The Edmonton Oilers keep piling up wins, closing the gap between “assumed playoff team” and the real deal. It’s also true the club is finding some answers to ongoing roster questions, including an emerging bottom-six line that is trending in a good way. Oh, and the young right wingers scored on Thursday night, welcome news for players trying to establish themselves in the league.
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: A year without Colby Cave
- New DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- 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 41 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 17-21-3, 37 points; goal differential -23
- Oilers in 2016-17: 21-13-7, 49 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2017-18: 18-20-3, 39 points; goal differential -17
- Oilers in 2018-19: 19-19-3, 41 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in 2019-20: 20-17-4, 44 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in 2020-21: 25-14-2, 52 points; goal differential +15
A strong start to each month (save January) has been the key for Edmonton this season. You can say Ottawa is a weak link in the division, but the Calgary Flames have grabbed a 2-4-1 record against the Sens, good for five of a possible 14 points on the season.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM 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 2-0-1)
- 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: 3-0-1, 7 points in 4 games
One more game and then a long layoff for the Oilers, and that might benefit the team. The trade deadline is Monday, Edmonton could trade for a player and he would be out of quarantine shortly after the Winnipeg road game. At the same time, a recall might be the route to go and Ryan McLeod (as an example) could get a recall Saturday and be ready right after the off week.
LINES LAST NIGHT
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 17:45, going 11-10 shots, no goals, 0-3 HDSC and 26-17 Corsi for five on five. I thought the line played much better than these numbers show. Draisaitl was physical and back checked hard, had a takeaway, won nine of 11 in the dot and had a couple of strong looks on the PP. McDavid had an assist, four shots and a breakaway. He didn’t have the same jump as Wednesday, but pushed through and made a strong pass on the PP goal. Puljujarvi scored his ninth goal of the year, empty netter but it still counts.
- Shore-Khaira-Archibald played 10:37, going 3-11 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-2 HDSC and 6-15 Corsi for five on five. This line is gaining real traction now, expect we’ll see them in the playoffs. Shore scored a goal on a nice tip, topped 15 minutes in playing time that included a buck-fifty on the PK. Checked hard. Khaira had an assist, won nine of 15 in the faceoff circle, and played well. Archibald had four hits and one reasonable chance.
- Kahun-Haas-Yamamoto played 5:43, going 4-5 shots, 0-1 goals, 1-0 HDSC and 2-6 Corsi five on five. Kahun played just nine minutes and looked slow to act. He was around the puck a few times but couldn’t impact a damn thing beyond one faceoff victory. Haas had a fantastic interception and a clear breakaway, I would have put him on the cover if he’d scored. He’s never making the cover, because he moved so far left the goaltender only had to guard about a quarter of it to ensure a save. Yamamoto scored a power-play goal, it had been a month and he needed it.
- Kassian-Turris-Chiasson played 5:22, 0-3 shots, no goals or high danger and 2-5 Corsi five on five. Kassian had six hits, three shot attempts but isn’t engaged. Turris didn’t have a lot going on and was moved off the line at one point. Chiasson had a shot and a giveaway, worked the power play (I thought he got the assist) and was reliable as always.
- Something went on with Haas in this game. He ran with Kahun-Yamamoto mostly, but had a shift with Archibald in the first period, and then checked down in the third period(or up, who the hell knows) to Kassian-Chiasson, with Turris switching spots. The Archibald shift might been four on four, but the later change was an adjustment mid game. Both worked, Turris combining with Kahun and Yamamoto for a HDSC.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Nurse-Barrie played 19:55, going 12-12 shots, no goals, 1-4 HDSC and 27-21 Corsi five on five. Nurse had a couple of good shots among eight attempts, one ripped the mask off Anton Fosrberg’s head. Barrie got another assist, I swear he gets one for staying awake during the anthem.
- Russell-Larsson played 16:21, going 4-11 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 8-17 Corsi for five on five. Russell had a shot on goal, defended a lot and screened his goalie on the only marker of the evening. Larsson played his usual outlaw brand (they don’t put that brand on display it’s behind the counter. You have to ask for it) of defense, hit a couple of guys, ran a few cowboys off his property and still landed a minus one for this troubles.
- Jones-Bear played 12:45, going 3-10 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-1 HDSC and 7-14 Corsi five on five. The young pairing had some chaos but also did some good things. Jones shot from the point was tipped by Shore, giving the young blue his first point in some time. Bear turned the puck over a couple of times, got walloped a few more but hung in there.
- Mike Smith was fire, stopping 39 of 40, .975. He now owns a .922 save percentage, that’s No. 8 among starting goalies with 750 or more minutes (47 goalies qualified). His .929 SP at five on five (500 or more minutes) has him No. 12 among 55 goaltenders.
He’s on waivers this morning. I don’t believe the Oilers will claim him but do want to point out the club needs a winger who can score with skill at the deadline. During his time with Edmonton, Caggiula scored 0.89 goals per 60 in 2016-17 with 97, and then 1.23 goals per 60 in 2017-18 and 1.27 goals per 60 in 2018-19 before he was traded in what was a mad, mad Sunday. Over three seasons, Caggiula scored 7 five on five goals in 355 minutes. That works out to 1.18 goals per 60 with McDavid at five on five during Caggiula’s time in the city. For comparison purposes, here are the numbers for the captain’s most common five on five linemates this year:
- Leon Draisaitl: 7 goals in 224 minutes (1.87 goals per 60)
- Kailer Yamamoto: 4 goals in 135 minutes (1.77)
- Josh Archibald: 1 goal in 45 minutes (1.33)
- Jesse Puljujarvi: 5 goals in 381 minutes (0.79)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 4 goals in 384 minutes (0.62)
- Zack Kassian: 0 goals in 93 minutes
Caggiula would be an option, especially if Draisaitl is playing on the second line (hopefully they try 93-29-56). I’m fine with Puljujarvi on RW, but that Yamamoto number is enticing.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, with hit Friday hard and malicious intent. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will join us to talk trade deadline and how television may handle what might be badness as opposed to madness, early Jays happiness, Masters coverage and what happened in the Oilers room in the aftermath of the Steve Smith own goal. At 11, Matthew Iwanyk from TSN 1260 will attempt to explain the AL East standings, the Oilers magic number and trade deadline day. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!