The Edmonton Oilers survived a Washington Capitals onslaught in the second half of the first period, got a goal from their rookie blue and then rode solid play from Cam Talbot and good checking to a 4-1 win over the Stanley Cup champions.
We’ve established this is an interesting NHL team, without talking about the club as a strong playoff contender. I think that’s fair, even today. As each game passes, this team is both building their own story and distancing themselves from the past that is represented by the 2017-18 season. This week represents a big step.
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- New Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi gets scratched, so what’s next for Edmonton’s lottery winger?
- New Tyler Dellow: Oilers treading water despite tough schedule, but still struggle to score without Connor McDavid.
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid finds another gear, but Oilers still lack scoring on the wing.
- Cat Silverman: How Laurent Brossoit found his way back to NHL form.
- Lowetide: Todd McLellan finds a suitable spot in the order for Milan Lucic.
- Jonathan Willis: Four reasons why the Oilers should return Evan Bouchard to junior.
- 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
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-1-0, goal differential +12
- Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in October 2018: 4-3-1, goal differential -4
This year’s model is now clear of the 2015 and 2017 editions and the goal differential corrected smartly as well. As you’ll see in a moment, Edmonton has waltzed through the teeth of a tough schedule and come out smelling like a rose (well, they smell okay) on the other side.
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 2-1-1)
- 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: 4-3-1, 9 points after eight games
The Oilers have now surpassed my original expectations for all of October, and there are three games left in the month. You’d like to see them push through and it’s possible, as Edmonton is now 4-1-1 in its last six games. I didn’t expect this start and credit where due, this is impressive.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Larsson were splendid together, going 22-20 in 17:13, 16-9 shots and 1-0 goals. Rocking chair duo, went 10-12 without McDavid (and that’s good!). Went 15-9 against Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-SmithPelly. The goal should be finding a pairing this good for the second set. 5-2 in HDSC.
- Gravel-Bouchard played a little more, going 5-10 in 5:39, 2-2 shots, 0-1 goals. Were 5-6 without McDavid, 0-4 with him. The world she is crazy. Bouchard was 8-7 against Vrana-Eller-Connolly, also played a little with Klefbom and Nurse in a ‘shapes of things to come’ episode.
- Nurse-Russell continue to defend too much. Were 8-18 in 14:25, 3-10 shots, no goals, 1-4 in HDSC. The pair can defend but would do well to get the puck out under control. Yawney seems to be having an impact on Larsson’s passing, perhaps we’ll see it elsewhere. Were 7-7 against Stephenson-Backstrom-Oshie.
- Cam Talbot had his best game of the year, stopping 31 of 32, .969. Quality.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Yamamoto were 16-13 in 12:43, 9-5 shots, 4-1 HDSC and no goals. The goal against McDavid 5-on-5 came when 97 was playing with Lucic and Caggiula. Went 5-9 against Orlov-Niskanen pairing and 8-9 head-to-head with the Ovechkin trio. Nuge had his best game in some time, that SHG is all the reasons I’ve loved his game since he was in junior. Yamamoto’s arrival on the line has coincided with a dip in even strength scoring, whatever Rattie provided the trio seems to be missing currently.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Marody went 11-9 in 7:25, 7-3 shots and no goals. The recovery game over game for the No. 4 line made me wonder if we were seeing the Second Coming. I suspect we’ll see this group again on the weekend. Got a steady diet of the Eller line, going 6-7 in 4:22.
- Lucic-Strome-Caggiula were 10-12 in 10:22, 4-5 shots and no goals. The line had some nice looks but can’t cash for love nor money. Lucic was point blank a couple of times and Strome did that pass instead of shoot dealy he seems to have every few weeks. Went 8-7 against Orpik-Djoos, I like this line but would like to see the Finn back soon.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Chiasson were 8-17 in 13:19, 5-10 shots, 1-0 goals and 2-3 in HDSC. Leon’s coming alive now, he might find the range this weekend. Draisaitl brought what he can and Rieder is having an offensive impact in this nice run lately. Chiasson is on an impressive scoring streak and is extremely unlikely to give up the spot in the lineup in the immediate future.
He’s averaging 10:10 a night at 5-on-5, drawing as many penalties as he’s taking, has a good takeaway/giveaway ration (2.53/1.69) and scored his first goal last night. He has a good ratio (53.79 Corsi for 5-on-5 in possession) and plus shot metrics at 5-on-5.
I think he’s going to stay. The Oilers are the most likely team in the league to retain a teenager, and Bouchard appears to be a quick learner. I think it would be better to send him back, but the OHL is a league he dominated a year ago and he has played over 175 games in the league.
Bouchard was a little fortunate with the injuries to Matt Benning and Ethan Bear, but it’s fairly clear Edmonton’s coaching and management are comfortable with the teenage blue in the every day lineup.
A fabulous game by Edmonton’s 2011 No. 1 overall selection, who is one of the established veterans on the team. His strong work on the penalty-kill earned him the GWG on a spectacular individual effort, and his effective checking was on display throughout the game.
Nuge’s personality and style has made it easy to overlook him as a player over the years, the Oilers have had some powerful talents and personalities. I’m enjoying what seems to be increased offensive focus after a long period devoted to being the responsible one on a line.
Today, the Nuge is on a trajectory that would see him score 113 points in 2018-19. The mind boggles. If he can avoid the flu and injury, we’re looking at an enormous career spike, age 25.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s Friday! Oilers won, Stampeders are going to help the Eskimos out, we’re locked and loaded for a fun show. At 10 this morning, scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. We’ll chat Oilers, brand new Jays manager, World Series, CFL mic games.
- Scott Mitchell, TSN. Blue Jays have a new manager, bet you didn’t think they would go this way.
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. EE need some help and then a strong game plan against the Blue Bombers next week. Can they do it? How deep will the cuts go if the Eskimos miss the playoffs?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!