The Oilers enter tonight’s game five points clear of the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the Canadian division. A strong week against the Ottawa Senators could (Flames play the Habs twice this week) give Edmonton an even bigger lead on the provincial rivals.
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: Three Oilers prospects form hottest line in the AHL
- 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 27 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 10-15-2, 22 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in 2016-17: 14-11-2, 30 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in 2017-18: 11-14-2, 24 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2018-19: 13-12-2, 28 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2019-20: 16-8-3, 35 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2020-21: 15-11-0, 30 points; goal differential +2
This year’s team has a chance to stretch out the lead on most of McDavid’s past this week, but beware the Sens of March. Edmonton has a 4-0-0 record against Ottawa so far this year, with an 18-10 goal differential edge. I don’t believe they’ll win all three games this week.
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
The early portion of the month is the time to be gathering points, with the lean times likely to be the five-game road trip to Montreal and Toronto at the end of the month. At the very least, I think the Oilers have to average a point per game this month. If they do, Edmonton will reach April with 44 points in 39 games. That projects to 63 points, probably a playoff spot.
THE 2020-21 OILERS
This is five on five per 60 (forwards), Puck IQ’s DFF% at five on five (defense) and overall save percentage (goalies).
The lines are going to change again, so I’m not terribly worried about the coaching stacking one line in practice. In reality, the second line doesn’t have enough outscoring talent to suggest a positive goal differential. It goes south from there.
On defense, the big question surrounds how to get Evan Bouchard into the every night lineup. No answers here, summer free agency likely solves the issue.
SENS AT THE DRAFT
Ottawa has been outstanding at the draft table from the beginning. Late-round picks in the 1990’s (Pavol Demitra, Daniel Alfredsson) and the 2000’s (Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Jean-Gabriel Pageau) have given the organization an advantage because homegrown talent is considerably less expensive for the first seven seasons.
You know what’s funny about Ottawa’s depth picks? They were all highly successful at the time of draft and could have been chosen by anyone who was paying attention. Alfredsson was 21 on his draft day, had just scored 20 goals in the SEL (now SHL) and was playing a strong, aggressive North American style of game. The previous season, Alfredsson had scored just one goal, so his spike was sudden and not yet universally known. A part-time scout in Sweden, Lasse Lilja, alerted Sens director of player personnel John Ferguson (Sr) about him and Ottawa grabbed him.
Mark Stone took some luck. Thought too slow in his draft season, and having delivered a disappointing season (his season at 16 implied there would be more, but a broken thumb early and a concussion late cost him part of his season at 17), he dropped from No. 53 to No. 119 on the final Central Scouting list.
Ottawa grabbed him in the sixth round. Edmonton would draft Tyler Pitlick (ranked No. 18 NA), Curtis Hamilton (ranked No. 42) and Ryan Martindale (ranked No. 27 NA). Stone was 6.02, 188. Stone is a grand player, but his numbers and late concussion were a risk. Luck is part of the draft. Ottawa has enjoyed its share.
My current favourite is a guy named Drake Batherson, taken in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Mammoth shot, he has nine goals and 18 points in 27 games, slightly more than Kailer Yamamoto, who the Oilers took in the first round, same season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we start the week with lots of Oilers talk as we tee up tonight’s big game. At 10:20, I’ll have five questions for Tyler, and at 10:40 will be joined by Canadian Women & Sport CEO Allison Sandmeyer for International Women’s Day. Jason Gregor from the Jason Gregor Show pops in at 11 to talk about lines and pairings and the importance of this week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!