The formula from a year ago, the one that sees Connor McDavid win the scoring title and Cam Talbot stop a lot of pucks, appears to be back in business. Of course it’s too late, and absolutely it could result in yet another false sense of security, but it’s here all the same. How frustrating is this season? How much time do you have?
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- New Lowetide: Linemates (will post link)
- Jonathan Willis: An 8-point plan for the Oilers’ offseason.
- Lowetide: Ethan Bear’s first 10 games.
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers getting in Cooper Marody?
- Lowetide: Cam Talbot and the Oilers are headed to a second contract.
- Lowetide: Ty Rattie gets a chance.
- Lowetide: How the Oilers can win summer without breaking the bank.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
SURF CITY, YEAR OVER YEAR
- March 2016: 6-6-0, goal differential -3 (12 points)
- March 2017: 9-2-1, goal differential +20 (19 points)
- March 2018: 7-4-1, goal differential +7 (15 points)
- March 24, 2016: Edmonton 6, San Jose 3 (Source)
- March 30, 2017: Edmonton 3, San Jose 2 (Source)
I didn’t expect Edmonton to have this kind of success in March, many will say the pressure is off and that’s why things are going better. I’ll buy that, but the template is there, if the club can improve in a couple of areas. I’m not saying this is a Stanley team but the playoffs are possible next season in my opinion, with some small changes and better health. Some of those changes involve special teams.
AFTER 75, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 29-39-7, goal differential -46 (65 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 41-25-9, goal differential +37 (91 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 34-36-5, goal differential -24 (73 points)
- March 22, 2016: Arizona 4, Edmonton 2 (Source)
- March 28, 2017: Edmonton 2, Los Angeles 1 (Source)
It’s going to be an easy to look back on this season as a massive disappointment, and no winning streak in March will change it. Still, the McDavid scoring race, the Talbot recovery and a few more roster curios make this a more interesting month than I thought it might be.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to: Nashville, NY Rangers, Arizona, NY Islanders, Minnesota (Expected 2-3-0) (Actual 3-2-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: San Jose (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-1)
- On the road to: Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Ottawa (Expected 1-2-1) (Actual 3-1-0)
- At home to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Columbus (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 6-7-3, 15 points in 16 games
- Current results: 7-4-1, 15 points in 12 games
Oilers have reached my expectation with four games to spare. It sounds incredible, and I didn’t think we’d even talk about it again, but fake .500 is on the horizon.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Benning went 18-12 in 12:00, 1-1 GF. The goal against came on a stealth backcheck by the Kings, a healthy Sekera never lets it come to that. OZone starts in 5 of 7 occasions. Went 8-2 against Kempe-Thompson-Toffoli. I don’t think this pairing cost the Oilers much, you’d like to see Sekera good for a few games by the end of the season.
- Russell-Bear went 8-18 in 16:10, 1-0 GF. I would play the third pairing more. Two of 10 Zone starts in the offensive zone, three in the defensive. Russell’s signature is a better Fenwick (44.44) and that was the case last night. He saved his young partner’s bacon at least twice, a big deal in a one-goal game. Went 4-12 against Pearson-Carter-Rieder, that’s a damned good line.
- Nurse-Larsson were 10-26 in 18:28, 1-1 GF. Two of 15 zone starts in the offensive zone, six in the defensive. McLellan don’t match but he does use his shutdown pairing in a traditional manner. Went 6-7 in nine minutes against Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown, that’s the heart of the order. I really liked both defenders, Larsson was rugged and he took a beating without making a sound. Meted out a few friend-getters, too. Nurse was chasing a lot but he showed calm feet several times. I’m not saying he is or he isn’t, because for me there’s more miles to know, but Nurse can play the game.
- Cam Talbot stopped 27 of 29, .931. He made some huge saves.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Rattie were 17-11 in 17:37, 2-0 in GF. Could have had more but the puck wouldn’t settle for Nuge and Rattie missed an empty net. Line had 7 HD scoring chances, gave up zero. Went 12-9 against Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown, 17-8 against Doughty in a very hard match (97 vs. Doughty for 13:30). McDavid broke the hearts of LAK last night, is what he did. Amazing talent. For the RE series, I suggested McDavid would run 80gp, 37-73-110 (1.375). At this point in the season, he is 75gp, 38-58-96 (1.28). Incredible. The man closes like no player I’ve ever seen before, it seems the end of the regular schedule forces him onto a higher plateau. We are witnessing true greatness, the kind that gets passed down from generation to generation, in real time.
- Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi were 10-8 in 12 minutes, 0-1. Shots at 5×5 were 5-3, HDSC 1-2 also at 5×5. Puljujarvi had the best chance for the line, who held their own on the night in possession. Went 5-3 against the Kempe-Thompson-Toffoli trio, had four of six zone starts begin in the offensive end.
- Slepyshev-Khaira-Pakarinen were a curious line, going 6-14 in 7:14. The trio had success in HDSC (2-1) and it was Pakarinen who was the most dangerous on the night. Slepyshev feathered a nice pass to McDavid for the winning goal.
- Caggiula-Draisaitl-Aberg had a strange night, going 6-17 in 11:49. Went 1-1 in GF, 2-0 in HDSC and had five of nine zone starts in the defensive end. Went 2-10 against Pearson-Carter-Rieder, had a tough time and Leon gave away the puck three times. Not close to normal, this line might need some help.
#Oilers Top Goal Scorers since 1991-92:
1. Ryan Smyth (1996-97) — 39
T2. Connor McDavid (2017-18) — 38
T2. Vincent Damphousse (1991-92) — 38
3. Ryan Smyth (2005-06) — 36
5. Joe Murphy (1991-92) — 35
— Eric Friesen (@EricJFriesen) March 25, 2018
DRAFT PICK WORRY
The Oilers current run has them passing other teams in the standings. They are No. 23 overall this morning (draft pick: No. 9) and could pass the Rangers and possibly Carolina. A fantasy thought? Catching the Flames. Wildly unlikely, Calgary will recover here soon and start winning half of their games. Still, the Oilers have gained eight points on the Flames in the last 10 games.
Elliotte Friedman mentioned Edmonton’s interest in Robinson during last night’s broadcast. Not much on him, he went 36gp, 17-14-31 (NHLE: 16) with Princeton of the ECAC.