Evan Bouchard scored last night, he has a goal and an assist in four games this season. He ranks No. 3 among rookie NHL defencemen in points per game (behind Ty Smith of New Jersey and Pierre-Olivier Joseph of the Pittsburgh Penguins) among blue who have played more than one game. He won’t win the Calder Trophy, but if they played him every game, with some power-play looks? Nah. It’ll never happen.
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: Mike Smith’s return calms the Oilers goalie hysteria — for now
- Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors are back, but true NHL prospects a roster rarity
- 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 15 GAMES
- Oilers 2015-16: 5-10-0, 10 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers 2016-17: 9-5-1, 19 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers 2017-18: 6-8-1, 13 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers 2018-19: 8-6-1, 17 points; goal differential -2
- Oilers 2019-20: 10-4-1, 21 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers 2020-21: 8-7-0, 16 points, goal differential 0
This impressive run (5-1-0 after starting 3-6-0) has the Oilers poised to make a nice run this month. The next 10 days will tell us a lot, and Tippett continues to find out about this year’s roster.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 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 2-1-0)
- 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: 3-1-0, 6 points in 4 games
I have the Oilers going 2-3-0 against Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary in the next week and a bit. One hopes Ethan Bear returns soon, and Caleb Jones too. Of course, when a coach wins, he is often hesitant to tweak the roster. One good thing: Tippett has been on mad shuffle all year long with his added roster pool.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 13:25, going 9-9 shots, 0-1 goals, 4-2 HDSC and 13-12 Corsi five on five. Seven shots for the line, Nuge had one stunning chance from a 97 shot but he can’t score goals in February. Sticks from Death Valley. Puljujarvi was moving well, had a couple of great chances and is starting to take charge of situations. That will help McDavid, who often can’t carry the puck through the neutral zone because of double coverage.
- Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 12:28, going 0-10 shots, 0-1 goals, 0-5 HDSC and 0-16 Corsi five on five. I don’t believe we’ve seen a stats set like that from a skill trio before. That’s ultimate awful. Draisaitl hit the post at the end of the game and had three shots on goal. He was aggressive on the power play, Oilers rarely got set partly because of it.
- Ennis-Khaira-Archibald played 9:04 together, 4-8 shots, 2-0 goals and 1-2 HDSC and 7-13 Corsi five on five. Khaira had two assists and is playing the best hockey in memory. He has made a difference, five on five added to his PK acumen. His waiver wire experience may have been a wakeup call. Ennis had a takeaway and worked hard all night, his speed is a definite asset. Archibald had an assist and a double minor. A great job by this new makeshift line that has played 18 minutes together at five on five and is 3-0 goal differential.
- Shore-Turris-Chiasson played 7:40, 0-6 shots, no goals, no HDSC and 3-9 Corsi five on five. Shore and Chiasson each had assists, Turris had all zeros on NST’s individual stats. That’s at five on five, 25 columns. His line was absolutely the fourth line last night. Shore did good work getting the puck out of danger during a nervous countdown of the clock in the third period.
DEFENSE AND GOALIE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Barrie played 21:24, 12-21 shots, 2-1 goals, 3-6 HDSC and 20-29 Corsi five on five. This pairing played a ton, each man scoring a goal, six shots between them and each man had two giveaways. This pairing has too much chaos for my liking, would like to see Bear back in. Barrie’s loft shot from deep in his end was easily turned over for a dangerous look very late in the game. Koskinen doesn’t stop that, we’re having a different conversation this morning.
- Lagesson-Larsson played 13:06, 2-7 shots, no goals, 1-2 HDSC and 6-10 Corsi five on five. Lordy this is a low-event pairing, well shy of a shot per minute total at five on five. Larsson was effective on defense, tough as nail, and punishing.
- Koekkoek-Bouchard played 12:39, going 4-9 shots, 1-1 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 5-15 Corsi five on five. Bouchard’s goal was a seeing-eye floater from seven miles away, but it was deadly effective. Goalie didn’t see it, and there’s no way that baby made a sound. Bouchard’s soft wristers are silent runnings. Koekkoek was caught with Dadanov behind him for the 3-2 goal that tightened the third period greatly. Bouchard had a takeaway, three shot attempts (two made it) and four hits. Koekkoek is imo an upgrade on Russell, but Monday night’s numbers (12:18, going 3-6 shots, no goals, 3-2 HDSC and 10-10 Corsi) with Russell-Bouchard were better. Maybe he’s from the Magic Rodeo. Koekkoek was a monster on that four-minute kill.
- Mikko Koskinen had a nice bounce back game, stopping 40 of 42, .952. He stopped six of eight high danger, both shots difficult chances. He had some issues with a few shots, leading to rebounds, but saved several Oilers by stopping great chances after defensive mistakes.
2020 NHL DRAFT NHLE
There are so many NHL games it’s difficult to keep track of the prospects this season. I’m going to run the NHLE’s by year from time to time so we can have some idea about what’s going on. For the 2020 draft, there’s much to discuss.
- Dylan Holloway 52.3
- Carter Savoie 30.0
- Tyler Tullio 4-9-13 in 19 games (Slovak, no NHLE)
- Maxim Berezkin 18.2
- Filip Engaras 12.1
- Jeremias Lindewall 4.3
I think it’s fair to say that Holloway is on a trajectory that suggests he’ll be considered great value for where he was picked on draft day. Savoie is trending in a good way as well, crazy value for No. 100 overall. Tullio needs to play in a league we can measure, although his OHL totals at age 17 (28.2) implies a real NHL prospect. The Russian Berezkin also looks like a real prospect. Tyler Wright surprised the hell out of me, and these short months later he and the Oilers scouting staff should be proud of their work at the 2020 draft. We’ll see, but good to great arrows here.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning despite the cold weather, we get started at 10 on TSN1260. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will break down last night’s game and we’ll discuss goaltending and that ghastly stats set for the Draisaitl line. At 11, Matthew Scianitti from TSN will talk CFL free agency at 11. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!