Edmonton is enjoying a fantastic second week of NHL play. After going 1-2-0 in a wild Week 1 that involved two continents, the second week saw the club beat two strong playoff teams (Jets, Bruins) from a year ago. Edmonton completes the week with another major test against the Nashville Predators. One major consideration? The Predators have dominated the Oilers, who last won against tonight’s visitors on March 18, 2014. The only two players who remain on the Edmonton side from that night? The Nuge and Oscar.
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- 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
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 2-4-0, goal differential -4
- Oilers in October 2016: 5-1-0, goal differential +7
- Oilers in October 2017: 2-4-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2018: 3-2-0, goal differential -3
There’s no way to frame this start in a negative manner, leaving many Oilers fans like a fish out of water. Pace yourself, take your time, have a second cup of coffee, maybe you can find something I’ve missed. From here, it looks like the Oilers have done a nice job through the season’s first five games. One thing that is a concern: McDavid On and McDavid off at 5-on-5:
- Oilers when McDavid is on the ice 5-on-5: 5-1 (+4)
- Oilers when McDavid is off the ice 5-on-5: 1-9 (-8)
- Overall: 6-10 (-4)
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
There are six games left in the month, including tonight, and if Edmonton can win two more it would represent quality based on expectations. If the team can win three of six, it sets them up for early to mid-November games against Chicago, Detroit, Florida and Montreal.
OILERS SPECIAL TEAMS
- Power Play Goals: 5 (tied for No. 10 overall)
- Power Play Percentage: 35.7 (No. 3 overall)
- Penalty Killing Goals Allowed: 4 (tied for No. 5 overall)
- Penalty Killing Percentage: 71.4 (No. 25 overall)
It’s a net gain (+1) but the reality so far is the team is scoring a power-play goal and allowing a shorthanded goal per game (basically) so far. A season ago, the differential (PP-SHGA) was 31-57 (-26, this is all via NHL.com) so the Oilers aren’t bleeding as much in the special teams.
LIKELY LINEUP (lineup has been updated)
Matt Benning is on IR, Kevin Gravel is in from Bakersfield. It’s damned rare for Todd McLellan to bring up a player and plug him right in, but we should see Gravel soon. Yamamoto moves to the top of the depth chart with the injury to Ty Rattie (who remains active, but won’t play tonight).
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Connor McDavid—Kailer Yamamoto
- Tobias Rieder—Leon Draisaitl—Jesse Puljujarvi
- Milan Lucic—Ryan Strome—Alex Chiasson
- Jujhar Khaira—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Kris Russell
- Jason Garrison—Evan Bouchard
- Cam Talbot (Mikko Koskinen)
- Per Bob.
FORWARDS CORSI FOR 5-ON-5
I’m a Leon Draisaitl fan, but he isn’t playing at peak currently. If the problems persist, I expect we’ll see a flip in lines and the Nuge may return to the No. 2 center job. Here are Oilers forwards, with special attention paid to the pivots and where they rank.
- Ryan Strome 63.64
- Drake Caggiula 52.73
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 52.26
- Ty Rattie 52.03
- Kailer Yamamoto 51.55
- Connor McDavid 51.50
- Jesse Puljujarvi 50.45
- Jujhar Khaira 46.88
- Milan Lucic 45.63
- Tobias Rieder 45.24
- Leon Draisaitl 39.37
- Kyle Brodziak 38.89
- Zack Kassian 32.61
McDavid is playing the best opposition in the league and winning, we know that because of this possession number and his 5-1 edge in 5-on-5 goals. Ryan Strome and his line have the puck going in the right direction, that’s a positive sign despite the goal differential (1-1, you’d like his line to be dominating the soft parade). Leon Draisaitl’s line is chasing, missing assignments and pulling the puck out of their own net (1-5 so far). Kyle Brodziak? 0-4.
The good thing in all of this? The problems are easily identified and the team isn’t 1-4 going into tonight. The problem? The solution isn’t yet clear. One hopes part of the answer comes from that Strome line cashing more. I’m not at all sure what to do about Leon.
WHERE IS THE HOPE?
Edmonton has three forwards (97, 93, 29) who are delivering at more than a point-per-game pace. Milan Lucic is on a pace for 16-16-32. The team’s three right wingers are the challenge and the hope. Ty Rattie, Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi have all scored a goal (on pace for 16 each). I think that’s the key, along with secondary offense from role players like Ryan Strome, Tobias Rieder and others. By the way, The Hockey News always has the projected numbers and it’s fun to look at them early in the year. McDavid’s pace? 66-115-181. Nuge? 33-82-115. Leon? 33-66-99, and -82.