The best country music, I mean the really good stuff, can speak right to you, relate life experiences through words, and move you. You’re not alone. You matter. Been there, passed out over that. The worst country music is so ghastly most people pretend not to know or like it. Maudlin songs, silly titles, ridiculous rhymes.
Somewhere in between is Sing Me Back Home by Merle Haggard. A simple melody, a sad tale and a deadly conclusion. It’s a sentimental tune, what saves it is the back story. Somehow, when things are real, there’s a goose-bump moment when you think of James ‘Rabbit’ Hendrick. his life and impact on the song’s author. It then becomes less sappy and more inspired.
The Edmonton Oilers lost a hockey game last night. No one is going to die from that experience. Still, things matter. Is the song of this Oilers season a moving tale, a pile of maudlin cliches, or something in between that raises the ordinary to something special? We’re about to find out.
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi has arrived for the Oilers — again
- New Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers need to do to beat the Jets
- New Lowetide: Oilers final 2020-21 report card: A regular season to remember
- New DNB: ‘The biggest transformation I’ve ever seen in an elite player’: How Connor McDavid took the next step
- New DNB: Are the Oilers botching Evan Bouchard’s development?
- New DNB: What Leon Draisaitl learned in Bakersfield
- Lowetide: Adam Larsson contract talks give us a glimpse into Oilers’ offseason plans
- Lowetide: Ideal Edmonton Oilers lines and pairings for the 2021 NHL playoffs
- Jonathan Willis:Oilers’ Mike Smith is putting himself in the all-time old-guy goalie conversation with a stunning season at 38
- DNB:What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- DNB: A 2nd Hart Trophy is firmly in Connor McDavid’s grasp
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
LINES AND PAIRINGS
- Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto played 12:14, going 8-4 shots, no goals, 3-0 HDSC and 16-7 Corsi five on five. Nuge had three excellent chances, a takeaway and played his best game in some time. LD had a HDSC, three takeaways (2GV) and was responsible defensively. Yamamoto also had a fine game, drawing a penalty and contesting pucks all over the ice. I liked this line’s work.
- Kahun-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 10:40, going 4-5 shots, 1-0 goals, 2-1 HDSC and 11-8 Corsi five on five. Kahun had a great look, he made a couple of fine passes too. McDavid had a HDSC, 2 shots and 2 giveaways, I thought he should have drawn a penalty against Demelo. He missed on a wide look coming down the wing, that would have been a beauty. I suspect he’ll be impossible to overcome Friday night. Puljujarvi was Edmonton’s best player, scoring the team’s goal, four shots, two HDSC and plenty of dangerous looking rushes. I was impressed by this trio.
- Archibald-Khaira-Chiasson played 9:49, going 9-4 shots, no goals, 3-1 HDSC and 12-7 Corsi five on five. Archibald hits like a truck, and he also had one HDSC. Khaira had three shots and a couple of great chances, this was one of his more involved games with the puck since the early days of the regular season. Chiasson had a strong game too, three shots and one fine chance on the power play. This is the third line of three I liked last night.
- Neal-McLeod-Kassian played 6:15, going 2-0 shots, no goals, 1-0 HDSC and 5-0 Corsi five on five. Neal had a great chance, one shot and was on the ice for the Poolman goal. McLeod had a dandy chance goalmouth early in the game, I think that’s the closest he’s come to scoring. Kassian had a vapor lock moment when pursuing a hit instead of defending a developing play, but that’s going to happen with this player, and a lot happened later.
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi played 5:10, going 5-0 shots, no goals, 2-1 HDSC and 11-1 Corsi five on five. I think we’ll see this line a little earlier Friday night.
- Nurse-Barrie played 23:55, 13-7 shots, 1-0 goals, 7-2 HDSC and 24-13 Corsi five on five. Both men picked up assists on the Puljujarvi goal and had a dominant evening. Most of the damage was done when on the ice with the McDavid line. Barrie seemed to defer to Nurse often for outlets, don’t know what that’s about. Nurse-Bear played 2:43 together late in the game.
- Kulikov-Larsson played 17:58 together, going 11-6 shots, 0-1 goals, 2-4 HDSC and 21-12 Corsi five on five. Both men allowed Poolman through without being marked, I think that was peculiar. Smith didn’t catch it clean but needed someone to ride Poolman into the distance. Other than that, save for some early wobble from Kulikov, I liked the pair.
- Koekkoek-Bear played 10:37, going 5-4 shots, 0-1 goals, 4-1 HDSC and 11-5 Corsi five on five. Koekkoek made a stunning pass to Nuge early for a chance, plus a takeaway. Bear passed the puck well, covered effectively and had one sequence where he got a strong shot on net and then another look but the puck went wide. The GA was tipped several times on the way to the net and the goalie got some of it, anyway. Stuff happens.
- Mike Smith stopped 18 of 20. No chance on the tip, and I don’t think he had adequate time to gather the puck. Poolman needed a door, not saloon doors.
BACKUPS AND HEALTHY SCRATCHES
Five years from now I’ll be looking around to see the healthy scratches, best to write it here where I’ll find it.
Mikko Koskinen (backup), Kris Russell, Kyle Turris, Joakim Nygard, Devin Shore, Patrick Russell, Tyler Ennis, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Gaetan Haas and Alex Stalock.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
I think the Oilers played well enough to win last night but had some bad luck and two mistakes/omissions/bad breaks ended up in the back of the net. That was a coin flip game after the Jets survived Edmonton’s strong second period.
I can accuse Edmonton of sitting back in the third but that would give too little credit to Winnipeg. That team worked their asses off all night, credit where due.
If the Oilers lose this series, and remember I picked Edmonton in seven, I think two main issues will come to the fore. The first one is something we talked about all season and that’s lack off true scorers on the roster. When Koekkoek sent that pass to Nuge, he cradled it and then shot the puck, giving Hellebuyck a split second to set himself. Wildly unfair to point to that play but it was an example of a massive opportunity not cashed.
Who will score in this series? JP is already in. McDavid and Draisaitl are locks. Chances are Barrie and or Nurse will get one and I’ll suggest Nuge will find a way.
Edmonton needs more scorers, to increase the offense. Inserting Tyler Ennis and Caleb Jones will increase offense, and maybe we see it Friday.
Bottom line: It’s one game. Edmonton earned a lead by the end
Bottom line: It’s one game. Edmonton earned a lead by the end of the second that did not exist. That happens and perhaps the luck lands on the other side of center ice in Game 2.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning we hit the ground running with a big show, TSN1260. Frank Seravalli will join us at 10:20 to talk about Game 1 and the series ahead and at 11 Murat Ates from The Athletic pops in to give us the Jets side of the story. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!