I mentioned yesterday that it was a tough game to predict and the actual event was unsettling at the beginning. The result was in the balance for the entire 60 minutes, although ‘cheat code’ McDavid brought the ramrod in the final 20. Young wingers Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto scored massive goals. In the end, McDavid (1-2-3) and Leon Draisaitl (a pass so beautiful it cannot accurately be described) emerged in the third period to put the story to bed. It was a grand game of hockey.
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: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
- Lowetide: Why are some Oilers fans hesitant to give Darnell Nurse his due?
- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers improve enough to beat TML it in May?
- Lowetide: Top trade targets for the Oilers at the 2021 deadline
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021 trade value rankings
- Lowetide: February report cards for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Difficult season for trio of Oilers prospects playing in the AHL
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi must be on the Oilers expansion protected list after breakout
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers’ 2020 trade deadline splash: What we learned, a year later
- Lowetide: Revisiting our preseason predictions for the Oilers after 20 games
- Lowetide: If Dylan Holloway turns pro this spring, will it be with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Could an Ethan Bear trade improve the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Philip Broberg and the Oilers’ Leftorium
- Lowetide: Jujhar Khaira, a waiver reset and the Oilers’ future at No. 3 centre
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 26 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 9-15-2, 20 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2016-17: 14-10-2, 30 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in 2017-18: 10-14-2, 22 points; goal differential -14
- Oilers in 2018-19: 13-11-2, 28 points; goal differential -4
- Oilers in 2019-20: 16-7-3, 35 points; goal differential +13
- Oilers in 2020-21: 15-11-0, 30 points; goal differential +2
This year’s model is running with the playoff pack of 2016-17, save for the goal differential. Look at that 2019-20 team. Some people don’t want to credit that club as a playoff team. Come on.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to: Toronto, Toronto, Calgary (Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to: Ottawa, Ottawa, Ottawa (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary, Calgary (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Montreal, Montreal (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Toronto, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 9-6-1, 19 points in 16 games
- Current results: 1-2-0, 2 points in three games
Oilers have now won three of four against Calgary, that’s basically the gap in the standings between the two clubs. I’m not sure the lineup is locked and loaded for the road ahead, but some things did get figured out last night.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Draisaitl (0-1-1)-McDavid (1-2-3)-Yamamoto (1-1-2) played 10:37, going 6-6 shots, 2-0 goals, 2-0 HDSC. Tippett can’t run this line all the time but the trio combined for some fantastic moments. The McDavid goal and the Draisaitl pass were both epic. The angels wept at the beauty of Leon’s majestic assist. Yamamoto was key on two goals.
- Shore-Khaira-Turris played 9:06, going 3-5 shots, 0-1 goals, 0-1 HDSC and 6-10 Corsi five on five. This line didn’t get a lot of notice (beyond Turris getting flattened by Tanev) and the reason is Tyler Ennis. Play. the. man. Khaira is more prominent offensively with Ennis there. Seriously. Shore did some good work late defensively and on the PK.
- Neal-Haas-Chiasson played 6:46, 4-2 shots, 0-1 HDSC and 6-2 Corsi. Neal got into a fight with Matt Tkachuk, and made a fine defensive play on the back check on a promising sortie. Haas won seven of nine (oh my!) in the faceoff dot and forechecked like he was heading to prison if he didn’t put in every ounce of effort. Chiasson was quiet but effective in moving the puck along and playing his position.
- Kahun-Nuge-Puljujarvi played 4:45, went 2-0 shots and 6-0 Corsi. Play died on Kahun’s stick a lot, his game is too quiet. Nuge had five shot attempts and seems to be getting closer to a hot streak, his shot has more torque again. Needs to get the puck out on the PK. Puljujarvi checked down from the 97 line and contributed a scoring chance. He’s a confident young NHL player now.
- Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 3:58, 3-3 shots, 1-0 HDSC and 6-4 Corsi five on five. Yamamoto was at his skillful best. Save for the slew foot. That was out of character and poor form.
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 3:54, 7-1 shots, 1-0 goals and 1-0 HDSC plus 8-1 Corsi five on five. Puljujarvi scored a massive goal with 97 and 29 (h/t Woodguy).
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Nurse-Barrie played 18:58, going 13-13 shots, 1-0 goals, 3-6 HDSC, 21-15 Corsi. Nurse fought Lucic, played a rugged game. He has more presence now, he has the ‘pause’ button in his arsenal in that if he has possession in his own zone and the Oilers are running around, he’ll hold on to it, wait, and allow things to settle. Effective. Barrie had 8 shots on goal and passed the puck well. I don’t prefer him with Nurse, but he does many things well here. Bear replaced Barrie for the hard defensive moments when the clock was winding down.
- Russell-Larsson played 15:18, going 7-6 shots, 1-1 goals, 1-3 HDSC and 10-13 Corsi. Russell made a key play in the game, making a small deke to make sure he got the puck through on the key Puljujarvi goal. He was effective elsewhere too, I think he’s got a little more jump in his step, making him more effective. Also appears to be working on being less predictable, we saw him split the seam against two Flames in the offensive zone simply because neither checker thought he’d do it. Larsson didn’t maim anyone but not for lack of trying. He’s playing great hockey now, burr under his saddle every damn shift. Larsson right now reminds me of that line from Werewolves of London (“you better stay away from him, he’ll rip your lungs out, Jim”) and I’m a fan.
- Jones-Bear played 8:04, 1-4 shots, no goals, 0-1 HDSC and 4-4 Corsi. Jones was effective all over the ice, drawing a penalty, pushing the puck up by transporting and sawing off defensively. Played a dynamite 1:26 with Tyson Barrie that saw the pairing out there for a 5-0 shot margin. He’s coming along, just let him play. Bear was strong defensively throughout the game, including 2:28 late with Nurse. I had to smile during one sequence when Tkachuk was net front and Bear wrapped up his stick like he was human gorilla tape. That’s good coaching and learning the game as a young blue, awesome. He’s undersized so has to work extra had (having a leverage disadvantage most of the time). I’m pulling like crazy for both these guys.
- Mike Smith was key. He made about five glorious stops in the first period that could have buried Edmonton. Stopped 34 of 36, .944. Now has a .925 SP for the season, we’re almost halfway through. Maybe the late start was a blessing.
I am late publishing but wanted to mention a thrilling development in Bakersfield yesterday. It’s been building for a time, but the line of Ryan McLeod, Cooper Marody and Tyler Benson were fantastic yesterday in a win for the Condors. Marody had the hat-trick and both McLeod and Benson were 1-3-4. Stuart Skinner is also on fire, he boasts a .927 save percentage after six games.