Last night’s game is the stuff of legends, real Paul Bunyan stuff. Leon Draisaitl’s after practice yesterday verbal talked about checking close and being precise on defensive details. 2-1 final, exhausted post-game.
The big man then proceeded to go out and post three assists and an EN goal to help the Oilers to an impressive win. Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mike Smith also had starring roles in one of the most exhilarating wins of the season. A day that began with shocking news about Connor McDavid ended with two points and a win.
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 Lowetide: Why Connor McDavid’s injury is unlikely to alter Ken Holland’s trade deadline plan for the Oilers
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We want to take it as a challenge’: Oilers survive first game without McDavid as room for improvement remains
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Trying to make sense of Connor McDavid’s injury and Darnell Nurse’s new contract with Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Faced with uncertainty, Oilers hedge their bet on Darnell Nurse
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Observations: A Connor McDavid scare, Leon Draisaitl’s back, boosting the top line and helping Zack Kassian
- Lowetide: The Oilers trading their first-round pick is a bad idea
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: After a ‘long road’ to the NHL, Tyler Benson’s Oilers debut holds extra meaning
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Emotionless’ Oilers fail yet again to match passion from a week ago
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: 15 potential trade targets for the Oilers before the 2020 deadline
- Lowetide: Drilling down on right-handed centres for the Oilers to target before the trade deadline
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers trade suggestions: 50 proposals from readers, with our verdict
- Lowetide: If fast is the new big, the Oilers are trending in a very good direction
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘I got a text from Wayne Gretzky that I’ve still got saved’: 8 years later, Sam Gagner reflects on his 8-point night.
- Lowetide: What’s next for Tyler Benson and William Lagesson after being called up by the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Why the Oilers are more likely to trade Adam Larsson than Kris Russell
- Lowetide: Oilers prospects Evan Bouchard and Tyler Benson deliver best minor league performances in 20 years
- 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
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers’ road forward — and perhaps to a Stanley Cup — requires trusting the kids on defence
OILERS AFTER 56 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 22-29-5, 49 points; goal differential -27
- Oilers in 2016-17: 29-19-8, 66 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in 2017-18: 23-29-4, 50 points; goal differential -33
- Oilers in 2018-19: 24-27-5, 53 points; goal differential -21
- Oilers in 2019-20: 30-20-6, 66 points; goal differential +4
The numbers don’t lie, this is just the second Oilers team in the 97 era to grab 66 points from the first 56 games of a season. The first team in the cluster to 30 wins. Positive goal differential for just the second time. Never thought this season would roll out in such a way.
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
- Fifth 10 games: 6-2-2
- Current 10 games: 4-2-0
Oilers seem destined to post another solid run on the tens. There’s a tough road trip ahead, but the final two games of the home stand set up the rest of the month well.
OILERS IN FEBRUARY
- Oilers in February 2016: 1-4-0, two points; goal differential -16
- Oilers in February 2017: 2-3-0, four points; goal differential -4
- Oilers in February 2018: 1-3-1, three points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in February 2019: 1-2-2, four points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in February 2020: 3-2-0, six points; goal differential +2
It isn’t a major hurdle, but this year’s group is having the best run to Valentine’s compared to the previous four teams. Notice the handsome goal differential relative to the past.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN FEBRUARY
- On the road to: CAL, ARI (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: SJS, NAS, CHI (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
- On the road to: TBY, FLA, CAR (Expected 1-1-1)
- At home to: BOS, MIN (Expected 1-1-0)
- On the road to: LAK, ANA, VEG (Expected 2-1-0)
- At home to: WPG (Expected 1-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 3-2-0, six points in five games
The next four games are absolute killers, and the Wild usually make the Oilers and fans numb, too. Some tough matchups ahead. Those tough games seem to bring out the best in this team.
The top line had a massive night, Mike Smith was outstanding and the team tightened up defensively after a Fillmore East first 25 minutes. All numbers five on five unless noted, and all via NST.
LINE 1 Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto played 13:45, going 14-13 Corsi, 10-8 shots, 1-1 goals and 1-2 HDSC. Not certain this line stays together on the road but keeping them together was a key to victory.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had an assist (plus a power-play goal) along with three shots, GV, TK and some great decisions at both ends of the ice. Leon Draisaitl had an EN goal, an assist, two power-play assists, one shot, won 10 of 17 on the dot. He’s Paul Bunyan. Kailer Yamamoto had a goal (plus a PP marker), three shots, one HDSC, one giveaway and two takeaways. This may one day be a famous line. Nuge is in a good spot.
LINE 2 Zack Kassian-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 11:16 together, 9-8 Corsi, 5-3 shots and 1-0 goals, 3-1 HDSC.
Zack Kassian had an assist, two HDSC, created some good looks. I thought he lost his man on the first goal (Saad beat him to the net) but seemed strong after. Riley Sheahan scored a goal, two shots, two penalties and won 9 of 19 in the dot. Josh Archibald had an assist, a takeaway and five hits. He worked hard and took some hits to make plays.
LINE 3 Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Patrick Russell played 7:57, going 3-5 Corsi, 2-3 shots, no goals and no HDSC. It was the nothing happened line and that’s a good thing.
Jujhar Khaira had a shot on net, a giveaway, and 2:19 successful on the PK. Colby Cave had a shot, a takeaway and won four of six in the dot. Patrick Russell had a takeaway and won some battles along the wall.
LINE 4 Sam Gagner-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 7:27, going 5-10 Corsi, 4-7 shots, no goals and 0-1 HDSC. Far higher event than the Cave line in about the same minutes.
Sam Gagner had two shots on goal and had 54 seconds on the power play. Gaetan Haas drew a penalty and won two of five faceoffs. Alex Chiasson had a shot on goal and a PP assist.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 17:04 together, going 19-12 Corsi, 12-9 shots, 0-1 goals, 1-3 HDSC.
Darnell Nurse had three shots on goal, played a little on the PP and skated miles. It was his shot that was tipped then turned over in the opposition zone, and was the genesis of the play that would result in the 1-0 goal. Pairing handled it well, needed the trailing forward to cover Brandon Saad. Played 8:48 against Patrick Kane (10-7 Corsi and 0-1 goals. Ethan Bear had one shot and three giveaways on the night, made lots of good plays and solid outlet passes. Bear played Kane well on the first goal against.
PAIRING TWO Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson played 17:16, going 11-19 Corsi, 8-9 shots, 2-0 goals and 3-0 HDSC.
Oscar Klefbom took a penalty, played a strong physical game and kept the puck heading in a good direction. Made good decisions all over the ice. Adam Larsson had two shots, a giveaway, and at least a couple of sorties into the offensive zone.
PAIRING THREE Caleb Jones and Matt Benning played 9:01 together, going 3-4 Corsi, 1-3 shots, no goals and 0-1 HDSC. Benning was paired with Klefbom on the GA, he didn’t play the two-on-one well.
Caleb Jones had a takeaway and played a relatively quiet game, third pair playing just 21 percent of the five on five minutes. Benning didn’t play the pass on the two on one, will say that was a perfect pass from Patrick Kane. Had one shot on goal, GV, TK.
GOALIE Mike Smith stopped 38 of 41, .938. Stopped all five HDSC. Since January 1, he is 8-0-2, has a .917 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.67. That’s fantastic stuff, and exactly what Catherine Silverman told me back on July 1 about him. He can carry a team for long stretches. The second GA featured keystone cops PP entry for Edmonton and then a jailbreak two-on-one with Nuge defending, Toews got all of it and Smith almost stopped that one, too.
I expect it’ll be Tyler Benson and that he’ll get a longer look on the road trip, but we’ll have to wait and see. Should hear this morning.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, TSN1260, but it should go as planned unless Ken Holland has another media avail. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will put last night’s game in perspective (suspect we’ll be hearing about Pat Hughes), and Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk MLB odds (are the LA Dodgers a favourite after the big trade?) and NHL (are the Oilers are road bet worth making this week?). 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!