Edmontonians have been learning all kinds of new phrases, like “get on the grind” and “vibrant fibre” and so far not one citizen has batted an eye. If Hitchcock starts next week with “I think Ryan Smyth can still play” there’s not a taxpayer within the city limits who will question it. What in the hell is going on? Goaltending. Structure. McDavid.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers farm team in Bakersfield coming to a boil with quality prospects, most exciting farm team in decades.
- Lowetide: Finding Ken Hitchcock’s Oilers more productive wingers: Hard target search.
- Dom Luszczyszyn: 31 Stats (Oilers content).
- Jonathan Willis: Edmonton’s waiver gamble on Valentin Zykov is one with the possibility of a surprisingly high-end payoff.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect winter 2018: Ryan McLeod.
- Jonathan Willis: Like Rome in its war with Hannibal, Edmonton needs a Scipio Africanus.
- 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.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
OILERS AFTER 26
- Oilers in 2015: 9-15-2, 20 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2016: 14-10-2, 30 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in 2017: 10-14-2, 22 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2018: 13-11-2, 28 points; goal differential -4
That was a big win for Edmonton, who are now 3-3-1 against the Pacific Division. The Oilers are one point behind Vegas, with two games in hand. That’s a great spot. Also one point behind the Sharks, with a game in hand. Music! Big win last night.
OILERS IN DECEMBER
- Oilers in December 2015: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in December 2016: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in December 2017: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in December 2018: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +1
Amazing that all the McDavid Novembers have been poor and the Decembers begin with a win. There’s a bit of Groundhog’s Day with this team. Still, a strong run (4-1-1) at the beginning of the Hitchcock years.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER
- At home to: Vegas (Expected 0-1-0) Actual (1-0-0)
- On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Minnesota, Calgary (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Colorado, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnipeg (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 1-0-0, two points in one game
Edmonton could miss the playoffs from here, but the team is in the fight, and that’s a big deal. The Oilers are three points ahead of Vancouver, with three games in hand—that’s some clearance. Hitchcock seems to be working on his team to have repeatable performances, and with four games this week, that’s encouraging.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Gravel-Benning were 13-13 in 10:10, 7-4 shots and no goals, 3-4 HDSC. Gravel also spent a couple of decent minutes with Russell. Went 7-7 in 6:43 against Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves, who are a load. Benning got thumped real good a couple of times, but I like him and this pairing plenty.
- Nurse-Russell went 14-15 in 14:52, 8-6 shots and 1-0 goals. It was a good night for the duo (2-2 HDSC), they delivered 11-9 without McDavid. Both men had two takeaways, bent but did not break and there was some chaos. Went 10-5 in 6:33 against Pacioretty-Eakin-Tuch, that’s some good hockeying.
- Klefbom-Larsson were 13-27 in 14:16, 7-13 shots and 0-1 GA, 5-9 HDSC. They were 8-15 with 97, 5-12 without. More concerning, Larsson got beaten by a fast train winger off the rush more than once. I appreciated his recovery on the GA (Oscar needed to drill that puck 10 miles, but both defensemen were under duress), but the Larsson wide side gamble is a good one for opponents. If we know it, opponents know it. Back? Has to be, he’s only 26. If that kind of activity continues, Oilers have a massive problem.
- Mikko Koskinen was stunning, stopping 31 of 32, .969. I’m not certain the point at which we just give up and say this is Mikko, but the early resume is fantastic.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Khaira-Spooner-Rattie looked terrific, the first traction from a No. 4 line in some time. The goal involved all three men, Rattie in pursuit, Khaira with the skilled bullet pass and Spooner with the goal to bring back old emotions. Nice. Went 7-7 in 7:19, 5-5 shots, 1-0 goals and 3-0 HDSC. I’m thrilled for all three men, hope they can keep it going. Went 6-5 in 4:34 against Theodore-Engelland. Impressive.
- Caggiula-Nuge-Puljujarvi went 8-12 in 10:25, 3-4 shots, no goals and 1-5 HDSC. Went 4-6 in 6:22 against Holden-Miller, Nuge was impressive in all game states and the wingers carved ice all night long. You’d like more offense, but the Eakin line was up against them most often last night (4-9, 4:52) and that’s some tough sledding. Thrilled with Hitch’s remarks on 93.
- Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian went 9-11 in 9:44, 3-3 shots, no goals and 2-4 HDSC. I thought they were effective and could have been more of a story if they had better finish. That’s a theme with this trio and I am beginning to wonder if this line will see the HS when Rieder returns (smart money on the Spooner trio). Hitchcock gives icetime based on performance. Went 4-7 against Miller and 6-6 in 5:28 against Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith. A fine performance.
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Chiasson were 17-26 in 15:34 on the night, 1-1 goals and 4-7 HDSC. McDavid was his usual fabulous self, the goal another once worthy of framing. His linemates, specifically Leon, looked a day late and a dollar short on everything. Went 13-21 against McNabb-Schmidt, 6-21 against the Karlsson line. The line may need a tweak, unless the flu is with 29.
— Mark I Williams M.D. (@CameraGuyBakoCA) December 2, 2018
Shane Starrett with the shutout last night, this Condors team has more good stories than Carter has liver pills. I’ll have a story up on the Bakersfield 20 later this morning at The Athletic.