The Edmonton Oilers lost in Dallas without Connor McDavid, but with the captain back have a good chance to win against the St. Louis Blues this evening. McDavid doesn’t just cut the game in half, he brings possession, goal differential and exhausts the other team’s best for over 20 minutes a night. Here’s the latest, using shot and goal differential:
- Connor McDavid 5-on-5 On Ice: Shots (273-228) 54.49 percent; GD (20-15) 57.14 percent.
- Connor McDavid 5-on-5 Off Ice: Shots (401-407) 49.6 percent; GD (21-33) 38.89 percent
Edmonton’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage is 6.08 this season (7.48 last year; 8.28 in their playoff season) and that should regress, but then again no sniper with Simo Häyhä’s resume is on the current roster. Ken Hitchcock is going to be like an agitating washing machine trying to get goals out of his current wingers, and then the next batch if these guys don’t work out.
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. Outstanding offer is here.
- New Lowetide: Ken Hitchcock’s ‘to-do’ list of miracles a long one, involving 30 percent of the Oilers roster.
- Jonathan Willis: Leon Draisaitl needs his own line and other lessons from a McDavid-less Oilers loss
- 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.
- 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 28
- Oilers in 2015: 11-15-2, 24 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in 2016: 14-10-4, 32 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2017: 11-15-2, 24 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2018: 13-12-2, 28 points; goal differential -6
Suddenly the 2018 team is losing ground to the playoff club and the two non-playoff teams are on the same lap as this year’s model. The NHL is evil with the Bettman point, you can’t make up ground because of the damned singleton but you can lose ground if you don’t get those extra points. Edmonton needs at least an overtime result this evening.
OILERS IN DECEMBER
- Oilers in December 2015: 3-0-0, six points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in December 2016: 2-0-1, five points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in December 2017: 2-1-0, four points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in December 2018: 1-1-0, two points; goal differential -1
December for the McDavids has been a good time all four seasons, the current crew will need a win just to keep up. The team is currently on pace for 85 points, but a win tonight improves that number to 88. The Oilers aren’t far away here, although the Pacific is starting to heat up.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 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 0-1-0)
- 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: 1-1-0, two points in two games
This is the most winnable game this week, the trick will be getting two points from the weekend games. McDavid is 5-12-17, minus 1 in his last 15 games, he was 11, 9-9-18 to start the campaign. History suggests he is about to tear up the blacktop, and coach Hitchcock has freshened the lines and steam cleaned the carpets.
- Chiasson—McDavid—Draisaitl: 38 goals
- Khaira—Nuge—Puljujarvi: 9 goals
- Caggiula—Spooner—Rattie: 10 goals
- Lucic—Brodziak—Kassian: 4 goals
- Klefbom—Larsson: 2 goals
- Nurse—Russell: 3 goals
- Gravel—Benning: 1 goal
- Talbot (Koskinen)
Via Jack Michaels. Hitchcock is as loyal to 97-29 as McLellan before him, and like the dispatched coach, the new man doesn’t have enough in the batting order to give the Nuge line home-run power. Khaira moving up is cool from a fan point of view but that’s also reflective of the roster issues. I also expect Khaira’s spot to be occupied by Valentin Zykov by the weekend, so the window of opportunity for the big man is small.
The third line has more skill with Rattie added to Spooner, perhaps they can break through. The fourth line is now back to being the fourth line, in the words of Craig MacTavish “in today’s NHL, even marginally, you have to be a threat to score.” That fourth line that can’t score. They’ll make $9.1 million this season. The player MacT was talking about in that quote? Rookie Teemu Hartikainen.
Zykov is skating in Edmonton waiting for his work visa. They are hoping he will be available by the weekend. #Oilers
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) December 5, 2018
Lots of good arrows for this player he could be a masterful waiver claim if things work out right. Skill meets opportunity is a fabulous story, we’re seeing it in Vancouver with Josh Leivo and Edmonton badly needs the same.
WHAT IF THEY DON’T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
On the morning he was fired, Todd McLellan’s Oilers had a record of 9-10-1, 19 points and good for No. 6 in the division (No. 4 by points over .500). This morning, after going 4-2-1 under Ken Hitchcock since November 20, the team has a record of 13-12-2, 28 points and good for No. 6 in the division (No. 6 by points over .500).
I think the playoffs are important, but equally vital is getting young, inexpensive contracts playing productively while filling important roles on the team. What does that look like?
In 1993-94, the Oilers rookies included Jason Arnott, Dean McAmmond, Boris Mironov and Kirk Maltby. The following season Todd Marchant and David Oliver joined, and the next Ryan Smyth, Miro Satan and Greg DeVries. In 1996-67, three years after Arnott, the team debuted Mike Grier, Rem Murray, Dan McGillis. That’s one dozen substantial additions in four seasons. When you don’t have actual NHL players, you have to develop them.
Since Connor McDavid arrived in 2015 fall, how many actual NHLers have made their debut with the Oilers? Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, Jujhar Khaira and we’ll see about the rest.
Names that need to be added to this list? Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Evan Bouchard, Cooper Marody, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones and on it goes. It can’t be built in a day, but tonight’s roster will see only one (Puljujarvi) of these young talents playing a feature role on the team.
That’s okay, things take time. However, there are over 50 NHL games left in this season and there should be plenty of time to get at least a couple more youngsters into the lineup full time. The playoffs are the goal, but if that isn’t possible then for heaven sakes find out about Marody and Bear, or Yamamoto and Jones.
Ken Hitchcock inserted Jesse Puljujarvi into the lineup in one of his first moves. I expect we’ll see the coach do the same with at least one more Condor in the immediate future.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy, fun morning with interesting guests. It all starts at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. We’ll chat about tonight’s game, a world without McDavid and the current wingers.
- Jon Campbell, Oddshark. College football bets, Gonzaga’s college basketball success, favourites currently for Seattle’s NHL nickname, how much does McDavid being out of the lineup impact Oilers odds.
- Chris Daniels, King5 Seattle. Seattle’s NHL expansion.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Talk soon!