Kailer Yamamoto’s brilliant goal was the best ‘first goal in a career’ since Jordan Eberle’s screamer in 2010. Hard to believe that’s an eight-year gap, but time passes quickly in the second division. The Edmonton Oilers wake up this morning 3-2-0, within a whisper of a playoff spot, and looking like a team that can outscore its mistakes. They haven’t had a ‘perfect game’ as we saw in Game 1 2017-18, but maybe that’s a good thing. The Oilers are in it, every night is a battle, with foot soldiers dropping like flies. This is a team, ladies and men. The troops appear worthy of the battles ahead.
The Athletic Edmonton is going to bring it all season long. Proud to be part of a lineup that is ready to cover the coming year. Outstanding coverage from a large group, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis, Lowetide, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Special offer is here, less than $3 a month!
- New Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s race against time.
- New Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Asking McDavid to take on Bergeron line at home shows what Oilers are missing.
- New Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Remembering Ron Chipperfield’s brief and hellish time as captain of the Edmonton Oilers.
- Eric Duhatschek: Oilers finally getting a goal without Connor McDavid’s help and Edmonton captain couldn’t be happier.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Grant Fuhr talks about his journey, drug use and the state of goaltending.
- Lowetide: Math offers a surprising option for Leon Draisaitl’s struggling No. 2 line
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Patience preached as Jesse Puljujarvi attempts to carve out his spot in the Oilers lineup.
- Corey Pronman: Around the farm. Prospects having early success (Oilers item).
- Lowetide: College and AHL prospect update.
- Lowetide: Panic storm on the horizon as Oilers remain a one-man show
- 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.
I used to post these every morning but there wasn’t much point last year. Welcome back, morning standings, it’s nice to have you as part of the morning mail. The Oilers are just outside the playoffs but have two games in hand on San Jose and a single game on Chicago. What’s more, the Canucks and the Flames are easily within reach. We have ourselves a good old fashioned playoff race!
And you can say “it’s early, calm your tits” but you know in your heart this Oilers team has been dead in the water by end October many, many times. Breathe deep, that cool fall air, imagine the possibilities. You’ve earned the right to dream.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Bouchard went 6-5 in 6:12, 2-2 shots and no goals. I like Bouchard’s calm feet and passing, plus he jumps into the play intelligently. Miles to go defensively, and that should come as no surprise.
- Nurse-Russell went 9-10 in 14:12, 4-6 shots and 0-0 goals. Nurse saved two goals from the paint, sure as hell. Remember that old line I use? Single events can have enormous impact while also being single events? Yes. That’s the one.
- Nurse-Bouchard were 6-4 in four minutes and gave up both goals. I don’t think we’ll see this pairing together much this year, but you can see why there’s some appeal matching them. Speed merchant and a creative blue with tremendous passing skill. Maybe next year.
- Klefbom-Larsson were 9-17 in 12:45, 4-6 shots and no goals. Klefbom played a hard game last night, he was strong on the puck and focused. That’s my favorite Oscar. Larsson’s skating in glue right now, has to be his back.
- Matt Benning didn’t play much at all, he’s out for Saturday.
- Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak were 16:11 in 14:37, 1-0 goals and 8-3 shots. They were 13-11 against McDavid (no goals), 15-5 in 9:16 against Larsson, 12-6 in 8:19 against Klefbom.
- Cam Talbot stopped 27 of 29, .931. I thought it was easily his best game of the season. I’d start him Saturday, too.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-Strome-Yamamoto went 9-6 in 9:45 (Lucic) and 12-5 in 9:22 with a goal (Yamamoto). What a fabulous goal by the rookie, my that was fun to watch. I know there are many Oilers fans who don’t believe he’s going to succeed, but that goal showed how elusive, fast and skilled he is, even in the NHL. Lucic and Strome also played well, but they have to score from this spot in the batting order.
- Nuge-McDavid-Rattie went 18-21 in 17:37 (Nuge), 7-4 in 6:09 (Rattie) and 5-8 in 5:24 (Draisaitl). All of the offense happened on the power play and in 4-on-4 overtime, but the line was dangerous and of course posted four points on the night (if you include Leon’s goal). Rattie is hurt, apparently will miss the Saturday game.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian were 3-6 in 6:21. This line hasn’t shown a lot of chem, not quite certain where it will land. Do not trade Khaira! He’s been quiet this season but so have a lot of players on this team.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi went 3-14 in 7:34, a goal went in but Leon was on the ice with Nuge and Rieder. Each of the primary linemates did something that raised an eyebrow, including a ghastly early pass into the Oilers’ slot by JP, a galling penalty against Rieder and some missed assignments by Draisaitl. As well, the trio got fed in possession. This is a thing folks, Leon’s line is always a mess.
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 1-4-0, goal differential -5
- Oilers in October 2016: 4-1-0, goal differential +4
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-4-0, goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2018: 3-2-0, goal differential -3
This year’s model is beginning to show some resemblance with the playoff team, but we can’t trust it yet because goal differential. This is going to be a more interesting winter in Edmonton than a year ago, I think we can say that for 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 2-1-0)
- At home to: Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington (Expected 1-3-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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: 3-2-0, 6 points after five games
The Oilers are miles ahead of my projection, and they were reasonable. This is what we might call a fast start, and if I were to revise the prediction (I won’t) then something like 11 points in 11 games would probably be a solid reset.
Ty Rattie and Matt Benning were both hurt early in last night’s game (it was a nasty bit of business for much of the evening). Replacing Rattie likely means a combination of players on the No. 1 line, with Leon, Rieder and Yamamoto possible. I would also mention Ryan Strome as a possibility, wrote about it this week. Cameron Hebig, Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody are performing well in Bakersfield but it’s too soon by plenty to consider any of them on a recall. If there is a recall, I suspect it will be Brad Malone and the lines might end up looking like this on Saturday night:
My guess is the coaching staff will prefer to move players up and then fill in on the fourth line (Brodziak is struggling and the fourth line is getting very little done). We’ll see. On defense, based on what I’ve read, and the needs of the team, we might see a surprise recall.
That’s the current group, with Benning injured and we can guess the team will put him on IR and recall someone just to be safe. Candidates include Kevin Gravel (he outplayed Garrison to my eye), Ethan Bear (he’s barely played this season, if they recall him it should be to place him right in the lineup) and Caleb Jones. In the case of Jones, the reports from California have him making a big step forward and we saw a little of that in preseason. Perhaps he gets the call.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning with a different Friday feel (Steve Lansky is working tonight’s CFL game for TSN). Scheduled to appear, beginning at 10 this morning on TSN1260:
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. We appear to be on a collision course with a Dodgers-Red Sox world series. The two organizations did meet in the 1916 WS, when the Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins. We’ll chat.
- Matthew Iwanyk, TSN1260. Huge game for the Eskimos, Oilers on a winning streak and the power of the word loyalty.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Goalie concussions, Oilers win three in a row, the Leafs lost!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Friday, bitches!