Remember at the beginning of the week, when I said “Oilers fans don’t hate Winnipeg, but they will by the end of the season”? Remember that? I think we can move up ‘by the end of the season’ to making things official as of this morning. This is going to be a fantastic matchup during the regular season and hopefully the two teams see each other in the playoffs. The hockey was fast and furious last night. Music! More please.
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: Tinkering with the Oilers’ top six — what are the best line combinations?
- Lowetide: Philip Broberg and the Oilers’ Leftorium
- Lowetide: Jujhar Khaira, a waiver reset and the Oilers’ future at No. 3 centre
- Lowetide: What to do with the Oilers defence now that the rookies have arrived
- 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: 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: Oilers Kailer Yamamoto is the real deal.
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 18 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 6-12-0, 12 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in 2016-17: 9-8-1, 19 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in 2017-18: 7-9-2, 16 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2018-19: 9-8-1, 19 points; goal differential -4
- Oilers in 2019-20: 11-5-2, 24 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in 2020-21: 10-8-0, 20 points; goal differential +3
The team’s record reflects the McDavid Oilers in three of the previous five seasons, and I do think the team will be tighter defensively in the second 20 game segment of this season. Can they get the five on five scoring at something close to par? As of tonight, it’s 40-41 ladies.
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 3-1-0)
- At home to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- 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: 5-2-0, 10 points in 7 games
Edmonton is ahead of my projection at this time. If the club followed my predicted path from here to March 1, the record for February will be 8-4-0, 16 points in 12 games. The record for the season would be 13-10-0, 26 points in 23 games. That’s probably a playoff trajectory.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Ennis-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 9:09, 3-6 shots, 1-0 goals, 0-2 HDSC and 5-13 Corsi five on five. Ennis picked up an assist on the first Draisaitl goal, sending a quality pass to the breaking giant. He also took a monster hit from Pionk and used his speed effectively. Draisaitl scored twice, both exceptional goals, the man is incredible. Five shots, 2-2 TK-GV, 65 on the dot. Yamamoto had one of his patented games, an absolute demon on the forecheck, he almost scored a shortie because he anticipates so well, and is lightning fast.
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 8:09, 5-3 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-0 HDSC and 9-6 Corsi five on five. This line finally has the shot differential figured out and the goals are beginning to come. Regression you are wildly frustrating but welcome always. Nuge had two assists, five shots on goal, and took a worthwhile penalty on a semi-breakaway (slash). Puljujarvi’s goal was his usual bullet train to the center of the city and then unleashing a howitzer. I genuinely believe that play works because the goalie is not certain JP can stop the train on time. Also, check out the world class stick lift by Nuge so Puljujarvi can drive unencumbered to the net. Fantastic!
- Kahun-Khaira-Archibald played 6:57, 0-3 shots, no goals, 1-6 Corsi five on five. Low event line for the most part, Archibald somehow got a 10-minute misconduct (the referees were garbage), Kahun had one solid chance but hit the crest (he was too close to the net to do anything else). Khaira skated well and was effective, but he failed to get the puck out late and it was a big damn deal until it wasn’t. Also got high sticked, no call.
- Turris-Haas-Chiasson played 3:43, 0-1 shots, no goals or high danger, 0-5 Corsi five on five. Turris was quiet, Haas was a race car and Chiasson’s stick committed suicide instead of giving the poor guy a deserved power-play goal. That’s some mean wood.
PAIRS AND GOALIES
- Nurse-Barrie played 14:22, going 4-12 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-3 HDSC and 10-19 Corsi five on five. Played well against the Scheifele line (4-5 shots, 1-0 goals) but had a helluva time with Ehlers (1-8) and his trio. Copp, I believe, played on both lines. I know. Weird. Nurse took two high-sticking penalties without actually high sticking anyone (it was nuts). Barrie had three giveaways, skated miles but the usual success eluded him. I still think he’s a little wooden as PP quarterback.
- Russell-Larsson played 11:42, going 3-3 shots, 1-0 goals, 0-1 HDSC, and 6-9 Corsi five on five. Russell picked up an assist on the first Draisaitl goal, took a penalty on a love tap, and blocked two shots. Larsson was unleashed as the game wound down, it was like watching Stampede Wrestling all over again. Lordy. Had a giveaway and blocked five shots. He did screen and then tip Scheifele’s first goal.
- Koskkoek-Bouchard played 5:43, 4-2 shots, no goals and no HDSC, 6-6 Corsi five on five. Bouchard had a quiet night beyond three giveaways, I think they should have given him more time.
- The PK culprits (one SH goal) were Larsson, Russell, Nuge and Khaira.
- Mike Smith stopped 33 of 35, .943. He is .938 for the season. All numbers via Natural Stat Trick.
THE MCDAVID SPEEDWAY
Connor McDavid is one of the seven wonders of the world. His five on five points per 60 has ranged between 2.73 (rookie season) and 3.17 (2017-18) over his six NHL seasons. His current number (2.85) would be the third best of his career if he finishes the season there.
His on ice possession and goal numbers are up handsomely this season after a couple of years of wobble (NST). An amazing player, we’re lucky to witness his skill and hopefully we can do it live and in person soon.
There are numbers showing up across his game that suggest this may be his greatest season. Don’t sleep on it. Enjoy it.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10, TSN1260, we’ll spend a bunch of time on last night’s game, including the entire segment at 10:20. Laura Armstrong from the Toronto Star will talk Blue Jays at 10:40, will we see baseball in Toronto this season? At 11, Frank Seravalli will discuss McDavid’s accomplishment last night and the trade deadline. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!