The Edmonton Oilers had a shocking weekend that resulted in waking up on holiday Monday in first place. This city was rocking last night and left no wakeup call for this morning. What a night in Raleigh for this hard working team. Up next: The Bruins. No problem. Apparently.
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: Oilers reap benefits of Bakersfield Condors’ strong development process, even in a losing season
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Stepping out and up, Leon Draisaitl puts himself in the Hart Trophy mix in Connor McDavid’s absence
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Despite ‘transformation’ with Oilers, Zack Kassian’s on-ice actions come under scrutiny again
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers are playing their best 5-on-5 hockey of the season
- Lowetide: Making sense of the Oilers defensive depth chart for the stretch run and the summer
- 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 59 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 22-31-6, 50 points; goal differential -30
- Oilers in 2016-17: 32-19-8, 72 points; goal differential +14
- Oilers in 2017-18: 24-31-4, 52 points; goal differential -34
- Oilers in 2018-19: 24-29-6, 54 points; goal differential -25
- Oilers in 2019-20: 32-21-6, 70 points; goal differential +5
Oh what a feeling, what a rush! Oilers are on pace for 97 points, that’s a sure playoff spot. A reminder, I had them finishing with 88 points. This Oilers team has 23 games to get 18 points in order to make me look like a fool. How about you?
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: 6-3-0
OILERS IN FEBRUARY
- Oilers in February 2016: 2-6-0, four points; goal differential -17
- Oilers in February 2017: 4-4-0, eight points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in February 2018: 1-6-1, three points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in February 2019: 1-5-2, four points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in February 2020: 5-3-0, 10 points; goal differential +3
Such a sweet February for the Oilers. The club won two weekend games by getting big stops, forechecking well, winning special teams and playing well at evens. What else is there?
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 2-1-0)
- 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: 5-3-0, 10 points in eight games
I have the new 2020 draft item ready to go tomorrow, for the first time I’m not certain the first-round pick is absolutely stapled to the floor. I’m all about keeping the first rounder, but if the Oilers win the Pacific it’s pick No. 24 or No. 25. All numbers five on five unless otherwise noted and everything comes from Natural Stat Trick.
LINE 1 Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto played 12:14, going 13-14 Corsi, 5-8 shots, 0-3 goals and 2-4 HDSC. Spent 8:22 against Aho, which is the seven stages of hell (nine if there’s overtime).
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a shot, two HDSC and a takeaway. Gave a step to Aho on the second Carolina goal, the set play executed perfectly by the Hurricanes. Tough beat. Leon Draisaitl scored a goal (had two assists but not at five on five), one shot and won six of 15 in the faceoff circle. Draisaitl is on pace for 132 points. Crazy. His overtime backhand pass would be discussed in hushed tones for decades except he seems to do it every damned game. Leon is in the mother of all zones. Kailer Yamamoto scored on the power play, two shots five on five. He was covering Aho on the third Carolina goal, but covering Aho and stopping Aho are two different things. Yamamoto was unable to stop the rocket from the Finn.
LINE 2 Tyler Benson-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 11:01, going 7-7 Corsi, 5-2 shots, 1-0 goals and 2-0 HDSC.
Tyler Benson grabbed his first NHL assist on a nice play with Archibald. He also had a shot and did some good work. I can’t imagine he stays up when everyone is healthy but he’s showing well. Riley Sheahan had two shots, two HDSC, GV, TK, and won six of 14 on the dot. He had one 10-bell chance late that hit the post. Josh Archibald had the kind of night Fernando Pisani was known for 15 years ago. He scored once (another in overtime), two shots, one HDSC, GV, TK, three hits and drove opponents crazy. He drew a penalty but wasn’t credited. His play that led to his first goal, stopping the puck from exiting the zone, was outstanding.
LINE 3 Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Patrick Russell played 8:37, going 6-6 Corsi, 4-2 shots and 1-2 HDSC.
Jujhar Khaira picked up an assist on a pass to Leon, took a late penalty 200 feet from his own net. Had one shot. Colby Cave also took a late penalty, won two of five in the faceoff circle. Low event player, which has advantages. Patrick Russell had one shot, HDSC and three hits. His scoring opportunity was excellent, I very much hope he scores a goal this season.
LINE 4 Markus Granlund-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 7:37, going 7-7 Corsi, 1-4 shots, no goals and 3-1 HDSC.
Markus Granlund took a solid hit and got the puck out several times. Gaetan Haas had a shot, HDSC, GV, won two of eight in the faceoff circle. I swear he should be called boomerang. He shoots the puck toward the opposition’s end and it bounces off five things and heads back in the other zone. I like him as a player. Alex Chiasson had a shot, HDSC, TK, plus a great chance on the power play. It was point blank and I was shocked it didn’t get through. If we were talking baseball, I’d say “Alex has been hitting ropes lately, but they keep finding leather” and then mention some of those line drives are going to land soon. He’s due for a two-goal game.
PAIRING ONE Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson played 18:25, going 14-12 Corsi, 6-6 shots, 0-2 goals and 6-3 HDSC. Spent 7:43 against the Aho line on a five skater hard match.
Oscar Klefbom had shot, GV, two blocked shots and a power play assist. Played 30:57, or basically half the game, mobile, intelligent. Adam Larsson had two shots, one HDSC, played over 2:50 on the PK. It was a very physical game, Larsson’s wheelhouse. Both men were on the ice for the first Carolina goal but were in good position. Both men stood up at center on the second goal, Klefbom unable to offer support to Nuge as a streaking Aho (that’s a phrase, eh?) was bound for glory on a set play.
PAIRING TWO Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 16:33, going 16-12 Corsi, 10-4 shots, 2-1 goals and 3-2 HDSC. Played 4:33 against Aho line.
Darnell Nurse had an assist, two shots, two blocked shots, and played about three minutes on the PK. He made a fantastic defensive play in overtime that could best be described as the best stop, drop and roll in human history. Ethan Bear had three shots, a giveaway and a blocked shot. He got beat wide by Svechnikov on the third goal, damn near recovered by the skill on that Carolina line is amazing. Nurse was unable to interrupt the bullet pass to Aho. I honestly don’t think either man (or Yamamoto) did anything specifically wrong. Sometimes you have to give the other man his due. If you look at the play again, notice how little room Bear gave, and notice how precise the pass. Not sure that play could be defended once Svechnikov gained a step. Honestly.
PAIRING THREE Caleb Jones and Matt Benning played 8:51, going 4-10 Corsi, 1-6 shots, no goals and 0-2 HDSC.
Caleb Jones was low event, one giveaway and he skated miles. Matt Benning drew a penalty, blocked a shot, passed well.
GOALIE Mike Smith stopped 27 of 30, .900. He stopped two breakaways in overtime and stood tall against a very talented Carolina team.
When Ken Holland talked about his summer acquisitions (James Neal, Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan, Markus Granlund, etc) he said something like “the NHL Guide and Record Book says they can score some goals” and I rolled my eyes.
Now, I’m not someone who disregards Holland’s resume or disrespects his accomplishments. I respect his success, both in Stanley Cups and in survival (in business, there are times when survival is success) living in a world with 31 jobs available.
But looking in the guide for goals? Well, after 59 games, James Neal has 19 goals, Josh Archibald 9, Riley Sheahan 7, Gaetan Haas 5, Markus Granlund 3.
Those names replaced the following from last year’s team (with last year’s goal total): Milan Lucic 6, Kyle Brodziak 6, Ty Rattie 4, Jesse Puljujarvi 4, Tobias Rieder 0.
And there’s 23 games left.
The signing of Archibald appears to have been truly inspired. On pace to score a baker’s dozen, Archibald plays 10:20 a night at five on five (scoring .56 goals per 60), 2:15 a night on the PK (scoring 1.08 goals per 60) and six seconds on the power play. He has speed and can play up and down the lineup.
The earliest season NST provides for Fernando Pisani is 2007-08, age 30. It isn’t their fault, that’s where these numbers began. Pisani played 11:28 a night at five on five (scoring .75 goals per 60), 2:29 a night on the PK (scoring no goals) and 1:49 a night on the PP (scoring 2.36 goals per 60).
So, when comparing Archibald to Pisani, the power-play usage isn’t there but in spirit Archibald fills the definition. When I say ‘we’re looking for the Pisani’ I mean someone who can play a depth role and still be productive offensively. Archibald fits that bill. I also mean someone who can mentor youths and help them develop (Pisani helped Stoll, Torres, Stortini, others). Perhaps we’re seeing that with Benson.
We aren’t there yet. Pisani as an Oiler reached mythical heights, scoring the second most famous shorthanded goal in team history. Archibald has many of the elements that made Pisani such a perfect fit. I’ll tell you though, that sequence where he secured the puck before the blue line, fed Benson and then drove to the net was a Pisani play. Ken Holland did well signing Josh Archibald, and needs to sign him to an extension. It’s a compelling story to follow.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We’re on the air today, starting at 10, TSN1260. Why? Because we want to be there, talking Oilers. WHO would take a day off when talking Oilers is an option? Not me! I’d be there seven days a week but they won’t let me in! (I kid). Tom Gazzola from the Pre and Post and the television will join us at 10:20 to talk about the weekend games, and Jason Gregor will pop in at 11. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!