It was April 27, 1975. The Montreal Canadiens, perennial Stanley Cup favourites, met in Game One of third round playoff action in Buffalo. I wasn’t sure who would win (Buffalo was a quality team by then) but was certain Ken Dryden wouldn’t allow more than two goals.
He allowed six, including the overtime winner by Danny Gare (boxscore is here). Point being, you never know. If you’re surprised Edmonton allowed five goals last night, it will happen again. If you’re surprised Edmonton won the game, well, that’s a little more understandable.
Dave Tippett was happy with the two points, while pointing out there’s lots of work to do. Two in the bank is better than two leaving on a jet plane beside that Dustin Brown, I’m sure we all agree.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, we are celebrating our 2-year anniversary this week. To mark the occasion, you can get 40% off subscriptions here.
- New Lowetide: A shift-by-shift analysis of Ethan Bear in the Oilers’ season opener
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Looking at how the Oilers can manage on defence without Adam Larsson
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: No need to temper expectations after Connor McDavid’s season debut for Oilers
- Lowetide: Ken Holland has a plan for the Oilers’ top prospects.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: At home with Ken Holland: Packing away the championship memories and preparing for a new challenge
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oscar Klefbom on being a mentor, his strategy for staying healthy and saying goodbye to a friend.
- Daniel and Jon: Ten bold (and not so bold) predictions for the Oilers this season
- Lowetide: The Oilers are poised to break a 25-year-old franchise record this season
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft’s Bakersfield Condors might be bound for glory
- Corey Pronman: Oilers No. 9 farm system.
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 0-2-0, goal differential -4
- Oilers in October 2016: 2-0-0, goal differential +5
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-1-0, goal differential +2
- Oilers in October 2018: 0-2-0, goal differential -6
- Oilers in October 2019: 2-0-0, goal differential +2
Last night’s win ties the best start by the team since Connor McDavid arrived in 2015. The other year, 2016, Edmonton would make the postseason. Bank those October points!
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OCTOBER
- At home to: Vancouver, Los Angeles (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
- On the road to: NYI, NJD, NYR, CHI (Expected 2-1-1)
- At home to: Philadelphia, Detroit (Expected 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg, Minnesota (Expected 1-1-0)
- At home to: Washington, Florida (Expected 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Columbus (Expected 1-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 2-0-0, 4 points after 2 games
Now the team heads out on the road and this should be a fascinating. I think the coach will have to improve his center depth by running 97, 29 and 93 up the middle. Man this team has pure gold on one end and something else at the other.
It was a bizarre night, can’t explain the story without Natural Stat Trick. All numbers five-on-five unless otherwise indicated.
LINE 1 Leon Draisaitl-Connor McDavid-Zack Kassian were 12-8 Corsi in 12:37, the line was splendid throughout the game. They were 7-7 shots, 2-2 goals, 4-2 HDSC.
Leon Draisaitl (2 assists, both five-on-five), played 26 minutes and skated miles. Every offensive sortie is dangerous. Connor McDavid (four points, 1-1-2 at five-on-five) was dominant from the start. Lost Kopitar on the 3-2 goal. He was very involved, I think Drew Doughty’s presence is good for 97. Zack Kassian is going to post some crazy crooked numbers this season, his goal seemed to settle the team down for a time. He scored, now has two in two games. Great work by this line, the trio now has 13 points in two games.
LINE 2 Joakim Nygard-Nuge-James Neal played 10:31, going 8-6 Corsi, going 4-4 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-2 HDSC.
Joakim Nygard scored his first NHL goal, it was huge and required skill. He had three (two at five-on-five) HDSC and three shots on goal. Very involved. Oilers don’t win that game without his goal. Nuge has been quiet offensively through two games, but helps in other ways. James Neal scored twice, including the winner. He didn’t get a lot done at five-on-five, but the power play ability was a massive part of the game. He’s going to make Ken Holland look like a friggin’ genius at this rate.
LINE 3 Markus Granlund-Gaetan Haas-Tomas Jurco played 8:04, going just 4-9 Corsi, 2-3 shots, 1-0 goals 1-4 HDSC.
Markus Granlund played just over 10 minutes at five-on-five and took five hits. He had a shot, hit someone, blocked a shot. He needs to do more. Gaetan Haas had a solid game, picking up his first NHL assist on the Nygard goal. He had two HDSC and won five of nine faceoffs. He’s climbing the Mattherhorn one step at a time. Tomas Jurco made a brilliant move on the Nurse goal, the guy has true skill.
LINE 4 Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Patrick Russell played 5:09, 3-7 Corsi and 3-3 shots, 0-1 goals and 1-0 HDSC.
Khaira had his stick broken on the PK (just before a GA) and had two shots. Cave was in chase mode and a hair unlucky on the Michael Amadio goal. He played just 5:49, but did win three of four faceoffs. Russell had a HDSC, blocked a couple of shots and showed well enough to get another game.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 14:49 together, going 10-13 Corsi, 7-8 shots, 1-2 goals and 4-3 HDSC.
I thought Darnell Nurse played well, scored a goal while also blocking Smith on the Doughty goal. His passing seemed a hair better with his new partner. Nurse played 6:51 against Kopitar, 2-7 Corsi and 0-1 goals, Bear 5:25, 2-5 Corsi and 0-1 goals. Ethan Bear outlets well, has good positioning most of the time, and has great anticipation (three takeaways). I liked the pairing, with the understanding it was their first night and the opponent wasn’t a strong one.
PAIRING TWO Oscar Klefbom and Joel Person played 12:48, going 14-14 Corsi, 10-9 shots, 1-2 goals and 3-3 HDSC.
Oscar Klefbom had three assists (two on the power play) and is at his dreamy best as the 2019-20 season begins. He did have two giveaways, but on a night where there were 23 by both teams combined at five-on-five, that seems about right. Joel Persson was mostly good, he was slow to recognize danger a couple of times and got walked by a role player later on. Klefbom played 5:48 against Kopitar, 8-5 Corsi and 1-1 goals. He is Edmonton’s best defenseman. Persson played 5:01 versus Kopitar, 6-4 Corsi and 0-1 goals. I prefer Bear on this pairing but it’s one game and Persson’s wheels and offensive talents are clearly there.
PAIRING THREE Kris Russell and Matt Benning played 11:45 together, 8-9 Corsi, 3-2 shots, no goals and 2-3 HDSC.
Kris Russell was high event, two takeaways and three giveaways. The fact he played just 2:22 against Kopitar is a tell, and we’ll have to monitor as the team heads out on the road. Russell had five defensive and one offensive zone faceoff. Matt Benning moved the puck well, defended well, but couldn’t impact the game. That isn’t a normal happening, Benning is good at getting shots through and helping with outlets. Was +1 due to a four second shift with Klefbom.
Goalie Mike Smith authored his own tragedy early, conducting actual tomfoolery on NHL ice. His TWO gaffes outside the crease made this game a close one to the end. On the other hand, he stopped eight of nine HDSC’s and won the game. I don’t buy the idea that Smith’s puckhandling is an overall positive, he zips the puck past a capable defenseman quite a bit. I’d hope his passing is more adept than we’ve seen in both games so far this season.
We’re on to Nassau County. Or Barclays.