If you are passionate hockey fan like myself, then chances are you weren’t expecting such a disappointing start from the Edmonton Oilers this season.
Behind their exceptional trio of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and goaltender Cam Talbot, the Edmonton Oilers were looking as though they were ready to rule the Pacific Division for the foreseeable future and become a regular Stanley Cup contender. The current season may only a month old; however, the Oilers have looked more like the bottom-feeding mess that all of us became accustomed to prior to Connor McDavid’s arrival, instead of the young, dynamic team that was set to take the NHL by storm.
Throughout the course of this article, the plan is to look at the Edmonton Oilers and explore some of the deficiencies that have caused this team to drop off so significantly. In my opinion, there are three major reasons.
Reason Number One – The Oilers Just Cannot Score Goals
Image source: twitter.com
Throughout their impressive run last season, the Edmonton Oilers boasted an extremely potent offensive attack – ranking 8th in the NHL in goals scored. However, as of right now, the offense literally could not be any more of a disaster.
This season, Edmonton currently ranks dead last in the NHL in terms of goals scored – averaging an awful 2.3 goals per game. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each lead the way with 6 goals in 13 games, however, three of McDavid’s goals came all the way back in the opening game of the season. In 12 games since he has only scored 3 times, so really, Connor McDavid has been relatively cold thus far when it comes to scoring goals. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has looked impressive, but at this point, it is safe to assume that he is not exactly an elite sniper.
Outside of Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, consistent goal scoring is hard to find when looking at the Edmonton Oilers’ roster. Before being traded, Jordan Eberle was quality player capable of scoring 20-30 goals for this team, but after a terrible trade, he is now on pace to score 65 points for the New York Islanders. The Oilers meanwhile, are now stuck with Ryan Strome who has been nothing but a bust so far in his career.
Ultimately, The Edmonton Oilers’ need their offense to start clicking if they intend to make a run over the next few months. Leon Draisaitl has played very well since returning from injury, and the Oilers desperately need the help of both him, and their defense, which brings us to our next point.
Reason Number Two – Defensively, The Oilers Have Taken A Notable Step Back
Image source: bostonherald.com
Another reason as to why the Edmonton Oilers were so successful last season was their above average play defensively. In 2016/17, the Oilers allowed the 9th fewest shots on goal and the 8th fewest goals against. As a result of this, goaltender Cam Talbot was able to put together a brilliant season – recording a save percentage of 91.9%, and allowing just 2.39 goals per game.
Similar to the offensive woes, the script has completely flipped this season regarding the team’s defensive play. In 2017/18, the Oilers currently rank 18th in terms of shots allowed, and 18th in terms of goals against. Cam Talbot has performed admirably in net once again this season, however, it is evident that he needs more help. His numbers are notably down from a year ago and it is due in large part to the absurd amount of shots that he is facing.
With Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, and Darnell Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers do indeed have plenty of talent amongst their defensive group, however, an above-average stopper on the blueline still appears to be a major need for this team. Edmonton’s ability to tighten up defensively and help Cam Talbot will ultimately have a major influence as to whether or not this season can be turned around.
Reason Number Three – The Oilers Play On Special Teams Is Horrendous
Image source: gettyimages.de
There is not a whole lot that needs to be said here, as the Edmonton Oilers have simply been pathetic with regards to their special teams play.
Last season, Edmonton boasted a top five power-play unit, and they were at least amongst the middle of the pack when it came to killing penalties. This season, however, The Oilers have dropped down to 25th in power-play percentage, and now rank dead last in the NHL in terms of penalty-kill percentage.
At the end of the day, this is a black and white area. Teams quite often win games, and lose games, based on how well they are able to perform during power-play and penalty-killing situations. The Edmonton Oilers will be in trouble until they are able to correct these issues.
The Bottom Line
The Edmonton Oilers are an extremely talented team, and with the players present on their roster, they are an outfit that is capable of beating any team in the league. However, unless this team can start scoring goals, limiting their opponent’s shots attempts, and converting on special teams, it looks as though the Oilers could be in danger of returning to the NHL’s basement.
There is still time for the Edmonton Oilers to turn it all around, but in an extremely tough division, something needs to happen right now.