You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need. This Edmonton Oilers team is life and death to make the playoffs and that’s going to be the state of affairs for some time. It’s probably fair to begin taking stock in terms of pieces for next season and beyond. Increasingly, Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira are important storylines for a season that has a good chance to end without playoff success. It is possible to gain much from such a season, JP and JJ are examples of what can be added to a young and talented cluster. More please.
- Todd McLellan: “Our hockey smarts didn’t exist. They had their share of two-on-ones and three-on-twos that were preventable.”
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- New Lowetide: Oscar’s Place (later today)
- New Lowetide: On Cam Connor, Jujhar Khaira, Ryan Strome and Anton Slepyshev
- Lowetide: Jones, Bear and Mantha
- Lowetide: Year-end taking stock
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid: The Athletic’s Person of the Year!
LONG DECEMBER, YEAR OVER YEAR
- December 2015: 7-3-1, goal differential -2 (15 points)
- December 2016: 6-2-3, goal differential +2 (15 points)
- December 2017: 7-4-0, goal differential +10 (14 points)
The Oilers are slightly behind the last two December runs, but the goal differential suggests the current team is enjoying the better month. Wins and points matter tremendously, but at some point (maybe soon) we’ll be looking for good arrows that don’t include the postseason. That +10 goal differential in December is a very nice sign.
AFTER 37, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 15-19-3, goal differential -20 (33 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 19-12-6, goal differential +10 (44 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 17-18-2, goal differential -5 (36 points)
Edmonton needs points in every game but the NHL is a very difficult league. Ideally, the team arrives at 20 wins before G41, but that would require three wins in the next four games. A big ask for a team that still has some issues.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 1-0-0)
- At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Toronto, Columbus (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
- At home to: Nashville (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: San Jose, St. Louis, Montreal (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 3-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: Chicago, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-2, 12 points in 13 games
- Current results: 7-4-0, 14 points in 11 games
Impossible to call this month anything but a rebound no matter the results of the final two games of December. Making the playoffs is more difficult with every loss or three-point game on the out of town scoreboard, but winning seven of 11 games is a playoff team. Making up for October-November may not be possible, but 14 points in 11 games is a good NHL team.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Benning were 9-14 in 13:51, 0-1 in GF and 4-1 in HDSCs. Sekera looked good early in the game and then faded a little, suspect we’ll see that for a time as he pays for that long layoff. Went 5-6 with the Nuge line and 8-6 against Ehlers-Little-Laine. I thought this pairing was the best of the lot on the evening.
- Nurse-Russell went 9-17 in 13:22, 1-1 in GF and 2-3 in HDSCs. Nurse took two penalties, neither a good decision. Russell picked up a nice assist on the JP goal, but he was chasing much of the night. Pinpoint passing is an issue for this team. Were 5-4 against Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler and it’s possible we see a shuffle on this pairing as Oscar returns.
- Davidson-Larsson were not good, suspect we see Klefbom-Larsson on Friday night. Pair were 10-23 in 13:19, 0-2 GF and 1-6 HDSCs. Ordinarily I’d pick out on or another blue as chief culprit but they were both a day late and a dollar short. Were 8-4 against Tanev-Copp-Lowry, but 1-10 against Hendricks-Perreault-Armia. That’s awful. Both men were ghastly on the Kyle Connor goal.
- Cam Talbot stopped 35 of 39, .897. He made some phenomenal stops.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi posted three points on the evening and 12 of the team’s 24 shots. Three of eight HDSCs. The trio dominated early and late, I think the Jets should be give some credit for figuring out a way to defend 97. Trouba faced McDavid for 12:15 and lost the HDSC battle only 3-2. Lucic was so close to scoring late. Puljujarvi now has seven goals and 55 shots in 20 games, meaning he could score 20 goals this season. That, like the Khaira progress, should be considered a main arrow in the “if you try sometimes, you get what you need” file we’re compiling together.
- Khaira-Draisasitl-Strome scored a nice goal, this trio does something good most nights now. Khaira has seven goals in 24 games and is on pace for 20. Now his shooting percentage is 20 percent and that’s going to regress, but good days as he wraps up his first half of the season.
- Maroon-Nuge-Caggiula were ineffective, going 6-10 against the Little line.
- Cammalleri-Letestu-Kassian waved lanterns at runaway trains, sunup to sundown.
- Edmonton was 14-3 giveaway-takeaway, lost the HDSCs 0-9 in the second and third period combined (after going 7-0 in the first and generally looked like a team that boarded a plane 12 hours before game time. The last time Winnipeg had that many two-on-one’s Dale Hawerchuk was on the team.
He’s back tomorrow night according to reports, I suspect he’ll draw in with Adam Larsson (who had a dreadful time of it in Winnipeg).
- Darren Dreger on TSN1290 Winnipeg: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chiarelli kind of amp it up a little bit in terms of trying to upgrade in some fashion here in the foreseeable future. I think that he’s interested in adding a defenseman. Somebody who, again, can build on their transition game and have some pace to his game and can make that man advantage count more often than it has to date.” Source
Edmonton has to make a roster move in order to get Klefbom back on the roster, that may mean Eric Gryba on waivers at 10 this morning or Anton Slepyshev to Bakersfield or gone via trade. I think Gryba probably survives, but that’s a guess.
OILERS AT THE DRAFT, 2018
- First Round (No. 8 overall)—R Filip Zadina, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Second Round (No. 39 overall)
- Third Round (No. 70 overall)
- Fourth Round (No. 101 overall)
- Fifth Round (No. 132 overall)
- Sixth Round (No. 163 overall)
- Seventh Round (No. 194 overall)
I’ve seen a few mentions of trading the first-round pick this summer, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense based on the prospect pool currently under the Oilers umbrella. I think there’s a better chance the Oilers keep all seven picks and select forwards with each of them.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show, with tons of hockey talk, beginning at 10 this morning. Scheduled to appear, TSN1260:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Last night’s game and remembering Johnny Bower.
- Rob Vollman, NHL.com and ESPN. 2017 in review.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. World Junior tournament off and running, big early stories.
10-1260, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!