Oilers: State of the Team at the All-Star Break

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Ilya Samsonov #30 of the Washington Capitals during the first period of the game at Capital One Arena on February 2, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers are at the annual “unofficial” half way mark of the NHL season, the All-Star break. With many postponements in this year’s schedule, the club is at 42 games played, with a record of 23-16-3. The hardest part is unfortunately up next, with the Oilers finishing the last 40 games in just 81 days.

A hot start made the Oilers look better than they are, but a terrible December and early January has set this team back to what was expected. They’re currently on pace to finish the season with about 90 to 100 points, probably right around where everyone would place them.

Oilers finding much needed depth..

Edmonton made the rumours true when the club officially signed Evander Kane to a 1 year, $2,108,696 contract. The 6’2”, 212 pound winger has 262 goals and 242 assists in 769 career games. He’s also in the top 30 NHL players in goals-per-game since the 2015-16 season.

Kane slid right onto the top line alongside Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto in his first game against the Montreal Canadiens. He also ended up scoring his first goal as an Oiler on Saturday night. Not only was it Kane’s first goal of the season, it snapped a streak of 11 straight games that the team was unable to score the first goal of the game. He now has 2 goals in his first 3 games with Edmonton.

The most beneficial part of having Kane in the lineup is the depth it added upfront. It has been an area that was said to be improved from last season, without the results.

Most notably is Dave Tippet being able to roster a centre core of McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the top 3 lines. There’s also the option to play Ryan McLeod on the 4th line, who has improved immensely this season.

Here is what the forward lines were in Wednesday’s win in Washington:

LWCRW
KaneMcDavidYamamoto
McLeodDraisaitlPuljujarvi
HymanRNHRyan
FoegeleShoreKassian

Since a much improved top-9 the Oilers grabbed 5 of a possible 6 points on their 3 game road trip. They also outscored their opponents 14-8 in that stretch.

Turning Things Around?

Edmonton has been up and down all season long. Multiple 5 game winning and losing streaks have kept the team around average in terms of NHL standings.

8-11-3 is their record since the beginning of December when the club was 16-5-0 and first in the Pacific Division. The Oilers went on two separate losing streaks of 6 and 7 games that seen them fall down the standings. Edmonton has gone 5-0-1 in the last 6 games of this 22 game stretch.

McDavid and Draisaitl:

It goes without saying, but this team follows the lead of their two superstars.

Team RecordMcDavidDraisaitl
16 GP (3-11-2)5 Goals. 12 Assists (1.06 PPG)6 Goals. 8 Assists (0.88 PPG)
Last 6 GP (5-0-1)4 Goals. 3 Assists (1.20 PPG)6 Goals. 3 Assists (1.50 PPG)

Both guys have maybe fallen out of the top 5 Hart Trophy Rankings but are on their way back up with recent performances. Most notably Draisaitl who is nearly up 1 point per game.

Oilers’ Third Line:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman have solidified the Oilers’ third line and gave them much needed depth. Two players that were top-6 options at the start of the season have now anchored their own line.

Since returning from injury RNH (5 games) and Hyman (4 games) have helped the team score outside of 97 and 29.

Hyman2 Goals3 Assists
RNH3 Goals4 Assists

What these two bring to this club most is their two-way game. Since at least one of them has returned, the penalty kill is 9 for its last 11. It was on full display against Washington on Wednesday night. The PK didn’t even let a shot on net on three Capitals‘ opportunities, while RNH and Hyman combined for a game winning shorthanded goal with 4:03 to go in the game.

5 on 5 Play and Goaltending…

Even strength play is what the Oilers struggled at the most for a majority of the season. In their current 6 game point streak Edmonton has outscored their opponents 20-12 at 5 on 5. An area the team has to keep strong to continue success for the rest of the season.

Mikko Koskinen:

Trade talks and how Mikko Koskinen is the reason the Oilers were losing games has been the recent chatter in Edmonton. Mikko has maybe been the team’s best player since media has been trying to run him out of town.

In his last 5 games Koskinen is 4-0-1 with a GAA of 2.48 and a .920 SV%. What stands out most is his performance against the rival Calgary Flames, where he stopped 44 of 47 shots and started this recent Oilers’ hot streak.

Who’s Struggling?

Two former Oilers’ first round picks who have made their way into the top six. Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto have been on the outside looking in at almost everybody else contribute offensively.

Don’t get me wrong, both play well defensively and are good players away from the puck, which goes unnoticed. These guys are players that get in on the forecheck and are great at forcing the opposition to turn the puck over. It would just be nice to see them hit the scoresheet more times than not.

Yamamoto has just 3G and 7A dating back to December 1st (22 games), and 1G and 4A in his last 10 games played. Puljujarvi has 3G and 6A in those 22 games and just 2 assists his last 10.

These are two guys playing in the top-6 that contains McDavid and Draisaitl. Both guys are also playing for contracts in the off season and are maybe making it difficult on themselves to get paid. It could be a blessing for the Oilers if they could lock the two players up for a few years at a low cost though.

Oilers Remaining Schedule

As mentioned before the Oilers have to complete their last 40 games in just 81 days. Due to postponements and cross border travel restrictions in the past couple months. Edmonton was forced to postpone 8 games due to attendance restrictions and travel to or from the States.

Of the 41 remaining games, 21 of them will be at home at Rogers Place. The club is currently 12-8-0 at home and 11-8-3 on the road. It’s tough to say where they play better but based on the stats they’ve been decent in both areas. Good teams find ways to win no matter where they play and hopefully the team can keep those records above .500.

Four of the next six games are against Pacific Division foes. The Oilers have faired well within the division with a record of 10-2-0. Edmonton sits 5th in the division but 4th for points percentage. Both Los Angeles and Anaheim (2nd and 3rd) have played at least 5 more games.

Oilers will host Vegas (1st in the Pacific) the first game after the All-Star break. They will then travel to San Jose (1 point behind EDM) and Los Angeles the following week. Concluding with a home game against Anaheim to finish off the week.

Condensed Schedule…

Dave Tippet’s club will have 4 back-to-backs from February 8th to the 27th. How the team plays the rest of this month could ultimately define their whole season. A good month of even just above .500 hockey could solidify a playoff position, especially if they beat their division rivals.

Where do the Oilers stand at the halfway point?

I believe the Edmonton Oilers are right where most analysts and professionals had them before the season began. It’s impossible to say where they would be if the division had played the same amount of games up to this point. Personally, I would put the club between 2nd and 4th in the Pacific.

Every game from now to the end of the season will feel like a playoff game and hopefully the team can play that way too. It will be interesting to see how the NHL season plays out and I’m excited to watch and find out!

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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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