I’m not absolutely certain Darnell Nurse will enjoy another ‘three goals and four points in two games’ streak in his career but the first one is in the books and came in a timely fashion for the franchise. Just days away from the season’s death rattle, a four-point weekend for Edmonton has the gathered healthcare workers plugging the monitor back in and beginning the vigil anew.
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: Procurement 2018: We’re gonna need a bigger boat (will link)
- New Jonathan Willis: How do the Oilers move forward after squandering McDavid’s ELC?
- Lowetide: Leon Draisaitl’s contract makes him vulnerable
- Lowetide: Hard target search 2018 deadline
- Lowetide: Oilers and the 2018 Entry Draft
RED RUM, YEAR OVER YEAR
- January 2016: 3-2-2, goal differential -3 (8 points)
- January 2017: 4-3-0, goal differential -3 (8 points)
- January 2018: 3-4-0, goal differential -10 (6 points)
That was an exciting win in Vegas, in front of a home crowd no less. You know what this means, right? Annual road trip! Each January 13, the Oilers fan base must fly to the game destination to serenade 97 with a rousing version of ‘Happy Birthday’. It is written, so it must be done. Take back the empties.
AFTER 46, YEAR OVER
- Oilers 15-16: 18-23-5, goal differential -26 (41 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 24-15-7, goal differential +9 (55 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 20-23-3, goal differential -21 (43 points)
- The Athletic: There is a love of the Edmonton Oilers that borders on religion, and a genuine affection toward players who arrive from elsewhere and adopt Edmonton as “home.” It is the single biggest reason why Connor McDavid’s decision to sign an 8-year deal with the Oilers sealed his future in this northern outpost and is the de facto news story of the year in Edmonton. McDavid’s commitment means as much to its citizens as his incredible talent. It’s a bond similar to the one formed decades ago with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish. It is a unique facet of this community.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER
- 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 2-3-0)
- 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: 3-4-0, six points in seven games
What a strange month. The Oilers are actually fair close to being on track for my projections, but the way the team arrived at this point is highly unlikely. Why does the road hold such appeal? Should the team park themselves at the Red Deer Lodge for all home games? Weird. Real weird.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Benning were 9-10 in 10:49, 1-0 in GF, no HD’s but 7-3 in scoring chances. I don’t ordinarily list them, because scoring chances often coincide with 97 time-on-ice. Went 6-2 in 6:36 against the top LV line (Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault). Like this pairing, Oscar’s going to do good things after the AS break.
- Nurse-Larsson are basking in the glow of the Nurse photonic cannon. Four goals in two games for any player is impressive, Nurse went into the weekend with 10 career goals. Went 6-9 in 10:36 (McLellan rotated top two pairings equally), 1-0 GF and 3-0 in HD’s. Were 1-4 against Neal-Haula-Perron, a slippery line for sure. Nurse continues to show up in good places, to move the chains in terms of established levels. He still has some ways to go as a player, the mistakes of youth are still on display. That said, we are seeing him emerge on another level in real time, or at least we are seeing that possibility that has yet to be established. Exciting development.
- Sekera-Russell were 5-18 in 8:48, it was a firing squad out there. Lordy. Pair were 0-2 in GF and 0-3 HDSC’s. I think Russell boxed himself out on the first goal, Sekera was a day late on the second goal. I mentioned they would have trouble if they stayed together, that’s not exactly science talking. Went 1-9 against Neal-Haula-Perron, 2-7 against Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault, it really was a giant marchessault. That pairing needs to split.
- Cam Talbot stopped 34 of 36, .944.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Khaira-Letestu-Kassian went 4-4 (Kassian) and 1-4 (Khaira) as players moved around after the Nuge injury. Kassian isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I thought he used his wheels very well, especially on the PK, and forechecked with abandon. Letestu had a takeaway, and a shot on goal, he’s in an area of the season where not much is happening for him.
- Cammalleri-Strome-Kassian went 8-9 (Cammalleri) and 0-5 (Kassian) while Drake Caggiula (3-4) moved into a feature role. I like Cammalleri’s game, he’s a smart player who gives the team some genuine skill on the bottom 6F. I would not object to the club signing him for next season. Zack Kassian is a personal favorite, I’d bring him back, too. When he’s playing the hockey, he is effective.
- Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl went 8-15 (Maroon), 7-13 (Draisaitl) and 2-5 (Caggiula) formed a hodge-podge No. 1 line on the night, and the offense flowed. McDavid was fabulous, running out of adjectives to describe this man. He almost got walloped in the neutral zone, suicide pass put him in a tough spot. In a moment that offers us some insight into the player, 97 appeared to have eyes in the back of his head, a sixth sense that allowed him to completely avoid danger. Do we know about his eyesight, range of vision? Does he have some kind of ‘Michael Phelps has gills!’ panorama view of the world?
- Lucic-Nuge-Puljujarvi went 0-6 (Lucic) and 1-8 (Puljujarvi) in the discouraging portion of the game. Nuge got hurt, Lucic got cut and Puljujarvi is lost in the supermarket. I am telling you, this is one of the most important bullet points on the season. JP is there, right there, but has been fading for some time and needs to play on another line to get jumpstarted. Will the coach break up the McDavid-Leon duo?
The formula one year ago was McDavid rains down blows and Talbot stops everything. Last night we saw it, and something more. Two pairings found a way to move the puck up the ice, the third one stood out in a bad way (and that’s a good thing, obviously needs a fix). The club needs to score goals when 97 isn’t on the ice and that remains a problem. Drake Caggiula stepped up and had a nice second half of the game, that’s what this team needs and requires from a second line beyond McDavid’s trio.
I’ll be writing about the team meetings and the draft this week, plus procurement, Darnell Nurse and his role moving forward, and the goalies across the Oilers universe.