The Edmonton Oilers went into a tough building without Connor McDavid and played a strong game last night. Mistakes cost them and there wasn’t enough talent to outscore the errors. It’s no fun to lose, but there were encouraging signs. Things to work on, there’s plenty the coach can point to as positives as the team winds towards Sunrise.
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: Making sense of the Oilers defensive depth chart for the stretch run and the summer
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It was reactionary’: Oilers’ Zack Kassian addresses alleged kick; Lightning depth strikes; and Kailer Yamamoto’s big game
- Jonathan Willis: 10 overlooked trade targets for the Oilers before the 2020 deadline
- Lowetide: Why Connor McDavid’s injury is unlikely to alter Ken Holland’s trade deadline plan for the Oilers
- 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
- Lowetide: The Oilers trading their first-round pick is a bad idea
- 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
- Lowetide: If fast is the new big, the Oilers are trending in a very good direction
- 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
OILERS AFTER 57 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 22-29-6, 50 points; goal differential -27
- Oilers in 2016-17: 30-19-8, 68 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017-18: 23-30-4, 50 points; goal differential -34
- Oilers in 2018-19: 24-28-5, 53 points; goal differential -23
- Oilers in 2019-20: 30-21-6, 66 points; goal differential +3
A good road game keeps the goal differential in the black and we’re next up at Sunrise for the Florida Panthers Saturday afternoon. Oilers current pace would land them 82gp, 43-30-9, 95 points. That should be a playoff number.
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: 4-3-0
OILERS IN FEBRUARY
- Oilers in February 2016: 2-4-0, four points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in February 2017: 3-3-0, six points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in February 2018: 1-4-1, three points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in February 2019: 1-3-2, four points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in February 2020: 3-3-0, six points; goal differential +1
The two playoff teams are now in a flat tie. As I recall, Edmonton had a welcoming schedule after the deadline as several opponents were sellers. One hopes that remains true.
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) (Actual 0-1-0)
- 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: 3-3-0, six points in six games
In truth, with the McDavid injury added to the degree of difficulty, a point per game this month would be a victory. Stay in the race, that’s the key, until the captain returns around the deadline. Oilers 1-1 without 97.
Caleb Jones scored the only goal, Mike Smith had a fine evening and there were some star-crossed moments for Jean Beliveau. All numbers NST and everything is five on five.
LINE 1 Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto played 18:25, going 11-19 Corsi, 7-14 shots, 1-0 goals and 1-3 HDSC. It was easily Edmonton’s best line.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up another assist, three shots on goal, two takeaways and a mostly strong performance without the puck. Got beat a couple of times by talented Lightning forwards but no harm and solid otherwise. Leon Draisaitl had an assist, three takeaways, two costly giveaways (one on the PP, the other with the net empty). Won eight of 17 on the dot. A tough game from a great player who also contributed in a big way. Single events can have major impact while also being single events. Kailer Yamamoto skated miles, worked hard, didn’t get the results. He’s so smart. Don’t change a thing, young man.
LINE 2 Zack Kassian-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 11:21, going 10-12 Corsi, 6-8 shots, no goals and 2-4 HDSC.
Zack Kassian is going to be hearing from player safety again, and Tyler Benson should get a good night’s sleep in Florida. Kassian had three shots, two HDSC and can help a team when he isn’t suspended. Riley Sheahan had one shot (HDSC) and won six of 14 faceoffs. Josh Archibald played a rambunctious game.
LINE 3 Sam Gagner-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 9:36, going 11-7 Corsi, 6-5 shots, no goals and 4-1 HDSC.
Sam Gagner had three shots, a takeaway and gave his line some good looks in the offensive zone. Gaetan Haas had two shots, two HDSC and won three of eight in the faceoff circle. Alex Chiasson had two shots, two HDSC, and a takeaway. He had a couple of good looks on the power play as well. One of those cashes, Oilers get a point.
LINE 4 Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Patrick Russell played 7:55, going 4-9 Corsi, 4-5 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-2 HDSC.
Jujhar Khaira had a giveaway and transported the puck a couple of times, but was not a major factor. Colby Cave had two shots, HDSC, drew a penalty and won two of nine on the dot. He didn’t do anything to sway Patrick Maroon from knocking Mike Smith’s stick out of his hand and scoring from behind the net. Patrick Russell worked like a demon again, had one shot and one HDSC. Russell’s inability to get the puck out under control started the sequence that ended in the 1-0 goal.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse-Ethan Bear played 18:09, 15-22 Corsi, 10-17 shots, no goals, 1-4 HDSC. Spent 9:58 with Draisaitl.
Darnell Nurse had four shots, blocked a shot and played a physical game. He was loose on coverage a couple of times but also suppressed danger. It was one of those games, you could see good and bad in most every Oilers player last night. Ethan Bear had a takeaway and several solid outlet passes. He also hammered a shot late that I thought tied the game (absolutely drilled it).
PAIRING TWO Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson played 15:34, going 12-12 Corsi, 7-8 shots, 0-1 goals and 5-3 HDSC.
Oscar Klefbom had two shots, a giveaway, one impressive rush and a curious decision on the SH goal (he needed to be the trailer until the zone was won). Also made a strange play on the puck with an empty net (leading to the third goal against) when the puck came back to the point (used his rump instead of his hand/shoulder and made an awkward attempt at the puck). Adam Larsson had one shot, created some havoc and make a couple of nice defensive plays. Maroon was his man on the first goal, Larsson going walkabout.
PAIRING THREE Caleb Jones and Matt Benning played 10:13, going 6-9 Corsi, 4-6 shots, no goals, 3-2 HDSC. Jones scored his goal while paired with Bear.
Caleb Jones scored a goal, two shots, blocked a shot, settled the play a few times. Good game. Matt Benning chased the play quite a bit, that was the theme for much of the evening for all three pairs.
GOALIE Mike Smith stopped 34 of 36, .944. He been quality since January 1. He got caught up with Maroon, lost his stick and his post on what was a weak goal (no help from Cave or Larsson, though).
Zack Kassian hurts the team when he is suspended and word today that it’s an in person meeting means a longer suspension is likely. This puts the organization in a tough spot, but I don’t think Ken Holland makes a trade today.
Tyler Benson is the obvious replacement and I think getting him into games on the road is a good idea. A guess at the lines would be Nuge-Leon-KY, Chiasson-Sheahan-Archibald, Benson-Haas-Gagner and Khaira-Cave-Russell. We wait.
Condors season is bleeding out, troops sent to Edmonton (in yellow) represent the best of the best. It’s a cruel reality for minor league teams. Bakersfield plays at home tomorrow night against the Colorado Eagles.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy fun Friday show to wrap up the week, TSN 1260 beginning at 10 this morning. Steve Lansky from Big Mouth Sports joins me to talk Zack Kassian suspension and how to make a mega-project like the NHL trade deadline work. Ryan Holt, PBP broadcaster from the Bakersfield Condors talks about a trying stretch run and Murat Ates from The Athletic will discuss the new Paul Maurice contract. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!