruins were probably my favorite, kind of a tight race between the 1970 Stanley team and the two that followed. The 1972 team also won Stanley, with all kinds of interesting stories (Ted Green missed the 1969-70 season so this was his first Stanley, Carol Vadnais came over from the Seals late in the season and I always liked him, Garnet Bailey was from just down the road so that was cool) past Bobby Orr, the Esposito line and the goalie tandem of Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston. My recollection of the lines and pairings:
- Wayne Cashman-Phil Esposito-Kenny Hodge
- Johnny Bucyk-Fred Stanfield-Johnny McKenzie
- Mike Walton-Derek Sanderson-Eddie Westfall
- Garnet Bailey and Don Marcotte extra forwards (who would play, but no 4 line in 1972)
- Dallas Smith-Bobby Orr
- Don Awrey-Carol Vadnais (Vadnais was playing with Smith but it didn’t work)
- Ted Green (who didn’t play all of the games)
- Gerry Cheevers (Eddie Johnston)
I loved that team, and a big damned bunch of them jumped to the WHA that summer. Gerry Cheevers, Ted Green, Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie all bolted to the new league and Milt Schmidt didn’t protect Daniel Bouchard in the expansion draft. Orr’s knees were a big worry fall 1972, but I knew they would be back for another Stanley. Four years later, Bobby Orr was in Chicago and his career was pretty much over. The Bruins did win Stanley though, in 2011, 39 years removed from 1972. The Stanley doesn’t come around often, and for Oilers fans of a certain vintage, the playoffs would be a fairly new experience. I can’t wait! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, still work to do.
LOVE THAT DIRTY WATER, 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, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
- Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
- Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
- Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
- Oilers in March 2017: 2-2-1, goal differential +1
- Oilers after 69, 2015-16: 26-36-7, goal differential -39
- Oilers after 69, 2016-17: 36-24-9, goal differential +17
G70 last season was a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, winning goal Connor McDavid. Including tonight, the Oilers would go 5-7-1 to finish 31-43-8. If the Oilers finished the same way, their final record would be 41-31-10, 92 points. The expectation would be a stronger run, that’s why they play the games.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to:
Detroit, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Montreal(Expected: 2-2-0) (Actual 1-2-1)
- At home to:
Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Anaheim, Colorado (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games
- Current results: 2-2-1, 5 points in 5 games
The week of BIG continues with the Bruins in town to play Edmonton. Should the Oilers win tonight, the expectation for the month overall clicks back into place like the Lego of our youth.
GOD’S FLASHLIGHT, REGULARS (250+ mins)
The two things I want to know about forwards: 5×5/60 scoring and quality of competition. Woodmoney is giving us a really good look at qual comp, for this season the Nuge line and McDavid line are playing the toughs.
- Connor McDavid 2.60
- Tyler Pitlick 2.27
- Zack Kassian 1.87
- Patrick Maroon 1.78
- Leon Draisaitl 1.71
- Mark Letestu 1.58
- Jordan Eberle 1.57
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1.47
- Anton Slepyshev 1.45
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.40
- Matt Hendricks 1.20
- Milan Lucic 1.19
- Benoit Pouliot 1.04
- Drake Cagguila 0.94
McDavid ranks No. 8 among forwards and Zack Kassian is enjoying a helluva run now. Maroon and Draisaitl have faded a little but will finish with handsome boxcars courtesy help from 97. Mark Letestu has had a good year and I have to give credit to Jordan Eberle for scrambling and then saving his year with hard work and natural skill. Nuge and Lucic are still peddling and will be needed in the coming games that may include the playoffs. Benoit Pouliot’s goal is hopefully a sign of things to come.
I think a reasonable plan of action would have been spending this season bringing along Jesse Puljujarvi and Leon Draisaitl on the skill lines this year, then (if necessary) trading one of RNH or Eberle in the summer to make the money work. One problem. Jesse Puljujarvi is not an established NHL player yet, so the Oilers would be vulnerable on RW moving forward. I think we might see the Oilers deal Nuge before Eberle, which wasn’t my feeling entering the season. Hopefully neither man has to go this summer.
The Woodmoney shows five men (Russell, Sekera, Larsson, Klefbom, Benning) are at similar levels in terms of qual comp, suggesting that Todd McLellan has two pairings he trusts about equally. I like using Corsi and Corsi Rel, and then factoring in the qual comp on those numbers. Today, I am going to list those numbers and then another set.
CORSI (CORSI REL) 5×5 OILERS DEFENSE
- Matt Benning 52.8 (3.5)
- Darnell Nurse 52.3 (1.9)
- Eric Gryba 51.9 (1.7)
- Oscar Klefbom 50.7 (0.7)
- Adam Larsson 50.0 (-0.5)
- Andrej Sekera 49.7 (-0.5)
- Kris Russell 46.4 (-6.0)
Fascinating. This is 400+ minutes from the defensemen, Matt Benning is a fantastic rookie. Three of the regular top 4D are hovering around 50 percent, while Kris Russell is well behind. His Fenwick numbers (48.2, -3.9) are much better, and then there are the goals-against/60 numbers. Darnell Nurse has improved a lot from his rookie season, we will go in depth during the upcoming RE (still not sure of the music, please send in your choices).
GA/60 5X5 OILERS DEFENSE
- Kris Russell 1.68
- Andrej Sekera 1.82
- Matt Benning 2.13
- Eric Gryba 2.21
- Adam Larsson 2.29
- Darnell Nurse 2.40
- Oscar Klefbom 2.57
What I believe is that the GA60 5×5 will regress if the Corsi possession number remains that low for Kris Russell. That said, if I am Kris Russell’s agent I am laminating this puppy for the negotiations to come.
Good news so far this week but we have miles to go. If the Oilers win tonight, they will leapfrog the Calgary Flames. That could be short lived, because the Flames play Buffalo tomorrow night. The Sabres play the Kings tonight, so LAK could be within six points of the Oilers by the time we reach midnight. The Blues play San Jose, so a STL loss combined with an Oilers win and LAK loss would mean EDM up by 10 points over Los Angeles and six points north of the Blues by this time tomorrow morning. It is a big night.
COLLEGE FREE AGENTS
Plenty of free agents still to be signed this spring and summer, I will have Kirk Luedeke from Red Line Report on this morning to discuss names like Mike Vecchione, Neal Pionk, Mitch Hults and CJ Smith.
Jesse Puljujarvi at a ~ point/gm, 3 shots/gm pace in the AHL since being sent down. Similar to pace of David Pastrnak at the same age.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) March 6, 2017
This is a helluva tweet, one worth remembering should it come to pass. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere, but if JP turns into anything close to Pastrnak as a scorer, Oilers fans should be over the moon.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the grounding running, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Podcast star takes a timeout to talk about the big game tonight, Oilers ideal first-round opponent and strong finishes from Eberle and Kassian.
- Kirk Luedeke, Red Line Report. Bruins are pushing for the postseason with a mixture of old and new, plus many quality college free agents remain.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. How many strong candidates for the Hart? Plus the Metropolitan playoff race is suddenly interesting again.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.