We’re closing in on opening night, or at least projected opening night. We’re not at the point where I can start the “Riesen to Believe” posts but this is probably a good time to finish arguing about lines and pairings. Let’s proceed to the hammer room.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Some prospects who are remembered as busts deserve a second look
- Lowetide: Ideal style pairings for the 2020-21 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers are better with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl apart at 5-on-5
- Lowetide: The Oilers and the Calder Trophy: 5 rookies, 1 strong contender
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The results
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: Goals against
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The Goals
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers defensive prospects are impressive overseas, but what comes next?
- Lowetide: Oilers pick up an intriguing addition in free agent Dominik Kahun
- Lowetide: How close is Ryan McLeod to an Oilers roster spot?
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft oversees a spike in Oilers prospect development
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ organizational depth chart: Where does Edmonton stand today?
- Lowetide: Dmitri Samorukov’s KHL impact and what it means to the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers extend Kris Russell, solve expansion issue
- Lowetide: Can Kyle Turris centre an outscoring No. 3 line in Edmonton?
- Lowetide: Tyson Barrie’s skills and how Oilers coach Dave Tippett will deploy him
- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers unlock James Neal’s scoring potential at five on five?
- Lowetide: Why is Ilya Konovalov no longer starting in the KHL?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
PROJECTED OPENING NIGHT LINEUP
This isn’t my preference, merely offering some different looks for lines and pairings on opening night.
You know, friends, we used to go hammer and tong on these pages over where people were supposed to go opening night. I argued Sam Gagner should be sent back to junior but that didn’t happen.
On September 26, 2007, Craig MacTavish said (in a post-game scrum) “you want to give the young guys some time to gain some confidence” and says Cogliano “has more speed than (Gagner) but Sam has a high degree of hockey sense. Two fairly similar players.” That’s the night I knew both would make the team.
I think, at some point, the hockey Gods worried about the population of this blog. We got so wrapped up in arguing about lines and pairings, and then having MacT explain his decision, and us parsing that decision, there came a tone of logic and reason to the blog. You can’t have a blog when everyone agrees. You need friction. The Gods sent us Pat Quinn.
OPENING NIGHT 2009 OILERS
- Line 1: Jean Francois-Jacques-Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky
- Line 2: Patrick O’Sullivan-Mike Comrie-Ryan Stone
- Line 3: Dustin Penner-Gilbert Brule-Andrew Cogliano
- Line 4: Ethan Moreau-Sam Gagner-Zack Stortini
- D1: Sheldon Souray-Steve Staiois
- D2: Denis Grebeshkov-Tom Gilbert
- D3: Ladislav Smid-Lubomir Visnovsky
- G: Nikolai Khabibulin
Of the 12 men who skated at forward for Edmonton opening night 2009, just over half of them (seven players: Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Cogliano, Gagner, Moreau, Stortini) were in the opening night lineup 2008 opening night.
Gone from opening night 2008 were Erik Cole and Kyle Brodziak (traded), Fernando Pisani and Marc Pouliot (injured) and Robert Nilsson was a healthy scratch. The blue was pretty much identical and the goalie was new.
The Lowetide blog was on fire with these settings. Gagner on the fourth line was a misuse of his skills even if you didn’t like him at center. Jean-Francois Jacques on the top line was jaw dropping, and Dustin Penner on the third line was bat bleep crazy. I remember being especially crazed post game when looking at the even strength playing time for the defensemen. Remember, Lubo came at great cost and was making crazy money:
- Souray 18:26
- Grebeshkov 18:26
- Gilbert 18:00
- Staios 17:31
- Visnovsky 12:32
- Smid 11:11
Honestly, Mr. Quinn. I wrote “You know what’s crazier than playing Staios 5 more minutes at EVs than Lubomir Visnovsky? Paying Lubomir Visnovsky 5.6M beans to play 5 less minutes than Steve Staios. If this trend continues, Lubo is gone, baby gone.” He was in fact gone, in March. Playing time for centers that night:
- Brule 14:42
- Horcoff 13:48
- Comrie 10:08
- Gagner 9:25
Comrie’s ass was stapled to the bench in the third period, but he still beat Gagner at even strength. Horcoff remained the team’s best center, but Brule had a helluva game and earned the extra playing time. Wingers at even strength:
- Cogliano 14:22
- Hemsky 13:14
- Jacques 13:10
- Stone 12:48
- Penner 12:03
- O’Sullivan 11:22
- Moreau 10:17
- Stortini 9:16
The Oilers lost, Khabibulin had a poor game. Goals were Penner (O’Sullivan, Comrie), Brule (Penner, Visnovsky) and an unassisted goal by the shunned Sam Gagner. David Moss scored the winner from Rene Bourque with 49 seconds left in the game.
It was a disappointing night in a disappointing year. It would end with talk of the lottery, for the first time in Edmonton.
What does it all mean? Be good to each other. Things could be worse. Dave Tippett seems to have a handle on this, maybe he’ll find some unique chemistry out among the stars.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
What a day! At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running with all kinds of breaking news. Moderna has a vaccine that’s close, and I mean real close, and it’s 94.5 percent effective based on studies. We could hit the beach by Febru–late spring! Plus, Oilers new thirds are a colour explosion and more! Geoff Ullrich from Draft Kings will chat The Masters and Dustin Johnson’s impressive win at 10:20, and later in the hour Chris Meaney from the FTN Network chats NFL weekend and the Monday nighter. Jason Gregor from TSN1260 will chat Oilers season to come and the possible game-changer that is a vaccine. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!