Off the Top of My Head

Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
9 months ago
Connor McDavid’s numbers speak for themselves as he turns the Art Ross Trophy scoring race into a runaway once again, but it’s plays like he made on Ryan McLeod’s 3-1 goal in the Edmonton  Oilers a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday that still make me blink in disbelief. I’m guessing I’m not alone.
After scoring the 1-0 goal on a bank shot Minnesota Fats – I know, I’m a fossil — would be proud of and adding two assists, McDavid has 42-55-97 atop NHL scoring as the Oilers take on the Montreal Canadiens in another matinee today. That swiped puck off Thomas Chabot and feed to McLeod was something.
By the numbers, McDavid faces the Habs on a 15-game points streak (10-15-25), with points in 17 straight road games and 25 of the last 26. The win upped the Oilers’ points streak to 11 games at 9-0-2 as they climb Pacific Division standings.
“I didn’t like the look I was going to get so I just tried to find him,” McDavid said of relieving Chabot of the puck and finding McLeod after a spin move. I saw him skating up the ice hard and I just tried to find him on the backside. I saw him when I turned up kind of busting back door and just tried to put it over there. I think a little bit lucky. I think Chabot actually played it well and it just kind of went through him.”
Lucky? Nobody gets lucky as often a McDavid does.


Jan 13, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) watches the puck during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
With Kailer Yamamoto and Warren Foegele out of the line-up in Ottawa, Jesse Puljujarvi drew back in for the first time since Jan. 28 against the Chicago Blackhawks and he scored the 4-3 goal that would stand as the winner.
The story and ongoing saga we know. Puljujarvi already has one foot out the door. GM Ken Holland has been trying to find a team to take him without any success to this point. Holland has let every manager know he’s available. The goal isn’t going to change how Puljujarvi’s story ends in Edmonton, but it provided a nice moment for the kid.
Given his $3-million AAV and pedestrian 5-6-11 offensive totals, lack of interest in Puljujarvi as the March 3 trade deadline approaches is not a big surprise. Frank Seravalli of Daily Face-off has Puljujarvi ranked No. 13 on a list of 40 players he rates as top trade targets — based on how likely they are to be moved. In part, Seravalli writes of Puljujarvi:
“Scoop: Kailer Yamamoto is inching closer to a return to the lineup and that will likely force a decision on Puljujarvi’s future in Edmonton. Last month, Yamamoto’s injury bought the Oilers some time. But prior to Yamamoto returning, Oilers GM Ken Holland sent a note to all 31 other clubs advising them that Puljujarvi was available for trade.
“A handful of teams reached out with interest. They ended up not needing to pull the trigger. Yamamoto is eligible to return to the lineup on Feb. 12 and once that happens, provided that everyone else is healthy, they will likely need to execute a trade.”
It’s a case of the sooner the better for Puljujarvi and the Oilers. The Oilers can use the cap space and Puljujarvi needs a fresh start and a second opinion somewhere else.


Nov 7, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft (M) talks to his team during a timeout against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
After years of biding his time and paying his dues waiting to become an NHL head coach, Friday was the one-year anniversary of Jay Woodcroft being promoted from AHL Bakersfield to replace Dave Tippett in Edmonton. Woodcroft, 46, reached that milestone with a regular season record of 55-27-8 for a points percentage of .656 after Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia.
That .656 going into Ottawa had Woodcroft leading Oilers coaches in career points percentage ahead of Glen Sather (.616), Tippett (.596), Craig MacTavish (.537) and Kevin Lowe (.537). His 55 wins ranked 9th and his 90 games coached ranked 10th. Sather is the runaway leader in wins with 464 ahead of MacTavish with 301.
Woodcroft is a feel-good success story and one Jason Gregor did a really good job of telling with some input from Ken Hitchcock on Friday. Worth a read if you missed it.


Zach Hyman tied his career high 27 goals, set last season with the Oilers, against the Sens with a sweet backhand move on a penalty shot to make it 2-1. No calling this one back — he’d already be at a new high, but he’s had five goals disallowed this season.
The latest no-cigar call came against the Flyers in the third period with the game tied 1-1. Hyman buried a rebound but Foegele was ruled to have interfered with Hart. “I thought it was a goal, but I’m, not the one who makes that decision,” Woodcroft said.
Hyman registered his 300th NHL point with an assist on McDavid’s 1-0 goal against the Sens.
  • According to Chris Johnston of TSN, the Oilers and San Jose Sharks are talking about defenceman Erik Karlsson again. Sure. Makes no sense. In any case, no thanks.

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