We’re down to this: November will be disappointing no matter tonight’s outcome, but a win turns “gut shot” into a flesh wound, allowing the Oilers to fight another day. As I ponder this Ken Hitchock hire more and more, I do believe it’s damn the torpedoes; making the playoffs is the only goal. I think we’re going to see a trade. A big one.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect winter 2018: Ryan McLeod.
- New Jonathan Willis: Like Rome in its war with Hannibal, Edmonton needs a Scipio Africanus.
- New Daniel Nugent Bowman: Lessons learned at Sherwood Park help guide Ken Hitchock’s attempt to turn the Oilers around.
- Lowetide: Oilers need a first-shot scoring winger and Ryan Spooner isn’t it. So, what’s next?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What Oilers want to see from top prospects Puljujarvi and Yamamoto
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi to the show, plus the sudden impact of Cam Hebig and Joel Persson.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Third line suits the eye of new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock.
- 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?
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
OILERS AFTER 25
- Oilers in 2015: 8-15-2, 18 points; goal differential -16
- Oilers in 2016: 13-10-2, 28 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017: 10-13-2, 22 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in 2018: 11-11-2, 24 points; goal differential -11
Edmonton can finish November on a reasonable projection with a win tonight. If they finish this evening 12-11-2, their extrapolated record would be something like 39-36-7, 85 points. At the end of October, Edmonton sat 6-4-1, on pace for 97 points. It’s been real.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, 10 points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-6-3, 13 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in November 2017: 5-8-1, 11 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2018: 5-7-1, 11 points; goal differential -9
November is one giant migraine, the year appears to matter not at all. Of course, that’s not quite true, as you can see the playoff team found a way to grab 13 points in 14 games. Can this year’s team do the same?
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 1-1-1)
- At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 1-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 5-7-1, 11 points in 13 games
A win tonight and the Oilers can leap into the fringes of the top of the division (represented by Calgary, San Jose, Vegas and Anaheim) while leaving the basement people (Vancouver, Arizona, Los Angeles) behind temporarily. Edmonton has one advantage over the top teams—games in hand. The club can help itself with a win tonight.
LOWETIDE PERFORMANCE INDEX
Starting today, and each Thursday, I’m going to rank all Oilers and their impact on the past 10 games. I’ll let you know if they are rising or falling, close to being out of the league or a trade possibility. Here we go:
- Connor McDavid—He’s 3-8-11 in the last 10 games, all primary points. Had 33 shots, 10-9 takeaway-giveaway and drove possession like a demon (57.61 Corsi for percentage). 38 percent faceoffs. Played 221 minutes in total. Remains at the top, don’t expect that to change through 2035.
- Leon Draisaitl—He’s 5-7-12, with nine primary points. He’s 53 percent in the dot, 30 shots and 22 individual high danger scoring chances. Corsi for 5-on-5: 55.17. He’s posting a strong season with some range of ability.
- Mikko Koskinen—In his last 10 games, Koskinen is 6-2-1, 2.29 and a .923 save percentage. He’s good on the penalty kill, too. I think he’s winning a big contract. He’s winning the No. 1 goalie job.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—He’s 3-3-6 in the last 10 games, 10-8 takeaways. I think his remaining at center for Hitchcock tells us the coach trusts him more as a two-way pivot than complementary scorer. So do I. Corsi for 5-on-5: 47.12, shots 24. Just 44 percent in faceoffs. Arrows erect.
- Oscar Klefbom—10, 1-3-4 with 34 shots and two individual HDSC. He’s 2-9 in takeaway-giveaway, he’s 51.32 Corsi for 5-on-5, 4-8 5-on-5 goal differential (PDO 94.9). He and partner Adam Larsson have been doing most of the heavy lifting this season, with some chaos. Oscar has been the steadier, which is a change. He’s 0.85 Corsi Rel. High event but easily the best available option.
- Alex Chiasson—He’s 4-2-6 in the last 10 (played in 9) Oilers games and moving up the depth chart. He’s a good NHL player on a famous hot streak, but even after he cools you can see why a coach would like him. A good find by Peter Chiarelli. Strong climber.
- Adam Larsson—He’s 0-3-3 with 17 shots and one individual HDSC. He’s 0-11 takeaway giveaway and he’s had some issues defensively (including a major gaffe in Los Angeles). He’s 52.13 Corsi for 5-on-5, 4-10 goal differential 5-on-5. Playing heavy minutes, last 10 games have been a challenge for top pair. He’s 2.13 Corsi Rel. He’s a valuable piece of the team but struggled in big moments. Needs to tighten up.
- Drake Caggiula—He’s 2-2-4 in this recent 10-game run, 17 shots and 10 individual HDSC. He’s 52.11 Corsi for 5-on-5 and his on-ice goal share is 44.44 (save percentage is 87 and PDO is 96). I confess to being fascinated with how Hitchcock will handle him. So far, results are rock solid, although he has been bumped from the 97 line. He’s moved up the list, but losing McDavid LW job (if it’s permanent) a gigantic blow.
- Darnell Nurse—He has just one goal and no assists in the last 10 games, 21 shots and 3-5 takeaway-giveaway. Corsi for 5-on-5: 48.40, and goal differential 5-on-5 is 7-10. That’s a lot of events. His 2.53 goals against per 60 at 4-on-5 ranks No. 1 among Oilers defensemen. Rel is -3.73. Nurse remains more promise than performance, Oilers need a steady hand. Are new coaching tactics an issue?
- Ryan Strome—He played in four of the 10 games before being dealt, going 1-1-2 and having exactly zero high-danger scoring chances. He was 47.44 percent Corsi for 5-on-5, 1-2 goals 5-on-5 before being dealt. I have no objections to his being dealt but he did help in specific areas and you needed to get something plug-play-and-helpful in return. Gone baby gone.
- Matt Benning—He’s 9, 1-2-3 in the last 10 games, 16 shots, 2-6 takeaway-giveaway. He’s 52.70 Corsi for 5-on-5, and 5-6 goal differential at 5-on-5. He’s 1.97 Rel, his shots-against per 60 on the PK is the best on the club (28.31). His spot in the everyday lineup seems less than certain.
- Zack Kassian—No points but plenty of miles skated and I’ve liked his performance in these 10 games. 12 shots, 5 individual HDSC, 2-2 goals 5-on-5 and No. 5 among forwards in total minutes 5-on-5 during this period. The big man isn’t scoring but he is contributing with a low-event third line.
- Kris Russell—He’s 1-1-2 in the last 10, eight shots on goal, one HDSC and 4-8 takeaway-giveaway. He’s 49.66 Corsi for 5-on-5, and 6-4 in 5-on-5 goal differential. His 2.88/60 goals against at 4-on-5 ranks No. 2 among Oilers defensemen. Veteran moved up to Hitchcock’s second pairing and has been on the right side of the score in the last 10 games. He is -1.72 5-on-5 Rel. Russell is a veteran NHL defenseman and they have value.
- Kyle Brodziak—Just one assist in the 10 games, but Brodziak has been an important player for Hitchcock’s Oilers in the early days. He has a 55.06 Corsi for 5-on-5 number and his 5-on-5 goal differential is 3-2. That’s a strong recovery from earlier in the season for Brodziak. 46 percent on the dot. At 4-on-5, his goals-against per 60 is the best among regulars (3.55). Solid performance since Hitchcock arrived.
- Milan Lucic—Just one point (a second assist) in the last 10 games, that’s an important part of the story. His 15 shots are a shy total as well. Lucic is 5-2 takeaway giveaway and Hitchcock’s moving him to the Brodziak line has been a Godsend for the veteran. He’s 57.33 Corsi for 5-on-5 and his goal differential is 2-2 at 5-on-5 during these 10 games. No one can argue it’s value for money, but he also isn’t hurting a skill line as he was in the past.
- Kevin Gravel—He had one point in seven games. Six shots, 1-4 takeaway-giveaway. He is 51.92 Corsi for 5-on-5, 3-2 goal differential 5-on-5. He’s 2.47 Rel. Gravel is a solid NHL defenseman.
- Jujhar Khaira—He’s 0-1-1 in nine games during this run, with eight shots and four high-danger scoring chances. He is 3-4 in takeaway giveaway. The coach may feel he doesn’t have the wheels, I think he does. I’m a little disappointed he hasn’t been able to impact the game more while showing Hitchcock what he can do.
- Cam Talbot—He has struggled badly in November, going 5gp, 4.38 and .855. Trade rumors abound. He could still be key, but will need to turn it around in a hurry. Costing himself major free-agent dollars.
- Ty Rattie—He is 1-1-2 and has played in eight of Edmonton’s last 10 games. Seven shots on goal and eight individual HDSC suggest he’s possibly worthy of another look at some point in the next few weeks. He’s 46.51 Corsi for 5-on-5 and 1-4 goals in those games. He is worth another look.
- Patrick Russell—No points in three games, three shots and three individual HDSC. Two giveaways, two takeaways. More effective than expected.
- Jesse Puljujarvi—No points in three games, one shot on goal. Two giveaways. One effective game, it is the most recent one.
- Tobias Rieder—No points in four games, five shots and two individual HDSC. He is 40.32 Corsi for 5-on-5 and 0-2 goal differential 5-on-5. I’m a fan of this player, bet Hitchcock will use him somewhere in the top 9F and possibly (hopefully) with Puljujarvi. Injured and not helping.
- Jason Garrison—Three games, no points, four shots. Corsi for 5-on-5: 47.78.
- Cooper Marody—No points in four games, two shots and one individual HDSC. He barely played.
- Ryan Spooner—Almost nothing in 75 minutes, eight shots and one individual HDSC. One takeaway, five giveaways. He’s 49.11 Corsi for 5-on-5, 0-5 in 5-on-5 goal differential. Based on his first few games, using Poe’s The Masque of Red Death to grade him, I’d say Spooner is in the Violet Room.
- Chris Wideman—One game, one shot. Corsi for 5-on-5: 38.89.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A very busy and fun show begins at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Frank has been bringing the righteous truth about Peter Chiarelli this week, we’ll discuss the past, present and future.
- Jeff Paulus, head coach FC Edmonton. He’ll be on at 11:20, if you’re an Eddies fan I suggest you tune in.
- Peter Sibner, Elite Prospects. Peter wrote a quality piece on Joel Persson’s emergence and we’ll discuss.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!