As we discussed yesterday, the Oilers haven’t been a major success against the Calgary Flames over the years. Since Connor McDavid arrived in the fall of 2015, Edmonton’s won loss record is 12-10-1. That’s an improvement over the previous 25 seasons, but in a year where there’s a real chance just one Alberta team makes the playoffs, banking points against the provincial rival is vital. Last night: Opportunity missed.
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: Dylan Holloway caps strong NCAA season with Hobey Baker nomination
- Lowetide: Oilers rookie Evan Bouchard’s 2021 NHL debut — a shift-by-shift review
- Lowetide: Edmonton Oilers report card for January
- Lowetide: Oilers’ line chemistry finally coming into view
- Lowetide: Some of the Oilers’ Russian prospects less than a year from the NHL
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need misfiring elements to come together — and fast
- Lowetide: 3 auditioning Oilers who should be given time to find their groove
- 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: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
- Lowetide: Will Ken Holland let it ride in goal for the Oilers this season?
OILERS AFTER 13 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 5-8-0, 10 points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in 2016-17: 9-3-1, 19 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in 2017-18: 4-8-1, nine points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in 2018-19: 8-4-1, 17 points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in 2019-20: 8-4-1, 17 points, goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2020-21: 6-7-0, 12 points, goal differential -2
A disappointing result overall but it is not a catastrophe. Edmonton lets Calgary into the fourth-place conversation (bad) but the Canucks are free falling (good) with no apparent Ottawa in sight. In fact, Calgary and Vancouver play each other four times in the next 10 days, so we could be soon talking Flames-Oilers in a battle for the final playoff spot over the rest of the winter.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY
- At home to: Ottawa (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Calgary, Ottawa, Ottawa, Montreal (Expected: 2-1-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Toronto (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-4-1, 15 points in 12 games
- Current results: 1-1-0, 2 points in 2 game
I had the Oilers grabbing a Bettman (I don’t normally bet on Edmonton to beat the Flames in Calgary, even in the McDavid era) last night, so there’s a good chance the team finishes shy of my prediction. The Ottawa games should be wins but as the Habs showed last week nothing is certain.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 10:37, 6-4 shots, 1-1 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 10-8 Corsi five on five. All numbers NST. It was another night of growth for Puljujarvi, who is emerging as the most dynamic winger on the line. JP’s give and go on his goal was veteran stuff and when he took the return pass he was a rocket on a rail to the net. Flames’ sphincters were tighter than Motown drums by the time he got the shot away. The penalty hurt but was a nothing burger so not sure how much blame to lay on the winger. McDavid replayed his injury play so he could trigger fans worst nightmares, that play is to Oilers fans what Mary Hart’s voice is to Kramer. Pretty clear Calgary defensemen are never going to get a penalty on that play. Nuge had an assist on four shots, McDavid 1-1-2 and JP 1-0-1 but sent several brilliant passes to linemates. I’m absolutely enthralled by the possibilities here.
- Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 10:01, 3-8 shots, 0-2 goals, 1-4 HDSC and 7-15 Corsi five on five. This line is stale, and as you may know I’m a fan of the trio. For the season the line has just a 48 percent shot share but are 7-3 goals. Need to improve their share of chances. Draisaitl had one assist on the night, Kahun too, a dandy pass on the Nurse goal. Not sure how much to blame the line for the two GA. Backlund goal involved Tyson Barrie trying to leap to catch a puck and Koskinen making a nice stop but not securing the rebound. On the Bennett goal, Yamamoto was late to enter the zone and Bouchard covered the right point, that set off all kinds of events, including Kahun trailing the goal scorer and Russell ignoring him. So, some fault on the second goal. This line needs a tweak.
- Neal-Turris-Kassian played 7:16, 2-5 shots, 0-1 goals, no high dangers and 3-7 Corsi. Neal was most noticeable on the PP but didn’t cash, he needs to be around the puck more. Turris didn’t get a lot done and I think the organization is going to make a change here. Kassian had one decent look but not much, he looked like a man who had been told to stay out of the penalty box and turned that into a sleeper of a game. The line also needs a tweak.
- Jujhar Khaira had his best game of the year, out of nowhere. Scored a goal, 4-1 shots, he was rockin’ in the free world mostly with Archibald and McDavid.
- Josh Archibald played 8:19, most noticeable on the PK where he played 2:31 clean.
PAIRINGS, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Barrie played 14:21, going 8-9 shots, 1-3 goals, 2-3 HDSC and 16-15 Corsi five on five. I don’t think we’ll see this pair Monday if Ethan Bear is healthy. Nurse scored a nice goal, Barrie had an assist. Your mileage may vary, but for me Barrie has too much chaos in his game to play this far up the lineup. His play on the Gaudreau goal both turned over the puck and left him completely out of the play with no help from Calgary. As mentioned above, his Backlund goal reach for the sky was not effective and showed how far out of position he was at the time. This pairing needs a tweak.
- Russell-Bouchard played 9:28, 6-5 shots, 0-2 goals, 0-1 HDSC and 10-8 Corsi. On the Lucic goal Bouchard chased behind the net and Russell was France in World War 2 (pointed in the wrong direction). That one hurt. I described the Bennett goal above. Bouchard needs a new partner, don’t know who it might be. Russell can be effective, this blog doesn’t shoot at him every chance. However, the big part of his game is defense, so a dash 2 night, even in an evening where the goalie was from the 80’s, isn’t good enough.
- Lagesson-Larsson were 7:54, 3-5 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-2 HDSC and 6-9 HDSC. Both picked up assists on the Khaira goal and played well in their minutes. Larsson is now settling in with Lagesson, I still think Caleb Jones is a better partner for the veteran. Lagesson earned fan points with his sparring punches on Tkachuk.
- Slater Koekkoeke played very little, did get some PK time.
- Mikko Koskinen hasn’t stolen a game this year and this team needed him to be far better on a night when structure went adrift. He wasn’t good enough on several goals and will need to play better. Stopped 22 of 28, .786. Reminded me a little of that Laurent Brossoit Saturday night a few years ago.
If you’ve come here for a rant about the goaltending, prepare to be disappointed. I’ve said in the past it was surprising that Holland didn’t upgrade, although in fairness he did try. Now, in the middle of a pandemic season, the play for Holland and coach Dave Tippett will surely be giving Mike Smith two of the remaining three starts on the road. Beginning Monday in Ottawa. Koskinen’s SP is .889, Stuart Skinner’s is .868. If Smith can roll a number over .900 he’ll be a Godsend.
FIVE ON FIVE GF-GA CENTERS
- Leon Draisaitl 10-3 [+7]
- Connor McDavid 13-12 [+1]
- Kyle Turris 3-12 [-9]
- Jujhar Khaira 1-3 [-2]
- Devin Shore 0-2 [-2]
- Gaetan Haas 0-1 [-1]
- Overall 27-33, -6
No need to overthink this, Turris is absolutely not getting it done.