Ken Hitchcock has his Edmonton Oilers in a good spot after a wicked 8-2-1 run that served as his introduction (as if he needed one) to Oilers Nation. Hitchcock, who has been dealing with a roster that lacks depth, will need to find a workaround for the injury to Oscar Klefbom. The young defender is averaging 25:25 TOI this season, easily one of the top 10 totals across the NHL this season. Harry Houdini couldn’t get out of this fix, but Harry Houdini isn’t Ken Hitchcock. This should be interesting.
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- New Tyler Dellow: A look at which first lines are producing (and which ones aren’t) (Oilers content inside)
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Connor McDavid became the world’s fastest skater.
- Lowetide: Contemplating Oilers roster changes as injured players prepare to return.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers are bending, but not breaking, in one-goal games under Ken Hitchcock.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Kim Boutin: Amid threats, she took the short track to Canadians’ hearts.
- Lowetide: I have seen the future of Edmonton’s power play, and its quarterback is Evan Bouchard. Or Joel Persson. Or both!
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 6 Prospect winter 2018: Cooper Marody.
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Hitchcock’s turnaround of the Oilers takes another positive step as they climb back to a playoff pace.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect winter 2018: Ethan Bear.
- 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 32
- Oilers in 2015: 14-16-2, 30 points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in 2016: 15-12-5, 35 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017: 13-17-2, 28 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in 2018: 17-12-2, 36 points; goal differential +2
The 2018 Oilers are facing a difficult moment, with games against the Jets, Flyers and Vancouver over the next four days. What’s reasonable? 1-1-1? Important to gain some points over the rest of this week, despite being shorthanded. In other words, Edmonton needs to be better by some margin than they were against Dallas sans McDavid.
OILERS IN DECEMBER
- Oilers in December 2015: 6-1-0, 12 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in December 2016: 3-1-3, nine points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in December 2017: 4-3-0, eight points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in December 2018: 5-1-0, 10 points; goal differential +7
A strong run in December has been a joy for the organization and the fans, Klefbom’s injury has to be overcome but there’s something notable happening here. Does it have sustain?
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 1-1-0)
- At home to: Minnesota, Calgary(Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
- On the road to: Colorado, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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: 5-1-0, 10 points in six games
I had tonight as a win, no doubt influenced by one of my favourite games by the Oilers this season. A win tonight and Edmonton will have secured 12 of the 14 points I projected for December—with seven games remaining! Insanity. Heresy.
GOT A FEELING CALLED THE BLUES
Apparently the St. Louis Blues have lost their heads and are prepared to trade anyone on the roster. I’m a fan of so many players on that team the mind boggles, but am prepared to limit myself to discussing Colton Parayko, Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Maroon. If you’re Peter Chiarelli, hell it could be one-stop shopping! Maroon is $1.75 million on a one-year, Tarasenko is $7.5 million times all the years until 2023, Parayko $5.5 million times four.
What would it take? All of your young people, that’s my guess. It’s a sweet dream but the Oilers can’t make a trade for Parayko because the team lacks depth. Nurse & Puljujarvi would have to be cornerstones of a deal is my guess, you might get Maroon for a pick (now or deadline) and it would be a heavy price for Tarasenko that might involve one of the big four.
Caleb Jones is an NHL player this morning, he’s a fast player and that’s a major calling card in the modern game. Jones can pass and has clearly learned how to defend and recognize danger. Here’s what I wrote about him summer 2017:
- Does he have a real chance? Jones is part of a large group of defensemen arriving at the same time in pro hockey. Superficially, he is in competition with Ziyat Paigin, Ethan Bear and Ryan Mantha. It’s possible more than one develop and all should have a chance based on resume. None have the draft pedigree to be considered ‘sure things’ in my mind, but he has a better chance than his draft number implied.
- What one thing will get him to the NHL? Speed. You can’t teach it, it doesn’t go into slumps and it is useful on offense and defense. Jones has it. Big advantage.
Drake Caggiula is back in the lineup, he’s a player Ken Hitchcock played heavily before the injury. Drake’s time away has given the coach a chance to see Jujhar Khaira’s skills and that could impact things as they relate to Caggiula. I expect he’ll start on the Spooner line but that may not last the evening.
There are times in life, like when your wife is giving her first public speech or your son or daughter is competing in a sports day while gifted with your genes, when you cheer like hell with a full heart and will be overwhelmed by emotion no matter the outcome.
Then there are times when the team you follow is shorthanded on the road and playing a team hell bent for leather because you gave them a sock in the jaw in October. Cheer! Scream! Throw stuff! The boys are in tough tonight at the Gateway to the West, in Muddy Water, Manitoba.
The boys have Ken Hitchcock and Connor McDavid. They have a chance.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
An impressive group of guests will arrive on your computer, transistor or car radio this morning at 10 if you tune in to TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Murat Ates, The Athletic. We’ll talk about that October 16 game that looked like a turning point in the season and the Jets since.
- Scott Cullen, The Athletic. We’ll chat about the Oilers under Hitchcock, regression, and candidates to have a falloff in the coming weeks.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. We’ll chat Oilers without Klefbom, Flames finding a way and Flyers Flyers Flyers.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. See you on the radio!