Sunday’s game pitting the Edmonton Oilers against the Winnipeg Jets was one of the great games of the 2019-20 NHL season so far. It ended up a 1-0 Winnipeg Jets’ win over the Edmonton Oilers. I have to admit that usually I don’t like low-scoring games, but watching this one was good fun. Both teams played well.
The Oilers are getting ready to meet the Minnesota Wild in Minnesota on Tuesday night. Prior to that game, in this post, I want to bring Oilers’ fans up-to-speed with news surrounding the team.
Item One: Sam Gagner Recalled from Bakersfield
One of the old guys is back. Sam Gagner was recalled from AHL Bakersfield on Saturday and will join the Oilers. So far at Bakersfield, he had scored four points in the first four games of the AHL season. We’ll see if Gagner can play that well with the big team. To make room for Gagner, Edmonton sent Gaetan Haas to Bakersfield.
Item Two: Connor McDavid Was Held Without a Point Again
It doesn’t happen that often, but Connor McDavid was held without a point for the second straight game in Sunday’s loss to the Jets. To suggest just how seldom this happens, during the entire 2018-19 season it didn’t happen one time. That is, McDavid never went more than one game without a point.
McDavid is no longer leading the NHL in scoring. That honor belongs to Washington Capitals’ defenseman John Carlson, who’s having a really solid season. McDavid has 17 points, and Carlson now has 18 points. I’m thinking that won’t last, but it’s interesting that it is the case currently.
Item Three: Evan Bouchard Playing Well in Bakersfield
Evan Bouchard is playing well in Bakersfield. So far, he has two goals, one assist, and three points.
Bouchard leads all Condor defensemen in points. Since he was chosen as the Oilers’ first pick (10th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Bouchard has shown plenty of offensive potential. However, his defense needed work and the news is that he’s been diligent working on it.
Eventually, Bouchard will be running the Oilers’ power play. Whether it will be next season or not, we don’t know yet. But watch for him to eventually join Ethan Bear on the big club.
Item Four: Mike Smith Is Playing Great
Goalie Mike Smith faced 23 shots during regulation and overtime against the Jets but gave up goals in a shootout. Obviously, that cost his team the game. Although Smith gets credit for a shutout, he also ironically gets a loss.
The 37-year-old veteran goalie has allowed 10 goals in five games this season. He and goalie partner Mikko Koskinen are splitting time quite evenly. As of this writing, a starter has not been named for the game tomorrow against the Wild in Minnesota.
Item Five: Is There a Chance Taylor Hall Might End Up in Edmonton?
If you thought that the history between Taylor Hall and the Edmonton Oilers would keep Hall away from signing with his old team, perhaps it’s time to rethink. At least that’s what Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal believes. H thinks history is not a factor.
Here’s Leavins’ logic. He believes there were four influential voices in the Oilers’ decision to trade Taylor Hall. These voices included Peter Chiarelli. Kelly Buchberger, then head coach Todd McLellan, and former head coach and then advisor Craig MacTavish. However, all those voices have “long” departed.
Leavins adds, ”If there were any hard feelings in the Hall Camp at the time (and there most definitely were) those who embodied those feelings are no longer around.” (from Kurt Leavins, “As the 7-and-1 Edmonton Oilers rocket out of the gate, we gaze deeper into a Taylor-made future: 9 Things,” The National Post, 10/20/19)
Leavins believes Hall liked Edmonton and enjoyed playing in a Canadian market. Now only pragmatic questions remain. These include (a) what other offers Hall might receive and (b) can the Oilers afford Hall’s asking price?
What’s Next for the Edmonton Oilers?
As noted, the Oilers play the Wild in Minnesota tomorrow evening. They are fresh from a single point, but a zero in the scoring column. I think they will come out on fire. Who will play in goal for the Wild? It’s likely to be ex-Oiler Devan Dubnyk, but I haven’t heard that for a fact.
I predict an Oilers’ victory 7-3.