The Edmonton Oilers won yesterday in Denver, ending a long losing streak and one of the most frustrating periods in an exhausting season. Back home in Edmonton, ready to face two playoff teams before heading out for another “Donner party” road trip, the trade deadline looms one week from now. This team does nothing half assed, so expect agony and tribulation, and hold on to the dream of Stanley some sweet day.
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- New Lowetide: Nic Petan leads some AHL achievers who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Jonathan Willis: Where have Milan Lucic’s goals gone?
- Lowetide: In defence of Cam Talbot.
- Lowetide: Is Ryan Strome a keeper?
- Lowetide: Value contracts in 2018-19
- Lowetide: What would Sam Pollock do?
- Lowetide: Oilers Keeper List
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Oilers draft history and the OHL
THESE SO-CALLED VACATIONS, YEAR OVER YEAR
- February 2016: 3-6-0, goal differential -6 (6 points)
- February 2017: 5-4-0, goal differential -1 (10 points)
- February 2018: 2-6-1, goal differential -7 (5 points)
That win had to feel good and there are some promising signs. Cam Talbot has played well back to back, the penalty kill has some urgency and has lost some of the passivity. Now, they need secondary scoring and hurry back Nuge, but for today it has to feel good to win a game.
AFTER 58, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 22-30-6, goal differential -38 (50 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 31-19-8, goal differential +18 (70 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 24-30-4, goal differential -30 (52 points)
This year’s team has 24 games left, I think the coach and general manager need 30 points to make a case to return. Is that possible? Of course. Cam Talbot stopping pucks, the penalty killing average, this team can win games just play getting reasonable performances from the rank and file. Will they do it? That’s the question.
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 1-2-0)
- 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: 2-6-1, five points in nine games
The team is so far off my predictions they’d have to run the table. I don’t see an easy opponent before March and the trade deadline is going to have its impact on the quality of play. Hold on to your hats!
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Russell were 15-8 in 13:13, 10-4 in shots, 9-4 in SCF and 1-0 in HDSCF. They were 9-4 in 8:03 against Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen, that earns you the best steak in the house.
- Davidson-Benning were 9-8 in 10:01, 1-1 GF and 0-2 in HDSCF. I’m not going to rip any defender for either of the goals, one was a wrister from range and another was a fluke. I liked Benning’s passing on the evening. Went 2-4 in 2:10 against the MacKinnon line.
- Nurse-Larsson were 16-17 in 15:37, 1-1 GF. The top pairing 5×5 via playing time, they were also in the defensive zone nine times on the night on faceoffs (Klefbom-Russell twice). Interesting. Went 9-15 in 7:58 against MacKinnon, which looks far worse than Klefbom-Russell but how many shifts involved this pairing with a defensive zone start against that line? And is this strategy or coincidence?
- Cam Talbot stopped 24 of 26, .923. I thought the first goal against was soft (didn’t see a deflection) and the second goal was just one of those things. He’s settling in now, finally.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Khaira-Strome-Slepyshev were 6-1 on the evening, effective in possession although low event (2-0 shots). Went 4-0 against Nieto-Soderberg-Comeau. Line shuffling meant the trio spent only 8:25 together.
- Puljujarvi-Letestu-Kassian went 9-5 in 6:48, 0-1 GF together. Puljujarvi had a glorious open net chance, still have zero idea how he missed (Strome must be his roommate). Anyway, I don’t like the kid on the fourth line but it wasn’t a terrible line.
- Connor McDavid went 21-15 with Maroon (2-0 GF), 11-14 with Caggiula (1-0 GF), 10-3 with Draisaitl (1-0 GF), he was feeling it no matter who was on the ice with him. This guy closes like Secretariat, such a shame there’s no second season for him this year. They could have scored more as a line, Maroon seemed unaware of opportunity at times.
- Lucic-Draisaitl-Cammalleri were 12-17, 0-1 GF and generally not as effective as you’d like. I think ML and Leon can play together, but need a more dynamic skater on the other wing. Lucic was impressive in 3:16 with Strome, that line (with Cammalleri) getting the goal. Perhaps we see that trio again.
“When they pulled their goalie the second time, (Mike Cammalleri) looked back and said ‘Coach, there’s a bunch of us here who haven’t scored in 20 games.’ I told him ‘I can’t put eight guys on the ice.' — Oilers coach Todd McLellan
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) February 18, 2018
I laughed, that’s a good line. Would you bring back Cammalleri? I would consider it. Seriously. Mike Cammalleri is an older, slower version of himself but still has enough skill to score points 5×5 at a reasonable rate. Here’s the current state of God’s flashlight (5×5/60 scoring):
- Connor McDavid 2.94
- Leon Draisaitl 2.56
- Mike Cammalleri 1.95
- Patrick Maroon 1.84
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.80
- Milan Lucic 1.62
- Jujhar Khaira 1.60
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1.49
- Ryan Strome 1.45
- Zack Kassian 1.31
- Drake Caggiula 1.17
- Anton Slepyshev 1.16
- Mark Letestu 1.14
- Iiro Pakarinen 0.59
Sure thing. pic.twitter.com/SQNWUWXhUu
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) February 19, 2018
This puts things in perspective as well, giving us a good idea about just how badly McDavid and Draisaitl are lapping the field. This is serious business here, somewhat obscured by the outrage over the three summer trades that sent away men (and a pick) who could also be pushing the river.
What’s past is gone but the big questions for the Oilers now surround getting more players onto the upper portion of this piece of foolscap. The bets made for the skill spots by Peter Chiarelli (Lucic, Maroon, Strome, Puljujarvi, Caggiula) are a mixed bag and the only regular over 1.75 with a future on the team (probably) is the Nuge.
If I had a pipeline to the general manager, the point to be made surrounds running McDavid and Leon as centers on two different lines. That has to be established in my opinion, kind of a deal breaker. The coach could run Nuge on either of those lines and the general manager needs to impose his will on the coach re: Puljujarvi as well (maybe on the 2line). General manager may also have enough loot to sign a Michael Grabner and Riley Nash, which would allow the club to bring Kailer Yamamoto along at pace. Nuge-McDavid, Draisaitl-Puljujarvi, Khaira-Strome, Nash-Kassian as the pairs on each line? It sure would be nice to know what Jesse Puljujarvi can do by the end of this year’s schedule.
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) February 19, 2018
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. A busy and fun morning! Scheduled to appear:
- Pierre Lebrun, The Athletic and TSN. This trade deadline looks like a monster.
- Steve Aschburner, NBA.com. The NBA is doing so much right they can’t even screw up the All-Star game!
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Oilers win in Denver, trade deadline decisions.
7 shocking names that may get traded in the next 7 days. Shea Weber @CanadiensMTL Erik Karlsson @Senators Ryan McDonagh @NYRangers OEL @ArizonaCoyotes Semyon Varlamov @Avalanche Brock Nelson @NYIslanders Brent Seabrook @NHLBlackhawks Andre Burakovsky @Capitals
— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) February 19, 2018