The Pittsburgh Penguins are fun to watch play hockey, and the franchise has delivered strong offensive teams for much of its history. Although expansion saw them struggle, by 1974-75 Pittsburgh delivered the No. 4 offense in the league (led by nine 20-goal scorers). Then came Mario and Jaromir and the Penguins became a famous team for the first time really, and for a good decade (1990’s) the team was among the most interesting in the NHL. Followed by a down time, a series of bad finishes and impact drafts, and the team arrived at the most productive period in its history (2006-today). Pittsburgh is bringing an All-Star cast to Rogers tonight.
All of that matters, but for Oilers’ fans the main attraction is the Thrill from Richmond Hill. Be it ever so boring, this is Edmonton—where Oilers hockey is the game in town. They’re playing in Connor McDavid’s house tonight. Expect the incredible.
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- New Lowetide: Drake Caggiula might be hearing footsteps as the Oilers look for offence to replace injured Ty Rattie.
- Lowetide: Kirill Maksimov is tearing up the OHL, three Condors fly high.
- Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s race against time.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lowetide: Panic storm on the horizon as Oilers remain a one-man show
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 3-4-0, goal differential -2
- Oilers in October 2016: 6-1-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-0, goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2018: 3-3-0, goal differential -6
The 2016-17 train left the station by Game No. 7 of the season, reaching +10 in goals and five games over true .500. That’s a nice area of town. The 2015-16 team is the closest comp for this year, that team had some promise but injuries derailed. Edmonton’s goal differential this season is the worry and it’s too close for comfort as a comp for one year ago.
- Nugent-Hopkins [6, 2-5-7]—McDavid [6, 4-7-11]—Yamamoto [6, 1-0-1]
- Tobias Rieder [6, 0-0-0]—Draisaitl [6, 2-4-6]—Puljujarvi [6, 1-0-1]
- Lucic [6, 1-1-2]—Strome [6, 0-0-0]—Cooper Marody [0, 0-0-0]
- Khaira [6, 0-0-0]—Brodziak [5, 0-0-0]—Kassian [4, 0-0-0]
- Klefbom [6, 0-2-2]—Larsson [6, 0-1-1]
- Nurse [6, 1-2-3]—Russell [6, 0-1-1]
- Kevin Gravel [0. 0-0-0]—Bouchard [5, 0-0-0]
- Talbot [6, 3-3-0, 2.69 .906]
Edmonton’s offense is pretty much McDavid, especially at 5-on-5. In that discipline, McDavid’s lines are 5-2, the rest of the team 1-9 (via NaturalStatTrick). This team is 3-3-0 with the non-McDavid units going 1-9, imagine if those lines were 9-9? What would the team record be with those numbers?
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 1-1-0)
- 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: 3-3-0, 6 points after six games
I had eight points as “reasonable”, Edmonton can reach that number tonight (with four games left). The key for me involves the Oilers remaining in this game, Penguins have the ability to blow out opponents every night. Edmonton’s three wins have come by a sliver, and their losses are three goal editions. There’s a large gap there, and the only team that ever won anything doing it that way was the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (and they won the NL pennant before the WS).
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM KEVIN GRAVEL
I like to get scouting reports on players, usually from their draft day but couldn’t find one on Gravel. When he was called to the NHL the first time, Jon Rosen from LAK Insider had a chance to chat with Ontario Reign coach Mike Stothers about Gravel.
- Stothers: “He plays a quiet, efficient, reliable game. His positioning and mobility are good, and he has a great stick. He makes plays, and the bigger the game, the better he plays. [He’s a] very coachable individual.” (Source)
If you don’t notice him, that’s probably a good thing. I thought he outplayed Garrison during preseason, and this start is overdue. No idea how well he’ll play but I do like this player type and absolutely value defending in today’s NHL.
In his one (fairly) complete NHL season, Gravel had a 55 percent Corsi for 5-on-5 and a rel percentage of +1.51 (ranking him No. 3 on the LAK). He could be here for a day or a year or many. I do like this bet.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM COOPER MARODY
I’m not sure he’ll play, although the lines at practice yesterday suggest it is probable. Marody’s offense so far in the AHL is evenly split:
- Marody at even strength: 5, 2-1-3
- Marody on the power play: 5, 0-3-3
- Marody on the penalty kill: 5, 0-0-0
It’s unlikely he sees a lot of the 5-on-4, but if the plan is to get him a regular shift at evens it’s reasonable to expect a shot on goal and some nifty passes. You never know, some players adjust to the NHL quickly. It’s going to be a fun debut, one of a few we’re anticipating (Caleb Jones, Tyler Benson) this year.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning begins at 10, TSN1260. It’s a big sports night and we’ll touch base in several areas. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Evan Bouchard will play his sixth game tonight, has he earned more than nine?
- Seth Rorabaugh, The Athletic Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored yet, the Penguins aren’t firing on all pistons but no one is really worried. Do they break out tonight?
- Jonah Birenbaum, The Score. The World Series begins tonight, with two storied franchises going head to head. We’ll preview tonight’s game.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!