The Edmonton Oilers dressed two rookie blue last night and Evan Bouchard scored a wizard’s goal that will have the whole town talking. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Connor McDavid is now 31-62-93 after 51 games, meaning he’ll need seven points in the next five games. In his last 25 games, the captain is 17-34-51. In the 26 games leading up to that run, McDavid was 14-28-42. A giant walks among us.
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: What should the Oilers do to get Kailer Yamamoto back on track?
- New DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi 2.0 is making an impact
- DNB: What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- Lowetide: Why Raphael Lavoie could be a perfect fit for the Oilers in 2021-22
- Lowetide: Oilers complete April report card
- 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: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
- DNB: Re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Free-agency targets? Oilers mailbag
- Jonathan Willis: Should the Oilers re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Tyson Barrie?
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
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: 32-17-2, 66 points; goal differential +23
No one is talking about it (why would they?) but the Oilers are six points back with five to play and a game in hand on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s over, impossible. And yet…….
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MAY
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
- 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: 3-0-0, 6 points in 3 games
I appear to have badly misjudged this month and will have a stern talking to with myself in the summer months. The Canucks are trying but that’s a depleted group (Basil Rathbone’s great grandson played in last night’s game) over there.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- Draisatl-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 14:48, going 10-7 shots, 1-1 goals, 0-3 HDSC and 17-11 Corsi five on five. Draisaitl had two goals (one five on five) along with four shots, a clean minute on the PK and quality work on the PP (a four-on-three was over so quickly you’d have missed it if you’d sneezed). McDavid was flying again, two assists on the night and could have delivered more with better puck luck. Puljujarvi had one shot, two takeaways and some good looks (release needs to be a hair quicker).
- Kahun-Nuge-Yamamoto played 11:28, going 6-6 shots, no goals, 2-2 HDSC and 13-12 Corsi five on five. Kahun had a PP assist, and at five on five one HDSC and several reasonable looks that could have turned into something. Nuge skated miles as always and looked dangerous at times but no one on the line could cash five on five. Yamamoto was the most dynamic member of the trio, his goal-scoring slump now at 10 games. He had two shots, one HDSC and created plenty, but nothing rhymed. He’s hitting line drives all over the ballyard now, those base hits will drop in soon.
- Chiasson-Khaira-Archibald played 8:54, going 3-4 shots, 1-0 goals, 3-0 HDSC and 8-8 Corsi five on five. Chiasson had one assist, and won a faceoff. I don’t think he’ll be back and will miss him. Habs used to have these guys back in the day, just tough to play against and bring enough offense to keep you honest. Claude Larose. Khaira had two shots and one HDSC, 3:15 clean on the PK. Archibald had an assist, HDSC, was a pain in the ass a couple of times with the puck on his stick. Also played 4:07 on the PK. Effective trio.
- Ennis-McLeod-Turris played 8:19, 1-1 shots and 5-4 Corsi five on five. Ennis damn near scored on one of those lift shots all the kids are trying, McLeod had a shot and looked comfortable with the puck on his stick, and Turris played with urgency but was not effective.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Nurse-Barrie played 14:43, going 7-6 shots, 1-1 goals, 3-3 HDSC and 16-9. Nurse scored a fabulous goal, he’s at 16 for the season. Barrie picked up an assist and had five shots, he’s going through another of those fever periods where he gets caught up the ice and can’t get back in time to make the GA photo. He’s going to need to cut down on the episodes in the playoffs.
- Kulikov-Larsson played 14:39, going 4-3 shots, no goals, no HDSC and 8-10 Corsi five on five. Kulikov is a savvy veteran but has these Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins moments when the puck jumps and skips on him and he’s in a lot of trouble. Larsson got mad last night, people shouldn’t oughta do that to him.
- Lagesson-Bouchard played 10:31, going 1-6 shots, no goals, 0-2 HDSC and 8-10 Corsi five on five. Lagesson played a steady game with little wobble, but the star was Bouchard who scored on the power play and also spent 2:49 playing effectively on the PK. “I thought Bouchard was excellent tonight, Lagesson came in and a real solid game,” said coach Tippett.
- Mike Smith stopped 28 of 29, .966 and now owns a .925SP for the year.
FIVE ON FIVE PTS-60
I like to look at forwards five on five points-per-60, this blog has deployed this measure for over 15 years now. It gives a true reading on a level playing field and identifies those who are delivering a great deal from the depth lines (Jujhar Khaira) and those who are playing on skill lines and struggling. Forwards who qualify for the top 372 (31 times 12) have played 311 or more minutes so far this season at five on five.
My quick line in the sand is 2.00+ for No. 1 line, 1.75+ for the second line and then 1.50+ for anyone in the bottom six. If a player is delivering at or near those numbers in that role or below, music! Let’s have a look.
First line scorers (NHL F’s 1-93)
- No. 1 Connor McDavid 3.46
- No. 16 Leon Draisaitl 2.66
- No. 89 Jujhar Khaira 1.97
McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the best forwards in the NHL and that is reflected here. Khaira is a depth NHL forward having perhaps his best season and posting numbers we haven’t seen from him before. All three of these men have contributed to the team’s winning record and McDavid has proven again he is the best player in the NHL.
Second line scorers (NHL F’s 94-186)
Third line scorers (NHL F’s 187-279)
- No. 187 Tyler Ennis 1.54
- No. 193 Jesse Puljujarvi 1.51
- No. 260 Kailer Yamamoto 1.27
- No. 264 Dominik Kahun 1.25
This may appear discouraging but is actually a positive. Ennis has been a productive player whenever he’s in the lineup and Puljujarvi has pulled himself up to what is really low second-line scoring levels. He should qualify for the top 186 by season’s end. Yamamoto is in a slump and it’s going to crater his final totals for the season but he still qualifies for third-line production. Kahun is recovering now from a slow start.
Fourth line scorers (NHL F’s 280-372)
- No. 291 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.17
- No. 294 Alex Chiasson 1.16
- No. 310 Devin Shore 1.10
- No. 334 Josh Archibald 0.96
For the depth players, these numbers are in the range of expectation. Much of Chiasson’s offense comes from the power play and his five on five role is in checking and goal suppression. Nuge’s almost season-long slump is the breaking news here.
- First-line players having peak seasons: McDavid, Draisaitl
- Bottom-six forwards having career seasons: Khaira
- Top-six forwards posting close to second line production: Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Kahun
- Bottom-six forward posting second line production: Ennis
- Top-six forwards posting fourth line production: Nugent-Hopkins
- Bottom-six forwards posting bottom-six production: Chiasson, Shore, Archibald
McDavid’s career season and Draisaitl’s continued excellence are the lead five on five stories for Edmonton’s forwards offensively in 2020-21. There are two outliers: Khaira and Nuge. If Puljujarvi, Yamamoto and Kahun can end the season with a five on five flourish, this group of skill forwards will have had a fine season overall.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we hit the ground running with a two-hour show devoted to sports. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will talk about last night’s game, McDavid’s incredible scoring season, and NHL player safety. At 11, Joe Osborne from OddsShark will pop in to talk about Super Bowl favourites, Aaron Rodgers’ future and the NL Cy Young award offs. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!