Game 37 2018-19: Canucks at Oilers

by Lowetide

You can’t go fast enough to get there early. Oilers fans, impatient for midnight at the oasis that is downtown Edmonton in the moments after a playoff win, are screaming for a hurricane blue who can slice and dice on the power play, or a powderfinger sniper on the wing who can cash cherry passes from the great McDavid. Management has to be sure in the knowledge that the best way to add is by scouting, amateur procurement and strong moves that don’t make headlines. That’s the play here.

THE ATHLETIC!

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: Peter Chiarelli’s free-agent success in 2018 may dictate Oilers big money moves in the summer of 2019.
  • Lowetide: Total recall—Who should be next on the Bakersfield-to-Edmonton shuttle?
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers’ Rattie still figuring out how to play for new-old coach Ken Hitchcock.
  • Lowetide: No. 8 prospect Winter 2018: Kirill Maksimov.
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Condors coach Jay Woodcroft has a lifetime of hockey knowledge to share and the notebooks to prove it.
  • Jonathan Willis: The Ryan Spooner for Ryan Strome trade has yet to pay dividends for the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Lowetide: Ken Hitchcock, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and finding that elusive perfect fit on the Oilers No. 2 line.
  • Jonathan Willis: Milan Lucic should not be an everyday player for the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 7 prospect Winter 2018: Caleb Jones
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 6 Prospect winter 2018: Cooper Marody
  • 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 37

  • Oilers in 2015: 15-19-3, 33 points; goal differential -18
  • Oilers in 2016: 19-12-6, 44 points; goal differential +6
  • Oilers in 2017: 17-18-2, 36 points; goal differential -6
  • Oilers in 2018: 18-15-3, 39 points; goal differential -1

The 2016 McDavid caravan shines like a diamond, but this year’s team has a chance to climb closer. The building of this team’s defense since 2015 summer reminds me of that Kate Bush song Running up that Hill and man, they are slammed against the sea wall this evening. A win tonight would put Edmonton on a 82gp, 42-33-7, 91-point trajectory.

OILERS IN DECEMBER

  • Oilers in December 2015: 6-4-2, 14 points; goal differential -7
  • Oilers in December 2016: 6-2-4, 16 points; goal differential +1
  • Oilers in December 2017: 7-4-1, 15 points; goal differential +8
  • Oilers in December 2018: 6-4-1, 13 points; goal differential +4

In all four McDavid seasons, the Oilers began December like a house on fire and slowly faded to Christmas. Family pressures? Influenza? General malaise from the increasingly wintry weather? Get someone on that, please and thanks.

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 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 1-0-1)
  • At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • At home to: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnipeg (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-2-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
  • Current results: 6-4-1, 13 points in 11 games

This Oilers team has been close to my projection for their monthly total for over a week now and perhaps they’ll match it tonight. It isn’t too late to turn December into a season changer. Three wins in a row looks impossible now, but these Oilers often play up to their competition.

Bouchard is going to be a feature player for Canada at the World Juniors, that means lots of exposure. He made some gorgeous passes last night, also hooked a Dane on a breakaway (difficult pass to him and then jailbreak at opponent’s blue) which drew a penalty shot. During the Top 20 prospect series for The Athletic, I wrote about Bouchard needing “a quicker pace in specific moments of the game as he moves into the NHL full-time next fall.” I think that’s going to be his area to work on this year and then into his NHL career. He’s a real talent, the only question is ceiling.

I received a couple of dm’s last night, worried about Bouchard’s playing time (13:17, the lowest total of any Canadian defenseman) and wondering if it was performance based. My answer: I doubt it, more likely they decided to rotate all seven defenders. But it could be dissatisfaction from the coach and that’s fine too. Bouchard has things to work on, just like all of these kids.

I’m also getting feedback about his foot speed. The first time I posted a list on this blog for the 2018 draft (here) I ranked Bouchard No. 21, saying “two-way player, big numbers, his first-step quickness is average and he’s one of the oldest players in the draft.” At that time, several of you reached out to me and asked why he was ranked so low. I re-stated what I wrote but also redoubled my efforts to find out about his skating. I asked Brock Otten, I asked several scouting services and two NHL scouts. The consensus my questions generated is closely reflected in this passage from HockeyProspect.com:

  • Although a transitional defenseman with good overall speed, his skating stride is awkward. He still generates power and manages to shift-gears quickly, allowing him to cut-wide on defenders and create additional offensive-chances.

He needs urgency in some situations, without losing those calm feet and cool demeanor with the puck on his stick. Nobody asked me, but my advice is to enjoy him at this level. He’ll have to work on things like puck retrieval in the NHL next season but he can’t do that tonight. Among men his age, he’s a special talent. I know Oilers fans as a group have an ongoing expectation of impending doom, but that’s my advice to you.

I had Samuel Fagemo No. 33 on my final list because of his shooting skills. His scouting reports suggested speed was an issue (doesn’t have great top speed) but he has one dominant skill. This year, he’s in the SHL and has five goals in 21 games. He’s averaging 10 shots per 60 minutes (including all disciplines) and a 10 percent shooting percentage. He’s playing for Sweden at the WJ’s. I hope he gets drafted.

OILERS WITHOUT 97

  • JT Black asked to see Oilers without McDavid, so here it is. McDavid’s number is McDavid’s number, all others without.
  • RNH, Chiasson and Khaira lead the way, Draisaitl and Spooner (!!) the only other men above 1.50/60 at 5-on-5.
  • Rieder hasn’t delivered a lot of offense but his number without 97 isn’t out of line with career numbers at 5-on-5.
  • Kailer Yamamoto (0.76 without McDavid), Cooper Marody (0.00) and Patrick Russell (0.00) may also see Edmonton before season’s end.
  • The defensemen are listed with Corsi for 5-on-5 without McDavid, all stats via NaturalStatTrick.
  • Adam Larsson shines, the big Swede has been solid despite some wobble during the year. Of course time away from McDavid means softer minutes for Larsson, so his number shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Kevin Gravel and Caleb Jones are an emerging story, as reflected here.
  • Darnell Nurse is playing big minutes currently but his possession number has been underwater pretty much all year. He is struggling as a fill-in for Klefbom this season.
  • Matt Benning is heavily reliant on McDavid for possession success.

MIKKO KOSKINEN

Koskinen has posted six games in which his save percentage was less than .900, including the last two (losses to Vancouver and Tampa Bay). There is a group of Oilers fans who believe Koskinen may falter ala Anders Nilsson a few years back, and perhaps (goes the thinking) this is the time for the cracks and holes to appear. I’m more bullish on the netminder, tonight is a huge game for Koskinen (should he start) and for the Oilers. A win, and the three-game slide fades into distant memory.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’re back with a full boat of guests. Scheduled to appear:

  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The Athletic. Oilers are back and getting ready for a huge game. Will we see Russell activated, Yamamoto recalled? Plus Ty Rattie (0.58) and his journey back to the starting lineup under Ken Hitchcock.
  • Jon Abbott, TSN1040 Vancouver. PBP voice at the World Juniors will walk us through a wild opening night for Canada.
  • Frank Seravalli, TSN. It’s go time for several NHL teams looking to push for a playoff spot, including Philadelphia, St. Louis, Carolina and Edmonton.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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Chelios is a Dinosaur

Jethro Tull,

Yes, I want someone to help me see what they see.

godot10

Chelios is a Dinosaur:
Im looking for JPs skills and not seeing them. His numbers are his numbers, but the refrain is often, “with a skill set like that,…”

I never saw him before he was drafted but im sure in a lesser league there must have been something there. But im seeing a big body who:

Skating: long stride but has never beat anyone wide and struggles to keep balance in board battles.
Shot: Too slow of a release to know otherwise.
Stickhandlinhg: Rarely accepts a pass clean and is useless in a phonebooth.
Passing: Probably NHL level but he thinks the game so slowly, its irrelevent.

Im not saying the Oilers arent somehow to blame, but asking specifically: what am I seeing different from people who laud his skill set? I just don’t see it. I want to be a fan buI really dont see an NHL player here.

McLellan alternately ignored and berated him for over two years. It will take Hitch some time to rebuild Puljujarvi.

Jethro Tull

Lowetide: I don’t see the player you’re seeing, so can’t comment.

I think Chelios is asking you what player you see compared to them.

Ryan

Lowetide: I don’t see the player you’re seeing, so can’t comment.

Maybe one of the keys to developing these lottery prospects is to quickly find out one element of their game that they’re really good at then put them in situations where they can utilize that skill to build on. Then build the rest of the game from there.

Look at Laine, if you take away the Ovie shot, he’s actually still a pretty limited hockey player.

Yakupov seemingly had a decent shot in his first season before the sights got bent, but after Kruger, more was focused on his overall game then giving him a chance to build on his shot.

Sort of the same with JP. Out of the box, he had a good defensive conscious and other things that could have been built on.

Now, he’s being coached to “not turn over the puck” and “get pucks deep” and he’s a little lost at it since he lacks good anticipation.

Magnus was an excellent puck transport through the neutral zone and needed a first person shooter on his line.

Chelios is a Dinosaur

Im looking for JPs skills and not seeing them. His numbers are his numbers, but the refrain is often, “with a skill set like that,…”

I never saw him before he was drafted but im sure in a lesser league there must have been something there. But im seeing a big body who:

Skating: long stride but has never beat anyone wide and struggles to keep balance in board battles.
Shot: Too slow of a release to know otherwise.
Stickhandlinhg: Rarely accepts a pass clean and is useless in a phonebooth.
Passing: Probably NHL level but he thinks the game so slowly, its irrelevent.

Im not saying the Oilers arent somehow to blame, but asking specifically: what am I seeing different from people who laud his skill set? I just don’t see it. I want to be a fan buI really dont see an NHL player here.

Professor Q

drglen: bring him in on PTO

I wouldn’t be opposed to Gretzky doing this. Bring back Yak.

drglen

Admiral Ackbar:
Now is the time to listen to Hitch postgame. I wonder if he’ll actually tell it how it is. It’s not injuries, it’s depth. It’s not finding the right mix, it’s not having the horses. It’s not the goalie, it’s not the system….

….. it’s not even Peter Chiarelli.

This organization is broken.

It’s the curse… they never, never, should have moved the wayne gretzky statue. We tried to stop them, we warned them, but, no.. no… they just had to do it. And look what has happened. The CURSE.!!!

drglen

OmJo:
Hey Yakupov has 12 goals in 27 games.

bring him in on PTO

Scungilli Slushy

SayItAin’tSo, Gretz, SayItAin’tSo!:
Admiral Ackbar,

Hitch is no savior and TMas never the problem

Did you see Koskinen tonight?

Did you see Larsson shit the bed repeatedly on routine plays?

Nobody can coach this level of inconsistency.

Damn this franchise

Damn them

Or the Oilers outplayed them missing 3 of their top D, and the goalie put them way behind the 8 ball. Hopefully he’s not on them.

Really disappointing but they played well.

Pescador
Admiral Ackbar

Now is the time to listen to Hitch postgame. I wonder if he’ll actually tell it how it is. It’s not injuries, it’s depth. It’s not finding the right mix, it’s not having the horses. It’s not the goalie, it’s not the system….

….. it’s not even Peter Chiarelli.

This organization is broken.

thelongdark

This team comes out flat so often it’s mind boggling.

Good news is the flames are now number one in the West.

Awesome. So fun being an oilers fan the last 15 years.

Dicky94

drglen,

Kassian was really good once they took Lucic off that line. Him and Reider looked good together. This whole Lucic thing is going to end badly. He needs to be benched. Also thought Wideman played alright tonight and should seriously put an end to the Garrison experiment.

drglen

Dicky94:
drglen,

I would take anyone from Bakersfield right now.Bottom six is non existent and there is no help coming from a trade.Might as well see what we have down there and give us something to watch besides McDavid every game. (Imagine if we didn’t have him).

well Kassian was good. Khaira get’s back let’s hope he’s still got something going. We need Kyle for faceoffs spot duty. Maybe the guy to bring up right now is Marody, based on what we saw today.

Dicky94

drglen,

I would take anyone from Bakersfield right now. Bottom six is non existent and there is no help coming from a trade. Might as well see what we have down there and give us something to watch besides McDavid every game. (Imagine if we didn’t have him).

drglen

I wonder if canucks would part with Edler. 32.. but.. .good. With a lead, he’s all they needed actually, that and good positional tending and good glove from Markstrom.

who

Game was lost in the 1st period. The Oilers played great, after they were out of it. The first 3 Canuck goals were 5 star chances, but Koskinen needs to save at least 1.
Ty Rattle is this teams best option to play right wing with McDavid. Am I the only one that sees this?
I think it’s almost time to see Jones running PP1. It would cut back on Nurses minutes and I think Jones makes better, and quicker, decisions with the puck
A lot of Oiler forwards had strong games but they need to find some guys who can finish, or at least make a play. And those guys aren’t Lucic and Brodziak. Why are they playing late in the 3rd, with the Oilers down a goal?
If Sekera and Russell are both back in 2 weeks, which dmen will be sitting? Should be interesting.

drglen

Dicky94:
JimmyV1965,

I can’t see him being able to trade for one this year. Will have to wait until summer. It’s sucks to have to go through this again.

Yep… so when does that trivial irrelevant wagering start. Like how many times Jesse falls down in a game.

One more loss and we’ll see call ups. Maybe even tomorrow.

D is a tough one because the problem tonight was primarily the defensive D, not the offensive D ( though that would have helped) ..

Russels return will help I think. larrson is taking a beating right now…

Having said that , Connor was the only guy able to penetrate the zone… Leon a couple of times, Nuge a couple of times to be fair ( nuge looked quite good today) … Maybe a risk taking offensive Letang-esque rush would have opened up the space a bit. Nurse actually did some of this in that third period stretch… he looked great frankly doing that stuff.

( the corns stalks whisper…..call up bear…. call up bear… call up bear..)

Scungilli Slushy

I have the feeling once Hitch gets a bead on this roster PC is going to blow it up. Again.

Maybe it won’t be PC, but somebody will.

Dicky94

JimmyV1965,

I can’t see him being able to trade for one this year. Will have to wait until summer. It’s sucks to have to go through this again.

drglen

OmJo: Also, no empty net goals against.

Moral victories FTW!

YES, ..
Actually pettersson showed some class not scoring from center in the last couple seconds there. He could have. Hat’s off to the kid.

drglen

played them even 2nd and 3rd, some bad luck and some good canuck defending… guys in lanes, pucks being blocked, deflected… same as last time actually. Good D good coach, .. It was McDavid against 4 guys and the 4th guy checked him.

Kass looked good, threatening, .. spooner looking better,.. but time’s running out.

Lucic, must not play. lucic must not play. Lucic,.. must not play.

rattie not effective, Reider.. same old, looked good, energy, close, but ultimately they just don’t go in. Zykov, was out at least enough that I recognized his number.. didn’t get many touches.

Jones was game, and Benning played a heck of a game.

JimmyV1965

Koskinen is the reason we lost the game tonight, but the real problem is the spectacular inability of anyone outside the top 3 forwards to generate any kind of offence. The magnitude of the ineptitude is staggering.

Brodziak 3 goals 35 games
JP 3 goals 25 games
Khaira 3 goals 34 games
Rattie 2 goals 21 games
Kassisn 2 goals 34 games
Lucic 1 goal 37 games
Reider 0 goals 24 games

These seven players have a grand total of 14 goals in 210 games, meaning they are each on pace to score 5.5 goals a year. Those are grotesque numbers for bottom six players. Unfortunately, at any point in time two of these guys are actually playing on the top 6. I can’t think of any words to describe how horrendous this is. If the GM fails to acquire a legit top 6 scorer, this team is doomed.

Scungilli Slushy

What would be realistic costs (not half the team and not dregs, reasonable based on other trades) for each of:

Parayko
Kapanen
Ehlers
Pietrangelo
Pesce

Admiral Ackbar

Watched this game until Lucic gave the puck away at the blueline on a routine breakout with moderate pressure and it ended up in the net. Glad I stopped watching.

So that’s 0-4 at 5×5 tonight

4 game losing streak.

I wish Russell was in the lineup to clarify which Dman is the reason why they’re losing. Just in case anyone believes Russell is actually a difference maker.

OmJo

I think you have to give Hitch time to work with Nurse before giving up on him.

Seems they started by focusing on the offense. Ideally he isn’t playing 1LD but the Oilers are anything but ideal. He’s now 37th in D scoring. Tied for 19th in even strength D scoring. Had he been given more PP time this season he’d probably be higher up there.

Ice Sage

That was a nice run after the coach change.
Oilers now losing games that should be won.
The waste of McDavid is a crime against sport.

Best wishes for 2019.

Dicky94

I’d imagine Chia is getting nervous again.

BeerMe

Well. Game was pissed away by peewee goaltending in the first. Oilers outplayed the canucks and hit a few posts along the way that coulda tied it. Moral victory?

Nope. makes me sick

OmJo

OmJo:
On the plus side: Cam Talbot with a shutout.

Also, no empty net goals against.

Moral victories FTW!

Jaxon

Nurse now at 11 points in his last 10 games.

OmJo

Hey Yakupov has 12 goals in 27 games.

drglen

Dang

npanciroli

Ice Sage,

Is it Kozari again?

Ice Sage

npanciroli:
What’s with the reffing when we play Vancouver.

LOL it’s a big FU to Hitch!

OmJo

On the plus side: Cam Talbot with a shutout.

npanciroli

What’s with the reffing when we play Vancouver.

drglen

Mcdavid slashed Thete

Ice Sage

Oilers just not very smart in their shot selection overall.
Pull the goalie already. lose the face-off and the game 5-2 already.

drglen

Here it comes now

OmJo

open ice:
To me Spooner really shys away from contact. Very “me first”.

That explains why he was traded for Strome.

BeerMe

Waiting for them to pull talbot at 2 mins so I can go to bed 1:55 early

Sierra

drglen: Youre just in time for our stirring comeback

Still waiting

Ryan

smellyglove: Because Jesse doesn’t have hockey IQ. He’s more MPS and Yak than Lehtonen.

He’s trying to play dump and chase, but his dump ins are not well placed nor timed. He seems to fall on the chase behind the net and take himself out of the play.

Agreed he really doesn’t seem very smart.

BeerMe

McDavid hooked and tripped past the goal line, no call

Ice Sage

BeerMe:
Need to score 2 with 6 mins left, and Lucic is out on the ice.

Tick tock on the postseason, Chiarelli, Nicholson, who or what else?
Seems strange to say about a team in a *playoff* position but this gang is shite.
Can’t lose twice to the rebuilding Canucks and pretend otherwise.

BONE207

BeerMe:
Need to score 2 with 6 mins left, and Lucic is out on the ice.

Preparing for the opening of the floodgates

open ice

To me Spooner really shys away from contact. Very “me first”.

BeerMe

Need to score 2 with 6 mins left, and Lucic is out on the ice.