Last night, all the tumblers clicked in unison. Todd McLellan, Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, Mikko Koskinen, Jason Garrison and Peter Chiarelli, all under pressure from a fan base with varying degrees of unrest ranging from disdain to rage, delivered in one fell swoop. Music! I have absolutely no idea how much satisfaction must have been derived by that collective last night, but it was a big damned redemption song.
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- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Forty years later, remembering the forgotten trade that brought Wayne Gretzky to Edmonton.
- New Tyler Dellow: Isolating issues with the NHL’s slower paced power plays.
- New Lowetide: Oilers reach a pressure point on defence and right wing
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Does Caggiula’s recent performance warrant another chance alongside McDavid?
- New Jonathan Willis: Predicting the impact Ethan Bear and Edmonton’s other top AHL prospects will make at the NHL level.
- Lowetide: Zack Kassian market value.
- Lowetide: Everything’s coming up Oilers as young AHL hopefuls in Bakersfield hammer Flames’ farmhands.
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi gets scratched, so what’s next for Edmonton’s lottery winger?
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid finds another gear, but Oilers still lack scoring on the wing.
- 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.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Larsson were 22-10 in 16:40, 11-8 shots and 1-0 goals, 7-5 HDSC. Larsson went 9-5 without McDavid, Klefbom 10-4. That’s impressive. Duo were 9-8 against Kahun-Toews-DeBrincat in 9:31 (1-0 goals). This pairing is a big reason for Edmonton’s success this season, in my opinion. Oscar is whatever happens after dreamy this year. Larsson needs to stay out of the penalty box.
- Garrison-Benning went 7-10 in 8:58, 5-7 shots, 1-0 goals and 2-0 high dangers. Both men posted a point, that’s a bonus for a third pairing. Went 3-4 against Fortin-Johnson-Hayden and yes, men in Chicago uniforms with those names played on a line last night.
- Nurse-Russell were 8-26 in 16:51, absolutely filleted by Chicago. Koskinen saved them in the goals against, and someone has to explain the 1-13 Corsi for 5-on-5 Nurse posted with McDavid on the ice. How in hell does that happen? The 1-9 with Russell was also poor. Were 3-16 against Saad-Anisimov-Kane. Hell’s bells. Nurse vs. Davidson would have been thrilling and sad all at once. I wished the fight into the cornfield.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped all 40 shots. I imagine Peter Chiarelli ordered the world’s largest martini and giggled until dawn. I know I would.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Rieder-Drasaitl-Chiasson are humming like David Bowie in “Warszawa” while posting offense every night now. Went 13-11 in 11:19, 5-6 shots, 1-0 goals and 3-0 HDSC. I don’t think anyone can criticize this line right now. Impressive run. Went 7-5 in 6:36 against Gustafsson-Seabrook. That reminds me, you should buy “Low” if you’ve never heard it.
- Nuge-McDavid-Caggiula had offensive success, struggled in possession. Went 15-16 in 12:55, 9-11 shots, 1-0 goals and 7-5 HDSC. Went 11-10 in 11:51 against Keith-Jokiharju. The McDavid possession numbers are not strong but the scoring numbers were impressive. The goal by this line (Caggiula) guarantees they’ll be playing together for the next game and possibly beyond—unless Rattie gets the nod upon returning from IR.
- Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi went 7-10 in 8:36, I thought they had some good moments and could easily have cashed. Went 5-8 shots, 1-2 HDSC. Jesse had a 10-bell chance, I would have paid money (me!) if it had gone in. Went 6-2 in 4:21 against Gustafsson-Seabrook.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian were 5-9 in 9:58, 3-3 in shots and 1-0 in HDSC. Khaira’s pass to Caggiula for the PK goal was sublime, I have been cheering for him to come around offensively. Don’t trade him! Went 3-2 against Manning-Davidson.
OILERS AFTER 12
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, eight points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 8-3-1, 17 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in October 2017: 4-7-1, nine points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in October 2018: 7-4-1, 15 points; goal differential +2
Edmonton 2018 is absolutely clear of the non-playoff teams and a whisper from the 2016 playoff party. The goal differential is finally in the black, and the balance on the roster (we’ll talk more in a minute) seems to be getting better.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in November 2016: 0-0-1, one point; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2017: 0-1-0, no points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2018: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +4
The Oilers needed a blowout game and it came against one of the few teams that would be considered an easy mark through the first dozen. Need to win Saturday to keep it going.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN NOVEMBER
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (1-0-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vegas (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 1-0-0, 2 points in 1 game
If the Oilers can get four points on the coming road trip, they’ll be coming home over .500 for the month and ready for the Avs/Habs/Flames/Vegas. I’ll tell you it is that portion of this month’s schedule that was difficult to cipher. That will probably be the part of the schedule that defines the month.
Is there roster balance on this roster? It’s improving but miles from being there. Mikko Koskinen is two games into his NHL career, that’s the ultimate example of small sample size. His two wins and .955 save percentage are fabulous but there will be difficult times ahead for him (as there is for every goalie). He’s pushing, and has played in 17 percent of Edmonton’s games so far.
Drake Caggiula has scored four goals in eight games, does he add to the balance? I wrote about Caggiula recently, suggesting his injury history has impacted progress, while his possession numbers (I know many of you don’t believe in Corsi but I do) have lagged since he arrived. He has speed, aggression and the confidence of the coach, and enough skill to have scored 18 goals in his most recent 82 games. He is a drag on possession. I don’t think he can be counted on as a long-term option but we’ll see. Staying healthy is a big issue for him, he’s missed 33 percent of this team’s games in 2018-19.
Tobias Rieder and Alex Chiasson are the two additions over the summer who I believe we can count as moving the needle on balance. I don’t expect either man to score at current levels for the whole season, but they are veteran hands who can play up and down the roster. He are the 5-on-5 per 60 scoring numbers this morning:
- Alex Chiasson 4.09
- Connor McDavid 2.44
- Tobias Rieder 2.33
- Leon Draisaitl 2.19
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.99
- Ty Rattie 1.80
That’s a pretty solid set of numbers for a top-six forward group, the names are a surprise and of course expecting Chiasson to stay ahead of McDavid is folly. The veteran combination on Leon’s wings is a tell imo, the coach has found him two men who can help in possession and are less likely to be on the wrong side of the puck. I think the ‘balance’ photo would be pleased with the current No. 2 line. Here are the bottom six forwards:
- Drake Caggiula 1.37
- Zack Kassian 0.74
- Jesse Puljujarvi 0.67
- Jujhar Khaira 0.61
- Milan Lucic 0.44
- Kailer Yamamoto 0.43
- Kyle Brodziak 0.00
- Ryan Strome 0.00
Balance, by its definition (“a condition in which different elements are in the correct proportions”) scoffs at the scoring rates of the No. 3 line, and rightly so. I would suggest the line has done a good job in keeping the offense at a low ebb both ways (Strome’s 5-on-5 GF-GA through 12 games is 2-2) but you want that line to hammer weaker competition like Dick Pound on drug test media day.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Friday! Oilers in a playoff spot! Music! Scheduled to appear, beginning at 10 on TSN1260:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. Oh Canada! in the NHL standings and Calgary’s Olympic bid discussion.
- Andrew Peard, TSN1260’s Oil Kings Play-by-Play. Jake Neighbours to Dylan Myskiw, this Oil Kings team has some interesting newer faces.
- Matthew Iwanyk, TSN1260. What should the Eskimos do this offseason? What can Oilers fans expect in November?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!