The Edmonton Oilers are now in a solid second place after sweeping the Winnipeg Jets this week. After a slow January (10 points in nine games), the club has amassed monthly point totals of 18 (February), 17 (March) and 15 (April) with one game to play. The Oilers organization still has detractors, but their voices grow less furious with each passing win. The long nation nightmare of futility appears to have been replaced by competence. When you’re running 97 and 29 out there every night, that may well be enough.
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 and Murat Ates: Edmonton vs. Winnipeg: Five things the season series taught us about how they match up
- Lowetide: What Kris Russell does well and how the Oilers deploy him
- DNB: A 2nd Hart Trophy is firmly in Connor McDavid’s grasp
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers need to step up down the stretch?
- DNB: Get ready for Ryan McLeod
- Lowetide: A look at the best value contracts on the 2021 Oilers
- 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 AT 48 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 19-24-5, 43 points; goal differential -25
- Oilers in 2016-17: 25-15-8, 58 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in 2017-18: 21-24-3, 45 points; goal differential -26
- Oilers in 2018-19: 23-22-3, 49 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in 2019-20: 25-18-5, 55 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in 2020-21: 29-16-2, 60 points; goal differential +20
There isn’t much track left, which is a shame because many of the youngsters are really emerging. Jesse Puljujarvi is a semi at full speed in a shopping mall in the offensive zone right now, Yamamoto is contesting pucks and McLeod’s speed gets his line to all kinds of good things. The Jones-Bear pairing isn’t bleeding and the team is winning. A guy could get used to 35 more games of this 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, 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 2-0-0)
- 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: 7-2-1, 15 points in 9 games
Quality work during a month where games had to be rescheduled and flights across country became the norm. Tonight is a schedule loss, not certain the Flames will bring the entirety of their game with them but they’re always a tough out.
LINES LAST NIGHT
- Kahun-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 13:54, going 7-13 shots, 0-1 goals, 4-4 HDSC and 12-16 Corsi five on five. I like this line and Kahun looks engaged, if he could cash three of those a month Edmonton would have a long-term solution. He had one HDSC and a takeaway. McDavid had four shots and four HDSC at five on five, along with three assists (two on the power play). Puljujarvi had a takeaway, drove the Jets to distraction and is playing with as much confidence as I’ve ever seen. Edmonton needs this line to work, I hope it does. So far, in 28 minutes as a trio they are 3-1 goals but 49 percent Corsi five on five and 45 percent shot differential five on five. The outscoring is the key.
- Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 11:39, going 6-2 shots, no goals, 3-1 HDSC and 11-6 Corsi five on five. This line was strong last night, starting to get the rhythm. Nuge scored on the PP, but he also had a great chance five on five and three shots. Draisaitl scored an EN goal, and had four takeaways at five on five. Yamamoto is getting closer to scoring, damn near potted one coming out of the penalty box on a breakaway. Had three HDSC, two takeaways, drew and took a penalty. He contests everything. Love this player.
- Shore-McLeod-Archibald played 10:03 (with a rookie center!), going 2-4 shots, no goals, 2-0 HDSC and 8-5 Corsi five on five. Shore didn’t have a lot going on offensively, but got the puck out when required. He’ll need to post some offense here, I think the point of McLeod’s recall was to add some five on five offense. McLeod is getting better by the shift it seems, he won five of eight on the dot, blocked a couple of shots and skated the puck out of danger multiple times. He’s really good at reading the play in the defensive end and he’s no shy violet (hit a couple of people and took a significant hit). He has offensive instincts, needs a more substantial offensive linemate. Archibald had both HDSC’s for the line and has some early chem with No. 71.
- Neal-Haas-Chiasson played 6:27, going 1-3 shots, no goals, 6-5 Corsi five on five. Neal had two shots, one HDSC and a takeaway, the most encouraging game since his return. Haas was solid on the PK, won three of five faceoffs at five on five. Chiasson had a couple of looks on a quiet night.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIES, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Barrie played 21:15, going 12-15 shots, no goals, 6-4 HDSC, 24-23 Corsi five on five. Nurse was on the ice with newcomer Kulikov for the GA, the Russian made a bad pass. Nurse had an assist, two shots, four hits, three blocked shots, and got caved by the Copp-Schiefele-Appleton line (0-1 goals, 5-13 shots, 8-19 Corsi five on five). Looks like the McDavid line (0-1 goals, 5-14 shots) had a tough time with the Schiefele line and Morrissey-Poolman pairing. That has to be encouraging for Winnipeg. Barrie’s PP goal was a key to the game, allowing Edmonton to play a calm, collected game instead of chasing goals.
- Kulikov-Larsson played 15:48, going 6-6 shots, no goals, 3-3 HDSC and 15-11 Corsi five on five, mostly with the Draisaitl line. The Connor-Stastny-Wheeler line was the most common opponent and Edmonton saw the better of the play. I saw Larsson (and Draisaitl) good in reading and either intercepting or slowing opposition sorties. Kulikov made the bad pass that resulted in the GA, but was physical and effective otherwise. Larsson hit people for fun and won battles, same thing he does every night.
- Jones-Bear played 11:48, going 2-3 shots, no goals, 2-0 HDSC and 9-8 Corsi five on five. Jones skated well, had a giveaway, blocked some shots. He’s settled in now. Bear made a dreadful giveaway early that could have been a big part of the game story but the goalie saved him. Bear had a shot, a couple of good looks and drew a penalty on a mostly solid night.
- Mikko Koskinen played well, very well considering he hadn’t played in some time. He stopped 29 of 30, .967 and moved his overall save percentage to .906 (from .903).
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we review last night (10:20) with five questions for Tyler and at 10:40 Ryan Pike from Flames Nation lets us know what to expect from the Calgary crew tonight. Frank Seravalli from TSN talks playoff races, NHL draft lottery and the new television deal with ESPN and Turner Sports. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!