As we near Christmas, we are witnessing the natural selection process of the NHL unfold in the Western Conference. The teams who can’t survive on their own fall back and with 36% of the season finished (460 of 1,271 games), I believe the playoff race in the west is down to eleven teams. Chicago, Los Angeles, St.Louis and Arizona are done in my books. Yesterday, the Coyotes announced Antti Raanta is likely done for the season. Raanta wasn’t having a great year, but the Coyotes are currently seven points out of a playoff spot and Darcy Kuemper or Adin Hill will be their starter moving forward.
The Yotes struggle to score and without a proven starter I don’t see them getting back in the race. The Vancouver Canucks went 1-10-2 before winning their last two games, and while the Canucks have one of the most exciting young players in the league, Elias Pettersson, they are teetering on the brink of focusing on the draft lottery instead of the playoffs.
For the past 12 seasons I, along with you, have had a front row seat of watching opposing teams trample over a lame, beaten-down team, so I’m confident in my experience in knowing when a team is out of the race.
The good news for Oilersnation is the Oilers aren’t there. They are right in the hunt.
Edmonton is 7-2-1 in their last ten games, which coincides with Ken Hitchcock joining the club. Earlier this season the Oilers went 8-2-1 between October 13th-November 3rd, so we know they are capable of playing competitive hockey for ten game stretches. If it wasn’t for an ugly 1-6-0 stretch between their two-hot streaks the Oilers would be in playoff position this morning.
They aren’t far off, however, sitting in ninth place, one point back of Vegas and Dallas for the two wildcard spots, and one point back of San Jose for third place in the Pacific Division. Their 1-0 victory over the Flames last night kept them within six points of the division lead. I’d say winning the division is a long shot, but the Oilers should be in the playoff race all season. Realistically I see the Oilers, Stars, Knights, and Wild battling for the final two playoff spots. I think the Canucks are a year away from being a legitimate playoff contender.
The Oilers will be in the hunt, and possibly the driver’s seat for a wildcard berth or third place in the division if they continue to get great goaltending.
Mikko Koskinen is making a lot of people devour large doses of Crow. I never hated the signing like many did. I thought for $2 million it would be a good bet, and I understood why they ended up paying him $2.5 million. Free agents always get more money, but I didn’t expect Koskinen to be this dominant.
At home, he’s been almost unbeatable.
He is 6-0 with three shutouts, a .972sv% and he’s only allowed five goals. He also came off the bench in relief against Colorado and stopped 12 of 13 shots, but in games he’s started he’s been incredible, and he is looking more confident with every start. Last night the Oilers didn’t give up many quality chances, and Koskinen felt it was a easier night for him. “The guys played great in front of me. They made it easy for me,” he said after being named first star again.
I’d guess we see Koskinen Tuesday in Colorado, Talbot Thursday in Winnipeg and Koskinen on Friday night when Philadelphia visits. Koskinen’s .929sv% is third best in the NHL among goalies with at least ten starts. Only Pekka Rinne and Jaroslav Halak are better at .930sv%. Koskinen is making a strong case to get a multi-year extension in 2019, but there is no rush to sign him. He has been incredible, but it is only 13 starts. The Oilers can afford to be patient, and should be able to get him signed to a solid contract in the summer.
I could see a three-year deal around $4.5 million/season if he plays well the remainder of the season.
1. Cam Talbot has put together consecutive quality starts. If he keeps doing that he’ll likely stay in the rotation with Koskinen, but if he’d had an off night, I could’ve seen Hitchcock going with Koskinen for three or four games in a row. It is a healthy competition between the pipes right now, but I’d argue Koskinen has the upper hand.
2. Pettersson already has two five-point games this season. He is only the sixth rookie since 1967 to have two five-point games, joining Mathew Barzal, who had three five point games last year, and Marian Stastny (1982), Anton and Peter Stastny (1981, in the same game) and Bryan Trottier in 1976. I love watching Pettersson. He is dynamic, has great vision and a sensational release. I’m looking forward to watching him live on December 27th.
3. Patrik Laine, Jakub Voracek, Mark Stone, Blake Wheeler and Brayden Point have had a five-point night and we’ve already seen 48 occasions where a player has scored four points. Connor McDavid has two and David Pastrnak has had three four-point nights. Last season McDavid had one five-point night and one four-point game and seven three-pointers.
4. Congratulations to the Ontario Hockey League for imposing the most idiotic one game suspension I’ve ever seen. Owen Tippett will sit out one game for flipping a foam puck to a kid. It is scary how our society seems incapable of using common sense nowadays. “It’s worth noting that tossing the foam puck would have been fine. The fact that he flipped it with his stick made it a more serious offense.” Good grief.
5. The Eastern conference is much tighter than the West, but that’s mainly due to them having so many average teams right now. The New Jersey Devils are in last place in the east, but they are only five points out of a playoff spot. The Metropolitan division has the Islanders in third with 31 points, then the Rangers (31), Pittsburgh (30), Carolina (30), Philadelphia (27) and the Devils. I’d pick the Penguins to emerge out of this group, and I suspect there will only be three Metro teams in the playoffs this season.
6. For my money Tampa Bay is the best team in the NHL. They are now 9-1 in their last ten and lead the NHL with 47 points. Only Calgary (40) and Toronto (41) have more than 40 points. The Bolts are in Edmonton on Saturday, December 22nd and they are a team you want to see.
7. I remember when many of us thought Steven Stamkos would rival Alex Ovechkin for the title of “best goal scorer,” but it hasn’t happened. Between 2010-2012 Stamkos scored 51, 45 and 60 goals. But since then his best season was 43 goals in 2015. From 2013 until now Ovechkin has scored 290 goals in 479 games (0.60 goals/game) while Stamkos has 181 in 370 games (0.48 goals/game). The only players with 200 goals during that span are John Tavares (206), Sidney Crosby (203), Joe Pavelski (202) and Patrick Kane (201). Ovie has 84 more goals than every other player. I still believe we undervalue just how great he is. He currently leads the NHL with 22 goals, one ahead of Patrik Laine and Brayden Point.
8. Speaking of Point, I’d argue he is the Lightning’s best forward right now. He’s incredibly competitive and highly skilled. I remember the 2014 draft and wondering why teams weren’t taking him. He eventually went in the third round, 79th overall. Point had 91 points in his draft year, but teams were leery of his size. He was only 155 pounds, but he was ultra competitive. He scored, he fought, he did everything. Never underestimate skill. Players won’t suddenly score more as they go from junior to pros.
MONTH OF GIVING…
A massive thank you to Heather who bid an amazing $15,000 on our Chop dinner. Also a big props to Kathryn for her amazing bid on the Oilers/Flames Loge package. Thank you, ladies.
DAY SIX: FARMING PACKAGE and Oilers Game
Full Acre is offering up a year-long marketing subscription for your farm and a great night out for dinner and an Oilers game.
- Daily Market Updates via Email & Text
- Daily Weather Updates (Local & World content)
- Daily Grain Marketing Podcast
- Bi-Weekly Local price discovery (Tracking local prices & premiums)
- Weekly Recommendations Report
- Monthly Marketing Reports (Covering World Content)
- 4 – Formal Grain Marketing Meetings at your farm.These come with a set agenda where we focus on creating and implementing the grain marketing plan, some topics include reviewing cashflow and deliveries, discussing market direction and strategies, chart and trend analysis, grain deals, etc.
2 – Informal Meetings (June/Sept) to review crop conditions and harvest progress.
- Weekly phone calls from your advisor.
- Grain Sample Distribution to grain companies
- 3rd Party Grading with SGS
- Sample Bags/Pails/Sample Sticks for harvest
- Facilitation of grain deals with multiple grain companies
- Invites to Marketing Seminars and local agricultural events
- Exclusive invitations to Full Acre customer events including our Feb 5th Conference occuring in South Edmonton
- Starting Spring 2019 access to our data platform to track/manage your farm operation
Dinner and Hockey
Full Acre will take you out to dinner at Atlas Steak +Fish for all your food and beverages and then you have FOUR great seats to the Oilers game on January 12th.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Wild About Talbot
- Oilers Questions: What Are The Answers
- GDB 28.0: Beat up Blues
- GDB Game Notes: Don’t look at me — I’m hideous
- Random Thoughts: No Depth, Go For It, A Rare Winning Streak
- Streaking Stars