I’ve mentioned this before but a team can get a lot from a losing season. Jesse Puljujarvi qualifies as a lot. The big man got whatever message was sent from Ken Hitchcock and made a difference last night against the Calgary Flames. It was a loss, but the team pushed back in the third period before fading late. That was a fine game by a young NHL player who has struggled much of this season. Well done, young man.
- Ken Hitchcock on JP: “He had a good night. He played hard, he wanted the puck, He played with confidence and that’s a good sign.”
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: If the Oilers are sellers at the deadline, expect a Condo of Condors heading north.
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft’s usage of Tyler Benson and other young forwards in Bakersfield is both welcome and encouraging for Edmonton Oilers fans.
- Tyler Dellow: After 47 games, the Oilers’ 5-on-5 scoring woes stand out.
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ way forward and the smartest route to finding an impact winger this summer.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Goalless Tobias Rieder hopes to follow Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic and end his offensive funk.
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should make a decision on Peter Chiarelli this week.
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects, Winter 2018
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 10 prospect Winter 2018: Dylan Wells.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 9 prospect Winter 2018: Joel Persson.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 8 prospect Winter 2018: Kirill Maksimov.
- 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 49
- Oilers in 2015: 19-25-5, 43 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2016: 26-15-8, 60 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017: 22-24-3, 47 points; goal differential -29
- Oilers in 2018: 23-22-3, 49 points; goal differential -10
Despite a much better goal differential, the Oilers have just two more points than last year’s disappointing group (with a game in hand). We talked about surviving until Klefbom returns and the future (including the next two games) will inform us about what survival without 77 looks like. The disappointment is clear, but the organization hasn’t done anything reckless. Yet.
OILERS IN JANUARY
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-4-2, 10 points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in January 2017: 6-3-1, 13 points; goal differential +1
- Oilers in January 2018: 5-5-0, 10 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in January 2019: 5-4-0, 10 points; goal differential -3
January is far from a disaster and could end up being one of the better months this season for Edmonton. The team badly needs a result tonight.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN JANUARY
- On the road to: Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 2-2-0)
- At home to: Florida, Arizona, Buffalo (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 2-1-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary, Carolina, Detroit (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 4-5-2, 10 points in 11 games
- Current results: 5-4-0, 10 points in nine games
Edmonton can grab four more points before the break and two are up for grabs this evening. I said yesterday that the Calgary game would be the toughest, we’ll see what kind of legs this team has tonight.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Russell were 15-5 in 12:04, 6-3 shots, no goals and 1-0 HDSC. Went 9-4 with McDavid in 6:04, meaning they were 6-1 in six minutes without the captain. Were 10-4 in 7:09 against Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm. I didn’t like Nurse turning over the puck and thought he needed to be more creative on the power play, but the pairing was on for the Nuge goal, with the downbeat being the late PP goal against. Otherwise, good results.
- Jones-Larsson went 4-6 in 7:57, 1-4 shots, 0-2 goals and 0-1 HDSC. Jones struggled again, but he’s doing his best in a very difficult situation. Were 2-4 in 2:46 with 97, meaning 2-2 in five minutes without. Went 3-5 in 4:28 against Neal-Backlund-Frolik. That’s a difficult night. Went 2-5 in 3:01 against the Gaudreau line, suggesting to me Hitchcock wanted Nurse-Russell against the top line. I wonder if we see Nurse-Larsson tonight.
- Manning-Benning were 6-10 in 8:21, 4-5 shots, no goals and 2-2 HDSC. Were 5-4 in 2:55 with McDavid, 1-6 without in 5:26. Were 5-3 in 4:49 against Neal-Backlund-Frolik.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 29 of 34, .853. At 5-on-5, he was 12 of 15, .800. He had a couple he’s like back. That said, he made one of the greatest stops I’ve ever seen against Gaudreau near the end of the first period.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Rieder-Brodziak-Kassian went 5-2 in 4:13, 3-2 shots and 0-1 goals. Brodziak lost the faceoff and then was part of the mixed up coverage on the Kylington goal. Were 3-3 in 4:00 against Kylington-Andersson. Rieder didn’t play much, he needs to be more of the story.
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Chiasson went 15-11 in 10:39 (Leon), 9-9 in 8:42 (Chiasson) and 4-0 in 1:45 (Khaira). They didn’t have it last night, kind of got away from what makes the line tick. 97 was brilliant but the Flames had an answer. Leon gave the puck away far too much. Went 8-7 against Giordano-Brodie. If they don’t have any jump in tonight’s game, bet Hitch splits them up.
- Khaira-Nuge-Yamamoto went 2-3 in 6:34, 0-2 shots, 0-1 goals. Nuge played 2:24 (2-2 and a goal) with Jesse Puljujarvi. It was a low event line, still hoping they put the Finn there full time. Went 3-2 in 5:05 against Hanifan-Hamonic.
- Lucic-Cave-Puljujarvi were 3-2 in 3:16, 2-2 shots, no goals and 1-1 HDSC. Both wingers scored, but neither goal came 5-on-5, or with Cave. I like Cave, can skate he’s a useful player. Went 0-2 in 2:04 against Kylington-Andersson.
Here are the even-strength points per 60 (and boxcars) for Edmonton’s forwards this month.
- Connor McDavid 9, 7-2-9. [3.08]
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 9, 2-4-6 [2.66]
- Zack Kassian 9, 2-3-5 [2.61]
- Leon Draisaitl 9, 2-3-5 [1.80]
- Jesse Puljujarvi 9, 1-2-3 [1.74]
- Milan Lucic 9, 3-0-3 [1.64]
- Tobias Rieder 9, 0-2-2 [1.28]
- Ty Rattie 6, 0-1-1 [0.92]
- Kyle Brodziak 9, 0-1-1 [0.77]
- Alex Chiasson 8, 0-1-1 [0.50]
Some fascinating numbers here, led by McDavid’s incredible month. Nuge has also played well, Kassian is on a good run after a slow first half. Leon is off but it’s important to remember one point either way can have a major impact in a small sample. Puljujarvi and Lucic have done good work this month, JP receiving third-line minutes and getting results.
He made a mistake, but the real story is that he’s 21, in his second year of pro, and surviving on a feature pairing. Survival is success in this case. No need to rip the young man, he’s shown us a tremendous amount during his NHL time.
Remember the point I made at the top? About getting a lot from a losing season? Add Jones to Puljujarvi, maybe there are more on the way.
I’ll be writing about the Oilers farm team today, it’s a “one year after” piece that updates the state of the farm from last January. I can tell you things are going well compared to 12 months ago and it’s showing up everywhere. Here are the top 5 AHL scoring rookies, the only man 20 on the list is Benson.