Last night in Tampa Bay, the Edmonton Oilers played one of those games smart people call a schedule loss. Two games against top flight teams in two nights and zero points might have been anticipated, and was in fact predicted by this blog. Now, let’s get on with the rest of November, secure in the knowledge that humility and realistic expectations are once again part of the fan arsenal.
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- New Jonathan Willis: Under the circumstances, playing in the AHL affords Jesse Puljujarvi the best chance at career redemption.
- New Lowetide: A new day dawning for Oilers prospects in Bakersfield as increased usage means greater success.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: In depth: Embattled Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli defends his record, remains bullish on the future.
- 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
- Gravel-Benning were 5-4 Corsi for 5-on-5 in 5:46, 3-2 shots and no goals, 0-1 HDSC. Pairing went 1-1 with McDavid, 4-3 without. I think the Oilers badly need an upgrade but it’s hard to argue this pair lost the game. What is hurting the group is the major minutes being played by the other two pairings. Benning needs help here.
- Klefbom-Larsson went 15-13 in 14:28, 8-6 shots, no goals, 2-3 in HDSC. I’m loving their work this season, they were 7-5 McDavid, 8-8 without. Impressive. Went 7-4 against Gourde-Point-Johnson, 0-1 in 4:49.
- Nurse-Russell were 10-17 in 13:22, 6-12 in shots, 0-2 in goals and 1-4 in HDSC. This pairing is consistently the tipping point in games, that speaks to the importance of strengthening the third pairing as the season goes along. Went 6-5 in 7:01 against Gourde-Point-Johnson, 0-1 in goals.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 30 of 35, .857. He was not the reason Edmonton lost the game.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
— Corby Hockey Central (@corbyhkycentral) November 7, 2018
I’m not an overly bloodthirsty sort but do understand the rage Oilers fans and players felt last night during the second straight evening of ghastly officiating. The “rookie” hacked and ran around unchecked last night, Lucic’s reaction to him may well have been the next logical step as far as the head coach was concerned.
The events surrounding last night’s violence suggest to me that this team is tighter than a year ago, and that Kris Russell is one of the most popular players on the team. If the NHL isn’t going to address the slashes to 97’s wrists, and look the other way when blatant penalties are committed, then releasing Milan Lucic like the hounds at old man Burns’ place is an option.
You may think it cruel, or may believe it’s better that than seeing Connor McDavid miss 40 games in the middle of winter, you may feel that would be the real crime. Is the Lucic play a true deterrent? History suggests it is not, so we are left to assume the policeman role played by the big winger was for the benefit of his teammates and coaches. I’m fine with it, as long as we can agree the McDavid slashes are going to continue unabated until the NHL realizes having its best players on IR is madness.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Rattie were 16-10 in 12:01, 12-5 shots, 0-1 goals and 1-3 HDSC. McDavid was a little shy on the second night of a back-to-back, the only way to make things (somewhat) equal. I deliberately watched the away pbp last night and they were stunned by McDavid’s offensive brilliance. If not for McDonagh and Vaseleviskiy, he would have had several points. Next time, Tampa. McDavid went 14-10, 0-2 goals against McDonagh-Stralman, Lightning got lucky that the Capitals faced the superhero 24 hours previously.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Caggiula were 11-11 in 10:12, 4-5 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-0 HDSC. I saw many tweets blaming Todd McLellan for Alex Chiasson’s absence, which is of course silly. Chiasson missed the game because he was banged up. Leon was a blast, loving his game these days. Went 10-4 against Coburn-Sergachev.
- Lucic-Strome-Yamamoto scored a goal! Strome scored it, and my goodness it was overdue. Went 7-8 in 9:27, 3-5 shots, no goals at 5-on-5, 0-3 in HDSC. Strome’s goal was a relief, glad he scored it. Puljujarvi is more effective on this line, suspect he or Yamamoto will be in California by the weekend. Were 5-3 in 5:16 against Coburn-Sergachev. Lucic’s offensive touch, both passing and shooting, have now gone missing for over a year (9-23-32) now. This will need to be addressed if the organization plans to make the playoffs.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian were 2-8 in 7:31, 1-5 shots and 0-2 in HDSC. I would like to see Khaira at center for a few games.
OILERS AFTER 15
- 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: 8-6-1, 17 points; goal differential -2
We now reach a small area of danger for the 2018 team. The road losses were expected, I projected the Washington and Tampa Bay results. The key now, in order to avoid falling back to 2015 or 2017 levels, is a road victory in Sunrise before heading home. Last night and Washington’s result were the cost of doing business in the NHL, but it’s important to recover.
THE 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: 2-2-0, four points; goal differential 0
The 2018 Oilers are now basically even with all three of the previous incarnations of the Chiarelli-McLellan Oilers.
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 1-2-0)
- 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: 2-2-0, 4 points in 4 games
The month is going exactly as projected above, with a win next up against the Panthers. We are quickly entering the most difficult area to project (Colorado, Montreal, Calgary, Vegas) and I do believe the month turns on the next five games.
ALL HAIL WOODCROFT!
I wrote this yesterday, Jay Woodcroft is playing the kids. It will become even more important when Kailer Yamamoto and or Jesse Puljujarvi are sent down. I spoke to a couple of people with knowledge of the past dating back several years, and based on early results, I think Woodcroft is the first AHL Oilers coach to give kids a push as rookie pros since Claude Julien. Seriously.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, so much sports are happening! At 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. We’ll review last night’s game and talk about Lucic plus the third pairing.
- Jon Campbell, Oddshark. We’ll look at college basketball, college football, the Cowboys-Eagles, Stanley Cup odds.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!