It has been one of many, if not the most important story ,over the previous variety of weeks within the NHL is how a lot the Edmonton Oilers have struggled. Followers aren’t completely happy, administration is engaged on options, however the confidence and hope within the dressing room haven’t utterly gone away. Whether or not it’s how the staff is constructed or the mentality within the room, I consider the Oilers are nonetheless in a greater place this season than various different good groups which have struggled this season as nicely. I’ll go into element beneath.
Brendan Perlini, identified for his optimism, had this to say about the place the Oilers are at proper now in a latest sit-down with the media, “I feel it might solely go up. I’ve been on groups the place you lose six, seven, eight in a row and you’ll win six, seven, eight in a row similar to that.” That is what the Oilers did however in reverse. They began the season 16-5-0 and have gone 2-10-2 since. There’s no motive to suppose that the staff can’t flip the swap proper again, particularly with two of one of the best gamers on the earth in Perlini’s thoughts and doubtless each different hockey fan’s thoughts.
Perlini mentioned, “I prefer to convey constructive vitality to the fellows within the room.” That kind of mentality can preserve the spirits and vitality up within the room. Whereas he goes on to say that practices just like the one the staff simply had, puck battling and preventing exhausting is the beginning of a turnaround, and he’s skilled the identical factor prior to now.
The Oilers’ greatest rival, the Calgary Flames, have additionally been taking part in poorly, however the consideration appears to be solely on Edmonton. Possibly it’s as a result of the expectations have been greater for the Oilers, however Calgary has been proper beside the Oilers all season lengthy.
They’ve had various bounce-back and breakout candidates which have principally all gone quiet as of late. After profitable seven of eight video games from Nov. 18 to Dec. 3, they’ve posted a document of 2-7-1, dropping 4 in a row thus far. That’s not a lot better than the Oilers, and it has come on the good time for an Oilers staff watching themselves fall within the standings, as a result of the Flames haven’t gained a lot floor in any respect. Aside from the Flames, who’ve performed one much less recreation than the Oilers, the opposite groups forward of them within the Pacific Division have all performed 4 to 6 extra video games.
The principle motive why the Flames have been so dominant in the beginning of the season was the play of their goaltenders. Of their previous 4 video games, they’ve allowed 20 targets after solely letting in 67 within the first 30 video games. They’ve posted seven shutouts on the season, however all of them got here within the first 19 video games of 2021-22.
With many Flames slowing down offensively as nicely, it’s a recipe that they have to repair at each ends of the ice, no totally different than the Oilers, besides the Flames don’t have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Gamers on Calgary like Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, and Blake Coleman have all been nowhere to be discovered as of late. Dube has two targets in his final 14 video games, and Mangiapane has scored three targets and added an help in his previous 14 video games after scoring 15 targets in his first 19 video games. Backlund has three assists in his previous 15 video games regardless of taking part in nicely over 17 minutes an evening, and although Coleman has put up 4 factors in his previous 5 video games, he has simply 11 factors in 33 video games on the season and had seven in his previous 27 (3-4).
The Flames of 2020-21 weren’t superb, and there’s that kind of recreation creeping again into the Flames of 2021-22. Head coach Darryl Sutter has mentioned, “I simply suppose the emotional degree of our group has been missing for a time frame now.” There’s a distinction right here between the Flames and the way the Oilers have been taking part in. Although the Oilers have fallen behind early, they’ve fought again and stayed within the recreation, battling to the tip in lots of their latest losses.
The Dallas Stars have been very streaky this season, particularly as of late. The NHL was placed on discover once they went on a seven-game win streak on the finish of November and allowed simply 9 targets. Then they proceeded to lose 5 in a row in regulation, permitting 19 targets and scoring one or fewer targets in 4 of the 5 video games. The Stars snapped that by profitable 4 in a row, however the one factor that improved was the offensive output. Their defence and skill to maintain the puck out of the web has remained a difficulty, and so they have misplaced three of 4 since.
The Oilers have been streaky too, however it’s come within the type of two lengthy streaks at reverse ends of the spectrum. The Oilers and the Stars have the very same document, however the Stars have suffered much less impactful accidents. The most important challenge the Stars have run into is the underperformance of various their core forwards who’re being paid nicely and that they depend on. The Oilers sit ninth in targets for per recreation (GF/GP) with 3.29 and twenty fifth in goals-against per recreation (GA/GP) with 3.34. That is additionally with out half of their NHL defencemen for stretches of video games and an injured Mike Smith for a lot of the season. The Stars are twenty third in GF/GP with 2.77 and seventeenth in GA/GP with 3.00. Evaluating the 2, the Oilers have the benefit, particularly with the Stars permitting 3.61 GA/GP since their seven-game win streak.
The majority of the offence has been positioned on Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Miro Heiskanen, whereas what was as soon as a dominant line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov have failed to supply at a fee everyone seems to be used to seeing from them. Radulov has one purpose and 12 factors in 31 video games this season and can be failing to supply if not for helping on the 9 targets by every of Benn and Seguin. As for these two, Benn has 4 factors in his final 12 video games, all coming in two of them, whereas Seguin’s manufacturing could be the most disappointing, as he has recorded only one help in his previous 24 video games alongside along with his 5 targets.
Will Pavelski have the ability to sustain his scoring tempo all season? He’s now 37 and an unrestricted free agent after the season, so he may even be a doable commerce chip earlier than the deadline if the Stars suppose they aren’t within the race. Robertson has had some minor harm issues early in his profession, so which will preserve him out for a handful of video games at a time, one thing they’ll’t afford when he’s taking part in at over some extent per recreation.
As for the goaltenders, Jake Oettinger got here in very popular, profitable his first 5 begins and permitting simply seven targets. Since then, he’s 4-3-0 and hasn’t allowed fewer than two targets in a recreation. The opposite man in internet, Braden Holtby, has misplaced 4 of his final 5 video games and has allowed 17 targets. With each the offensive struggles of various gamers and their goalies not with the ability to win video games for the staff as of late, it doesn’t look to be getting a lot better on the horizon.
Although the Stars have been lights out at dwelling this season, they’ve the worst highway document within the Western Convention and second-worst within the NHL. A staff that performs that poorly on the highway received’t have the ability to keep within the race as a result of they received’t have the ability to keep any momentum and must stay almost undefeated at dwelling.
For the reason that begin of the season, everybody has been ready for when the Anaheim Geese will lastly fall off a bit. That has occurred lately. They, too, have simply received two video games prior to now 10, permitting 3.7 GA/GP and scoring 2.2 GF/GP. Whereas taking part in essentially the most video games within the division with 41, six greater than the Oilers, they’ve additionally failed to realize a lot floor on the Oilers whereas they haven’t been in a position to win both.
Whereas Ryan Getzlaf and Troy Terry’s begin was superb, it was too good to be true, extra so for Getzlaf, who is popping 37 and hasn’t been near a point-per-game participant since 2017-18. He has only one purpose and 5 factors in his previous 15 video games after beginning out the season with one purpose and 19 factors within the first 18 video games. This additionally has to do with Terry’s goal-scoring slowing down. He began the season with 12 targets and 22 factors within the first 17 video games, however since then, he has scored 10 targets and 14 factors in his final 21 video games.
Fortunately, Trevor Zegras has lastly proven the kind of participant he’s after a gradual begin, however he and Sonny Milano can’t carry the vast majority of the offence alone. Accidents have slowed the Geese down a bit, however in addition they couldn’t be anticipated to maintain up the tempo they began the season.
The Oilers are seven factors again of the Geese with six video games in hand, in order that’s simply above .500 hockey if the Oilers can snap out of this dropping streak quickly. A thought that also needs to be going by means of the minds of Geese administration is, are they too early to compete? The reply is sure, however they nonetheless should decide on whether or not they are going to promote on the deadline to additional push alongside the rebuild that seemingly seemed over originally of the season.
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Each staff goes by means of robust stretches. The Oilers’ robust stretch simply so occurs to be lengthy. The staff confirmed everybody simply how good they are often originally of the season, and with one of the best gamers on the earth, you possibly can’t depend out that the offence can simply activate a dime and so they begin scoring over 4 targets a recreation nightly once more. The dropping streak is coming to an finish, and when that occurs, the staff goes to wish to preserve the sensation that brings them.
Rob Sofa is a THW freelance author overlaying primarily the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers the whole lot it’s worthwhile to find out about fantasy hockey. He can even preserve you updated with the NHL Stat Nook and commerce talks from across the NHL.
Yow will discover extra of his work right here.