High among the things Oilers fans should be worrying about (along with the owner suggesting another rebuild and the club trading their 2018 first-round selection without lottery protection) is the hesitation to use Anton Slepyshev in a feature role this season. In the march toward April, giving the young Russian plenty of playing time should be a priority. He sure does score nice goals from left-wing, perhaps that’s a good place to start.
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- Lowetide: Value contracts in 2018-19
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto’s Future
- Jonathan Willis: Would trading Leon Draisaitl get the Oilers closer to Stanley?
- Lowetide: How Good is Kirill Maksimov?
- Lowetide: Now is the time to play Khaira and Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: What would Sam Pollock do?
- Lowetide: Oilers Keeper List
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Oilers draft and college returns
- Lowetide: Central Scouting and where the Oilers shop for talent
THE CIRCLE GAME, YEAR OVER YEAR
- February 2016: 3-3-0, goal differential 0 (6 points)
- February 2017: 3-3-0, goal differential -1 (6 points)
- February 2018: 1-4-1, goal differential -5 (3 points)
As has happened so many times this season, the Oilers are caught in a trap (oooo-oooo-oooo) and can’t walk out. No telling how far they fall at this point, pretty clear the disappointment of losing an entire season is settling in on the roster.
AFTER 55, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 21-29-5, goal differential -33 (47 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 29-18-8, goal differential +16 (66 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 23-28-4, goal differential -28 (50 points)
If the season ended today, Edmonton would draft No. 5 overall before the lottery. I will tell you it’s my opinion Peter Chiarelli won’t survive that outcome as general manager. Ending the season 15-10-2 gets the organization some air in terms of selling next season. Going 7-18-2? I honestly think ownership would have to make a change simply to restore fan faith in the product. Hell, maybe I’m alone on an island here and a bunch of biased fans are giving me their opinion, but from what Oilers Nation is sending me, this club is in a very difficult spot with the client base. Standing pat won’t be an option with a poor finish, in my opinion.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY
- At home to: Colorado, Tampa Bay (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-0-1)
- On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-3-0)
- At home to: Florida (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Vegas, Arizona, Colorado (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Boston, Colorado (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 0-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-3, 13 points in 14 games
- Current results: 1-4-1, three points in six games
Edmonton has seen this kind of start early in previous months, only to recover to my predicted number. Tough schedule ahead, but assuming this team loses five of the final eight games this month would be unwise based on its established past. Weird team this year.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Davidson went 23-16 in 18:04 together, 1-1 in GF. Went 8-10 against Huberdreau-Trochek-Malgin, this pairing led the other two with eight own-zone faceoffs. All three pairings had trouble transitioning the puck, but Nurse transports well and he used the wheels often in this game.
- Klefbom-Russell went 19-15 in 17:01, 2-1 in GF, six defensive zone faceoffs. Klefbom got walked by Trochek on the PP (while playing with Davidson) and Russell backed in like a Trans-X truck at the loading dock five minutes from closing time, and it cost him. Russell also has a hitch in his giddyup passing the puck up to the forwards, Leon wanted to brain him, pretty sure. |Went 10-7 against the Trochek unit.
- Auvitu-Benning were 14-15 in 11:25, just two own-zone faceoffs and 1-0 GF. Went 7-5 against McGinn-McCann-Mamin. Auvitu makes things happen, so for God sakes don’t use him on the power play! He hasn’t earned it!
- Cam Talbot stopped 30 of 32 at even strength, .938. I’m not blaming him for the penalty kill any more this season. It is an abomination. Someone call the Catholic church!
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Slepyshev-Letestu-Kassian went 12-5, 1-0 GF together. I loved Slepy’s game, he needs to share the puck a little, though. Letestu made some nice passes and generally helped in less than eight minutes. Kassian is engaged and played well to my eye.
- Caggiula-Khaira-Puljujarvi were 6-6 together, 1-1 GF. A nice goal by the trio, Khaira getting the puck back to the point while both wingers drove to the net looking for a tip. I’d like to see that group again, perhaps more playing time next game.
- Maroon-McDavid-Strome were 25-19 (Maroon) and 18-17 (Strome) together, 2-0 GF. McDavid and Strome had some chem, enough for this line to return later in the week in my opinion. McDavid was 11-15 with 900 slashes against Trochek, 1-0 GF.
- Lucic-Draisaitl-Cammalleri were 11-17, 0-1 GF together (Leon scored when with Maroon and McDavid) on the night. I’d like to see Puljujarvi replace Cammalleri on the line.
- The penalty kill was awful.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
- Todd McLellan: “Some big errors from individuals. I look at the fourth goal, we pre-scouted that, we knew it was coming, we talked about it, and we’re 18 seconds in when we’re fresh, and we get a chance to execute, one individual gets delinquent and misses his assignment, and that’s basically game over.”
Oscar did look poor on the play, one of several moments where Edmonton didn’t have things hammered down on the penalty kill. The team is playing kid forwards a lot on the PK now, maybe they’ll develop and maybe the won’t develop. It’s a mess. At 5×5, I like this team and I sure as hell believe in Klefbom’s future. If the Oilers trade the Swede for 10 cents on the dollar, you’re looking at further erosion of the top-end young talent. Enormous mistake.
People want him traded or bought out but the options are poor. A buy out is so severe it isn’t worth it, and trade options would involve bringing in other problem deals. Would you deal Lucic for Bobby Ryan?
Lots of rage in the cage for Talbot after last night, I’m no longer buying. The penalty killers resemble Monty Python’s race for people with no sense of direction now, complete imbecilic behaviour. Easy to blame the goalie, and he fell on his sword last night. I’d like this team to try something else, anything else.
- I’m no longer blaming Talbot for the addled penalty kill
- The penalty kill can go to hell.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. CFL free agency will take up much of the morning but we’ll have time to discuss last night’s Oilers loss. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic! Oilers at the deadline and that power play.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. CFL free agency, half of Canada’s NHL cities are on fire.
- Davis Sanchez, CFL this week. Former CFL player turned media mogul guides us through free agency.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!