I saw the Jets in their old barn several times, the most recent being March 2, 1990. That was a fine Jets team, if they had played in another division there’s zero doubt in my mind they would have won at least a round of the playoffs. I saw Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Larry Robinson, Dale Hawerchuk. I had to strain my neck to see some of the goals, Winnipeg Arena was unique good and bad.
The one thing I remember from that night: No points from Hawerchuk. Wonderful player. He belongs on a very short list of greats who didn’t post crooked numbers when I saw them live. He’s right at the top of the list, with Dave Winfield, who went 0-for-4 one night in Anaheim, each out more impressive than the last.
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: Where does Zack Kassian fit on the Oilers, now and in the future?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ midseason depth chart informs their needs for trade deadline and beyond
- Jonathan Willis: A position-by-position look at the Oilers after 30 games
- 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 34 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 14-18-2, 30 points; goal differential -17
- Oilers in 2016-17: 17-12-5, 39 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017-18: 15-17-2, 32 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in 2018-19: 18-13-3, 39 points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in 2019-20: 18-12-4, 40 points; goal differential +1
- Oilers in 2020-21: 20-13-0, 40 points; goal differential +16
A win tonight puts Edmonton on a 69-point trajectory. The current fifth place team (Vancouver) would need to finish 16-2-4 in the final 22 games to finish with 70 points. Calgary would have to go 17-5-3 in their last 25 to finish with 70 points. Montreal would have to get there in their final 26 by going 9-0-17 to finish with 70 points.
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 3-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary, Calgary (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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: 6-4-0, 12 points in 10 games
Edmonton has six games left in the month, my projection suggests seven more points are out there. I have to say most of this month my prediction looked over-aggressive, but a win tonight would mean that five points in five games would get it done.
The Oilers Stanley Cups were built on the back of Wayne Gretzky and the 1979-81 drafts, with a couple of echo selections (Esa Tikkanen, Jeff Beukeboom) chiming in. The first three drafts (with the echo)netted an entire team’s worth of personnel that ranged from above average to elite:
- Goal: Grant Fuhr, Andy Moog
- Defense: Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith, Jeff Beukeboom
- Center: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Marc Habscheid
- Left Wing: Esa Tikkanen, Willy Lindstrom (via Walt Poddubny), Jaroslav Pouzar
- Right Wing: Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson
The Oilers will never see that kind of cluster again, but this year the 2013-2015 cluster, added to the echo of 2016-17, gives this team a solid foundation:
- Left Defense: Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson
- Right Defense: Ethan Bear
- Center: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl
- Right: Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto
Men who are just arriving now include Jones, Lagesson, Puljujarvi and Yamamoto. Not all of those will make it with the team, someone in this group is Walt Poddubny.
This is five on five pts-60 (forwards), Corsi five on five (defense) and five on five save percentage (goalies). Koskinen should be .909, that’s on me.
The concern I have here is Nuge’s scoring, Edmonton needs him to be over 1.75 per 60 and he should be able to cover that number. Puljujarvi is posting a similar number but he’s a young player building his resume. A total of 1.50 by season’s end is a reasonable goal, and his total with McDavid (1.82 per 60) is in the range of quality (you’d like to see 2.00+ for a McDavid winger). Nuge with McDavid is 1.21 per 60. It’s a concern.