There are times when you can anticipate a team’s trajectory. I have no such feel for this Oilers team. I suspect Craig MacTavish has told people around him that ‘the final victories in a winning streak aren’t deserved, and the final losses in a losing streak aren’t either’ but it isn’t clear to me we can guarantee a loss on Saturday morning. One thing for sure: If they keep playing 97 and 29 over 25 minutes a night, there’s going to be a downbeat.
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, there is a Puck Drop Special offer here.
- New Lowetide: Oilers’ Oscar Klefbom playing tough minutes with inexperienced partners — and looking good doing it
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He’s addicted to getting better’: What the Oilers are saying about Connor McDavid’s amazing start
- Eric Duhatschek: The lasting impact of The Gretzky Effect, 40 years after his NHL debut
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers who could win (or lose) NHL jobs early in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Several unproven players are earning NHL jobs and increasing roster quality and depth. No balance photo, but some traction early.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why Riley Sheahan could be a key ingredient the Oilers have been missing
- Jonathan Willis: Bet on James Neal rebounding with Oilers, just not all the way
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Joel Persson went from being a part-time teacher three years ago to patrolling the Oilers blue line (this is exceptional).
- Lowetide: Keeping an eye on Jesse Puljujarvi: Which teams could emerge as potential trade partners?
- 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
- Corey Pronman: Oilers No. 9 farm system.
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 0-4-0, goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2016: 3-1-0, goal differential +2
- Oilers in October 2017: 1-3-0, goal differential -6
- Oilers in October 2018: 2-2-0, goal differential -4
- Oilers in October 2019: 4-0-0, goal differential +5
I don’t think that McDavid goal would have counted one year ago. I don’t think you should worry about it, but adjusting your sights is probably a good plan. That new wrinkle in the rule will bite the Oilers in the ass someday soon. Anyway, who cares? The team tied it and then won it. Those two points are important.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM 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) Actual (2-0-0)
- 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: 4-0-0, 8 points after 4 games
I picked this team to grab 15 points from the first 14 games. Edmonton could go 3-6-1 and get there. All numbers below are NST and five-on-five unless otherwise indicated.
LINE 1 Leon Draisaitl-Connor McDavid-Zack Kassian played 17:10 (that’s a lot) and went 11-15 Corsi, 6-8 shots, 1-1 goals and 0-1 HDSC.
Leon Draisaitl had a goal in regulation and won the game with a nice shootout goal. He played 25 minutes again, I’m worried about his workload. Connor McDavid posted 1-1-2 (both points outside five-on-five) and came to the rescue with a massive goal with just over a minute left. Dave Tippett is playing the hell out of him. Zack Kassian had an assist on a goal so beautiful all five men on the ice should have gotten a point. (Wilde video here). The line has eight goals in four games, maybe they should be called the TWO G-A-G LINE.
LINE 2 Tomas Jurco-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-James Neal played 11:31, 8-9 Corsi, 3-5 shots, 0-1 goals and 0-2 HDSC.
Tomas Jurco had a takeaway and several impressive dashes, but no shots. Needs to score if he is going to stay on the line. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two assists, one on the Neal goal and the other on the late tying goal. I thought he played a strong game. James Neal is going to score 76 goals, they’re going in from the moon.
LINE 3 Jujhar Khaira-Riley Sheahan-Patrick Russell played 10:16, going 6-8 Corsi, 3-5 shots, no goals and 1-0 HDSC. I think this is going to be the hill the math people die on when it comes to Tippett. He loves this line too much.
Jujhar Khaira had a strong game to my eye, he got a shot on goal and another chance. He had the Oilers only HDSC at five-on-five. Encouraging. Riley Sheahan had 2 shots and a takeaway, played 30 seconds less on the PK than in his first game. Also struggled in the dot. Patrick Russell forechecked like a demon and drew a penalty.
LINE 4 Joakim Nygard-Gaetan Haas-Markus Granlund played 6:19 and were 2-1 Corsi, 2-1 shots and no goals or high events.
Joakim Nygard had a takeaway, he was physical and I think he should be playing more. Gaetan Haas did a good job forechecking, had a takeaway, was 50 percent on faceoffs. Markus Granlund had a shot and was a regular on the PK rotation.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse-Ethan Bear played 20:04 together, going 10-16 Corsi, 6-10 shots, 1-2 goals and 0-2 HDSC. Nurse played 11:01 with McDavid, 9:19 against Hall.
Darnell Nurse had a lovely assist on Edmonton’s first goal. He skated miles and just over 24 minutes total time. Ethan Bear’s deft pass to McDavid for the jailbreak on the first goal was poetry. The young defenceman had two takeaways and five shot attempts, as well as 1:38 on the PK.
PAIRING TWO Oscar Klefbom and Joel Persson played 14:10 together, going 13-10 Corsi, 5-4 shots, 0-1 goals and 0-2 HDSC.
Oscar Klefbom had an assist on the tying goal, seven shot attempts at goal, and several events where he covered for his young partner. Joel Persson had three shots and took some time to move the puck consistently in this game. That Devils speed is a tough test.
PAIRING THREE Kris Russell-Matt Benning played 12:31 together, going 4-10 Corsi, 1-6 shots, no goals and 1-0 HDSC. That’s a weird line.
Kris Russell had a giveaway and a takeaway, blocked a couple of shots and led the team (along with Klefbom) with 2:22 shorthanded. Matt Benning had a takeaway and a blocked shot, he played just 13:26 (Bear played 10 more minutes.
GOALIE Mikko Koskinen stopped 28 of 31, .903. He also stopped six of seven HDSC’s. He has been the better goalie through four games.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we kickstart the long weekend on TSN1260. We’ll talk turkey with Steve Lansky from BigMouthSports, who will give his opinion on the Oilers start and tell us the real Dave Hodge story. Matt Iwanyk will pop by at 11 and we’ll talk Oilers, Eskimos, NFL and his beloved Yankees, who got no breaks at all last night in Houston.