Are The Oilers Back?

It may only be December, but it has already been a tale of two seasons for the Edmonton Oilers.

In the first one, everything was going wrong for the hockey club. Connor McDavid dealt with an injury, the team got horrible goaltending, they fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and replaced him with Kris Knoblauch, and they were one of the worst teams in the league.

For a team that came into the season as a Stanley Cup contender, they certainly did not look like one. Instead, they looked like a team that could not do anything right.

Fast forward to this “second season,” and everything is very different for this hockey club. The Oilers are 11-12-1, which puts them five points behind the Arizona Coyotes, who are in the second wild card spot.

That is a major improvement from where they were. This team is where they are now because they are 7-3 in their last ten games and are currently on a six-game winning streak.

There are several reasons why this team is heating up. Of course, it starts with the play of McDavid.

To say that McDavid, 26, is on fire would be a severe understatement. He is currently on an eight-game point streak, and in those eight games, he has compiled 21 points on five goals and 16 assists.

When McDavid got hurt, a lot of other NHLers shot up the scoring leaderboard. Do not look now, but he is currently seventh in the league in scoring with 34 points in 22 games. Do not be surprised that at the end of the season, he ends up winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s scoring leader.

You cannot talk about McDavid without also mentioning Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl, 28, is having yet another strong season, as he is currently second on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points.

Draisaitl has also been a major factor on the team’s power play this season, which is currently fourth in the league, having converted about 27 (27.4 percent) percent of their opportunities. He leads the Oilers with eight goals with the man advantage.

Not only are both McDavid and Draisaitl putting up points, but the team is also getting scoring from their defensemen. For the Oilers, it is defenseman Evan Bouchard who is cranking out the points from the blue line.

Bouchard, 24, is off to a fantastic start this year for this Oilers hockey team. He is currently fourth on the team in scoring, with 27 points on seven goals and 20 assists. What is more, is that Bouchard’s defensive play has improved, which means that he is getting a lot of ice time as he is averaging 22:10 minutes of ice time per game.

The Oilers are also starting to get better goaltending, Stuart Skinner. Skinner, 25, is currently 10-7-0-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average, a .887 save percentage, and one shutout.

While those numbers do not look great, he has been solid during his team’s six-game winning streak. Just look at these numbers:

  • November 26th against the Anaheim Ducks: Stopped 21 of 23 shots.
  • November 28th against the Vegas Golden Knights: Stopped 23 of 27 shots.
  • November 30th against the Winnipeg Jets: Stopped 25 of 26 shots.
  • December 6th against the Carolina Hurricanes: Stopped 38 of 39 shots.
  • December 8th against the Minnesota Wild: Stopped 17 of 20 shots.

Lastly, the team’s new head coach has them playing the right way. They are back to scoring goals, playing more responsibly on the other side of the puck, and are listening to what he wants for them.

For the Oilers, Knoblauch represents a new voice and a new opportunity. Woodcroft coached the Oilers for two-and-a-half seasons, and while he helped them have a lot of success, each season ended with the same result. With Knoblauch now manning the bench, the result at the end of the season might end up being a better one if they continue to play this kind of hockey.

There is still a lot of time left in the season for this team to get fully back on track. Once that happens, the rest of the league should be put on notice!

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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