Sometimes I wake up and everything is dull. Turn the light on and it seems to burn dim, or maybe it’s me. We all want to look sharp in our jobs, every day, but the truth is sometimes things don’t rhyme and the extra gear doesn’t want to kick in.
And sometimes you have to give the other man his due. Oh, I understand the fourth line did you wrong and if you had five minutes with Cam Talbot you would straighten out his career. I believe you when you say Nuge needs Cod Liver Oil and that McDavid’s hair is too long and Strome’s pants are too tight and why can’t the Swedes play well in the capital. I get it, all of it.
Still, the Oildrop played a damned good team that was desperado last night and lost to them on the road after beating them at home. Edmonton isn’t a good enough team for any of us to expect a sweep of the Stanley Cup champions. One thing: The referees called that game like it was 1978 and Scotty Bowman was running the Habs in Caps uniforms. You can hammer like Dick Pound with a tenderizer hammer at a butcher’s convention when talking about the officials last night. The players? I think there’s a little room for crediting the other guy.
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 Daniel Nugent-Bowman: In depth: Embattled Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli defends his record, remains bullish on the future.
- New Lowetide: A new day dawning for Oilers prospects in Bakersfield as increased usage means greater success.
- Lowetide: Future Oilers bubbling under in Bakersfield may get a look sooner rather than later.
- 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.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Garrison-Benning went 8-5 in 9:24, shots 4-1 and no goals. Got 4:28 with 97 (going 7-0) meaning the third pairing was 1-5 without the captain. Expect an upgrade on the third pairing at some point. Were 7-2 against Oshie-Backstrom-Stephenson but that was all McDavid.
- Russell-Nurse were 25-17 in 19:01, shots 8-6, no goals, 6-5 HDSC. The duo was 10-6 with McDavid, 15-11 without and I think that’s success. Nurse looked calm and less prone to go walkabout last night, Russell occupied Ovechkin for the evening and probably slept in ice overnight. Were 5-14 against Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Jaskin, bent but did not break. A nice recovery after a few tough evenings, Nurse played RH side (someone mentioned possibly to play against Ovechkin but Russell was in his face all night, too) for a time.
- Klefbom-Larsson had their first difficult night in some time, going 24-17 in 17:55, 14-13 shots and 1-3 goals, 5-7 HDSC. Were 6-7 with McDavid, 18-10 without, but the goals against were severe and some of the blame goes to the Swedish duo. On the Vrana goal, Larsson got caught up at the blue line, Klefbom marked his man but let the slot open and 77/6 ended up covering (and not covering the pass) the same guy. You’d like Brodziak to cover the goal scorer but Larsson’s delay buggered up the coverage. The second goal was Khaira/Brodziak and the third goal was Klefbom again allowing the slot pass and Larsson caught in a tough spot, Nuge being out of the play where he should have intercepted the pass instead. This pairing has been quality, so a tough night can easily be forgiven.
- Cam Talbot stopped 19 of 23, .826. He made a few tough stops, don’t think he was responsible for the loss, you’ll want him to be sharper as the month rolls along. I don’t blame him on any of the goals, he seems to be going down a little early but all four Capitals goals were ring-a-ding-dong-dandy chances. Oilers weren’t as sharp as they needed to be in order to beat a strong and desperate Capitals team. That’s your story.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Caggiula were 23-11 in 16:16 (Nuge) and 17-9 in 13:04 (Caggiula). Leon’s presence was for 3:15, a goal for was scored, 5-3 Corsi events. McDavid went 20-12 against Oshie-Backstrom-Stephenson and 15-9 against Orlov-Niskanen. I wonder if we see Ty Rattie tonight. Nuge had a great game, save for being a few feet too high on the Backstrom-to-Oshie pass on the fourth goal. Caggiula had at least one major chance, just slid by the left post on a deflection.
- Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi went 14-9 in 11:21, 7-3 shots, no goals and 5-3 HDSC. My opinion is the line played well and have earned another start, but a loss and the availability of Rattie suggest we could see a shuffle. Went 10-4 against Djoos-Bowey. Lucic had a 10-bell chance but couldn’t cash, NST says he has had 11 at even strength and five on the power play, placing him inside Edmonton’s top three in both categories. I believe it, but he has just one goal. I like this line, wish they could score.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Chiasson were 14-11 in 12:37, 7-5 shots, no goals, 3-1 HDSC. I’m a fan of this line, the two veterans give Leon room to wheel. Edmonton probably misses out on a goal-for or two a week because skill isn’t at the highest levels, but the possession and shot metrics are improving.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian struggled in the first period and the DSP (second) goal hurt the team. Brodziak got caught up with the official, but Khaira didn’t handle the puck well and it was over in seconds. Were 7-8 in 7:13 but 1-7 shots, 0-2 goals and 0-3 HDSC. Were 4-6 against Kempny-Carlson and 0-2 goals against the Washington fourth line of Vrana-Boyd-SmithPelley. Khaira had a great chance and drew a penalty on an Ovechkin slash. I was shocked because it looked for all the world like Washington could do any damned thing and not hear a whistle last night. Long time readers of this blog know it’s rare for me to complain about the stripes, but their actions last night took a close game and gave the Capitals the upper hand. Atrocious, but I’ve been watching the NHL do this since Toe Blake coached the Canadiens.
OILERS AFTER 15 GAMES
- Oilers in October 2015: 5-10-0, 10 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2016: 9-5-1, 19 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in October 2017: 6-8-1, 13 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in October 2018: 8-5-1, 17 points; goal differential +1
The 2018 Oilers once again have a chance to tie the 2016 playoff edition, although it will be a tough evening in Florida. I liked the effort last night, pretty clear after the two goals against the No. 4 line it was going to be tough to get back but the Oilers worked hard to get things closer. I suspect we’ll see the same game tonight.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 2-2-0, four points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-1-1, five points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2017: 2-2-0, four points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2018: 2-1-0, four points; goal differential +3
Edmonton has a tough game tonight, I think it’s most likely a loss. If the road team can get things to overtime, that would represent a victory. Even with a loss, the November 2018 team isn’t out of place with the rest of the Chiarelli-McLellan teams since 2015.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM 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 1-1-0)
- 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: 2-1-0, 4 points in 3 games
It’s a likely loss tonight, but you never know. McDavid might decide to go off or Koskinen could stop 50. It will be a good test for this team, a 3-goal loss is possible tonight. Can the Oilers hang in if they get down early, as they did last night? Not every loss is equal and I was impressed with Edmonton’s resilience in trying to overcome general malaise, a two-goal deficit and a referee staff fresh from the Mick McGeough School of Three Blind Mice.
I’m absolutely certain many readers this morning are thinking about replacing Todd McLellan with Joel Quenneville, who was fired today. I can tell you, based on observing this organization since 1972, there is a less than zero chance this happens for all kinds of reasons. Todd McLellan’s Oilers have a winning record after slogging through a wild and crazy October schedule. The team appears to be on the same page. Many of the offseason and youth bets are either working or not failing. McLellan’s contract hasn’t run out.
Quenneville in Edmonton, with this roster, would be an interesting follow. That said, Todd McLellan is the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers and his team holds third place in the Pacific Division this morning. I am quite certain it’s a non-starter. Flame away.
I would stay the course tonight unless someone is injured. Garrison-Benning needs an upgrade but are playing well enough to hold off Kevin Gravel. Puljujarvi is playing well enough to stay in the lineup, same for Caggiula and Chiasson. Mikko Koskinen will slide in for Talbot, but the rest of the lineup should remain the same sans injury or exhaustion.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A full boat this morning, beginning at 10, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. We’ll chat about the Nugent-Bowman article on Peter Chiarelli (up this morning) and about the Oilers staying competitive into November.
- Matt Sammon, Director of Broadcasting and Programming, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are one of the teams who we can safely project as a strong Stanley Cup contender, we’ll check on the team heading into tonight’s game against Edmonton.
- Scott Mitchell, TSN. Scott has a new top 50 baseball free agents out, we’ll chat Bryce Harper and other major names available.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Love the lineup, it’s going to be fun!