Playing the Minnesota Wild is kind of what I imagine it’s like to sail into the Bermuda triangle: You’re a little nervous because of all the stories, but it’ll be fun to tell your friends about when you get home safely. Jacques Lemaire pulled some kind of voodoo at the turn of the century and the Oilers have been chasing ever since.
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 Trade Deadline: Oilers countdown to trade deadline involves age old dilemma
- New Jonathan Willis: They shoot, they don’t score: NHLers who just can’t find the back of the net
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why cap issues mean McDavid’s return could be Oilers’ only pre-deadline move
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers lack deadline flexibility due to injuries, few assets and bonuses
- Lowetide: Making sense of the Oilers forward depth chart for the summer
- Lowetide: For Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto and Leon Draisaitl, first impressions are long forgotten. Why not for Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Next-night masters: How the Oilers beat the Hurricanes and improved to 6-0 in the 2nd half of back-to-backs
- 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
- Jonathan Willis: 10 overlooked trade targets for the Oilers before the 2020 deadline
- 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 61 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 22-33-6, 50 points; goal differential -33
- Oilers in 2016-17: 33-20-8, 74 points; goal differential +13
- Oilers in 2017-18: 26-31-4, 56 points; goal differential -33
- Oilers in 2018-19: 26-29-6, 58 points; goal differential -23
- Oilers in 2019-20: 32-22-7, 71 points; goal differential +3
Oilers lost, so did Calgary and now the division looks like Vegas has found the rhythm and the rest of the group is keepin’ time while the Golden Knights climb up the ladder to the roof (where they can see heaven much better). Still, who can be truly upset with this Oilers record?
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
- Sixth 10 games: 6-3-1
- Current 10 games: 0-1-0
OILERS IN FEBRUARY
- Oilers in February 2016: 2-8-0, four points; goal differential -19
- Oilers in February 2017: 5-5-0, 10 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in February 2018: 2-7-1, five points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in February 2019: 2-5-3, seven points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in February 2020: 5-4-1, 11 points; goal differential +1
It’s still the best February during McDavid’s time, and there’s some distance to go. If we’re honest, 3-2-1 without the captain is still a solid result.
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) (Actual 0-1-1)
- 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: 5-4-1, 11 points in 10 games
I projected Edmonton to go 3-1-0 from here until the end of the month, meaning the team would finish 8-5-1 for February (as predicted). We don’t know if McDavid will play on Sunday but he’s close.
The top line is flying but the other three units were sucking air and chasing all night long. Rookie mistakes on blue, bad luck too, it’s all part of the Lemaire hate stew we’ve been watching for 20 years. Wild doesn’t play exactly like Lemaire taught them, the club no longer chokes the life out of the game with the trap. Now, the team merely plays whack-a-mole with opponents. Refs liked it, I’ll say that much. Nice to see Nuge approaching 50 points in a season for the first time in his career. All numbers five on five and via Natural Stat Trick.
LINE 1 Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto played 16:55, going 24-18 Corsi, 11-12 shots, 3-0 goals, 3-4 HDSC.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored two goals and one assist, four shots, one HDSC, won four of five on the dot. Could have had two more goals, best chances that didn’t go in happened early second period. Leon Draisaitl scored what might have been the flukiest goal of his career, bounced off a the south end of a Minnesota skate going north and went back and to the right. Real Zapruder film stuff. Had a goal, an assist, two giveaways, won 12 of 17 in the circle. He’s pretty impressive as a faceoff man now, has been for three years. Kailer Yamamoto landed with two assists, a shot, two HDSC, GV, TK. Ranks No. 6 in points among Oilers forwards, despite giving the field a 41 game head start. He could finish as high as fourth. Backchecked like a demon later in the game to save the day.
LINE 2 Sam Gagner-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson played 9:52, going 10-10 Corsi, 3-7 shots, no goals and 0-2 HDSC.
Sam Gagner had one shot, a good chance, TK, GV, had some looks but couldn’t cash. He does have good offensive tools, needs a little more skill on his line. Gaetan Haas had a shot, GV, TK and won three of seven faceoffs. He worked hard, but the Wild block everything. Alex Chiasson took a penalty when a Wild player grabbed on to his stick, very weak call.
LINE 3 Tyler Benson-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald played 7:25, going 5-11 Corsi, 3-6 shots, 0-2 goals and 1-0 HDSC.
Benson had a giveaway and two takeaways, most noticeable passing the puck. Set up Archibald for a brilliant chance. Won some puck battles. Riley Sheahan had a shot and went 4-4 in the faceoff circle. Josh Archibald had one incredible chance, a takeaway and three blocked shots. Took a vicious elbow that saw him miss a few shifts. Blocked Koskinen on the Soucy shot.
LINE 4 Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Patrick Russell played 5:16, going 5-2 Corsi, 2-1 shots, no goals or any danger.
Jujhar Khaira had two shots, a giveaway (there were more) and a takeaway. He coughed up the puck twice in the same shift and spent just 22 seconds on the PK (which is his strength). Was it his last game as an Oiler? Colby Cave won four of seven in the circle, and (I think) deflected the shot from the high slot on the first goal against. Koskinen adjusted but could not control the rebound. Patrick Russell had a quiet evening.
Oilers loss is notable but doesn’t sink them. Arizona, Vancouver and Vegas play tonight, so Edmonton could be No. 2 through No. 3 tomorrow morning.
PAIRING ONE Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear played 18:58, going 21-14 Corsi, 7-9 shots, no goals and 1-3 HDSC.
Darnell Nurse had four shots and a takeaway, skated miles. He used his wingspan effectively on defense, on a night when he needed it against some big, tough Wild forwards. Had a couple of wonderful chances at net later in the third but couldn’t find the range. Ethan Bear had an assist, a shot, two giveaways and battled hard all night. Wild forwards are a fearsome crew, that was a hard day’s night. Bear has developed this very cool move where he presents as it to pass and then resets. Very effective. He’s about two sleeps from taking Nurse’s job on the 1PP.
PAIRING TWO Caleb Jones and Adam Larsson played 15:46, going 15-21 Corsi, 8-13 shots, 2-2 goals, 2-3 HDSC.
Caleb Jones had two shots, drew a penalty, three shot blocks. He had some rookie moments. His outlet passes are coming into view as he gets more comfortable. Adam Larsson had two shots, took a penalty, had two giveaways and a takeaway. On the first Spurgeon goal, he had the puck under control but didn’t get it out. Major issue there. Winning goal bounced off his stick and into the net.
PAIRING THREE William Lagesson and Matt Benning played 10:51, going 15-11 Corsi, 7-9 shots, 1-1 goals, 1-2 HDSC.
William Lagesson had a tough night, although he was credited with just one giveaway. Was beaten by Fiala on the first goal, he needed to intercept the puck or park Fiala on his ass, but did neither. Rookie blue do this, there’s nothing to do but endure, secure in the knowledge he’ll learn. Matt Benning had an assist, two shots and a goal post. I think he’s a very good NHL defenseman.
GOALIE Mikko Koskinen stopped 34 of 38, .895. Stopped seven of eight HDSC. Made some big stops, including a breakaway on Parise at the end of the second. The third goal against was a major game moment, would have liked him to be aggressive on the shot and earlier in maybe freezing the puck. The fourth goal was unfortunate and a killer, I saw it as Larsson tipping it past his goalie but you could argue Koskinen wasn’t facing the original shot in a good way.
Man this is a hurting team. Among my top 20 prospects in December, only Samorukov, McLeod, Maksimov, Persson and Skinner (in goal) played for Bakersfield. All of Yamamoto, Benson, Jones, Lagesson and Bouchard are in Edmonton on recall, with Bear and Patrick Russell having made the big club out of camp in October. Condors need some help. It won’t come until fall.