The Montreal Canadiens, for most English Canadians in my youth, were the enemy. Before expansion, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadiens played catch with Stanley most of the time. I don’t really remember those days, but rather my memories come after expansion when Sam Pollock flattened the rest of the league by schooling addled general managers Punch Imlach, Hap Emms, Emile Francis, Tommy Ivan and Sid Abel.
Montreal would win eight of the first 12 post-expansion Stanleys, the other four divided up between Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Why? The expansion draft. I’ve written about it before, and have decided to write a book about it soon. Will keep you updated. First tease: Sam Pollock stars as Moby Dick.
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: Connor McDavid, a 50-goal season and chasing Phil Esposito’s magical 1970-71.
- Lowetide: Oilers send Puljujarvi and Yamamoto to Bakersfield; recall Marody
- Lowetide: Oilers trade options: Dealing from strength is finally a possibility.
- Lowetide: What happens to the Oilers when Alex Chiasson’s hot streak ends?
- Jonathan Willis: Under the circumstances, playing in the AHL affords Jesse Puljujarvi the best chance at career redemption.
- Lowetide: A new day dawning for Oilers prospects in Bakersfield as increased usage means greater success.
- 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.
- Lowetide: Oilers reach a pressure point on defence and right wing.
OILERS AFTER 18
- Oilers in October 2015: 6-12-0, 12 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in October 2016: 9-8-1, 19 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in October 2017: 7-9-2, 16 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2018: 8-8-1, 17 points; goal differential -8
Things have tightened for the 2018 Oilers, who have a chance to catch the 2016 playoff team (again) with a win tonight. The 2017 team is also pushing up and with a loss by Edmonton tonight you’d have to consider those two teams a close match for each other.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 2-4-1, five points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-4-1, five points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2017: 3-3-1, seven points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2018: 2-4-0, four points; goal differential -6
Edmonton has struggled in November during the McLellan years and this year is a straggler (or could be) even among this shy group. Big game tonight.
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 1-3-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- 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: 2-4-0, 4 points in 6 games
Oilers need a winning streak and right soon! I have this as a win tonight, but my prediction for the month so far (3-3-0) is lagging and might be in trouble with a loss this evening (I have tonight as a win). By the time the Vegas game is over, we’ll have a much better idea about this month, and possibly the future for some major players in this piece.
EV per 60 scoring (forwards) and NHL rank
The ranking is overall for forwards. So, first-line forwards would count 93, there are 186 top-six forwards, et cetera.
- No. 46—Connor McDavid 2.79 (1st)
- No. 90—Leon Draisaitl 2.31 (1st)
- No. 357—Ryan Strome 0.31 (4th)
- No. 307—Kyle Brodziak 0.85 (4th)
McDavid will be No. 1 or No. 2 soon, he’s hanging around in the second division but the market is going to correct like a kraken. Draisaitl moves to wing now, he’s played already with 97 quite a bit because 4-on-4. I expect they’ll cash tonight. A pulse for the bottom six centers but they need to bring much more.
- No. 135—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2.01 (2nd)
- No. 216—Tobias Rieder 1.54 (3rd)
- No. 249—Jujhar Khaira 1.30 (3rd)
- No. 331—Milan Lucic 0.61 (4th)
Nugent-Hopkins ranks as a second line winger (31 first-line wingers in the league) and considering the amount of time he’s played with McDavid that’s not fabulous. Rieder also ranks as a second liner, Khaira third line and Lucic fourth line.
- No. 45—Alex Chiasson 2.81 (1st)
- No. 175—Ty Rattie 1.76 (2nd)
- No. 224—Drake Caggiula 1.49 (3rd)
- No. 341—Jesse Puljujarvi 0.49 (4th)
- No. 343—Zack Kassian 0.46 (4th)
- No. 348—Kailer Yamamoto 0.39 (4th)
Chiasson’s market correcting now, his contributions remain a key part of the early success enjoyed by this team. I’ve been pleased with Rattie’s performance and Caggiula ranks No. 83 in goal-scoring (5) among NHL forwards.
NEW LINES AND PAIRINGS
- Drake Caggiula [13, 5-0-5]—Connor McDavid [17, 10-13-23]—Leon Draisaitl [17, 10-7-17]
- Tobias Rieder [17, 0-7-7]—Nuge [17, 3-14-17]—Alex Chiasson [11, 6-0-6]
- Milan Lucic [17, 1-4-5]—Ryan Strome [17, 1-0-1]—Ty Rattie [8, 2-2-4]
- Jujhar Khaira [15, 0-4-4]—Kyle Brodziak [16, 2-0-2]—Zack Kassian [14, 1-0-1]
- Oscar Klefbom [17, 0-8-8]—Adam Larsson [17, 0-6-6]
- Darnell Nurse [17, 1-4-5]—Matt Benning [13, 0-2-2]
- Jason Garrison [10, 1-0-1]—Kris Russell [17, 0-4-4]
I think this represents Todd McLellan’s preference in terms of lines and pairings. I think that’s as it should be: When your job is on the line, go with the one that brung you. This might crater but McLellan has his big guns pointed in the direction he believes to be correct. Please don’t be France, please don’t be France.
The last completely healthy NHL game played by Andrej Sekera came on May 3, 2017. He played 24 minutes. May 3, 2017 was 18 months ago, he has suffered a torn ACL and a torn Achilles tendon. He’s skating again, perhaps we see him in NHL action in the new year if there isn’t another setback. I think counting on a productive Sekera this year is a bad bet, but as a bonus item would be a Godsend. He did play well in the World Championships a year ago spring after struggling badly in the NHL on his return late December. Sekera is 32.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning that includes the return of an old friend. All gets started at 10, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Scott Cullen, The Athletic. Brand new job, same witty verbal and updates on fantasy hockey, the Oilers and probably CFL.
- Dan Robertson, TSN690 Montreal. Habs in town, that means an away game in Edmonton for the Oilers. Who starts? Why are the Habs doing so well?
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. We’ll chat about Peter Chiarelli’s recent verbal, the team’s struggles and the handling of Jesse Puljujarvi.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!