As I watched the sun sink on the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary last night, it occurred to me that losses like Saturday can be good for an organization. Watching the Flames break on through for the win in the final period of a game the visitors once led by two, gives one a chance to review what went wrong.
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- New Tyler Dellow: Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner looks like a change for change sake
- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
- Jonathan Willis: Tobias Rieder will miss a critical month, creating problems for Edmonton but opportunities for its players.
- Tyler Dellow: If nothing changes, Oilers should buy out Milan Lucic next summer.
- Lowetide: The past, present and future of the Andrej Sekera contract.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Elmer Benning on his 47 years as a scout (excellent article).
- Jonathan Willis: After several failed attempts to fix their issues on the wings, it’s time for the Oilers to explore the trade market.
- 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.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Gravel-Russell were 13-9 in 9:27, 6-4 shots, no goals, 2-1 HDSC and seven defensive zone faceoffs. Some of those were icing no doubt but it does appear trust and rapport are growing in good old our town. I like Gravel’s game and Russell on third pair has less chaos. Were 2-9 against Frolik-Ryan-Hathaway/Neal.
- Klefbom-Larsson went 12-21 in 17:58 (6-8 with McDavid, 6-13 without), 8-11 shots, 0-2 goals (tying and winning), 1-3 HDSC. I thought both men played the situation well enough, newcomer Ryan Spooner was my culprit both times. Your mileage may vary. Went 2-14 in eight minutes against Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm, 0-2 goals. That’s a can of whoopass right there. I’m going to suggest the forwards should also be charged in the crime.
- Nurse-Benning were 5-15 in 12:46, 2-9 with McDavid and 3-6 without. Went 2-7 in 5:49 against Bennett-Backlund-Tkachuk, a most effective line. Nurse got into a fight, neither man spent a lot of time passing tape to tape to linemates.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 33 of 36, .917, and would have been the story of the game if Edmonton won the damned thing. Still should be, he was outstanding.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-McDavid-Draisaitl went 15-17 (Draisaitl) and 10-12 (Lucic), 4-4 (Caggiula). The entire team, including the coach, bought into the ‘Tkachuk is a puke’ mentality and lost the script. The NHL keeps score via wins and losses, and Milan Lucic playing 12 minutes with Connor McDavid at 5-on-5 does not contribute to winning games. Marc Savard. Even more alarming, all the rough stuff appeared to take McDavid and Draisaitl from their game and that cannot happen. Need to come up with a better game plan than having Zack Kassian skull Tkachuk for a triple minor. I have some time for those who point to the officiating, but my response is this: Do you think the refereeing will be better in the next game against Calgary?
- Spooner-Nuge-Kassian were 8-10 (Spooner, also 0-2 goals), 3-8 Kassian (0-1) and 5-5 Rattie (0-1) in a hugely disappointing game. Remember yesterday I wrote “would have liked to see this Oilers team arrive at these next games set in their roles.” Yeah. That isn’t on Spooner, who was in no man’s land on the tying goal and at the swim-up bar on the winning goal, I blame the general manager. Timing of that trade was weird weird.
- Caggiula-Khaira-Chiasson were 3-9, no goals. The line struggled to get the puck but Chiasson scored a SH goal and Khaira almost duplicated it with a PK breakaway of his own. Patrick Russell went 2-5 with Khaira. I like him.
- Lucic-Marody-Chiasson were 0-4 in 2:43, the line lasted like a snow flake in a hot place.
OILERS AFTER 20
- Oilers in October 2015: 7-12-1, 15 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2016: 11-8-1, 23 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in October 2017: 7-11-2, 16 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in October 2018: 9-9-1, 19 points; goal differential -6
Edmonton had an impressive October but November is proving difficult. A win last night would have been splendid, a loss isn’t the end of the world. The way the team lost, coach shuffling the lines to address things other than winning, manager upsetting roster just hours before the game itself, players forgetting structure on breakouts (Calgary’s men were fantastic on breakouts, my goodness it was nice to see it done well) and on it went. Loved the goalie.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-5-1, seven points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-6-1, five points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in November 2017: 4-4-1, nine points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in November 2018: 3-5-0, six points; goal differential -4
Officially an issue, but still a chance to salvage something close to a point per game. The goal differential keeps sending semaphore signals to my brain, this team isn’t able to go from out of the blue and into the black.
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 1-3-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- 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: 3-5-0, 6 points in 8 games
Edmonton would need to go 5-0-1 to match my prediction, meaning two months in a row that I’ll be out of time. This team is difficult to read and maddeningly inconsistent. We could be talking about playoff additions, draft lottery, new coach or new general manager by this time next month. It’s all in the conversation, in my opinion.
Tyler Benson was a conductor of a third period symphony tonight. Team lead with 14 points. Two great assists.
— Ryan Holt (@CondorsHolty) November 18, 2018
At some point it’s going to be impossible to keep Benson on the farm if the NHL portsiders continue to struggle, but it’s the right thing to do. He has 14 points in 13 games, age 20, well inside the AHL top 10 in rookie points.
THE TKACHUK PROBLEM
Meeting Tkachuk’s tomfoolery with Zack Kassian’s fists isn’t going to win hockey games. A strong power play that punishes opponents severely is the way to beat that kind of stupid. Also, when a team goes after McDavid, then the equal and appropriate return volley is a quick hello to Johnny Gaudreau. The Oilers lost the game after losing something else last night. Two points and an opportunity last, but well worth it if lessons were learned.
Young Pulju had quite the game for the Condors last night, he’s 1-1-2 in two games and played very well in both. Coach McLellan sent the big Finn to the farm in an effort to get his confidence back, but the absence may also allow the players on the team to assess the alternatives. From where I’m standing, Puljujarvi’s big body and skill are a far better bet than some of the men who played on the important lines last night.
I don’t know that this team makes the playoffs, preseason prediction from this blog had them finishing 90-94 points. I do know that missing the playoffs, while seeing Puljujarvi and other young pieces emerge as productive everyday players would be a tremendous boost to this organization’s future. Perhaps the world is turning as it should after all.