I confess. I could never watch a game involving the Montreal Canadiens as a neutral party. There’s too much history, too much misery. This season, more than any I recall, people have asked me about the officiating. “Does Montreal get the calls?” they ask. I reply, “Only when they need them.” I don’t like people who make excuses, it’s poor form. So, over 16 years now this blog hasn’t been overly negative towards the stripes. But I feel it and I hear you.
Hell yes Shea Weber tripped McDavid and of course the ref should have called a penalty behind the net when Draisaitl was dragged down via an open ice tackle. He didn’t call it because Draisaitl had just drawn a penalty.
Veterans like Shea Weber get the calls. Oilers used to get those calls when they were a perennial contender. Someday, maybe the Oilers get those calls again. Maybe we’ll hear “What’ll I tell Kailer?” blurted into a ice level mic. That day isn’t close to this one.
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 DNB: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on trade deadline needs
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard’s season of inactivity — what is the risk for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Oilers futures watch — how new arrivals are making an impact at AHL Bakersfield
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers ahead of the trade deadline
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ big decision on defence — Caleb Jones or William Lagesson?
- Jonathan Willis: Finding the ideal centre for the Oilers at the trade deadline
- Lowetide: Oilers March report card
- Jonathan Willis: Who says no? NHL execs evaluate your Oilers trade proposals
- Lowetide: How the Oilers could benefit at the trade deadline from relaxed quarantine rules
- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Jonathan Willis: Five questions the Oilers need to answer by the NHL trade deadline
- 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: Why Oilers GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait for the deadline to make a trade
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
- Lowetide: Why are some Oilers fans hesitant to give Darnell Nurse his due?
- Lowetide: Top trade targets for the Oilers at the 2021 deadline
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021 trade value rankings
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 39 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 15-21-3, 33 points; goal differential -22
- Oilers in 2016-17: 19-13-7, 45 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017-18: 17-19-3, 37 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2018-19: 18-18-3, 39 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2019-20: 20-15-4, 44 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in 2020-21: 23-14-2, 48 points; goal differential +13
It’s difficult to be disappointed with the point total and the wins are most encouraging. If the Oilers completed the season on this winning path, Edmonton would post 101 points in 82 games. This is a playoff team.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-1)
- At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver (make up game) (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Expected April record: 8-4-0, 16 points in 12 games
- Actual April record: 1-0-1, 3 points in 2 games
I had last night as a loss (Montreal with last change is not a good situation for Dave Tippett and the Oilers). You’ll notice I have Edmonton 1-1-0 at home to the Habs. They’re a tough out even when the referees can’t hear Pollock in the mist.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 14:16, going 4-7 shots, no goals, 2-3 HDSC and 12-14 Corsi five on five. Nuge had one shot, some good passing but was quiet in the offensive zone. McDavid took five hits, was tripped, slashed, generally manhandled and still had several looks in the first 60 minutes and in overtime. Puljujarvi rang a post and made it sing like Big Ben at New Year’s midnight, drew a penalty and picked up an assist on Nurse’s goal. This line was fine, the liberties taken on McDavid won’t get easier in the playoffs and that’s something the franchise is going to have to play through.
- Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 11:55, 5-4 shots, no goals, 3-1 HDSC and 7-8 Corsi five on five. Kahun is a little like Nuge in that he scores one night and then reverts to a guy who is in good spots but doesn’t impact the play like you want him to. Kahun had a shot, Draisaitl had 5 shot attempts, Yamamoto had three shot attempts (a good look right at the side of the net), a takeaway and some promising moments. He is one of the Oilers forwards who seems able to push through the Montreal checkers.
- Shore-Khaira-Chiasson played 8:01, 3-6 shots, 1-0 goals, 0-4 HDSC and 3-11 Corsi five on five. Shore scored a nice goal late in the first period, plus two shots and a takeaway. Khaira set up the goal on a strong drive around the net and then a terrific goalmouth pass. He owns a 2.22 points-60 at five on five. Chiasson had a 10-bell chance on the PP from a McDavid pass to him in the slot, no way Price saw it but he stopped it all the same.
- Josh Archibald played 9:46, drew a late penalty plus delivered 40 seconds of clean PK time. Zack Kassian took a spin with 97 for 1:54 and Gaetan Haas played 5:07 and posted a takeaway and a block.
PAIRS AND GOALIE
- Russell-Larrson played 16:49, going 1-6 shots, 1-0 goals, 0-3 HDSC and 4-14 Corsi five on five. All the indicator lights on the dashboard are screaming Armageddon and this pair goes 1-0 goals. Russell is a witch man, just is. Russell had three giveaways, Larsson hammered several and toyed with others. He is at his most punishing right now. If the Oilers traded him, and they’re not going to, they could get a handsome return.
- Nurse-Barrie played 16:15, going 6-11 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-5 HDSC and 13-18 Corsi for five on five. Nurse scored a fantastic power-play goal, showed his increasingly impressive passing ability and turned over the puck on the Tatar goal and it was a bad one. He is Edmonton’s best defenseman. Barrie had three shots on goal and played well defensively, I still wonder if he needs a game off. This week would be an ideal time.
- Jones-Bear played 10:55, going 7-7 shots, 0-1 goals, 4-6 HDSC and 9-11 Corsi five on five. Oh, it’s an ill wind she blows. Both men were charged with important defensive responsibility on the Anderson goal. Bear correctly checked down to defend the pass but did not in fact defend it. Jones successfully abandoned his check (who was behind the net and not of immediate importance) but did not get to Andersson quickly enough to prevent the goal. Jones played five shifts (3:46 running time) and Bear played seven shifts (6:34 running time) after the goal. If you want to know who the coach blames, look at time on ice.
- Mike Smith was solid again, 29 of 32 (.906) stops in securing a point. Smith’s save percentages by month: January (8 games, .934SP), February (10 games, .907SP) and March (2 games, .914). The difference between last year and this one is that he has cut down on his bad games. In his 40 games in 2019-20, including playoffs, he had a SP or .905 or better in 17 of those 40 games (42.5 percent). This season, he has been .905 or better in 15 of 20 games (75 percent). I don’t know how he did it, but it’s clear there has been an adjustment. Apparently KevinWoodley on Jason Gregor’s show has identified a few things. Good for Smith. And the Oilers, obviously.
- Evan Bouchard should get into a game this week, there’s a nice spot here with the Oilers in Ottawa. Get him 15 minutes times two, it’ll benefit later on and he might be needed in the days ahead.
- The DNB interview with Ken Holland above is full of great information. I won’t mention the items of note today, Daniel worked hard on that interview and earned you reading it. I will discuss a few things tomorrow.
- I”m reading many angry tweets about last night’s loss. Oilers are not a great defending team and overtime is a coin flip. I had that game as a loss.
- Jesse Puljujarvi’s pts-60 (4.99) is well clear of Alex Chiasson (3.13) although both men are around 2.5 goals-60 this season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we’ll drill down on last night’s game and talk NHL trade deadline cap room with Hart from PuckPedia. At 11, Reid Fowler from Draft Kings will set up the Masters field for later this week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!