Whatever team you cheer for, no matter the year, there are games that frustrate you. Even during the glory days, the Oilers would throw up a dud in Hartford or Minnesota or sometimes even in Vancouver, at least for two periods. When these games occur, the mind comes up with the damndest ideas (also known as tantrums) to explain the absolute travesty laid at your feet. Most often the real answer is this: The better team won the game and your team either didn’t play well, isn’t good enough or both. Sometimes admitting that simple thing, then moving on to other worthwhile pursuits (roll me over, Romeo) is the right thing to do. The Oilers will have another playoff run, just maybe not this season.
The special Lowetide offer is here. New material today.
- New Jonathan Willis: Should Oscar Klefbom’s struggles impact the Oilers future decisions?
- Lowetide: Analyzing the Mike Cammalleri trade.
- Lowetide: Plenty to be gained from a losing season, but it takes some balls.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect Winter 2017: Kailer Yamamoto
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect Winter 2017: Jesse Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect Winter 2017: Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect Winter 2017: Caleb Jones
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect Winter 2017: Tyler Benson.
- Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s trades.
- Special Offer
PIKES PEAK, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-5-1, goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-6-1, goal differential -11
- Oilers in November 2017: 4-4-1, goal differential +1
Oilers in November are just “okay” and if October had been a .500 month things wouldn’t be as dire. As it is, this club is teetering near that ‘Mendoza line’ where teams are simply not competitive in the playoff race. To be off the pace this early, facing a road trip, is less than ideal.
AFTER 19, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 6-12-1, goal differential -12
- Oilers 16-17: 10-8-1, goal differential +2
- Oilers 17-18: 7-10-2, goal differential -10
Yeah. This isn’t going to work. The club can’t score enough to stay in NHL games and that’s a big damned problem. Todd McLellan doesn’t have the horses. Full stop. I do believe regression will float their boats toward the postseason and the Oilers will eventually reach .500. How much of the season will remain?
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER
- At home to:
Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Detroit (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-2-0)
- On the road to:
NYI, New Jersey, NYR, Washington(Expected: 1-2-1) (Actual: 2-1-1)
- At home to:
Vegas, St. Louis(Expected 1-1-0) (Actual: 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Arizona, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-7-2, 16 points in 16 games
- Current results: 4-4-1, nine points in nine games
You don’t have to be happy for me, but I’m quite pleased that my expectations are marching in lock step with the results. It’s an important point to hammer home: This is us. The Oilers, as currently comprised, are a .500 team. If they arrive at game 41 with 41 points, the playoffs will be long gone but we can be happy in the knowledge the evidence made itself obvious in the early days of the season. Why aren’t they tracking toward 100 points again this year? More in a minute.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Larsson went 21-11 together, including 12-5 with McDavid and 13-6 against Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko (who scored). Nurse-Larsson were on the ice for 5-3 HDCF, most in the first period iirc.
- Klefbom-Benning were 8-11 together, including 2-6 with the Nuge and 4-5 against Steen-Stastny-Sobotka. That blasted Tarasenko line scored against them, they were 2-5 against that trio.
- Russell-Gryba went 8-8 together, including 5-4 with the Strome line. Russell finished 8-17, he went 0-5 with Benning and 0-5 in less than a minute with Larsson. Is that the modern “shift”? Russell had good moments defending, but this pairing cannot get the puck out under control.
- Cam Talbot was 35 of 39, .897. Stopped 29 of 31 at evens, .935. The shortie was a mistake but he played well overall in my opinion.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl had the edge in HDSC (4-3) took five defensive and one offensive zone faceoff, went 10-8 against the Schenn line but the STL trio scored the goal. I’m actually with McLellan on keeping this group together, because they have been effective. That said, the Blues were effective against them and if that happens with enough regularity, the coach will need to break them up. People can point to McDavid’s pass to Leon that didn’t work, but your skilled men are ridiculous on this team and you want them to wheel.
- Lucic-Nuge-Puljujarvi were 1-7 together and looked off, McLellan got the rookie off the line before the GA.It was not a strong evening for the trio, Lucic took a knee on knee (for which there was no penalty, but he got the book thrown at him) and we’ll get an update today I’d bet.
- Cammalleri-Strome-Puljujarvi went 9-4 together, I liked the newcomer and Strome is looking a little more comfortable. He is not a dynamic player, Puljujarvi is even at 19. I don’t know how much he’ll score but the young man is going to leave a trail of broken defensemen across North American rinks.
- Pakarinen-Letestu-Kassian were 2-1, not much shaking and that’s a theme for this season.
When Peter Chiarelli was Boston general manager, the farm team was packing some major league heat.
- 2006-07 Bruins: Phil Kessel (70, 11-18-29)
- 2007-08 Bruins: David Krejci (56, 6-21-27); Milan Lucic (77, 8-19-27); Vladimir Sobotka (48, 1-6-7)
- 2008-09 Bruins: Blake Wheeler (81, 21-24-45)
- 2009-10 Bruins: Johnny Boychuk (51, 5-10-15); Tuukka Rask (45, 1.97 .931)
- 2010-11 Bruins: Brad Marchand (77, 21-20-41); Tyler Seguin (74, 11-11-22)
That’s some impressive procurement work, there are quality players in every year and at every skater position. Chiarelli traded most of these guys in an effort to win the Stanley (which came in 2011). I estimate that the Bruins scouting and procurement department was delivering 1.2 exceptional players per season during the first five years of Chiarelli’s time in the city.
- 2015-16 Oilers: Connor McDavid (45, 16-32-48); Darnell Nurse (69, 3-7-10)
- 2016-17 Oilers: Drake Caggiula (60, 7-11-18); Matt Benning (63, 3-12-15); Anton Slepyshev (41, 4-6-10); Jesse Puljujarvi (28, 1-7-8)
- 2017-18 Oilers: Kailer Yamamoto (9, 0-3-3); Laurent Brossoit (4, 2.67 .880)
We’ll have to wait on a few men (JP, KY) and we have our answer on Connor McDavid. Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning are NHL regulars and that has real value, but are they (or will they be) exceptional? Further, the Marchand options (Caggiula, Slepyshev) aren’t going to blossom as Marchand did in Boston (no surprise, that was a once in a lifetime happening).
Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan are auditioning forwards this season, trying to get some answers out of this young group of forwards. So far this season, I’d say the answer is coming back “can’t stay healthy” and “don’t impact the game offensively” but we’ll see.
5X5/60 SCORING (FORWARDS)
- Leon Draisaitl 2.80
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2.38
- Connor McDavid 2.35
- Milan Lucic 2.19
- Patrick Maroon 1.80
- Ryan Strome 1.32
- Anton Slepyshev 1.14
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1.09
- Jujhar Khaira 0.93
- Zack Kassian 0.65
- Kailer Yamamoto 0.52
- Drake Caggiula 0.50
- Iiro Pakarinen 0.45
- Mark Letestu 0.00
Offense. We talked about it this summer when contemplating the young forwards, where was the offense going to come from? Remember? I decided to divide up all the at-bats and have everyone play mid-level:
Remember? I had Puljujarvi scoring 14 goals, Caggiula and Slepyshev 12 and not a one of them is on pace for that kind of offensive season (JP was in the minors, so an unfair swipe. Oh, and one more thing: Do you see my estimated goals-for against? 257-208? Standing here today, Edmonton is 47-57 after 19 games. That means the Oilers are on pace for a 203-246 season, meaning I would miss the GF by 54 goals and the GA by 38. Lordy.
WOULD PC FIRE MCLELLAN?
I got an unusual email yesterday asking about firing the coach. My reply was no, I think both coach and general manager have this season and next to fix whatever ails this club. It’s also worth noting that if someone goes, may not be the coach. We can’t read too much into these things, but from an outsider’s point of view it looks to me this is more about roster construction. Thoughts?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. A lot to discuss good and bad in good old our town. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Oilers, Grey Cup memories.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Oilers have the second best group of U24’s in the NHL. That’s the good news.
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Point Counterpoint focuses on the Western Final.
- Paul Almeida, SSE. Oilers worries, Eskimos hopes, what happens if Edmonton meets the Roughriders in the Grey Cup?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!