His face-off percentage was in the ditch, the possession numbers a calamity and the shot share worthy of an investigation. I loved every minute of it. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can forecheck like a demon and yesterday afternoon Ken Hitchcock decided to release the hounds. Edmonton didn’t win the game, but the coach and players created a template for those grinding teams like the Anaheim Ducks…..and the old timey Dallas Stars.
The team lost the game late, but showed they can in fact play a button-down style and gain points on the road. That’s going to be key, along with an airlift of players who are more capable of playing that kind of role. In the coming days, expect a recall of Jesse Puljujarvi (that isn’t news, everyone is saying it), a more prominent role for Jujhar Khaira, and more sequences where old men say “that Nugent-Hopkins fellow reminds me of Dave Keon.” Music!
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. Black Friday offer is here!
- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Third line suits the eye of new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock.
- New Jonathan Willis: Can Ken Hitchcock save Milan Lucic’s Oilers career?
- Lowetide: A shot in the dark: What are the Oilers getting in Chris Wideman?
- New Justin Bourne: Why switching coaches provides short-term benefits for an NHL team.
- Lowetide: With not enough talent, and outside the playoffs, Todd McLellan’s Oilers career ends where it began.
- Jonathan Willis: The Edmonton Oilers get their 2018-19 quarter pole report cards.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
OILERS AFTER 22
- Oilers in 2015: 7-14-1, 15 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2016: 12-8-2, 26 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017: 8-12-2, 18 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2018: 10-10-2, 22 points; goal differential -9
The 2018 Oilers remain the second best McDavid team, but four points behind the north star. I don’t think you can ever complain about a point from the Ducks in Anaheim but that game was there for the Oilers. I do think we can credit Edmonton for playing hard and coming within a whisker of a massive win. So close, so close and yet so far.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-6-2, eight points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 4-6-1, nine points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in November 2017: 4-6-1, nine points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in November 2018: 4-6-1, nine points; goal differential -7
November has been sweet hell four seasons running, beginning with Connor McDavid getting hurt November 3, 2015. Now, I’m going to talk a little bit here about strength of schedule before we hit the next segment. Edmonton should be able to post some positive results by the end of the month, maybe even ending at a point per game. It would be less than hoped but more than feared.
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 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 0-1-0)
- On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-0-1)
- 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: 4-6-1, 9 points in 11 games
Edmonton has a chance to end this month with the first bit of momentum in all of November and it took a coaching change. Lots of upset fans about last night’s result, and you want to win that game for sure. Still, I’m impressed Hitchcock has been able to make this team more difficult to play against and more responsible in less than a week. The next step is more grindhouse players.
DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Russell were 14-5 in 14:07, rocking chair afternoon with most things going in a good direction. 10-2 shots, no goals, 2-0 HDSC. Were 7-1 in 5:21 with 97, meaning 7-6 without the captain. Part of the problem is passing, both men need to improve in this area. Went 10-3 in 6:27 against Rakell-Getzlaf-Kase.
- Klefbom-Larsson went 21-18 in 21:07, 12-10 shots, 0-0 goals and 2-3 HDSC. Went 15-11 with McDavid, meaning 6-7 without. Faced Cogliano-Kesler-Sherwood 11-12 in eight minutes. Klefbom got on the wrong side of everything on the Ritchie goal, it was a melee after the puck came in from the blueline but the entire net front was wide open and Larsson was doing the heavy work right side before Getzlaf’s pass.
- Gravel-Benning were 7-12 in 13:19, 2-4 shots, 0-3 HDSC and no goals. Gravel made several impressive defensive plays, he’s coming on now and solidifying his roster spot. Benning’s game is regressing to the point where things he’s good at naturally are no longer consistent. Sometimes a new coach’s arrival and change in philosophy will challenge specific players and make it difficult to adjust. Pairing was 3-1 with McDavid, 4-11 without him. Were 5-6 in 6:43 against the Getzlaf line.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 24 of 26, .923. Made some outstanding saves.
- NaturalStattrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian were 11-4 in 10:52, 6-2 shots and 2-0 HDSC. The goal against came with Edmonton one skater short (empty net) and Brodziak had a fantastic chance to score to put the game out of reach. The line was solid at 5-on-5, up against Marcus Pettersson and Brandon Montour the trio went 7-3 in 6:22. Lots of anger about this line, can’t understand why. Edmonton had the puck miles from worry while at 5-on-5 and this group on the ice. Did we not just talk about Devereaux-Dowd-Laraque? Now, there’s no way they should be out there with one minute to go, but that’s not on the players.
- Caggiula-McDavid-Draisaitl went 18-12 in 15:40, 9-6 shots, no goals, 1-1 HDSC. That’s a low number of high danger chances, the Ducks absolutely mauled McDavid without any hesitation. Brutal. As long as the Ducks get that kind of leeway, the Oilers are stuck. Went 21-13 against Manson-Larsson, 10-9 against the Kesler line. Leon was not sharp with his passes, the regulation goal starting with an errant needle threading. I don’t blame him on the OT goal, a line change left him chasing. You’d like him to catch it but that’s a penalty because it leaves the defending team at a disadvantage. Players can’t make those calls.
- Khaira-Rattie went 6-6 in 6:39, with Cooper Marody (2-4 in 3:14) and McDavid (5-1 in 2:40). If the Oilers recall JP, Khaira probably moves to center. However, if 97 is going to double team, maybe the wingers on the fourth line are better off than Nuge’s wingers.
- Spooner-Nuge-Chiasson are a strange brew, going 4-10 in 13:45 and that’s horrible. Don’t care. Nuge was outstanding on the forecheck and PK, and Chiasson also showed well. Spooner is trying, he had a backhand chance, but needs to start helping soon.
Ethan Bear with the blast, Jesse Puljujarvi there to clean up:
— Matt Mosewich (@EDMFutureWatch) November 24, 2018
Edmonton needs some help on the No. 2 line. Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto are the available internal pieces not currently on the roster. The entire Oilers’ brass was in Ontario last night (it’s basically Los Angeles, the size of Saskatoon, but has the 15th largest airport in the USA) to watch the young talent, with an eye on Jesse. I would make the lines:
- Drake Caggiula—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
- Alex Chiasson—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jesse Puljujarvi
- Ryan Spooner—Jujhar Khaira—Ty Rattie
- Milan Lucic—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian
You can say it’s too soon to bring Puljujarvi back, but the absence of alternatives clears the mind. When Rieder gets back, Chiasson can return to RW on the No. 3 line.