The Oilers were in a shootout and needed a goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who may or may not shave yet, scored a lovely goal on his penalty shot to win the day for Edmonton. It’s a mighty long way down rock and roll and who knows what tomorrow brings. For today, this team has some hope and a sliver of daylight.
Great offer! Includes a free 7-day trial so you can try The Athletic on for size free and see if they enjoy the in-depth, ad-free coverage on the site. If you don’t feel it’s worth the $4.49/month, cancel anytime during trial before getting charged. Offer is here.
- New Lowetide: Making the deadline calls on free agents
- New James Mirtle: How the NHL and every team has changed this season
- New Jonathan Willis: If the Oilers are going to trade Nuge, now is the time
- New Minnia Feng: The little things that make hockey beautiful
- Lowetide: Oilers have no Andrew Mangiapane to recall
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid: The Athletic’s Person of the Year!
FALSE SPRING, YEAR OVER YEAR
- January 2016: 2-0-0, goal differential +1
- January 2017: 1-1-0, goal differential -1
- January 2018: 1-1-0, goal differential -5
Last night’s win was badly needed, this Edmonton team has just 10 games in January and have to make the most of it. All three teams got off to reasonable starts in January.
AFTER 41, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 17-21-3, goal differential -23 (37 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 21-13-7, goal differential +10 (49 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 18-20-3, goal differential -16 (39 points)
This year’s team is just a hair ahead of two years ago but I do believe this team will finish with more than 70 points. Adding a veteran backup goalie suggests there’s at least some interest in winning games this season.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM JANUARY
- At home to: Los Angeles, Anaheim (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, Arizona, Vegas (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver, Buffalo, Calgary (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 4-4-2, 10 points in 10 games
- Current results: 1-1-0, two points in two games
Oilers are slightly ahead of my prediction but I was bullish about their road trip and there’s miles to go over the next two weeks.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Benning went 16-8 in 11:58, 0-0 GF and 2-2 HDSC. Went 10-3 against Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg, forgot what a pain in the ass that line could be any given night. Pairing spent most of their 5×5 time with Leon and Nuge lines. I like both defenders but would prefer to see Sekera with a shutdown type and Benning the same. Edmonton doesn’t have enough puck movers on the roster to to afford this alignment.
- Klefbom-Russell went 11-12 in 15:45, 1-0 GF and 5-0 in HDSC’s. Played mostly with Nuge and McDavid lines, going 6-5 against Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg. Russell scored on a beautiful pass from McDavid, screened Talbot on PP GA.
- Nurse-Larsson were 15-20 together in 17:36, 0-0 GF and 0-5 in HDSC’s. This pairing spent most of their time with the McDavid line (8-0 Corsi) and flourished, but got caved (4-16) while playing with the Draisaitl line. Were 10-16 against Vermette-Getzlaf-Rakell, who I count as Anaheim’s top line. Getzlaf faced Nurse-Larsson 10:40; Klefbom-Russell 5:07, Sekera-Benning 1:46. Is that how you would handle things?
- Cam Talbot stopped 33 of 34, .971. He played very well to my eye.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
OFFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi got the goal, a monster tally and the key to the win. McDavid had another of those insane nights where you’re just glad to be alive to witness it. Lucic had a good night, fine move and then pass on the goal, another nice item late in the third to give McDavid some air and eventually force a penalty. Puljujarvi is the bomb, he’s very close to impossible, needs his own camera following every move. Six HDSC’s for the line.
- Cammalleri-Nuge-Strome went 15-13, 2-0 in HDSC’s. I thought they had some promising moments but the big contribution came in the shootout. Nuge was slippery and skilled, loving his season. Strome has big parts of the game right at his feet and is unable to think or act quickly enough to impact them. I’ll say this: He’s smart and skilled enough to get himself to good spots, which makes his lack of impact more galling.
- Caggiula-Draisaitl-Slepyshev got caved 9-22, 2-7 in HDSC’s. Lordy. Went 3-12 in five minutes against Getzlaf. Hoo doggy. There were several epic shifts involving chasing, Edmonton needs wingers like Mars needs women. People will rip Leon today, but he needs better wingers. Schnell.
- Khaira-Letestu-Kassian went 3-6, McLellan doesn’t trust his fourth line (6:21) much. I think both wingers on Letestu’s line would be better Leon options.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) January 5, 2018
If he’s a buy low option, then Peter Chiarelli should be on it yesterday. Duclair has one 20-goal season (crazy good shooting percentage that year) in the NHL already and is young enough to grow with the group. If the price is right, makes sense from here.
How does Brossoit feel sitting on the bench? "Hey you hear? We just traded for a veteran backup goalie?"
— Jason Strudwick (@Jason_Strudwick) January 5, 2018
That was one weird trade for sure. What’s more, Al Montoya is on the IR (as I understand it) so Brossoit will probably head to Dallas as an insurance policy. Montoya has played in just four games this season, he is currently sporting an .897 even-strength save percentage (hockey-reference) for the year. As possible backup options go, Montoya is perhaps an uninspired choice but I’m unsure what forces were at play to make this happen. Brossoit will have to hit waivers, meaning another 24-hour “Jeff Deslauriers night sweats” saga.
We talked about Tyler Benson yesterday, and this morning another CHL winger is worth discussing. After a nice run coming out of the Christmas break, Maksimov’s boxcars are 34gp, 24-18-42 (NHLE: 82gp, 17-13-30). Oilers need scoring wingers, and with Kailer Yamamoto, Ostap Safin and Maksimov bubbling under, help is on the way.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, the bases are loaded with great guests! Scheduled to appear:
- Blake Price, TSN WJC host. We tee up the big WJ games today with Blake.
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Chiarelli on the hot seat, WJ’s, Oilers win.
- Nate Davis, USA Today. Huge NFL weekend.
- Marshall Ferguson, Ti-Cats PBP. A monster news week in the CFL.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!