I have this nervous energy that builds up when things aren’t balanced. It’s a thing. One of the reasons I quit the roto league is the eight categories that I could never do equally well in. Drives me crazy. Whenever I write about a balanced hockey team the pushback is extreme. “You don’t need a checking line! Power versus power!” Sure, sure. Can we at least try to have one, just in case power is exhausted? Humor me.
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, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: Oilers minor leaguers over 40 years, and Jay Woodcroft’s current role
- Lowetide: Charting Theodor Lennstrom’s future with the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Projecting the Oilers’ black aces and how much they’ll play
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ lineup for their play-in series versus the Blackhawks
- Lowetide: Could the Oilers draft a defenceman in the first round?
- Lowetide: Why the Oilers should extend Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as soon as possible
- Lowetide: Oilers farmhand Josh Currie’s small window of opportunity
- Jonathan Willis: Misguided priorities helped turn the Oilers’ 2010 rebuild into a debacle
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s what’s best for the league’: Oilers accept challenge of play-in series
- Lowetide: Oilers greatest areas of need for the 2020 draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Six bold (and not so bold) predictions as the Oilers prepare for the Blackhawks
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers facing a bonus penalty for 2020-21 but the news isn’t all bad
- Jonathan Willis: Multiple choice: What might an Oilers trade at the 2020 NHL Draft look like?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers return to play guide: How the NHL’s 24-team format impacts Edmonton
- Lowetide: Mike Green’s playoff role and possible future with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers’ most likely recalls from Bakersfield for the playoff run
“For all this, though, (Stan Weir) is an important part of the team. The line he centres, with (Dave) Hunter and (Dave) Lumley on the wings, has only 39 goals in total–fewer than (Jari) Kurri alone–but the Oilers rely on their dogged checking to spike their opponents biggest guns, as tonight they will have to spike (Guy Lafleur).” Peter Gzowski, The Game of Our Lives.
As we get closer to training camps returning, a deep dive on lines and pairings will be required. This is what I have as likely, although Dave Tippett’s verbal about Nygard suggests Neal may draw in ahead of him.
These are five on five numbers, January 1 through the end of the season. I have sorted them by time on ice per game, gives us a great view of how Tippett deployed the blue. Based on these numbers, I’d expect the starting pairs to be Nurse-Bear, Klefbom-Larsson and Jones-Green. Your mileage may vary and I do think a veteran like Russell may work his way into the lineup. Playoffs are normally the domain of the battle hardened.
Given a choice, I would pick Nuge to center the checking unit, but he’s too valuable on the Draisaitl line. Using Puck IQ’s numbers versus elites, we get an interesting view of the team’s centers.
First of all, how gorgeous are these numbers from Draisaitl and McDavid, on two separate lines? Music! Second, Gaby Haas once again shows up in strange and wonderful places. A 26 percent number as a percentage is strictly fourth line but could he take on more of the heavy lifting? What about Sheahan-Haas-Archibald, with both centers taking strong side faceoffs? I don’t know, just dreaming.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We’re back with some sunshine after a rainy weekend, starting at 10 this morning, TSN1260. NHL rinks will be opening this week, we’ll check on the Oilers situation. Zig Fracassi from Sirius XM will chat NHL return and NFL training camps at 10:20, Jason Gregor will update the Oilers situation at 11. Jason Portnuando pops in at 11:25. We’ll talk Woodbine horse racing on TSN and the “Dark Horse App” that makes things easier for everyone. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!