The Oilers are back in action tonight, looking to end a three game losing skid against the Carolina Hurricanes. I just looked at my calendar and it’s not 2008. Or 2009. Or even 2014. It’s 2017 and the Oilers have Connor McDavid and their best hope to win their second game of the year is to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that is probably more dangerous than people give them credit for.
The Oilers are in a slump, and while it’s very early in the season, it’s easy to see where the concern is coming from. For most of the offseason, much was made about the absence of Andrej Sekera on the blue line, and the lack of scoring depth created by the probably pairing of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. As it turns out, much of the handwringing was well-founded. With Draisaitl on injured reserve, and Sekera out for another 6 weeks (at least), this Oiler squad has some work to do to get back to playing .500 hockey.
After Saturday’s loss to Ottawa, it probably can’t get worse, can it?
Keys to the Game
- Score more goals than the other team. Seems simple, but they’ve been outscored 14-5 in their 3 losses, and that doesn’t win championships.
- Play more than 10 minutes of the game. There’s 60 minutes to a hockey game and playing 17% of those minutes gives you a 1-3 record.
- It seems that a key to beating the Oilers is to put the puck on net. With Laurent Brossoit getting the start, this might work just as well as if Talbot was in net. Who knows?
Players to Watch
- Laurent Brossoit gets his first start of the year tonight. Hopefully he makes it through the whole game.
- Brad Malone is centering the 4th line tonight. Not Ryan Malone. Brad, his cousin.
- The Hurricanes have a pretty solid top-4 on defence, and that should be trouble for the Oilers in certain matchups. Watching Justin Faulk do his thing is frustrating because he’d look REAL good in the orange and blue.
- Jeff Skinner is somehow older than Kailer Yamamoto but looks younger. I’ve always really enjoyed watching him skate, and I hope I get to see some of that tongiht (but not too much).
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ryan Strome
Jujhar Khaira – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Jussi Jokinen –
Ryan Brad Malone– Anton Slepyshev
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Eric Gryba – Yohann Auvitu
Sebastian Aho – Jordan Staal – Elias Lindholm
Teuvo Tervainen – Victor Rask – Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner – Derek Ryan – Janne Kuokkanen
Joakim Nordstrom – Marcus Kruger – Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin – Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin – Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury – Klas Dahlbeck
It’s only the 5th game of the year, and the Oilers aren’t in trouble…yet. But, it’s telling that there’s been very little offensive production away from Connor McDavid (who, at this time, accounts for 37.5% of the Oilers goals). With Leon Draisaitl out for an indefinite period of time, there’s little to suggest that will change unless the rest of the team picks up the slack. There’s been a lot of hullabaloo about the Oilers lack of scoring depth on the wings, but when 14 skaters have only managed 5 goals in 3 games, there’s a problem.
There’s also a little bit of concern on the blue line, but with the absence of Andrej Sekera this was to be expected. Instead of acquiring a defenceman who could play up and down the pairings, the Oilers have stood pat on their choices and only brought in Yohann Auvitu who is, as of now, a solid 3rd pair player. With Matt Benning out sick, there are few options on the backend. Cam Talbot’s play has been questionable enough that he’s not getting the start tonight – more than anything this should be a red flag for the team and for fans.
Can the Oilers recover from this slump? Absolutely. Will they? We’ll see.