I used to read baseball magazines and books voraciously. The Sporting News, Street and Smith’s, The Baseball Dope Book (yes), Baseball Guide, Baseball Register, Who’s Who in Baseball (that was stats and photos taken from long distances, so not exactly reading).
After about 12 years of reading, I came to one conclusion: Baseball managers had a lot of stress. I’m not going to tell you how they handled it, but “not well” covers the era nicely.
Thing is, you can understand it. There’s a certain randomness to wins and losses, some of them seem preordained. Like last night. Edmonton lost because the Canucks ran it in from the one-yard line. In a hockey game! If you’re the Oilers you have to tell yourself luck will even things out, that you’ll get that one back later on. The alternative? Madness.
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: Are the Oilers and Elvis Merzlikins a trade match?
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dominik Kahun, Dylan Holloway and a perfect storm on the Oilers’ left side
- Lowetide: Why Oilers GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait for the deadline to make a trade
- 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
- 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
- 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 30 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 13-15-2, 28 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in 2016-17: 14-11-5, 33 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017-18: 12-16-2, 26 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in 2018-19: 16-12-2, 34 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in 2019-20: 17-10-3, 37 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2020-21: 18-12-0, 36 points; goal differential +12
As was the case with the week from hell (TML), this is a disappointing result but a lot of good work before the loss makes this easier to digest. Perhaps the Saturday loss will allow better readiness for the games against Calgary in the days to come. This is a good hockey club.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 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 3-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary, Calgary (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- 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: 4-3-0, 8 points in seven games
I had last night as a win for Edmonton and a split to come against Calgary. There are nine games left in the month. The Oilers need 11 points in those games to make the projections I have above. Hard nose the highway.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- McDavid-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 16:55, going 13-12 shots, 4-0 HDSC and 23-21 Corsi five on five. The line looked dangerous all night, save for the times 97 was tackled cross checked and mugged. He had an assist, 14 shot attempts and two takeaways. Draisaitl scored the Oilers only goal, could have had several more. He had 13 shot attempts. Yamamoto had three shots on goal and three HDSC. He’s an excellent complementary player for 97 and 29. This line is very good.
- Ennis-Nuge-Puljujarvi played 10:25, going 5-2 shots, 2-3 HDSC and 9-7 Corsi five on five. Ennis is an effective player, greasy in a good way in the offensive end and can win battles because of it. Nuge is baffling lately with his passing, seems to turn over the puck often on the power play with mental lapses. He did have a nice assist. Puljujarvi damn near scored a couple of times, he is due and pushing. I bet he scores against Calgary this coming week.
- Shore-Khaira-Russell played 8:13, going 1-5 shots, 2-2 HDSC and 4-10 Corsi five on five. This line had a tough night, although Khaira wasn’t there when disaster struck (Nuge was the centre on the Myers goal). Shore and Russell had been on the ice for over a minute when the Myers goal counted, meaning they were caught miles too late on their shift. Shore has to find a way to harness his mark, and has to get the puck out. He did not, and didn’t stop the pass to the point and the results was a goal against. Depth lines should never cost you in this way.
- Archibald-Haas-Chiasson played 7:43, going 4-0 shots, no goals, 1-0 HDSC and 10-3 Corsi five on five. Archibald had three shots and was noticeable as a checker and a physical menace. Haas had two shots on goal and was effective on the forecheck. Chiasson didn’t author any fabulous chances but puck did get out.
PAIRINGS, PLUS GOALIE
- Nurse-Barrie played 19:25, 16-10 shots, 4-1 HDSC and 26-20 Corsi five on five. All numbers positive, but no goals at five on five this time. Nurse had three shots, played well, was physical on a chippy night. He’s confident in all areas of the game now. Barrie had three shots at five on five, one on the PP and had his usual chaos marbled through his performance.
- Lagesson-Larsson played 15:31, going 4-7 shots, 3-2 HDSC and 15-12 Corsi five on five. Lagesson was steady again, he is just settling in with the puck on his stick and seems to defer to Larsson most of the time. The veteran was refreshing in his puck movement, venturing north several times. Nothing came of it, but he breaks the pattern when he does it and that’s a good thing (less predictable).
- Jones-Bear played 11:43, going 5-2 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 7-10 Corsi five on five. Jones is developing some confidence with the puck, he’ll knife into the neutral zone a few times a game and is becoming adept at pinching at the blue line. Bear had some good looks, a takeaway, his passing was mostly solid and he drew a power play for Edmonton. He lost a physical battle along the wall on the winner, not fatal in the breakdown of the play but Bear would have sealed it better a year ago. Growing pains for defensemen are maddening but necessary.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 26 of 28, .929 and was solid the whole way through but whiffed on the winner (looked like he didn’t pick up the puck despite the lack of a screen). Now at .901 for the season.
I watched the Bruins game against the New York Rangers yesterday afternoon. I’ve probably watched several dozen between the two (they’re both very famous teams) and that’s the poorest performance by Boston I’ve seen. Ever. I think some allowances have to be made for the unfair schedules faced by these men. Edmonton was far better on Saturday night, this was a ’50 you lose no matter what’ Casey Stengel game, but it’s also true these players (especially the stars) are fatigued. Not making excuses, that’s a fact.
MARODY, BENSON AND MCLEOD (PLUS SKINNER)
There’s hot, there’s red hot, then there’s whatever Cooper Marody, Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod and Stuart Skinner are doing for the Bakersfield Condors. I wrote about the three forwards here, and there’s a special offer on now so if you want to read it this is a timely click. I don’t know how many NHL games any of the four will get, but each is increasing the odds with every passing brilliant performance.