Peter Chiarelli has to find Connor McDavid a first-shot scorer for his line. At the end of last night’s action, 97’s stats indicated he had registered no points despite an 11-3 HDSC advantage at 5×5, numerous stunning passes to linemates for 10-bell chances and some fine power-play work. Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan Strome and Drake Caggiula were gifted quality passes and opportunities but there was no success for 97 and his line. The penalty kill is a full on disaster, but finding McDavid’s shooter needs to be a focus for the general manager.
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- New Lowetide: Oscar’s Place
- 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: 7-4-1, goal differential -4 (15 points)
- December 2016: 6-2-4, goal differential +1 (16 points)
- December 2017: 7-4-1, goal differential +9 (15 points)
Despite last night’s disappointment, December 2017 has in fact delivered good results for Edmonton. It might not be enough to get the team into the postseason but this month has seen a handsome recovery.
AFTER 38, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 15-19-4, goal differential -23 (33 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 19-12-7, goal differential +10 (45 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 17-18-3, goal differential -6 (37 points)
Edmonton still has a chance to win 20 in the first 41 games on the schedule but there is no room for error. The 2017-18 team is two wins better than McLellan’s first Edmonton team but are eight points off last year’s pace.
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 0-0-1)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-2, 12 points in 13 games
- Current results: 7-4-1, 15 points in 12 games
This has been a successful month based on my projections and Oilers fans should be pleased with the progress in December. Winning that last game will help a great deal in aiding a playoff run.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Larsson were 26-17 together in 18:43, that’s a big slice of the overall 5×5 game state. Duo was 7-3 in HDSC’s and 0-0 in GF. Went 19-5 with McDavid (hot hot hot!) and 11-10 against Saad-Toews-Panik. That isn’t the top line on Chicago, but it’s a good one. This pairing crushed Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane (the de facto top line for the ‘Hawks) 15-4 in 5:13.
- Sekera-Benning went 18-16 in 14;10 together, 0-1 GF and 4-6 in HDSC’s. Paired with the Nuge line most often (14-5), the duo faced Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Alex DeBrincat line (9-7 in 6:12) and Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane (5-4 in 3:55) mostly. Benning did not play well and would be my choice to sit the next time there’s a shuffle.
- Nurse-Russell were 14-28 in 16:25 together, 0-0 GF and 4-4 HDSC’s. Were 7-13 in 7:43 against Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane, this pairing saw the top Chicago line 2.5 minutes more at 5×5 than Klefbom-Larsson. Were also 5-9 in 5:07 versus Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Alex DeBrincat on a tough night for the pair. Russell had a monstrous giveaway that led to a Nurse (earned imo) penalty and a GA. Russell is a veteran, needs to make a better play.
- Cam Talbot stopped 32 of 36, .889. He was quality at 5×5 (27 of 28, .964).
- Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi went 33-15 (Lucic) and 22-9 (Puljujarvi) plus 6-6 (Caggiula) with 97. Man that McDavid had a helluva game, 11-3 in HDSC’s despite being 0-1 in GF. Crazy crazy. Were 19-9 (and 0-1 GF) against the Kane line at 5×5. McDavid needs a shooter.
- Maroon-Nuge-Puljujarvi/Caggiula went 17-18 in 14:55 (Maroon-Nuge), with Puljujarvi (9-7) outperforming Caggiula (6-9) on both the first and second lines. Went 6-6 in high danger, RNH posting three points and two of those at even strength but none on the 5×5. Nuge and JP had five individual HD scoring chances each, Maroon had none.
- Cammalleri-Letestu-Kassian were 8-11 together, 0-0 GF and 0-2 in HDSC’s. I can’t imagine this trio playing against Winnipeg’s fourth line tomorrow night, it will be interesting to see what Todd McLellan does against Joel Armia. I’m fairly certain that sentence has never been written before, but it is a major storyline.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Strome had a weird night. Went 7-12 in 9:31, 0-0 GF and 1-2 in HDSC’s. That’s very poor compared to this line’s own recent past. Leon was against the Toews line all night (7-13 and 2-2 HD), got benched, scored the tying goal and then got walked by Kane. Tough evening, he’ll need to be better, but we should remember he has been driving this line successfully for some weeks now.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) December 30, 2017
The Oilers penalty kill has them drowning and the home kill deserves to be shot. Todd McLellan has no answers, time for Peter Chiarelli to add some help.
Penalty kill is going to cost the Oilers the season. Possibly single-handedly.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 30, 2017
The Oilers home 4×5 is so bad they’re going to write songs about it, absolutely sewering the season. Edmonton’s PK has allowed 33 goals (No. 31 in the league) while the power play has scored 18 (No. 27 in the NHL), meaning a net loss on special teams of 15 goals.
At even strength, Edmonton has scored 89 goals (No. 10 in the NHL) and allowed 84 (No. 19 in the entire league). The team even up is fine but that Denver boot that is special teams leaves this team bleeding pretty much every night. Cam Talbot’s EV save percentage is .920, tied for No. 19 among starters (goalies who have played 20 or more games). His PP save percentage is .817, No. 29 among the 31 goalies who qualify.
Obscured in all of this special teams failure? Edmonton’s shots-per-game (34.63) ranks the team No. 4 and shots against (30.55) is No. 6 among all teams. There’s a lot right about these Edmonton Oilers, but management and coaching staff cannot find a fix for the penalty kill and the season is bleeding.