And we’re back. When we last left this year’s story, the entire Pacific Division was in a tie with 33 games to go. As soon as three teams gain clearance, they fall back and three more emerge. It’s a pennant race filled with conflict, like a gorgeous melody married to cynical and angry lyrics. The Oilers are in a good spot, have a good coach, are saying the right things and boast the best player in the game, plus a guy who is among the best players in the game. Wins. Strong performances McDavid OFF. Tonight’s the night.
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 Scott Wheeler: Wheeler’s 2020 NHL prospect pool rankings: No. 15 Edmonton Oilers
- New Corey Pronman: Ranking the 2020 NHL Draft top prospects at midseason
- Lowetide: Why the Oilers are more likely to trade Adam Larsson than Kris Russell
- Jonathan Willis: PHWA Midseason Awards: Stars, snubs and what they mean for the year-end NHL Awards
- Lowetide: Is there real trade deadline value in the Edmonton Oilers’ prospect pipeline?
- Lowetide: ‘Connor McDavid: Whatever It Takes’ works as breaking news, drama and personality profile
- Lowetide: Oilers prospects Evan Bouchard and Tyler Benson deliver best minor league performances in 20 years
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Hey, Sparky, can you do that?’: How the Oilers’ AHL video coach got his start as the Islanders’ mascot.
- Eric Duhatschek: ‘He’s special’: The people who know him best tell the story of how Leon Draisaitl took the NHL by storm
- Pierre Lebrun: Where all 31 teams stand one month before the trade deadline
- Lowetide: What do Connor McDavid’s best lines tell us about his optimal linemates?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: I was an AHL coach for a day: Here’s what I learned
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: Oilers player poll: From the serious to the silly, the players weigh in on best dressed, most superstitious and more
- Thomas Drance: Inside how ‘Okanagan boy’ Ken Holland helped bring back the Penticton Young Stars tournament
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers minor-league defenceman Brandon Manning suspended five games for racial slur
- Jonathan Willis: An updated list of which Oilers are most likely to be traded in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto gives Oilers a midseason spark, one of the best in team history
- Lowetide: With the Oilers’ minor-league goaltending not good enough, Ilya Konovalov might be the answer
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan show the upward trend of Ken Holland’s offseason moves for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Post-Christmas performance spike has Evan Bouchard pushing for an NHL job with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Central Scouting’s midseason list offers Oilers some strong draft options
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers’ road forward — and perhaps to a Stanley Cup — requires trusting the kids on defence
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Deciding what to do with Darnell Nurse, Mike Smith, Tyler Benson and Evan Bouchard
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s targets for his first trade deadline with the Oilers.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s trade deadline options for the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Zack Kassian’s breakout performance presents Oilers GM Ken Holland with a familiar dilemma
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects list, winter 2019
OILERS AFTER 50 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 19-26-5, 43 points; goal differential -26
- Oilers in 2016-17: 27-15-8, 62 points; goal differential +15
- Oilers in 2017-18: 22-24-4, 48 points; goal differential -30
- Oilers in 2018-19: 23-24-3, 49 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in 2019-20: 26-18-5, 57 points; goal differential +1
As we glance again at these numbers it’s clear the current edition is neither a lock for the 103-point season of 2016-17, nor the 70, 78 and 79-point seasons of the three non-playoff teams. Currently on pace for 95 points, this group has a real chance.
ON THE TENS
- First 10 games: 7-2-1
- Second 10 games: 5-4-1
- Third 10 games: 5-4-1
- Fourth 10 games: 3-6-1
- Current 10 games: 6-2-1
Edmonton has had only one poor 10-game stanza this season, with an equally (actually better) brilliant run to begin the season. Tonight we see if the current group can match that impressive start to the year.
OILERS IN JANUARY
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-2-2, 10 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in January 2017: 5-3-0, 10 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in January 2018: 4-4-0, eight points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in January 2019: 5-3-0, 10 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in January 2020: 5-1-1, 11 points; goal differential +7
No matter what happens tonight, the 2020 group has posted the best record in January. There’s a tightness and urgency to this group. The 2019-20 Oilers don’t win every game and don’t pass every test, but it’s clear coach Dave Tippett and general manager Ken Holland are building something here.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN JANUARY
- On the road to: BUF, BOS, TOR, MTL, CAL (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 3-1-1)
- At home to: NAS, ARI, CAL, STL (Expected 1-2-1) (2-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 3-4-2, eight points in nine games
- Current results: 5-1-1, 11 points in seven games
Two games left in this month and the team has already put the boots to my projections. I counted the two games this week as the toughest in the home stand. A win tonight would be massive.
There was some thought (me, others) that Tyler Benson might be here by now, it looks like we’ll see the group who delivered all those January wins stay together. William Lagesson to Bakersfield, Matt Benning back up to the Oilers was the big transaction over the All-Star break.
This is (I believe) the fourth edition for me, always a blast and a great interaction. I make sure to get around to everyone and we’ll answer ALL questions. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll get it for you. We also look for feedback, so don’t be shy and The Rec Room is an excellent spot for these events. It’s free but you have to click on the link to register so they can get a head count. I hope you can join us!
I was thrilled to interview Terry Harper on the Lowdown yesterday, made my day and probably this one, too. Although he played for the Montreal Canadiens, I loved his shutdown style and all-out effort. Harper was a fine backwards skater, and his long reach allowed him to knock the puck off the stick of oncoming rushers. Always enjoyed that type of player, Harper was a fine one. I’ve been blessed with many great interviews over these years, from Fernando Pisani to Grant Fuhr, from Reggie Leach to Darryl Sittler to Damon Allen. Harper ranks right up there. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
CALGARY FLAMES 2019-20
I think the Flames are trying to spread out the scoring, and applaud the movement of Mangiapane while being confused about the usage of Ryan and Dube. There was much line juggling last night by the Flames, my guess is we see the same tonight. Flames came out flying last night and played a hard, physical game. Oilers can win this game, but must start on time.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Oilers are back in action and that will be the main topic today, along with #BellLetsTalk. We start at 10 and fill the airwaves with many words, most intentional. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal is first up, we’ll chat about tonight’s game at 10:20. Keegan Matheson from MLB.com gives us a Jays update as well as an inspiring story about the week he spent in Blackfalds and why it’s pertinent today. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will answer myriad questions about Super Bowl prop bets, it’s absolutely insane. 10-1260 text @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!