There are very few times in a season when everything rhymes on a night when two good teams get together in a battle for two points in a tight playoff race. Edmonton Oilers won again and now have a small one-point lead with two games in hand on the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers are 6-3-1 in the last 10, the best record in the division over that stretch. Coach Dave Tippett will want to ride the wild surf and hope the waves carry his team well into the playoffs.
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 2nd Hart Trophy is firmly in Connor McDavid’s grasp
- New Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers need to step up down the stretch?
- New DNB: Get ready for Ryan McLeod
- Lowetide: A look at the best value contracts on the 2021 Oilers, from Jesse Puljujarvi to Mike Smith
- Lowetide: Dominik Kahun’s season of struggle with the Oilers has a silver lining
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
- DNB:McDavid’s latest goal shows why he’s in a class of his own
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans shouldn’t worry about Philip Broberg’s SHL season
- 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: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
OILERS AFTER 46 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 18-23-5, 41 points; goal differential -26
- Oilers in 2016-17: 24-15-7, 55 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2017-18: 20-23-3, 43 points; goal differential -23
- Oilers in 2018-19: 22-21-3, 47 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2019-20: 24-17-5, 53 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in 2020-21: 28-16-2, 58 points; goal differential +19
Stunning goal differential, I don’t think the Oilers will catch the TML but could get close in goal differential. A fine season, led by the best player in a generation. Or two.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 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 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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: 6-2-1, 13 points in 9 games
I’ve been doing these predictions by month for a few years now and this year’s team is the most fun. It’s like having money left over at the end of the month. If Edmonton wins the final two games in April, the team will reach 30 wins by May Day.
LINES LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 13:31, going 3-6 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-2 HDSC and 9-10 Corsi five on five. Nuge got a five on five assist, a real skill play and he hit a post later. Good signs, Nuge is now 2-3-5 at five on five in his last 20 games. This is a start. Draisaitl was 1-1-2 (what a pass! what a shot!) along with two takeaways and 67 percent in the faceoff circle. Yamamoto isn’t getting a lot done but he still touches the puck a lot and the chances will come. Seemed like he had the puck several times at the end of shifts so dumped the puck in for a change.
- Kahun-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 11:22, going 10-8 shots, 3-0 goals, 3-4 HDSC and 13-13 Corsi five on five. Kahun had a strong night, with an assist, two shots and another pass to spring McDavid on a breakaway. If he does that 40 nights a winter he’s going to retire a very wealthy man. McDavid was flying all night long, finishing 3-1-4 with more in the tank but Dad shut him down early. It’s such a thrill to watch him play the game. Puljujarvi had a strong night, with two assists, two shots and a takeaway.
- Shore-McLeod-Archibald played 10:04, going 4-3 shots, 0-1 HDSC and 10-11 Corsi five on five. Shore was on the ice for the Winnipeg PP goal (Nuge, Bear, Nurse) but played a responsible game getting pucks out and forechecking. McLeod was credited with no turnover but beat challengers to several pucks, won three of five in the dot and used his speed to create problems for the Jets. Rock solid debut. Archibald took a shot to the hand right at the end of the game, Oilers don’t need more injuries. Like Shore, he worked hard to keep structure for the rookie center. I exect we see this trio again soon.
- Neal-Haas-Chiasson played 9:04, going 3-6 shots, 0-1 HDSC and 5-12 Corsi five on five. Neal had a shot and a blocked shot, he isn’t at the play often enough and I wonder how long Tippett will go with this (Khaira coming back may be the pressure point). Haas had a hard time falling down so had Morrissey run him over to get the feeling again, he isn’t going to keep his job if McLeod can deliver any kind of offense. Chiasson scored, it was No. 100 for his career, absolute hammer of a shot.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Barrie played 17:43, 13-18 shots, 3-0 goals, 4-7 HDSC and 18-24 Corsi for five on five. Nurse scored another five on five goal, 2 blocked shots and played a rugged game. Barrie picked up an assist. This pairing lost the shot battle against the Schiefele line 9-11, but won the goal battle 2-0. Bring McDavid to your five on five minutes and party line it’s 1987.
- Kulikov-Larsson played 16:36, going 11-5 shots, 2-0 goals, 0-1 HDSC and 18-9 Corsi five on five. Tippett probably ugraded their rooms after the game guaranteed he loved their play. Battled the Connor-PLD-Wheeler line for eight minutes, going 6-4 shots and 1-0 goals. Kulikov was steady and effective, Larsson picked up an assist and looked fresh and in control all night.
- Jones-Bear played 15:43, going 2-6 shots, no goals, 0-2 HDSC and 7-21 Corsi five on five. This pair had a tough time with the Schiefele line and were hammered 0-4 shots with a couple of HDSC but Smith stopped everything five on five. Jones had three giveaways, he’ll need to be consistent with Russell idling in the driveway. I thought Jones played well overall in defending and transported well. Bear was much the same, only his outlets were exceptional and consistent. He blocked some shots and worked hard along the wall. I think this pairing could be a big success in the coming years.
- Mike Smith was splendid early and solid throughout, stopping 36 of 37, .973. He now sits at .923 for the season. There’s a chance they sign him, folks.
U18 DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS
- Swedish RW Fabian Lysell (I have him No. 21 on my list) scored a spectacular goal yesterday against Belarus to get the party started. He could rise in the coming weeks. Isak Rosen, who I have No. 34, also scored for the Swedes.
- Russian RW Nikita Chibrikov had a strong first game against the Americans, going 1-2-3 despite 12 pims. My list ranks him No. 18 and he would be a worthy target for the Oilers.
- Team USA LW Sasha Pastujov (ranked No. 42) scored 1-2-3 and Dylan Duke, who I did not rank but noted, scored a pair of goals.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10, TSN 1260, we review a most satisfying evening for Oilers fans and look forward to the rest of the week for the team. At 10:20, Matt Kassian, former NHLer and TSN1260 hockey analyst will break down last night’s game and tell us why the Jets were such an easy mark. At 11, NFL analyst Matt Youmans breaks down the NFL draft and gives us the latest rumours. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!