The Oilers have the Aces and Kings, what these final 20 games should be about is finding the complementary players. I credit Todd McLellan, he didn’t put 97-29 together until late and he was rewarded with a goal from the young group. He’ll want to win 10 of the final 20 in order to have a story to tell at the end of the season, but that California road trip had to be encouraging overall.
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 call on the Oilers summer free agents.
- New Jonathan Willis: Focus of Edmonton’s coaches must be on next season.
- Lowetide: Maroon dealt.
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers quietly disappointing deadline.
- Lowetide: Letestu dealt, Aberg acquired.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA
RIPPLE, YEAR OVER YEAR
- February 2016: 3-11-0, goal differential -14 (6 points)
- February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2 (12 points)
- February 2018: 5-8-1, goal differential -9 (11 points)
A disappointing game last night (Oilers didn’t have an answer for the Sharks in the second period) but the club did more damage in late February than I thought they would and there are some good signs. We’re on to March.
AFTER 63, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 22-34-7, goal differential -47 (51 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 33-22-8, goal differential +16 (74 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 27-32-4, goal differential -32 (58 points)
My entirely arbitrary goal for this year’s team is a 10-point improvement over the 2015-16 club (who finished with 70 points). A team that wants to hit 95+ points in 2018-19 can come up with myriad reasons to expect a 10-12 point spike next season. A 20-point climb? That’s a helluva gap. Important games ahead, even if everyone and their dog is telling you nothing matters. I think at 80 points, Chiarelli keeps his job. Just a guess.
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 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 0-2-1) (Actual 2-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-3, 13 points in 14 games
- Current results: 5-8-1, 11 points in 14 games
Man that was close! You would never have heard the end of it the Oilers won last night. The end run (4-2-0) saved the month, such as it is. We have one more full month to go before lottery and draft talk rule the day. Let’s try to enjoy it!
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Larsson were 17-12 in 13:31 together, 1-1 GF, 2-5 HDSC and 10-6 SCF. Went 11-5 in 4:52 with the McDavid line, 9-9 in 6:34 with Leon. Were 9-5 against Kane-Pavelski-Donskoi in 5:10. Larsson was a little more rambunctious in his offensive sorties but he also gave away more than usual the other way.
- Klefbom-Benning went 7-12 in 12:01 together, 1-0 GF, 2-5 in HDSC. Were 8-5 in 6:26 (1-0) with McDavid, and 9-6 against Hertl-Couture-Boedker. Benning got hammered on a play that should have been a penalty but he played well after and I’m not certain he was in California for the entire game. Klefbom needs Larsson.
- Auvitu-Sekera were 5-15 in 9:43, man they chased. Were 0-3 in HD and got one Dzone start (nine for Klefbom-Benning and five for Nurse-Larsson) and I don’t think they are well suited to each other. Sekera doesn’t look sharp, as was expected.
- Cam Talbot stopped 29 of 33, .879. I thought he missed the long ranger (second goal) but maybe it was tipped.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-McDavid-Slepyshev were 19-14 in 15:25, 1-2 GF, 6-6 in shots and 3-5 in HDSC. Went 15-12 against the Couture line and 97 was 21-14 in 14:40 against Vlasic pickles. McDavid was 5-0 in 3:07 with Leon, good discipline by the coach. Lucic is going to take some heat today, the goal-scoring slump continues and he wasn’t at all physical in a game Edmonton was taking a beating. I, as always, am unconcerned about taking dumb penalties but very concerned about 27’s execution when he has the puck on his stick. I remain concerned about his range of vision.
- Cammalleri-Draisaitl-Rattie went 7-13 in 8:58, 0-2 GF and 0-6 in HDSC. There are hits and there are misses. Leon needs better linemates. The big man didn’t clear a puck and a goal against resulted but the big story here is LD needs faster horses.
- Aberg-Strome-Puljujarvi went 6-7 in 10:25 together, 1-0 in GF. This line performed well and should see another game together. The goal was a combination of hard work and skill. Strome back checked (taking over from JP) and recovered the puck, send a pass to Aberg, who threaded the needle to the big Finn. JP got about 11 percent of the puck and was 100 percent smiles when his 10th of the season found the back of the net.
- Caggiula-Khaira-Pakarinen were 8-13 in 8:37 together, I didn’t see much that was notable. Khaira was the best player on the line, I’d like to see him move up the depth chart. Perhaps when Nuge returns.
Another new guy! Pontus (who was a sea god in Greek mythology) Åberg takes on the Sharks in his NHL debut with the Oilers. Poetic? pic.twitter.com/DdBvfQ79eI
— Minnia Feng (@minniafeng) February 28, 2018
You never know with deadline additions. Patrick Maroon scored in his first game as an Oiler, Pat Hughes was unable to hit the score sheet. I like Aberg’s speed and his skill, both Swedish defensemen were happy with his performance last night. If he plays that well again, wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some cherry time with 97 or 29.
Clearly a penalty, clearly a bad miss by the referee. Edmonton gave up a goal and then another, and that’s all she wrote. There are two issues. First, officiating is bad and that was a big point in the game. Benning took a real tumble there and it was a trip and a crosscheck. Bad form.
That said, the collapse afterward is all on the Oilers. Need to tighten up before the fall and there were several onlookers in white, blue and orange during the evening. As for stepping up and getting revenge, it sounds like a good idea but changes nothing. Punishment for opposition teams comes in the way of power-play goals.
I think the time has come to move the big man down the depth chart. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is coming back, placing the Nuge alongside CMD or LD on left-wing seems like an idea whose time has come. I wasn’t in favor of it previously but Leon has proven he can push the river, or at least battle it to a standstill. Todd McLellan likes to work in pairs, I’d suggest Nuge-McDavid and Draisaitl-Puljujarvi. It’s time.
During the RE series I projected JP for 65gp, 14-14-28, he is on track to finish 65gp, 14-10-24 on the year. During that conversation, the subject of usage and playing time lead to me writing “my guess is that Peter Chiarelli would like Puljujarvi to make the team and show progress this season. That isn’t the same as Todd McLellan finding a way to win games with JP in the lineup this year though.” I think that tug-of-war is still going on.
The storm is coming. In my article for The Athletic today, I look at the 21 free agents (RFA and UFA) this summer, and count one lock and three solid bets. The river of blood is going to be massive.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show today, lots of cool things to discuss. Scheduled to appear:
- Bob Nightengale, USA Today. Baseball’s spring training is underway and the players are mad as hell about small markets not spending money.
- Kirk Luedeke, Director of player personnel, Omaha Lancers. Kirk knows players and we’ll ask him about the newest Oiler, J.D. Dudek.
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Oilers last night and Oilers over the summer.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!