Let’s agree about this: There will be many games this season, especially on the road, where the Edmonton Oilers will need Cam Talbot to go all Dominik Hasek on the opponent’s ass. McDavid scores twice, something goes in off someone’s ass for the third goal, Talbot stops 55 shots and Edmonton wins in overtime. Let’s also agree tonight is such a night.
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- New Lowetide: Math offers a surprising option for Leon Draisaitl’s struggling No. 2 line
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Patience preached as Jesse Puljujarvi attempts to carve out his spot in the Oilers lineup.
- New Corey Pronman: Around the farm. Prospects having early success (Oilers item).
- New Lowetide: Oilers should make a waiver claim on Marko Dano.
- New Lowetide: College and AHL prospect update.
- New Lowetide: Panic storm on the horizon as Oilers remain a one-man show
- New Justin Bourne: How hockey has changed for the better and allowed its young stars to shine.
- Lowetide: Joel Persson’s early season performance in the SHL.
- Lowetide: Practice lines in Boston, anger in Edmonton and Kailer Yamamoto remains on the No. 2 line.
- Jonathan Willis: At 34, is Kyle Brodziak just too old to help the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Why Todd McLellan’s name keeps showing up on those ‘first coach fired in 2018-19’ lists
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 0-4-0, goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2016: 3-1-0, goal differential +2
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-3-0, goal differential -6
- Oilers in October 2018: 1-2-0, goal differential -5
It’s funny how quickly these teams are separating from the 2016-17 playoff team. Bill James used to say the first 10 games dictated what kind of team you’ll be staring at all summer. My all-time favourite baseball team, the 1987 Montreal Expos, lost its first five games, went 4-6 in the first 10 and went 87-65 afterward. The Oilers would kill for 4-6-0 after 10 based on strength of schedule. Pretty sure.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCTOBER
- On the road to: Sweden to play NJD (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Boston, NYR, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington (Expected 1-3-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Nashville, Chicago (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Minnesota (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 3-6-2, 8 points in 11 games
- Current results: 1-2-0, 2 points after three games
It’s important to be realistic about this team. I’ve seen some comments like “if they can beat Winnipeg, they’ll be rolling” and that isn’t how this month is going to work. If they beat Winnipeg it’ll be a massive win, setting the team up nicely for the first homestand of the campaign. Without being too much of a jerk about it, the four teams who will visit Edmonton starting later this week are all much better than the home team.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) October 15, 2018
Edmonton hasn’t yet replaced Andrej Sekera, perhaps hoping (as I have been) that Matt Benning can hold back the water on the second pairing. We’re three games into the campaign but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out the team is looking for more help. Pittsburgh is added to the list of teams doing same.
Oscar Klefbom and Evan Bouchard can pass well, Darnell Nurse can transport. Adam Larsson, Kris Russell and Matt Benning defend, as does Jason Garrison (who also has a great shot). If the Oilers are going to make a move, it probably involves Matt Benning heading out (Larsson and Bouchard/Bear being the other RHD). I wouldn’t move Benning, not when his value is low. In fact, I wouldn’t move him full stop until Bouchard and or Ethan Bear have shown they can play well consistently in the NHL. We don’t know one damn thing about either man yet.
5-on-5 points per 60
- Connor McDavid 3.43
- Darnell Nurse 1.97
- Milan Lucic 1.52
- Leon Draisaitl 1.42
- Ty Rattie 1.37
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.27
That isn’t a lot of offense and not one spark squeezed without 97. It’s early but the problems of yesterday are still on the plate. Edmonton badly needs to make something happen, to have a breakout game that includes all four lines and a defenseman not named Darnell Nurse. The list above after three games (and three 5-on-5 goals) looks a lot like 2017, when the team scored four goals in the discipline over the first three games. Here’s last season’s numbers after three games:
- Connor McDavid 3.54
- Patrick Maroon 2.58
- Leon Draisaitl 2.57
- Zack Kassian 1.52
- Milan Lucic 1.47
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.47
- Kris Russell 1.44
- Darnell Nurse 1.25
It’s a razor thin difference (one goal) and you might think that’s reason to remain calm. However, the Oilers one year ago were in the ditch after three games and the offense this year is about the same. That isn’t progress.
JETS VERSUS OILERS
This game favours Winnipeg but there are some interesting stats to look at heading into the game. At 5-on-5, the Jets are 6-8 in goal differential after five games, Edmonton 3-5 after three contests. It isn’t an advantage but one would expect Winnipeg to be well clear of the Oilers in this area. The other truly weird stat is about the penalty kill: Edmonton has been shorthanded for 10:31 over three games, probably because the opposition scores so quickly (three goals). Winnipeg has been shorthanded for 39:25, also allowing three goals, but shorthanded for damn near eight minutes a night. Unusually high.
Todd McLellan gave a fairly detailed state of the union media avail yesterday, it ran close to seven minutes and in modern times that’s a double album. He seemed more upbeat the previous days (wins will do that for a coach) and had some interesting comments about Jesse Puljujarvi. Daniel Nugent-Bowman’s piece has the money quote (asked by Daniel) plus input from JP and Ryan Strome. A worthy read. Corsica.hockey gives us line numbers, here are the top four lines so far this season (all numbers 5-on-5, small sample alert):
- Nuge-McDavid-Rattie: 38 minutes, 46 percent Corsi for, 2-0 goals
- Lucic-Draisaitl-Yamamoto: 29 minutes, 37 percent Corsi for, 0-2 goals
- Caggiula-Strome-Puljujarvi: 15 minutes, 50 percent Corsi for, 0-0 goals
- Khaira-Brodziak-Rieder: 7 minutes, 55 percent Corsi for, 0-0 goals
A quick note: I am posting these numbers secure in the knowledge we all understand it’s very early days. You can’t make a sweeping claim about any individual player based on these numbers and honestly even the line combinations are just getting started.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, wide range of guests. Scheduled to appear beginning at 10, TSN1260:
- Simon Boisvert, Prospect Insider. We’ll chat about Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard, plus the kids in Bakersfield.
- Eric Fawcett, Press Basketball. NBA gets rolling tonight, we’ll talk Raptors and expectations.
- Jason Strudwick, Oilers Alumni. L’il Oilers program is underway, we’ll chat about it at 11:20.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!