Remember that line from Casey Stengel I threw at you the other day? Last night was a win from the early shifts for Edmonton, a “laugher” for the home side. Today, Leon Draisaitl has 41 points, McDavid 37, and three more forwards are on pace for over 58 points. The team remains in first place and we are now past the ides of November. What will tomorrow bring? I don’t have a script and this doesn’t resemble anything on the shelves.
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, less than two coffees a month offer here.
- New Jonathan Willis: A shift-by-shift analysis of Caleb Jones in his Oilers season debut
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Sometimes it’s just unstoppable’: How McDavid and the Oilers’ power play dominated the Avalanche
- New Jonathan Willis: Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones and the crisis that’s looming in the Oilers’ middle distance
- Jonathan Willis: Basically, yes, the Oilers should keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ‘forever’
- Lowetide: Why the recall of NHL-ready Caleb Jones should benefit the Oilers in the long run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Report Cards: Several drivers make the grade but Edmonton’s bus still has a few passengers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: From 4 to 97, Oilers both new and old share the stories behind their jersey numbers
- Jonathan Willis: Could a fall trade improve the fortunes of your NHL team in 2019-20?
- Lowetide: Analyzing Dave Tippett’s defensive usage and what the Oilers will do when Adam Larsson returns
- Lowetide: What’s going on with the Bakersfield Condors?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shines, mad props for Leon Draisaitl and more to like as the Oilers beat the Devils
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What inexperienced defencemen like the Oilers’ Joel Persson must do to gain their coach’s confidence
- Lowetide: Oilers are closer to having an effective second line than a year ago, but few have noticed
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The beauty of a good night’s sleep can be elusive for many NHL players
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers were wise to gamble on Tomas Jurco, even though it didn’t pan out
- Jonathan Willis: The unlikely goalie performances underpinning the Oilers’ hot start
- Lowetide: How far away is Evan Bouchard and what role will he play with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers right to wait until they’re sure before recalling Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson
- Lowetide: Can Leon Draisaitl score more than 50 goals this season?
OILERS AFTER 21 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015: 7-13-1, 15 points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in 2016: 12-8-1, 25 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017: 7-12-2, 16 points; goal differential -18
- Oilers in 2018: 10-10-1, 21 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in 2019: 13-6-2, 28 points; goal differential +13
There’s nothing for Oilers fans to complain about and that may be a problem for some. That said, the quality of the roster’s top end is so high that Holland-Tippett have created a capable team on a shoestring budget. As I see it, the goaltending (Mike Smith) and scoring (James Neal) plus PK (a cast of many) were the key additions by management, along with Tippett who works hard on matchups and deploying his role players in areas they can succeed. Big win last night, excellent first 21 games.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 2-4-1, five points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-4-1, five points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2017: 3-3-1, seven points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2018: 3-4-0, six points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in November 2019: 4-2-1, nine points; goal differential +8
The shocking difference from past seasons is the goal differential. Amazing.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN NOVEMBER
- On the road to: PIT (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: ARI, STL, NJD (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-1-1)
- On the road to: ANA, SJS (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: COL, DAL (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: SJS, LAK, VEG, ARI, COL (Expected 2-3-0)
- At home to: VAN (Expected 1-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 4-2-1, 9 points after seven games
As was the case a month ago, we reach the middle of the schedule in November with the team over-delivering points based on my prediction. The goalies are holding, the defense appears capable and the top five forwards are outscoring all the faults. Is this sustainable? Hell if I know.
The five forwards who are posting crooked numbers stand out from the rest, not certain any of the others is guaranteed work beyond this season (including Chiasson). The auditions continue. Caleb Jones is Oilers player No. 27 on the season. All numbers five-on-five unless noted and all info from NST.
LINE 1 Leon Draisaitl-Connor McDavid-Zack Kassian played 8:07, going 9-13 Corsi, 8-8 shots, 1-1 goals and 4-4 HDSC.
Leon Draisaitl had five assists, three on the power play. He leads the league’s scorers by a mile. Last year he had a chance to win the scoring title but this year is different. He has to be a strong candidate for the Hart based on the first 21 games. Amazing. Connor McDavid went 0-2-2 at five-on-five, 3-3-6 overall. Zack Kassian ran over Nathan MacKinnon in the game’s opening seconds and then got into a fight. Scored a goal at five-on-five and skated miles. I’d make a comment about all the credit he got for the early hit (‘set the tone’!) but I like him so will refrain from being a crusty old bastard.
LINE 2 James Neal-Nuge-Josh Archibald played 8:01, going 9-14 Corsi, 0-5 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-2 HDSC.
James Neal had a HDSC and a takeaway, along with a power-play assist. Nuge scored twice, once on the power play, and had a takeaway, a blocked shot and won six of eight in the dot. Josh Archibald had a shot and a HDSC plus a takeaway. I don’t know that he’ll get another chance with this line but he’s certainly fast enough.
LINE 3 Jujhar Khaira-Riley Sheahan-Patrick Russell played 10:09, going 6-7 Corsi, 2-6 shots, no goals and 1-1 HDSC.
Jujhar Khaira won some battles along the wall but didn’t get much done with the puck. Riley Sheahan had a HDSC and won 6 of 10 faceoffs. I swear he’ll score, this isn’t another Rieder thing. Patrick Russell had a shot on goal.
LINE 4 Joakim Nygard-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 7:43, going 4-11 Corsi, 1-5 shots, no goals and 0-1 HDSC.
Joakim Nygard’s speed is valuable on this roster, he is a noticeable player. He didn’t get a lot done but did draw a penalty. Gaetan Haas takes too long to move the puck and gets flattened a lot. I love his possibilities, but he gets caught a lot. Alex Chiasson had one shot on goal and it looked like he tipped a McDavid power-play shot but he didn’t get credit for it.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 11:21 together, going 10-14 Corsi, 9-10 shots, 1-2 goals and 4-4 HDSC. Spent 8:06 with McDavid, 7:43 against MacKinnon.
Darnell Nurse was the last Oilers player to touch the puck before each of the two goals entered the net. He lost a puck battle while trying to clear along the wall on the first goal and was slow to recognize danger on the second goal. He took three penalties and two giveaways. I’m a pro-Nurse observer, but that was a poor game. Ethan Bear was mostly good, he did have a giveaway and took a penalty due to waiting too long to outlet the puck. It’s exactly the kind of play rookies make and is outweighed by myriad intelligent decisions.
PAIRING TWO Oscar Klefbom and Caleb Jones played 11:16, going 10-15 Corsi, 1-5 shots, no goals and 1-3 HDSC. Played five minutes against the Kadri line.
Oscar Klefbom had three power-play assists, that’s an enormous evening for a defenseman. Now on pace for 55 points. Had two giveaways. Caleb Jones jumped into the rush a couple of times, had a takeaway and was effective passing the puck. He played well.
PAIRING THREE Kris Russell and Matt Benning played 13:19, going 7-8 Corsi, 2-5 shots, no goals and 2-0 HDSC.
Kris Russell drew a penalty, put himself in harm’s way several times and performed as you would expect. All of the possession numbers are skewed with score effects but to my eye Tippett was comfortable rolling this duo more often as the game rolled along. TOI reflects same.
GOALIE Mike Smith stopped 31 of 33, .939. I don’t think he saw the first shot that beat him, and he couldn’t recover after an awkward save on the second goal. Smith made several impressive stops (Avs have marksmen), stopping seven of eight HDSC.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we put the finishing touches on an unusual week. Steve Lansky from BigMouthSports will talk Oilers, Leafs, CFL playoffs and what HNIC should look like moving forward. Plus Matthew Iwanyk will talk Eskimos and we’ll chat about the possible craziness an Eskimos-Roughriders Grey Cup would do to the nation. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!