If you were looking for a place to lay blame last night, targets were available everywhere. Connor McDavid turned over the puck seconds before the first goal against, Mike Smith made like Crocodile Dundee and went walkabout, and Ethan Bear had a pinch of sin on the winner. Smith went all “bad teammate” when glaring at the Nuge when the winner went in, and that’s all she wrote.
Opportunity missed. All will be forgiven if we can point to last night as “lesson learned” and that’s what we’ll find out in the days to come. Edmonton is a better team than Calgary, so the Flames had to outwork and outsmart the Oilers. Mission accomplished.
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: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?
- 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
- 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: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 31 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 14-15-2, 30 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2016-17: 15-11-5, 35 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2017-18: 13-16-2, 28 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2018-19: 17-12-2, 36 points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in 2019-20: 18-10-3, 39 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2020-21: 18-13-0, 36 points; goal differential +11
Tippett’s Oilers (in my opinion) are better at tweaking things and quicker at getting results than the McLellan party, but part of last night was old man Sutter having the complete attention of all 23 men and that’s going to run its course no matter what Tippett conjures up in the midnight hour.
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 0-2-0)
- 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: 4-4-0, 8 points in eight games
Edmonton is at a point-per-game rate currently, if the team completes the month in this way the Oilers will have 48 points in 43 games. That extrapolates to 62.5 points, and that’s a bubble playoff team. Our conversation is sliding back from ‘sure thing’ to ‘if things break right’ and that shouldn’t happen. There’s a lot of blacktop ahead, and Edmonton remains in a playoff spot. Edmonton is five points ahead and Calgary has two games in hand. In the last 10 games, Calgary has 12 points, Edmonton 10. It takes forever to close a gap, but the team can’t go on a losing skid this month.
- Adam Larsson scored a goal from the slot, don’t think we’ve seen that much in his five years here. He had two HDSC, a giveaway and a takeaway, and ran through three rebels clean. Larsson is in a zone right now, miserable to play against and very effective. 1-1 goals at five on five.
- Alex Chiasson had a shot on goal but was quiet at five on five and on the power play.
- Connor McDavid is a unicorn. One assist, along with three shots five on five, one HDSC, four hits and miles of brilliant skaing. Flames bottled up his line pretty good, Tippett will need to find a brand new pair of roller skates and a brand new key.
- Darnell Nurse played 28:19, leading all skaters on the night. He had two shots, took a penalty and had a couple of giveaways at five on five. Had one good look on the power play, put in three minutes work on the PK. Tough as nails.
- Devin Shore had a great assist on the Archibald goal, he had a nice game. There’s a chance he’ll slide into the middle if Jujhar Khaira is unavailable due to injury.
- Ethan Bear had an assist on a fantastic pass, and also had some Niinimaa-quality vapor lock on the winning goal. Where, pray tell, was he going? Bear was on the ice for five goals (2-3) at five on five, and was chasing too much. He’s still a fine passer and he is coming out of the fog of his concussion, but the team is just going to have to be patient.
- Gaetan Haas had a weird night, running wild and free with Shore and Archibald (that was a lovely goal) but going 1-2 in five on five goals. He had five defensive zone starts and none in the offensive zone, Tippett is trusting him in a more specific role. Last night’s results were not positive overall.
- James Neal had a shot on goal, broke up a promising play but was otherwise quiet.
- Jesse Puljujarvi had two shots, one HDSC, drew a penalty and had a takeaway. His motor was running all night and I thought he played an effective game. However, he was 0-2 goals in 6:25 minutes five on five with McDavid-Nuge. One of those nights.
- Josh Archibald scored a beautiful goal, had three shots, effective in three PK minutes as the Oilers allowed just one goal in his 180 seconds.
- Jujhar Khaira played 2:55, elbowed Oliver Kylington, lost a fight to Brett Ritchie and looked concussed after the fight. That’s two regular forwards lost to fights this season. Khaira was playing extremely well when he was hurt.
- Kailer Yamamoto had an assist, a HDSC and a penalty. Effective the entire night, he took a beating from the Flames and one wonders how effective he’ll be tomorrow night.
- Kris Russell had an effective evening, winning the shot share 6-2 and goal share 1-0 during his 17:46 of five on five play. He’ll get lit up online but Russell played well.
- Leon Draisaitl had a fantastic game, scoring a lovely goal and going 2-0 goals at five on five. Two HDSC chances five on five and another on the PP. Played well with McDavid-Yamamoto and Ennis-Yamamoto.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two good looks but went 0-3 goals at five on five (Nuge-JP with McDavid 0-2 on the night). Edmonton needs his line to score goals and suppress offense.
- Tyler Ennis had an assist, two shots and was one of the more effective Oilers on the night. Several times he bought time in the offensive zone by going “fiddler crab” and turning sideways to confuse the enemy. Damndest thing. Effective.
- Tyson Barrie played seven minuted before getting hurt, he was chaotic and made one very dangerous play that could have resulted in a goal.
- William Lagesson played just 12:55 at five on five, he was odd man out due to he Barrie injury. Went 0-1 goals and 3-6 shots.
- Mike Smith made a fatal mistake on his walkabout and stopped 23 of 27, .852. Save percentage for the year now .921.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on the Lowdown, we hit the air on TSN 1260 at 10 this morning. Hailey Salvian from The Athletic in Calgary will talk Flames and Darryl Sutter’s impact. At 11, Jeff Krushell from Krush Performance will talk about the Jays and the MLB season to come. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!