Some games stay with you and I think last night’s tilt against the Jets will linger for a time. Good teams, playoff teams, find a way to get points from games they enter the final frame up by a goal. Two points lost with the mercury plunging is no fun at all.
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: It’s time for the Oilers to play prospect Evan Bouchard in NHL games
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi is ready for his No. 1 line audition
- Lowetide: Oilers’ scoring wing prospects having an impact.
- Lowetide: Oilers Kailer Yamamoto is the real deal.
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers risers and fallers: Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones among those stumbling early
- Lowetide: Oilers goaltending depth in a state of flux.
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 3 line has been a source of anxiety early this season
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
- Lowetide: First impressions of Oilers after opener against the Canucks
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers opening night roster: A player-by-player breakdown
- Lowetide: Oilers risers and fallers and how they impact the opening night roster
- Lowetide: Will Ken Holland let it ride in goal for the Oilers this season?
- Lowetide: Oilers rookies with a chance to stick after one week of training camp
- Lowetide: 9 bold predictions for the Oilers’ season
- Lowetide: Early roster rumblings as Oilers open training camp
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers training camp: Forecasting the big roster battles
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway’s world juniors work offers clues about Oilers future
THE OILERS IN MONTH NO. 1
- Oilers in October 2015: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-1-0, goal differential +12
- Oilers in October 2017: 2-5-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in October 2018: 4-3-1, goal differential -4
- Oilers in October 2019: 7-1-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in Month 1 2021: 3-5-0, goal differential -5
The Oilers this year are a rock solid match for the 2015-16 team, that team finished 31-43-8, 70 points and seventh in the Pacific Division. The 2017-18 team finished 36-40-6, 78 points and sixth in the Pacific Division. The current Oilers record after eight games does not resemble a playoff team.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN MONTH NO. 1
- At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 0-2-0)
- On the road to: Toronto, Toronto, Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-1) (Actual 2-2-0)
- At home to: Toronto, Toronto, Ottawa (Expected 2-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-5-1, 11 points in 11 games
- Current results: 3-5-0, 6 points after eight games
Edmonton outperformed my estimate on the road trip, and if they finish up as I predicted the final record will be 5-6-0, 10 points in 11 games. No sin there, you can make the playoffs with that kind of start. It’s also true there are only going to be so many opportunities in a 56-game season and last night was one of those opportunities.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 11:13, 5-2 shots, no goals, 1-2 HDSC and 7-4 Corsi for five on five. Draisaitl scored on the power play, plus an assist on McDavid’s late goal and three takeaways. Kahun played well, 2 shots and I swear he’s getting closer to scoring. Yamamoto had a HDSC, and forechecked so well it might have been my favourite part of the game. So good. I like this line, would keep it together.
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 10:07, 3-4 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-1 HDSC, 4-7 Corsi. Nuge and McDavid scored gorgeous goals and Puljujarvi almost cashed on a splendid pass from McDavid. In fact, JP had two HDSC on the night. If Kahun is due, Puljujarvi is overdue. Lowry scored the winning goal by getting inside position on McDavid and beating him to the net. Nuge was a master on the PK.
- Neal-Turris-Kassian played 8:16, 3-6 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 8-7 Corsi for five on five. Neal had a HDSC and a couple of good looks, Kassian had a fine game with several good chances (two HDSC). The penalty he took was a bad call by the ref. Turris stopped covering Perreault for no good reason, and of course Lowry found him for a great shot and goal. This line is becoming the story of the season and not in a good way. Turris’ coverage has lapses that suggest he cannot fill this position. Nothing personal. Just business.
- Russell-Khaira-Archibald played 7:40, going 2-4 shots, 0-1 goals, 0-1 HDSC and 3-10 Corsi for five on five. Russell got an assist on the Larsson goal, Archibald played four clean shorthanded minutes. Khaira picked up an assist on the Larsson goal (that may get taken away, Draisaitl was the center in the corner with Russell), had three clean minutes shorthanded. Archibald gave some effort on the Ehlers goal, the defense had already capsized before he arrived at the play, Khaira also in photo.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Nurse-Bear played 16:58, going 6-11 shots, 0-2 goals, 2-5 HDSC and 6-15 Corsi for five on five. This was I believe the poorest night for the duo, divided between 97 and 29 lines. Nurse had three assists and both men were -3 plus minus on the night. Nurse was with Kris Russell on the Perreault GA, that was Turris wandering. Both men were on for the Stastny goal, Edmonton had great coverage but Nurse allowed the pass into the slot and Turris didn’t come close to covering Copp while Bear offered support but Koskinen couldn’t locate the rebound. A mess a mess a mess. On the Lowry goal, Bear allowed his mark to screen the goalie and McDavid lost his man. Bear is passing the puck extremely well and holding his own defensively, despite the numbers against Winnipeg last night. Nurse has six points in his first eight games, and is +4 but there are still people who don’t see his value. Come on, people.
- Jones-Larsson played 13:10 together, going 6-3 shots, 1-0 goals, 3-0 HDSC and 10-9 Corsi for five on five. It was a solid pairing, playing successfully with both Draisaitl and McDavid. Maybe we’ll see them again.
- Russell-Barrie played 11:19, 5-5 shots, 0-1 goals, 4-0 HDSC and 11-8 Corsi for five on five. Despite the goal against, that’s an encouraging line overall for both men. The pairing was on for the Ehlers goal against, Barrie losing, then catching, then releasing Ehlers for his empty net marker (Koskinen was out of position after the pass). Barrie released because Russell lost his man. One of the most poorly played goals against I’ve seen in some time.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 27 of 32, .844 and stopped 7 of 11 HDSC. For the season his save percentage is .900. He could use a vacation, and then home for a rest.
- All numbers Natural Stat Trick.
FIVE ON FIVE GOAL DIFFERENTIAL, CENTERS
- Connor McDavid 8-5 (+3)
- Leon Draisaitl 5-1 (+4)
- Kyle Turris 1-8 (-7)
- Jujhar Khaira 0-3 (-3)
- Devin Shore 0-2 (-2)
- Total: 14-19 (-5)
- with Nurse 7:34, 2-1 shots, no goals
- with Larsson 7:33, 5-2 shots, 1-0 goals
- with Jones 5:28, 5-2 shots, 1-0 goals
- with Bear 5:12, 2-0 shots, no goals
There is some promise here, the Jones-Larsson pairing had success with Draisaitl last night. Some of that is no doubt overlap with McDavid (2:43 with LD) but I’m impressed by the Jones-Larsson number.
I still believe this is a playoff team. I’m encouraged by the Jones-Larsson pairing and am now convinced Evan Bouchard will get a chance to play in the coming days. The No. 3 center situation is a big damned deal though and the opportunity for Gaetan Haas is enormous as we speak. The Oilers aren’t buried, rather they have had a slow start to a season. Important for coach Tippett to fix the third line, I think the solution might start with Nygard-Haas. It’s possible Nuge will have to move over, you can’t just let it bleed. We wait.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s going to be an entertaining morning on the show, much to discuss and specific issues in play. We get started at 10, TSN1260. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will help us break down last night’s loss and offer solutions for No. 3 center and the second plus third pairings. Joe Osborn from OddsShark will talk about the Super Bowl and some of the crazy prop bets we’re seeing, plus have a look at strong teams paying off early in the NHL. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.