As fans, we can gather information over a lifetime that gives us a more accurate view of the actual hockey world. I remember when the NHL decided to give every team a week off during the season a few years ago, there was quite the brouhaha about the timing of these rest periods. Players and teams knew the value of a mid-season rest.
Ladies and gentlemen: I give you last night in Winnipeg.
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: Let’s make a final call on the Oilers’ 2016 draft class
- DNB: Re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Free-agency targets? Oilers mailbag
- DNB: Oilers sign Dylan Holloway to ELC
- Jonathan Willis: Should the Oilers re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Tyson Barrie?
- Lowetide: Five Oilers prospects who deserve NHL tryouts now that the trade deadline has passed
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ideal defensive pairings after picking up Dmitry Kulikov at the trade deadline
- DNB: Ken Holland’s quiet NHL trade deadline sets up Oilers for big moves later
- DNB: Why the Oilers not maximizing the trade deadline is both predictable and disappointing
- Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers are getting in trade deadline pickup Dmitry Kulikov: A cheap solution to a nagging problem
- Lowetide: What would the Oilers sacrifice if they traded their 2021 first-round pick?
- DNB: A year without Colby Cave
- DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard’s season of inactivity — what is the risk for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
OILERS AFTER 43 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 17-23-3, 37 points; goal differential -25
- Oilers in 2016-17: 21-15-7, 49 points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in 2017-18: 18-22-3, 39 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2018-19: 20-20-3, 43 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in 2019-20: 21-17-5, 47 points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in 2020-21: 26-15-2, 54 points; goal differential +13
We’re looking at a playoff team that could finish as high as second in the North Division and is basically a lock to face the Jets in the playoffs. That’s good, because Winnipeg has trouble with Edmonton. That’s bad because Winnipeg has a goalie who can shut the door and win a series.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa, Calgary (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 2-1-1)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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)
- Expected April record: 7-4-0, 14 points in 11 games
- Actual April record: 4-1-1, 9 points in 6 games
This team, more than any other since every Grant Fuhr team, has absolutely no memory. I’ve been thinking about the Calgary game for a week and the Oilers played like it never happened. That week of practice was manna from heaven.
LINES LAST NIGHT
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 13:39, going 5-7 shots, 1-0 goals, 5-0 HDSC and 12-15 Corsi five on five. Draisaitl had a pair of assists (five on five, PP) and two shots, two takeaways and a strong night at five on five FO’s (5-2). McDavid had a five on five and power-play assist like Draisaitl and two HDSC’s. He tried the Peter Mahovlich ‘split the seams’ play several times but no sale. He’s doing that for a reason, suspect he’s perfecting a power move or making sure the opponent guards against that kind of aggression. Puljujarvi scored a huge goal, No. 10 in Game 42 meaning he is on track for 20 goals in 82 games. Puljujarvi was physical, ran over a guy, had a takeaway and caused havoc all over.
- Kahun-Haas-Yamamoto played 7:34, 2-1 shots, 2-0 HDSC and 6-5 Corsi five on five. The line was excellent, and effective against the Scheifele (6-1 Corsi five on five) line. Kahun had a strong game, one HDSC and a fantastic pass to send Yamamoto away early. He was turning over pucks and involved in plays. Haas was effective on this line, excellent forechecking and creating chaos that both wingers could capitalize on. Yamamoto had two stunning chances on the same shift, one from a Kahun pass. He had an assist and a HDSC, dangerous for much of the game. Why are these wingers more effective with Haas than Nuge? They are either deferring to the veteran or Nuge was hurt even before last week.
- Nygard-Shore-Kassian played 7:06, going 3-3 shots, no HDSC and 6-6 Corsi five on five. Nygard’s speed was quite noticeable, he drew a penalty, had a takeaway that led to a fine chance. Shore had one great chance and drew a penalty, led forwards in PK time (2:22 clean). Kassian had a HDSC and was more involved than we’ve seen recently. His five on five goal differential this year (8-11) isn’t terrible and I’m not certain he has more to give. People keep staring at the salary and say he should be providing more, but if you look at the birth certificate this might be his outer marker at age 30. He has 2-3-5 in 25 games, he is on a trajectory to score 15 points in 75 games. That’s Kassian, unless you run him with 97.
- Chiasson-Khaira-Archibald played 6:33, 1-1 shots, 0-1 HDSC and 4-5 Corsi five on five. Chiasson scored on the power play, and three shots plus two PK. Khaira had another strong game, four shot attempts, two HDSC and a takeaway. Solid on PK. Archibald drew a penalty, helped on the penalty kill.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Russell-Larsson played 14:58, going 6-4 shots, 5-1 HDSC and 13-11 Corsi five on five. Played most often with Khaira and Shore lines, both men blocked a lot of shots and Larsson made life difficult for Winnipeg forwards. The man is diabolical.
- Nurse-Barrie played 13:12, 6-7 shots, 1-0 goals, 6-0 HDSC and 15-16 HDSC. This duo played most often with the McDavid line and had great success. Nurse had one takeaway and two blocked shots, skated miles. Barrie was 1-1-2 and is 6-31-37 in 43 games. Lordy. Can Holland walk this player? I don’t think he can afford him.
- Jones-Bear played 9:37, going 2-2 shots, 1-0 HDSC and 3-6 Corsi for five on five. I thought both men showed well, and of course there was some chaos as one would expect. Jones had a giveaway, skated miles and was far more aggressive than we’ve seen most of this season. Bear had a great night handling the puck, passing it too. His best sequence involved eluding a forechecker in front of the Edmonton net and skating it to daylight. Bear had a fine game.
- Mike Smith continues his ‘touch of grey’ tour with great performances across the country. He stopped 26 shots and now has a SP of .922 for the season. That’s good for No. 6 among starters. Amazing.
Connor McDavid’s line saw the Perreault-Lowry-Appletion trio most often (9:10, 3-7 shots, no goals) but then Jets’ coach Paul Maurice checked down (or up). Against the Connor-Scheifele-Dubois super group, 97’s line scored a goal (all of this is five on five) and won the shot share 4-1. As the teams will see each other in the playoffs, this game of cat and mouse should be monitored closely in the coming games.
The Haas line went 6-1 against the Scheifele line, as mentioned above it was an effective trio. Haas is the damndest hockey player, a great deal of utility (Swiss Army knife) and that line looked like they could stifle oxygen all night long.
Khaira’s line was effective in three minutes against Scheifele and friends, while Shore’s group played 90 uneventful seconds against Winnipeg’s feature line.