Somebody robbed the Edmonton Oilers, last night about half past nine. Somebody robbed the Edmonton Oilers, I swear I ain’t lying. It was a disappointing game in Vancouver on Monday night, the Oilers failed to gain clearance from the Canucks, Calgary Flames and the other teams chasing. You can say they played in bad luck and the officials slanted the ice, but that doesn’t explain the baffling PK coverage on the winning goal and the undistinguished play of some of the team’s best players.
That kicked in goal was a travesty, an absolute monstrosity of a decision. However, the Oilers can’t let that define the season and could have extracted a point even after that ridiculous goal. Markus Granlund was in position to block the shot on the PK and didn’t sacrifice. I’ll be interested to see if he plays against the Flames on Friday.
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: Leon Draisaitl is struggling badly, even as the Oilers’ depth forwards seem to be coming around
- New Lowetide: Should the Oilers pursue Lias Andersson in trade?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Broken toes, holiday-time hospital visits and memories of home: A week in the life of Oscar Klefbom, the Oilers’ do-everything defenceman
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Grasping Mike Smith, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers’ recent plight by reading between the lines
- Lowetide: As Oilers’ auditions of fringe forwards nears conclusion, it’s time for Condors’ top prospects to force the issue
- Lowetide: The key missing element to the Oilers’ brilliant top line
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We called him ‘The Crane”: Teammates and coaches reveal their best Connor McDavid stories
- Jonathan Willis: Should the Oilers have outbid the Coyotes for Taylor Hall?
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid’s frustration and the impact it could have on the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers need to figure out five-on-five woes quickly, starting with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl
- Lowetide: Who should be the next man up from the Bakersfield Condors?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: 10 subscriber questions for Oilers rookie defenceman Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Five loud noises Ken Holland could make to help the Oilers immediately
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects list, winter 2019
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 5 prospect, Winter 2019 — Raphael Lavoie
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 4 prospect winter 2019: Tyler Benson
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 prospect winter 2019: Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 2 prospect winter 2019: Philip Broberg
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 1 prospect winter 2019: Evan Bouchard
OILERS AFTER 40 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015: 16-21-3, 35 points; goal differential -22
- Oilers in 2016: 20-13-7, 47 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017: 17-20-3, 37 points; goal differential -17
- Oilers in 2018: 19-18-3, 41 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2019: 20-16-4, 44 points; goal differential -4
The Oilers are one game from mid-season and honestly these numbers are solid. I projected the team for 88 points and they are in the range (currently on track for 90 points), and that would represent an 11-point improvement from last season’s 35-38-9, 79 points.
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: 6-5-1, 13 points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in December 2019: 4-7-1, 9 points; goal differential -10
Edmonton’s best players hit a wall in December and Mike Smith had some real troubles. The club is going to give back about six points to the rest of the division, and that’s not good news. However, if they can salvage the final two games, plus straighten up and fly right in January, this group can stay in the race. Another month like this one and my blog will be talking draft and selling at the deadline. Edmonton’s room for error is gone. Now.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN DECEMBER
- On the road to: VAN (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: OTT, LAK, BUF, CAR (Expected 2-1-1) (Actual 1-2-1)
- On the road to: MIN (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: TOR (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: DAL, STL (Expected 0-2-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: PIT, MTL (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: VAN (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: CAL, NYR (Expected 1-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 6-6-2, 14 points in 14 games
- Current results: 4-7-1, 9 points in 12 games
I understand your frustration with the kicked goal and the strangest too-many-men in history, but Edmonton will need to push through if there’s a playoff spring in 2020. Every team gets screwed by the officials, but the playoff teams keep their structure on the PK in the third period of a tie game. Edmonton and Vancouver split their four games this season. I think that’s a reasonable result. How it happened is damned galling.
WHAT TO DO?
It’s after 11 on Monday night as I write this, so if you’re reading me saying NST info is here that means I also slept until 7am and didn’t have time to run the usual numbers for you.
What I want to talk about now is this division. It’s there for some team and the Oilers have the two best players in the Pacific. Ken Holland would have to abandon the ‘let’s see how this turns out’ path he is currently on. He would need an upgrade on the wing for the Nuge line and a strong two-way center, and a better backup goalie wouldn’t go amiss.
I know Holland has ice in his veins but he’s also competitive. The division is there.
This is five on five scoring for forwards, five on five shot differential for defense and save percentage for goaltenders.
Mikko Koskinen won the goalie war and it wasn’t close. Very few times this season has the big Finn been the story in a negative way. The job of a goalie is to give his team a chance and Koskinen has done it consistently.
My list of best defensemen of the first half is Ethan Bear, Darnell Nurse and Caleb Jones. Adam Larsson has also been coming on, and Oscar Klefbom has played better and is coming on. Kris Russell’s shots against per 60 is the lowest on the team among regulars.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hit the break with fantastic numbers, but the five on five goal differential (40-36 for McDavid, 36-42 for Leon) suggests there are things wrong for the team’s gunners. Zack Kassian’s five on five goal differential is 38-29, so maybe the wonkiness is happening when 97 and 29 are playing extra minutes.
One thing I’ve learned this year? Tell people you care. So. No matter your color, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, your political beliefs or your beliefs about oil and gas, I care. You are equal to me in the eyes of the God I pray to. Be well, be safe, know that I care. Sincerely.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning with fun guests, TSN1260 beginning at 10. Simon Boisvert previews the World Juniors at 10:20, with special emphasis on the Oilers kids. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal reviews a bitter loss to Vancouver last night. We’ll have him on 10-second delay beginning 20 minutes BEFORE he hits the air. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!