2020-21 Game 51: Oilers at Canucks

by Lowetide

Connor McDavid makes it look so easy and he carries along his linemates like the giant Acme magnet that proved to be the demise of Wile E. Coyote in the famous ‘Compressed Hare’ episode.

Credit where due, Jesse Puljujarvi, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie are tremendous talents all on their own. However, playing with 97 (and 29) elevates what God gave them and the result is one big damn improvement year over year. Music!

THE ATHLETIC!

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.

OILERS AFTER 51 GAMES

  • Oilers in 2015-16: 20-26-5, 45 points; goal differential -24
  • Oilers in 2016-17: 28-15-8, 64 points; goal differential +16
  • Oilers in 2017-18: 23-24-4, 50 points; goal differential -23
  • Oilers in 2018-19: 23-24-4, 50 points; goal differential -14
  • Oilers in 2019-20: 27-18-6, 59 points; goal differential +1
  • Oilers in 2020-21: 31-17-2, 64 points; goal differential +20

Wonderful record, over 10 games above .500 even including the Bettman. In a baseball season when a team hits 10 games over .500 the next step is to drive to 20. That’s 91-71, and in a normal year you’re in pennant contention. Edmonton won’t win the division title, but they could win the North pennant and make the final four. They will not be the favourite and the Montreal Canadiens are a substantial opponent compared to the current Winnipeg Jets.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN MAY

  • At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Expected May record: 4-2-2, 10 points in 8 games
  • Actual May record: 2-0-0, 4 points in 2 games

This is the part of the schedule I wasn’t sure about and frankly it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll see. Does Evan Bouchard play? Slater Koekkoek? Mike Smith? Do Adam Larsson rest? We’ll have to wait and see.

LINES LAST NIGHT

  • Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 14:37, going 8-5 shots, 3-0 goals, 2-2 HDSC and 19-12 Corsi five on five. An electric evening for this line, Draisaitl going 0-1-1 with a takeaway and a second even-strength assist. Strong on the fore and backcheck, sent a 10-mile backhand blind that hit Puljujarvi’s tape and was all-world in battles. McDavid was 1-2-3 five on five (2-2-4 overall) and was beyond brilliant. He had the puck on a string and fed chances everywhere. Amazing. Puljujarvi scored a great goal early, picked up an assist later (should be two) and uncovered pucks in the neutral zone with incredible regularity. He’s a freaking menace for the opposition.
  • Kahun-Nuge-Yamamoto played 13:49, going 9-3 shots, 1-0 goals, 4-1 HDSC and 17-9 Corsi five on five. Kahun scored his seventh goal of the year, four shots and six attempts. That’s impressive volume. Nuge had an assist and nine shot attempts, he was quality all over the ice and posted one of his strongest games. It reminded me of Mike Peca late in the 2005-06 season when he seemed to figure out what his line needed. Yamamoto played the Puljujarvi role, turning over pucks and sending errant passes from Oilers defensemen to safety. He didn’t get an assist on the Kahun goal but was key to the play.
  • Neal-Khaira-Chiasson played only 5:43, going 4-4 shots, 0-1 goals, 0-1 HDSC and 4-5 Corsi five on five. Neal had a takeaway and a HDSC, he seems to be crawling from the wreckage of a frustrating season. Tippett liked him in bubble hockey. Khaira made a mistake that led to the first goal against and looked rusty for a time, but by the end of the game had an assist at even strength and a later takeaway. Chiasson had three shots on goal but was quiet overall.
  • Ennis-McLeod-Archibald played 5:16, 3-2 shots, 0-1 goals, 3-2 HDSC and 9-4 Corsi five on five. Loved this line, led by Ennis who had two shots, two takeaways and a HDSC. It was an impressive game, he’d been away from hockey for so long. McLeod had four shots and some rookie coverage on a Canucks goal (JT Miller), but his speed gets him out of the Oilers zone and through the neutral zone before the Romulans notice him. Archibald took a penalty, blank sheet (unusual) otherwise.

PAIRINGS AND GOALIE

  • Nurse-Barrie played 17:22, going 13-8 shots, 3-1 goals, 5-4 HDSC and 26-18 Corsi. Nurse had 8 shot attempts, six blocked shots and went 3-1 on-ice goal differential a five on five. Barrie had a goal, six shot attempts and skated miles.
  • Kulikov-Larsson played 17:22, going 10-5 shots, 1-0 goals, 2-4 HDSC and 18-10 Corsi five on five. Kulikov had an assist, three blocked shots and two hits. Larsson led the team with 24 minutes, played a strong game and was moving as well as I can ever remember.
  • Jones-Bear played 12:06, going 4-5 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-1 HDSC and 8-9 Corsi. Jones skated miles, but screened Koskinen on the first goal and had coverage issues in the second period. Bear had a shot, a reasonable chance, a giveaway, an errant pass through Edmonton’s slot that Yamamoto intercepted and iced the puck. He has had sharper games.
  • Mikko Koskinen stopped 20 of 23, .870 and now has a save percentage on the season of .905 and a record of 12-11-0 for the season. Stuart Skinner is 1-0-0 and Mike Smith 18-6-2 for the campaign.

CONDORS

I watched most of last night’s game and am convinced Tyler Benson will make the NHL in the fall as a bottom-six forward and move his way up to a skill line. If the Kraken are watching, Benson could be the guy. Also, Max Gildon is going to play in the NHL.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, the joint will be rocking. We’ll review the Oilers win last night, preview the game tonight and I’ll have five questions for Tyler Yaremchuk. Derek Taylor from The Sports Cage CKRM Regina will talk CFL draft and the season to come. At 11, Harman Dayal from The Athletic Vancouver will discuss the most difficult season in the history of the Canucks. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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Zelepukin

I probably wouldn’t have said this 2 months ago, but the improvement of consistency amongst our depth players is probably the best it’s ever been. Maybe going back to the 06′ Cup run? The taxi squad format of being able to have the additional set of players practising constantly is a huge factor but damn, it feels like we’ve got 6 lines of quality 3rd/4th liners. A handful can easily play up with McD or Drai too.

You’d think the Oil have to be one of the frothiest lineups for other team scouts to watch both upfront and on D.
How good it feels to catch yourself thinking, oh ya, I forgot we had Ennis, Bouch, Lags, Nygard, Kass, P.Russell, K.Russell, and Koekoek. And then Benson, Marody, Broberg and Klef. All very competent NHLers.

jp

Material Elvis

Nurse with a nice goal. Great feed by Archie. 

Now *that’s* an Elite Number One D.

I know that was largely in jest, but Nurse really is having an amazing season.

-plays for a quality team (11th in points%, 7th in goal differential)
-2nd in the NHL in +/- and 1st among defensemen
-4th in the NHL in TOI per game (no one else in the top 5 plays for a playoff team, FWIW)
-2nd among D in goals and 1st in even strength goals
-15th (tied) among D in points and 3rd (tied) in even strength points
-17th in blocked shots too, if you care about that sort of thing

He truly should be getting substantial Norris votes, though I don’t expect that’s going to happen.

Reja

Oilers have a 10-3 record with bench warmer Bouchard in the line-up.

OriginalPouzar

It was very notable (to me) that, both times Larsson was in the box, Bouchard got the PK shifts, not Barrie.

We know Coach T. values players that can kill penalties and always ensures he has enough “PK d-men”

I’m thinking this trust (and non-trust in Barrie) will be brought up when Tip and Holland are talking off-season team building.

Pescador

Too me that is Tippett getting some reps in for Bouchard not lack of trust in Barrie.
Plus I’m in favor of keeping the minutes in check for the everyday top 4D

OriginalPouzar

Wait, i just realized the Juolevi was healthy scratched – i don’t understand though – not 48 hours ago I was told he was trending to the the Edler replacement – scratched so a 22 year old rookie can play his first NHL game – yikes!

wolf8888

Is there any chance you may have been mislead by the Great Oracle? 🙂

jp

He’s not injured? I just assumed… Gheez.

On being ‘the Edler replacement’, I was gonna say this the other night. Any trending by Juolevi is due to the senior players decay and UFAness.

Last edited 2 months ago by jp
Pescador

Quinn Hughes is a great offensive defenceman
I bet coach Green would prefer a D-man who could run a PP & defend.
Someone like Bouchard

BONE207

Or at least one that looks the part

Paulie

29 and 97 just over 19:00 TOI, which is nice. 25 at 27:56, like to see him a little lower but guy seems indefatigable.

BONE207

10 of those were to babysit Bouchard

OriginalPouzar

Magic Number for Home Ice Clinch: 1 (for both Habs and Jets).

Paulie

Favorite things about the Oil this yr … 29’s snipes … 97’s brilliance … 13’s smiles

delooper

Oilers did enough to win, but they’re not playing their best.

Pescador

Why play your best when clearly you don’t need to?

OriginalPouzar

Of course – its playing out the stretch time.

Drai didn’t go over 65% at any point (and had two goals).

Get used to this, except maybe the games against the Habs.

Reja

No injuries please I’m glad the Canucks don’t body check.

Yeti

Just look at that. For the second game in a row Vancouver get creamed yet Brogan Rafferty didn’t get scored on once. What a stud he is!

jp

He’s a point per game player, 5th on the team in +/- and still just a rookie.

Imagine the impact he’ll have next season!

Material Elvis

Are Canucks points the same as Senators points? #nuckssuck

Side

#casucks

LMHF#1

Let Smith shoot if they pull the goalie.

OriginalPouzar

Goalie pulled with a 3-goal lead and a PK (free icing).

McDavid may not be out there (PK) but I’ll take a Mike Smith goal.

delooper

Canucks showing a little desperation. Nice to see.

jzed

Can we tell it’s garbage time?

delooper

It’s throw everything at the fan time. Or shit in the kitchen sink. One of those.

Solly

JT Miller with two assists so far tonight!

BONE207

On only 1 goal…talent…🤣

BONE207

Our Baby (Nuge) is all growed up. Who would have expected him to have the hit of the night

Side

Especially on Elite #1 Norris Worthy D Man Quinneth Hughes

Dac189

Also taking the net front presence on that 2nd Draisaitl goal.

Material Elvis

Nurse with a nice goal. Great feed by Archie.

Now *that’s* an Elite Number One D.

OriginalPouzar

Great pass Archie and, seriously, Darnell Nurse snipes this year.

jzed

Nurse, lethal finisher

delooper

Nurse the Knife.

treevojo

Love that play by archie

OriginalPouzar

Tough shift there for Bouchard – defensive zone giveaway, defensive zone lost battle/giveaway, bad pass icing with time.

Paulie

So who starts on D on Thursday?

OriginalPouzar

Nurse, Kulikov, Jones

Barrie, Bear, Bouchard

Paulie

Makes sense. Any updates on 4?

OriginalPouzar

Day to day with lower body (leg) injury.

jzed

Larsson doesn’t usually get mad if someone straight up dishes it back. The cross check me while I’m on my knees, head to the boards, he does get mad

delooper

It looks like the Canucks are just happy to be here.

Paulie

Are Nucks insulted to see two rookies on PK?

OriginalPouzar

Great jobs by Archie and Bouch.

delooper

Hughes is too small for the high hit.

OriginalPouzar

On of Larsson’s best skills is being dirty and sneaky dirty without taking penalties.

Tonight, he gives no fucks and I’m fine with it.

John Chambers

He’s in an owly mood and I dig it.

delooper

The pass-to-McDavid-at-all-costs strategy is a little too predictable.

Solly

I guess…

But we did just clinch the playoffs, sit 2nd in the North, and have the two top point getters in the league.

I guess…maybe not.

OriginalPouzar

Bouchard replaces Barrie at the end of the PP1 shift – only 40 seconds in to the PP.

dsr29

I know people like Louie Debrusk, but he says next to nothing. Nothing insightful that I can hear.

geowal

I like Louie. Maybe he can ask Jack what it means to be turned into a human ostrich? That surely would be insightful!

Side

I believe Jack meant someone’s neck was being pulled on, as if it were being stretched so much they were now an ostrich. A human one, if you will.

geowal

Interesting. I would have never guessed that. I couldn’t get past it somehow referring to head in the sand (ice?)

wolf8888

I think it was in reference to pushing someone’s face into the ice ala head in the sand

wolf8888

Addition by subtraction. remember who he replaced?

Side

Listen…

LMHF#1

He’s stuck trying to play off Jack’s idiocy. Has to be rough.

Oilerguy

That would make sense cause I liked him a lot more with Kevin Quinn

Oilerguy

yep honestly sometimes he talks and sounds like Hrudey to the point I get confused

fishman

Drai looking for the hatty!

hags9k

That was awesome, the corner camera really captured the Larsson rage. I was scared for a minute. Mostly for Pearson.

This Oiler team will go down as one of my favorites. The skill is obvious but there is also a ton of character on this edition.

OriginalPouzar

Of note, with Larsson in the box, Bouchard gets the PK work, not Barrie.

tapper

Ha! Oilers have to eat cross-checks on offence *and* on defence too now.

Pescador

Can I please watch 1 shift with
97 – 71 – 29
together

Prairie_Sentinel

97-71-13 would be fun to watch too just for the sheer speed on display

OriginalPouzar

Should they go with Nuge and Haas on D so all the centers are out there?

Last edited 2 months ago by OriginalPouzar
Prairie_Sentinel

C5 – the new, more powerful explosive!

Pescador

Absolutely,
Put Khaira in net & then ill be satisfied

fishman

Larsson Angry!

treevojo

This game should be out of reach by now.

hopefully Yamo will get off the snyde in the third.

not the red wedding I was hoping for.

Material Elvis

Man, the ‘behind the net’ camera angle really shows how devastating Draisaitl’s one-timer is. Good luck stopping that.

Reja

Barrie sure takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I always thought he was made out of a bit of glass but he’s tough and he doesn’t miss many games with injuries. His 4 year resigning contract is sitting on his coffee table at home ready to be inked.

jzed

Bear is looking for some ice for the heat afflicting his rear

N64

Old Man wins his driver’s license. Who’s laughing now?

Last edited 2 months ago by N64
Pescador

Pedestrians be warned

fishman

Bouch has to be in top 6 next year. Something has to give.

OriginalPouzar

He is the only RD in the lineup signed for next season.

Nothing really “has to give” – just don’t change re-sign Barrie.

fishman

Is Bear not signed for next year? I know Barrie and Larsson both free agents. I can see Holland wanting to sign both.

OriginalPouzar

Bear is not in the lineup.

Bear, Bouchard, X,

X should be Larsson but its very very easy for Bouch to be in the lineup every game next season.

Oilerguy

BBB

Ice Sage

I thought, because Bouchard didn’t ‘arrive early’ that he was a bust?
Looking pretty good to me

Admiral Ackbar

Tee hee! I was waiting for someone to take that shot at DSF!

wolf8888

Yeah, but just wait until the rubbers are on the road. 🙂

Material Elvis

Of course there will be….it’s Vancouver!

hags9k

These seeing eye wristers from Bouch are really going to be handy in playoff OTs. Pretty sure.

Paulie

Prediction: 75 takes over for 22 next yr. Oiler PP scores at 36.8% rate.

RandyRanderson

Barrie: “Evan, I hope you are watching and learning”

Bouchard: “Hold my beer…”