Most people are just happy that the Edmonton Oilers have 37 points. Most people seem to think others are overreacting to losses. Maybe so, but what happened last night at Rogers Place was 1000% inexcusable from the Edmonton Oilers. It isn’t the first time it has happened this season, and it won’t be the last if they don’t learn from it.
There seems to be a narrative going around the the Oilers are a “different team” this year. In some facets that is correct. After all, the team has sat in a playoff spot since opening day and actually built a solid cushion in the month of October.
They’ve also had a knack for rebounding after tough losses.
The problems? Well, they haven’t won three games in a row since the five-game winning streak that started their season. Oh, and that cushion is essentially gone now.
The Oilers are right back with the pack. On the morning after a royal pants soiling against a putrid Ottawa Senators team, the Oilers find themselves just one point ahead of Arizona for the Pacific lead. The Coyotes have a game in hand and, in all likelihood, will pass the Oilers before Edmonton takes the ice tomorrow night.
The Coyotes visit the Flyers tonight and then a severely banged up Penguins team tomorrow night. Both before the Oilers battle the LA Kings at Rogers Place.
Vegas is just three points back of Edmonton now, while the Canucks sit five back and hold a game in hand. Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks continue to pick up points and close the gap. The Sharks are now six points back, while the Wild are seven. Both teams have played less games than Edmonton.
A lot of people seemed to think, at the very least, a Wild Card spot was locked up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Edmonton Oilers are locked into a fight now, one they got themselves into.
No matter what way you want to slice it, Wednesday’s performance against the Ottawa Senators was poor. Leon Draisaitl said it best when he proclaimed that the Oilers likely wouldn’t have even beat an AHL team. They wouldn’t have.
The Oilers dominated the first period and jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but they couldn’t put away a decidedly lesser opponent. They kept Ottawa in the game, the Senators picked up the urgency, and the Oil found themselves passed like a house of the side of the road.
The Senators thoroughly dominated the final forty minutes and walked out with the two points. This came after the Senators were slapped around in Vancouver on Tuesday. It was the second half of a back-to-back, with travel, an undermanned roster and a five-game losing streak on their shoulders.
You aren’t going to win every game during the season. In fact, last night very well could be a one-off for the Oilers. Hell, I’d even be willing to label it that way if they hadn’t done it multiple times already this season. The Oilers were run out of Chicago, Minnesota and Los Angeles earlier this season, and suffered a loss to the Red Wings that they were never really in.
Five games. Ten points. Ten points against teams with absolutely no prayer of making the playoffs. Gone. Down the tubes from poor efforts. You can say “Well, you gotta tip your cap to the other team,” and that’s true to a degree. The Senators outplayed the Oilers in the final forty minutes and were by far the more urgent, engaged team.
The common denominator in these games though? The Edmonton Oilers failed to match the urgency. They were completely outworked and thought they had an easy night ahead of them.
The sign of a good NHL team is winning a majority of the games you are supposed to. Right now, the Edmonton Oilers aren’t there. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact right now. Will they get there? That’s up for debate, and there are signs that suggest they will get there eventually.
The Oilers have been applauded, and rightfully so, for their ability to put losses behind them and win games. They also should be criticized for being unable to string wins and urgent efforts together after wins.
Even if Edmonton just split the above games, going 2-2-1, they would be in an immensely better position. Hell, if they did that many of us would be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for a bad night.
This has happened far too often, and it is going to cost the club in the long run if it continues. The Oilers have matured in a lot of ways this season and improved in so many spots. Keeping their urgency level against bad teams has to be the next area of improvement. They cannot keep wasting points that good teams collect.
And One More Thing:
I understand it takes two to dance, but GM Ken Holland cannot sit on his hands until February if he wants this to be a playoff group. There are too many good teams in the west finding stride and the Oilers are due for some serious regression when it comes to their PK, shooting percentage and save percentage.
This club has some elite talent on it, but they have absolutely no depth up front. The Oilers are in desperate need of another top six forward and quite frankly it would be a massive failure on Holland’s part if he didn’t add one.
This team is off to their best start in recent history. It would be a damn shame to waste it thanks to indecision and too much patience. Sometimes you need to adjust the plan. This is one of those times. They owe it to the McDavid/Draisaitl/RNH/Nurse/Klefbom core.