The Edmonton Oilers rolled through March with workmanlike efficiency. You could argue this is playoff hockey, and March argues it’s working. The criticisms of this team are known and actual, but the formula (McDavid scores, Talbot stops pucks, run out the clock with the lead) is working—for now. This is not a Stanley Cup team, not yet, because the balance and depth have not arrived yet. Those things are for another day, this one should be set aside for enjoyment and reflection. This morning, we can talk about a 100-point season. Hallelujah!
- Connor McDavid on Cam Talbot: “It’s the same story every night. They still get their chances but you can always rely on him back there.”
ROLL AWAY THE STONE, 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: 9-3-1, goal differential +15
- Oilers after 77, 2015-16: 30-40-7, goal differential -39
- Oilers after 77, 2016-17: 43-25-9, goal differential +31
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 4-0-0)
- On the road to:
Anaheim, Colorado(Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 1-1-0)
- At home to:
Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose(Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 3-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games
- Final results: 9-3-1, 19 points in 13 games
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Russell went 15-18 in 13:30, including 10-10 with McDavid (over 7 minutes). Both defenders made astute defensive plays, went 8-8 against Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski. Went 7-6 against Hertl-Boedker-Hansen. This is one of their better nights as a pairing in my opinion.
- Klefbom-Larsson went 14-17 in 13:28 together, this pairing got the Nuge line and went 4-9 with them. Klefbom was mobile and made some astute passes, including the one that led to his assist. He shot the puck a lot. Adam Larsson was effective and aggressive, borderline angry for much of the night. Got into a fight defending his goalie and leveled a Sharks forward behind the net with several effective cross checks. Pairing went 9-10 against Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski, 4-5 against Hertl-Boedker-Hansen.
- Nurse-Benning were a tale of two cities. Benning doesn’t look completely right, so races to the puck were noticeable because we aren’t seeing his normal boots. Went 10-18 in 11:15 together, Nurse jumped up successfully with Russell and Larsson at different times. Went 9-3 against Donski-Marleau-Ward, but got caved (Benning was 4-13) against Haley-Tierney-Meier. I like this pairing, but on this night Nurse was the one who really caught my eye. Great speed, driving to the net, picking his spots when jumping into the play. I wonder if we see Gryba on Saturday.
- Cam Talbot was splendid again, stopping 38 of 40, .950.
- Numbers via NaturalStatTrick, HockeyStats.ca and NHL.com.
- This is the whole story right here. Edmonton’s games often come down to three or four 97 moments that score (and about 10 more that could score). That’s not enough to win Stanley, but clean air for McDavid and Talbot stops could win a series.
- Leon Draisaitl made about six ridiculous passes in this game, and took a musket to the gutsket from Jumbo Joe. Showed nice speed on his breakaway too.
- Patrick Maroon will be talking about this season until he’s 102. Who can blame him? Great moment came after his first goal when McDavid kept shaking his head. I bet they put that in the movie.
- Line went 9-8 against Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski, 4-7 against Hertl-Boedker-Hansen. The only strong matchup I could find involved 97’s defensive opponent, and he struggled against Vlasic (7-18) and Braun (5-15).
- Todd McLellan left McDavid out against Vlasic for 56 percent of 97’s icetime, suspect that’s something the Oilers might want to trim for a home playoff game.
- Line went 8-11 on the evening, with just two shots between the three forwards. It isn’t enough and a key to playoff success is this line scoring. The line has had some offensive success in the last 10 games (more later).
- Lots of verbal about this line, but I think they are looking better in the last dozen or so games. Important not to overreact to one game, and to give the other man his due: San Jose is a substantial team.
- Line got scored on very early, but recovered from there and battled on a night when they were facing a tough opponent every shift.
- Went 6-5 against Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski, 4-1 against Donski-Marleau-Ward.
- This isn’t going to work in a series against the Sharks. David Desharnais seems to be spending his evenings in the defensive zone trying to occupy the exact area identified as ‘no-man’s land’ and it’s going to cost goals. He’s an NHL player, but he looks betwixt and between on defense, a lot.
- I like this line but they got fed last night. Went 3-11 against Haley-Tierney-Meier, Edmonton’s personnel is superior (and yes, I know Meier is a highly-touted player). Went 2-8 against Hertl-Boedker-Hansen, that’s a better group but good grief.
- If McLellan has to find another center for these wings, who is it? Lander?
- This line should have played more than the 3line, they were having a better evening and it showed.
- Caggiula rang a shot off the post just before McDavid’s shorthanded goal, and he really does seem to be coming into his own.
- I’d run this line Saturday for sure.
- Line went 7-0 with Klefbom-Larsson.
- Line went 5-2 against Donski-Marleau-Ward, 4-1 against Hertl-Boedker-Hansen, 4-4 against Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski.
- It’s almost impossible to comprehend this season against the backdrop of this time one year ago. The Edmonton Oilers have the best goal differential in the division, the second best record and that could change for the better come Saturday night!
YEAR OVER YEAR
- Record: 43-25-9 (30-40-7)
- Points: 95 (67) +28 year over year
- Goals For after 77 games: 224 (185)
- Goals Against after 77 games: 193 (224)
- Goal Differential after 77 games: +31 (-39)
From time to time someone will ask me why my numbers don’t line up with NHL.com. I use hockey-reference because they take out shootout goals and give us the best available year over year comparisons. As you can see, these numbers represent amazing progress year over year.
- NHL scout: “He’s a diligent worker with a top-nine skill set. He’s strong on puck recovery and strong in traffic with quickness and an outstanding compete level.” Source
I believe Connor McDavid has earned the Hart Trophy this season. Only two Oilers have previously won (Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier) the coveted award, and only 99 won the Art Ross previous to this season. A complete look at Oilers player awards over the years is available here.
#Oilers Prospect Caleb Jones has a 4 assist Playoff Game, has 6 points in 4 Games.
Jones & Bear doing very well for 4th & 5th round picks
— SuperNova (@SuperNovs1) March 31, 2017
Caleb Jones had a massive night for the Portland Winterhawks and could be hanging around awhile in the WHL playoffs. Ethan Bear is putting together an impressive set of boxcars as well, and Ryan Mantha was productive before his club exited the postseason:
- Ethan Bear: 3gp, 2-5-7
- Caleb Jones: 4gp, 0-6-6
- Ryan Mantha: 4gp, 2-2-4
What’s more, Dylan Wells has been lights out for Peterborough (4gp, 2.34 .937) as his Petes got past Mantha’s Niagara Ice Dogs.
- Patrick Conway: Paigin’s contract expires on April 30th of this year, and it will be very interesting to find out whether he gives it a try with Ak Bars for another year, moves to a different KHL team where he will perhaps be a better fit, or tries his luck across the ocean with the Oilers. We shall see. Source
Based on Bob hints (™) I think we are looking at four (!!!) defenders signed for Bakersfield next season. It sounds like a lot of rookies, but Paigin has pro experience in a good league and that counts for something. Also possible we see one of these fellows spend time in the ECHL, although that sounds like a stretch.
CORSI FOR 5X5/DUETS
- McDavid-Draisaitl: 53.1
- McDavid-Maroon: 52.5
- McDavid-Eberle: 53.6
- McDavid-Lucic: 55.0
- Nuge-Eberle: 50.0
- Nuge-Lucic: 49.0
- Nuge-Pouliot: 48.4
- Nuge-Maroon: 54.3
- Nuge-Kassian: 45.3
- Draisaitl-Lucic: 52.2
- Draisaitl-Pouliot: 49.1
- Draisaitl-Puljujarvi: 52.1
- Draisaitl-Kassian: 50.8
SCORING, LAST 10 GAMES (FORWARDS)
- Connor McDavid 10, 5-11-16
- Leon Draisaitl 10, 4-12-16
- Patrick Maroon 10, 6-3-9
- RNH 10, 3-4-7
- Drake Caggiula 8, 2-4-6
- Jordan Eberle 10, 2-4-6
- Milan Lucic 10, 4-2-6
- Zack Kassian 10, 1-3-4
- Benoit Pouliot 10, 3-1-4
- Mark Letestu 10, 2-1-3
- David Desharnais 10, 1-1-2
- Anton Slepyshev 6, 1-1-2
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy and fun show as we wrap up a very successful week for the Oilers. At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouth Sports. In the fall, Steve told me the Oilers would make the playoffs. What did he know?
- Jared Book, Bluebird Banter. Year over year changes to the order and rotation, plus what about the bullpen?
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Should the Oilers push for the division title, or rest Talbot and have another look at Jesse Puljujarvi?
Text 10-1260, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!