Game 14 2018-19: Oilers at Capitals

In the modern (cap) era, NHL teams have to procure NHL-ready players who are underpaid (value contracts) for what they bring. It’s still the Sam Pollock method, but with the added degree of difficulty that a salary cap imposes. When a team boxes itself in (UFA’s Sekera, Lucic, Russell in consecutive seasons) the absence of alternatives clears the mind. Sooner or later, every general manager becomes Bob Gainey in 2003.

  • Bob Gainey: My basic plan to begin with (going into Montreal as a second-time GM) was to try to put a good hockey department together so that it then could work. It was evident we didn’t have enough good players to compete against the good teams.”


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. Best available offer is here!

  • New Lowetide: Future Oilers bubbling under in Bakersfield may get a look sooner rather than later.
  • New Lowetide: Oscar Klefbom takes a step forward for the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Forty years later, remembering the forgotten trade that brought Wayne Gretzky to Edmonton.
  • Tyler Dellow: Isolating issues with the NHL’s slower paced power plays.
  • Lowetide: Oilers reach a pressure point on defence and right wing
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Does Caggiula’s recent performance warrant another chance alongside McDavid?
  • Jonathan Willis: Predicting the impact Ethan Bear and Edmonton’s other top AHL prospects will make at the NHL level.


  • Oilers in October 20155-9-0, 10 points; goal differential -6
  • Oilers in October 2016: 9-4-1, 19 points; goal differential +7
  • Oilers in October 2017: 5-8-1, 11 points; goal differential -12
  • Oilers in October 2018: 8-4-1, 17 points; goal differential +3

Edmonton’s 2018 team can catch up to the 2016 playoff edition with a win tonight. The Oilers beat Washington 4-1 at the end of October and will look to get a result tonight. I would say the next five games represent the teeth of the this month, the best chance to see the gales of November.


  • Oilers in November 2015: 1-2-0, two points; goal differential -1
  • Oilers in November 2016: 1-1-1, one point; goal differential -3
  • Oilers in November 2017: 1-2-0, two points; goal differential -2
  • Oilers in November 2018: 2-0-0, two points; goal differential +5

The schedule turns now, Edmonton isn’t going to romp through this week with three road victories. The NHL this season seems to be taking more than the usual amount of time to settle in, and a sleepy start by the Caps or Lightning might give the Oilers a better than average chance to win. They are the underdog tonight, no question.


  • 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 1-0-0)
  • 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: 2-0-0, 4 points in 2 games

A win or tie tonight and we can start talking about the team banking points inside the month that would allow them to overcome a tough week later in November. The most likely outcome tonight in my mind is a regulation loss. That is my prediction.


So far this season, the Edmonton Oilers are +2 (22-20, 52.38) in 5-on-5 scoring. It’s a middle of the pack number, No. 15 overall. Connor McDavid is 10-4 (+6), meaning the Oilers with 97 OFF ICE are currently 12-16—meaning the team would end up around -25 OFF ICE McDavid and +38 with McDavid ON ICE if those numbers continued over a full season. As a reminder, last year those numbers looked like this:

  • Oilers with McDavid 5-on-5 2017-18: 81-61 (+20)
  • Oilers w/o McDavid 5-on-5 2017-18: 82-115 (-33)

So the Oilers are +2 now, as opposed to -13 for the 2017-18 season, but the improvement is coming with McDavid ON ICE for the most part. Edmonton badly needs the gap to close and there are signs things are going in a good direction. Have to keep it going. Here are the individual numbers for the forwards:

  1. Ty Rattie 3-0 (100 percent)
  2. Alex Chiasson 6-1 (85.71)
  3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 9-2 (81.82)
  4. Connor McDavid 10-4 (71.43)
  5. Tobias Rieder 6-4 (60.00)
  6. Leon Draisaitl 8-7 (53.33)
  7. Ryan Strome 2-2 (50.00)
  8. Jujhar Khaira 4-5 (44.44)
  9. Kailer Yamamoto 3-4 (42.86)
  10. Drake Caggiula 3-4 (42.86)
  11. Zack Kassian 5-7 (41.67)
  12. Kyle Brodziak 4-9 (30.77)
  13. Jesse Puljujarvi 2-5 (28.57)
  14. Milan Lucic 1-6 (14.29)

Some fascinating numbers here, up and down the line. The top six names are about what you’d expect, Alex Chiasson the only real outlier. McDavid and Nuge are striking the chimes regularly and credit to Leon (and friends Chiasson plus Rieder) for turning north in a big way.

Ryan Strome’s 2-2 looks a little meager, but when you consider the good it’s done for Milan Lucic perhaps you’ll feel differently. Without Strome, ML is 1-5 in 59 minutes, while Strome-Lucic is 0-1 in 90 minutes. Music! Now, how do you get the goals-for on that line? Sitting Lucic is an option, wonder if Todd McLellan does it.


  1. Oscar Klefbom 11-5 (68.75)
  2. Adam Larsson 11-6 (64.71)
  3. Matt Benning 5-4 (55.56)
  4. Kris Russell 7-6 (53.85)
  5. Jason Garrison 3-3 (50.00)
  6. Darnell Nurse 6-10 (37.50)
  7. Evan Bouchard 1-4 (20.00)
  8. Kevin Gravel 0-2 (00.00)

No surprises here, the top pairing has been golden, the third pairing is low event and Darnell Nurse flagged in the first six games (2-7 GF), mostly with Matt Benning. He is 4-3 in the last seven contests. Now let’s try each defenseman without Connor McDavid:

  1. Adam Larsson 7-2 (77.78)
  2. Oscar Klefbom 5-3 (62.50)
  3. Darnell Nurse 4-6 (40.00)
  4. Kris Russell 4-6 (40.00)
  5. Jason Garrison 2-3 (40.00)
  6. Matt Benning 2-4 (33.33)
  7. Kevin Gravel 0-1 (00.00)
  8. Evan Bouchard 0-3 (00.00)

This pretty much what one should expect, the top pairing is rifling opponents like peak U2 (with or without you), while Nurse, Russell and Benning have seen flareups during the first 13 games. Garrison comes off pretty well (never turn down a veteran defenseman for the back of the roster) and young Evan was learning on the job. He’s doing fine now, by the way.


Bob Gainey was a smart general manager, but he had his famous mistakes as well. He acquired (by trade) Andy Moog, Guy Carbonneau, Kevin Hatcher, Benoit Hogue, Mike Keane (spits), Sergei Zubov, Brad Lukowich, Joe Nieuwendyk and others. The Stanley in Dallas ran out of time with trends (Detroit, New Jersey and Colorado were the powers at the time) and full credit for getting it done.

In Montreal, Gainey saw his scouting group grab Andrei Kostitsyn, Carey Price, Mark Streit and the 2007 watershed of Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban. He also traded McDonagh for 10 cents on the dollar, that was a bad item that Habs fans did not forgive. He acquired Alexei Kovalev, I think that was an impressive deal.

Gainey’s Canadiens never got close. He arrived in Montreal just a few years after winning the Stanley in Dallas and could not get it done.


I don’t believe Steve Tambellini was an especially brilliant GM, a critical view might be that he spent too much time in middle management and it dulled his vision. He did state, and then work toward, re-establishing the minor league system. His own inertia and whispers from inside the house may have cost him the job, but he worked hard to build a farm system. Under his watch 2008-13, the Oilers brought Jeff Petry, Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick and Brandon Davidson to the majors through the AHL.


He didn’t get enough time to put his stamp on the minor league system but there were some promising moments. I liked his 2013 draft, no idea what happened at the 2014 draft. He celebrated the draft lottery win in 2015 spring and shortly thereafter was replaced by Peter Chiarelli in what must have been a difficult moment. Do you ever wonder who went to Katz? Where the pressure was coming from? The reason behind the shuffle? I have my own opinions, bet you have yours too. On his short watch, Oscar Klefbom, Jujhar Khaira, Jordan Oesterle and Laurent Brossoit came through the minors.


He has some things in common with Bob Gainey and we don’t know long he’ll run as general manager in Edmonton. One thing we can say? Even if he wins Stanley, Chiarelli’s time in this city as the Oilers general manager will be remembered for some enormous and wasteful June trades. So far under PC, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev and Ty Rattie have come through the system and there’s evidence the procurement department is building a substantial minor league team.

I think he’s built a pipeline, something no one else in Alberta has been able to in the last few years. The AHL team in Bakersfield has some impressive young players, enough to suggest there will be a strong crop in the coming years—even if some of the expected prospects fail. At some point, in development, the number and quality of the talents pushing suggests success is likely. I believe the current Condors are closer than any time since the Bulldogs of the turn of the century. At least part of the credit has to go to Peter Chiarelli. I do think that any failure at the NHL level (and the whispers from ghosts of Novembers past) could mean his tenure is exactly as long as his contract, but am prepared to say this Condors 2018-19 team could be the best one since the 2000-01 Hamilton Bulldogs of Jason Chimera, Fernando Pisani and Shawn Horcoff.


At 10 this morning, we’re drunk with guests, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:

  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The Athletic. He’s been busy of late, writing some brilliant items on the first Gretzky trade (to Edmonton) and another that will hit today about Peter Chiarelli.
  • Jesse Cohen, The Kings Men. LAK have changed coaches after a ghastly start, but the roster seems to be the issue.
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Eskimos season over, changes will come but how deep will they go? Plus Oilers on the road trip.
  • Jason Rogers, Japers Rink. The Capitals are the opponent tonight, some roster tweaks over the last 24 hours.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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406 Responses to "Game 14 2018-19: Oilers at Capitals"

« Older Comments
  1. Jethro Tull says:

    Quenneville fired.

  2. Pescador says:

    Jethro Tull:
    Quenneville fired.

    Doesn’t know how to win

  3. BONE207 says:

    Pescador: Doesn’t know how to win

    Winning is over-rated.

  4. Pescador says:

    BONE207: Winning is over-rated.

    He probably lost the room

  5. godot10 says:

    I am a little concerned that 97 and 29 were on the ice for almost the last 3 minutes when the game is basically out of reach. C’mon coach, your horses have to play the next night, quit riding them into the dirt.

    With this coach, more is more. Impulse regulation isn’t strong with this one.

  6. OriginalPouzar says:

    A 2 goal deficit in the last few minutes is not a “game out of reach”.

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