This is blog post 10,846 for Lowetide, with 968,478 comments as I write this article Thursday evening. There are 68,163 subscribers but I think many are duplicates or have left after discovering I’m a stubborn kind of fellow. Still, pretty good. Learned a lot from you.
Many of the comments and posts have been about the Calgary Flames. Remember the 80s and the rivalry? Then we spent about 20 years lamenting the rivalry’s death. Now that it has returned, everyone wants a piece of Tkachuk. The world is in flames, but the Flames are a bunch of rogue hockey players not yet tamed in the wild, wild west. The Oilers? The thinking man’s team. Same as it ever was.
What would the thinking man’s team do tonight? Stay with the gameplan, don’t get involved in Matt Tkachuk’s crap.
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: Is Oilers centre Kyle Turris playing himself out of the NHL?
- 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 19 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 6-12-1, 13 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2016-17: 10-8-1, 21 points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in 2017-18: 7-10-2, 16 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in 2018-19: 9-9-1, 19 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2019-20: 12-5-2, 26 points; goal differential +12
- Oilers in 2020-21: 10-8-0, 20 points; goal differential +3
A win tonight keeps this year’s team near the top of the McDavid winters, and I think this is a playoff pace. The goal differential is over zero now, partly because the team’s five on five scoring (40-41, -1) has settled in after a poor start. Suppression of dangerous shots and goals is a priority with this coach. If he can corral it, get good goaltending, this team could go places.
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 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
I have tonight as a loss for the Oilers, even when the club plays well in Calgary they lose concentration easily. One crazy play by Tkachuk, admittedly irritating, and half the team is chasing crazy. Oilers lost a 6-4 decision to the Flames earlier this month, they had some good moments but also had sorties I would prefer not to see again. As an example, McDavid driving down the right side, getting clearance on Mark Giordano, and, well, you know the rest. I don’t enjoy seeing anything resembling that play, to tell the truth.
MARK MESSIER VERSUS THE CALGARY FLAMES
- Messier was suspended 10 games by NHL for cracking Jamie Macoun’s cheekbone in a fight during Edmonton’s Dec. 26, 1984, game at Calgary. Messier was retaliating for having been boarded by Macoun earlier in the game, but the NHL ruled that he had instigated the fight.
- Here are some great moments by Messier, early involving the Calgary.
The Oilers were masters at getting teams to abandon the game plan back in the day, Messier was the devil against the Flames. The Oilers could use a little of Messier’s swagger (within reason, No. 11 would be in jail if he did this stuff now), but mostly they should stick to the game plan and ignore Tkachuk. This entire “what are you going to do when they run your guy?” stuff should be answered “score four goals on the power play and then wait to hear the Calgary coach yelling at the dumbass.”
I hope the Oilers stay within their game tonight until the result is secure. That’s the key.
OILERS 2020-21 ROSTER
This is five on five per 60 scoring (forwards), five on five shot differential (defense) and five on five save percentage (goalies).
Regulars (100+ minutes) over 2.00-60: Draisaitl, McDavid, Ennis. Maybe the most encouraging thing here is that both young first-round picks from the middle of the decade (JP, KY) are close to 2.00-60 and could get there soon.
Defensively, (98+ minutes) over 50 percent shot differential: Jones, Bear, Nurse. Bouchard very close. I believe that’s your future on defense. Doesn’t make it true.
One final thing. Stuart Skinner isn’t an NHL goalie but he shot .903 even strength in his debut. He’s back in the minors now seeing tons of shots and I wonder if he is going to play in front of a capable AHL team during his entry deal.
OILERS SCORING YEAR OVER YEAR
- FIVE ON FIVE AFTER 18 GAMES: 32-28 (+4, 2019-20); 40-41 (-1, 2020-21).
- EVEN STRENGTH AFTER 18 GAMES: 37-32 (+5, 2019-20): 45-44 (+1, 2020-21).
- POWER PLAY AFTER 18 GAMES: 14-4 (+10, 2019-20); 16-2 (+14, 2020-21).
- PENALTY KILL AFTER 18 GAMES: 0-9 (-9, 2019-20); 2-14 (-12, 2020-21).
- OVERALL: 51-45 (+6, 2019-20); 63-60 (+3, 2020-21).
The one problem in comparing year over year is this Oilers team isn’t playing in the same league. Is the Canadian division easier than last year’s schedule?
This year’s model has a great power-play differential (+14) and could use an uptick in five on five and PK performance. I think the coach has run out of patience with Kyle Turris, also wonder if the bloom is a little off the rose on Slater Koekkoek.
It’s a big game tonight. I’m not convinced the Oilers can stay focused for 60 minutes. We’ll find out tonight.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’ll kickstart the weekend with a fun show. My first guest will be Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast. Steve saw the BOA up close and personal during the 1980’s, he’ll reminisce and predict tonight’s score. Matthew Iwaynk will pop in at 11 to talk about the Oilers chances of making the playoffs and the Blue Jays chances this season (he may bring up the Yankees). We’re also searching for a Flames guest, stay tuned for details. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. It’s Friday with good weather on the way this weekend! Music!