Edmonton Oilers Current Slump Raises Big Concerns

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 1: Edmonton Oilers Center Leon Draisaitl (29) in action in the first period during the Edmonton Oilers game versus the Pittsburg Penguins on December 1, 2021 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers are currently in the midst of a 5 game losing streak. It’s the clubs longest losing streak since losing 3 straight last season from February 27th to March 3rd, 2021.

On 3 occasions this season, the Edmonton Oilers have had a winning streak of 3 plus games, and this is the first time that they’ve lost more than one game in a row.

The Oilers’ record still sits at a respectable 16-10-0. Good hockey teams go on losing streaks, but there are obvious weaknesses in the team’s game getting exposed right now.

Concerns come with Oilers current losing streak

The Oilers very obviously lacked depth scoring last season. It showed in their 4 game sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of playoffs.

It seemed like Ken Holland addressed some of the issues with bringing in secondary offensive players like Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele. Along with the emergence last year of Jesse Puljujarvi, it seemed like the Oilers offense would be fine.

5 on 5 Scoring…

The offense is contributing, but not a lot and only from the top-six. The Oilers have scored 50 goals this season while at 5 on 5 play, which is 55% of their total goals. 34 of them have came from players in the top-six and 6 have come from defensemen. 14 of those goals were also scored by Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.

That leaves only 10 goals at 5 on 5 from the bottom-six forwards. These players basically only see even strength play, unless they’re on the penalty kill, so they need to produce.

Possible Solutions?

A big shake up in lines need to happen for the Oilers, and not just putting 97 and 29 together and hoping they score 5 goals for you.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 3 goals and 6 assists at even strength, while Kailer Yamamoto only has 4 goals and 1 assist. That’s not enough for players in the top-six. Guys like Kassian (who has seen top-six) and Foegele each have 7 points, and are players who can move up and down the lineup.

RNH is a natural centre and I’d like to see him run his own line. He has chemistry with Yamamoto so maybe putting both of them on the third line with a player like Ryan McLeod will spread out the offense.

I’m no NHL Head Coach but this is an Oilers forward lines combination I’d like to see:

LWCRW
FoegeleMcDavidPuljujarvi
HymanDraisaitlKassian
McLeodRNHYamamoto
ShoreRyanSceviour

Foegele is the most interesting to me, he does pretty much everything but score. He hunts pucks down, throws the body, drives the net hard and plays with a ton of energy. I believe he’s a guy that can work hard and get the puck to McDavid, who can finish.

Is the powerplay powering down?

The first 10 games of the year when the Oilers went 9-1-0, seen the team score at least 1 powerplay goal in each of those games. In that span the PP went a whopping 15 for 30 (50%).

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The next 11 games after that, the powerplay cooled down and only scored 8 times on their 37 opportunities (22%). Currently on the 5 game losing streak the Oilers have had a good amount of powerplay chances, with 18, but have only capitalized on 3 of them (17%).

The Oilers’ powerplay unit is still clinging on to first place in the league but it has definitely slowed down. I don’t think anyone thought they would keep up a 50% pace but the struggles on the PP is worrisome. Especially for a team that relies on special teams so much.

Easy fix?

Opposing teams are starting to realise what they need to shut down to stop the Oilers’ powerplay and lately it’s been the cross ice pass for a Draisaitl one-timer. Just like Alex Ovechkin, I believe that Leon is going to keep finding ways to score on the powerplay, but the team needs to switch it up every now and then.

With all the offensive talent this team has they can score in so many ways on the powerplay. To me, they need to stop looking for that perfect pass and start shooting when they have the chance. Every guy on the first unit has the ability to score and they need to utilize that option.

Bad starts and inconsistent goaltending

The Oilers have given up the first goal in every one of their games during this 5 game skid. The two games before that, they scored first and won both of them.

Edmonton has seemed sluggish at the start of almost every game this season but they’ve found ways to win anyways. Lately though, that hasn’t been the case. Giving up the first goal is very demoralizing, especially when it’s early in the game.

One of the biggest holes lately is the inconsistency in goaltending. Both Stuart Skinner and Mikko Koskinen have made huge save in key moments to keep the team in the game. At the same time, there has been a lot of soft goals allowed as well.

It will be nice to see what Mike Smith can bring as he’s rumoured to be returning soon.

There’s positives to take from all of this

Edmonton has come out looking energetic the last few games but have ran into great goaltending. There’s no excuses when on a 5 game losing streak but Minnesota, Boston and Carolina are 3 very strong teams. I think the Oilers played very well against all of them.

The Oilers got away with a lot of sloppy play at the start of the season, thanks in large to a very potent powerplay. The team seems to have found another gear recently but still lost the last 3 to tough oppenents.

No need to panic yet..

Dave Tippet’s club has been throwing more pucks at the net lately, which is something they didn’t do early in the season. One of the biggest factors to these losses has been luck as well. Hockey is the most random sport in the world and is played at such high speeds that literally anything can happen.

The Oilers look like they’re getting close to being back to fully healthy again with Duncan Keith and Mike Smith back in full practise jerseys. I know these guys aren’t exactly show stoppers or star players, but they bring a veteran presence that can hopefully calm this team down.

Losing streaks are never fun for fans but it’s not fun for the team either. This Edmonton Oilers team is a good hockey team and they proved that through the first 20 games of the year. Like last season when the Oilers got man-handled by Toronto for 3 games, getting out scored 13-1. They responded by winning 4 straight and 8 of their next 10.

Oilers’ fans are famous for running players and/or coaches out of town and it’s came back to haunt us plenty of times. For me, there is definitely no reason for fans to panic and demand drastic changes. (yet)

Good teams go on losing streaks too. It’s the way the team finds a way out of it and how they respond after that elusive first win.

Stats provided by moneypuck.com

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Author

  • Hockey is my #1 passion whether it is playing, watching, on a video game or in fantasy sports. When I'm not at the rink in the winter, I'm at the golf course in the summer. Writing is a big hobby of mine and I'm excited to be able to share my thoughts with our readers about my favorite team: the Edmonton Oilers Leave a comment.. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Twitter: @canaday16

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