The Oilers start to the season has been nothing short of disastrous, should Oiler fans get ready for the draft party in June with their freshly minted Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad Jersey on? Is there any reason to believe that the Edmonton Oilers can compete for that long-awaited NHL playoff game at Rexall Place?
Taylor Hall recently commented, “I remember playing Columbus last year at about the 20-game mark and they were a team that was well below .500 but you could tell they were a team that was playing well and about to make a charge.”
“I felt that they were on that verge. We’re sticking with teams that have a lot of skill and we’re working just as hard as them. I have a different feel with this group.”
Fear not Oiler faithful there is reason to believe that this start does not mean that the Oilers are doomed to yet another lottery pick, and a Craig MacTavish trip to the TSN Draft Lottery Special.
While the goaltending has been a nightmare, both Dubnyk and LaBarbera have shown in the past that they are not AHL fodder. They do not have to be upper echelon goaltenders to contend for a playoff spot but both have the potential to be above average. Dubnyk did post a .920 save percentage last year while LaBarbera has been a capable backup for a long time.
While I do not claim to be an advanced stats expert by any means, the Oilers have remained competitive in both shot differential and chances for categories. Last season that was not the case in any 7 game stretch. The Oilers were often out shot and out chanced by a wide margin. The Oilers are also contending with a new system and yet another coach.
Jordan Eberle would seem to agree with the above reasoning. “As hard as it is to see and hard as it is to believe, I strongly believe that we’re playing better than we were last year. We’re out-shooting opponents, and we’re out-chancing opponents, we’re out-playing opponents, but the wins aren’t coming.”
“That’s when you start to doubt yourself, and we can’t have that. You can’t have that doubt that the system doesn’t work because it does, and I have full confidence that we’re going to start winning games and it’s going to come in bunches.”
The Oilers put up a good fight against a very good team in Pittsburgh, a game with a bounce here or a bounce there and the Oilers might have pulled out two points. They had also played the previous night in Washington. Based on experience, when teams play a game that well and lose, it usually means an end to a losing streak is imminent.
We know that the power play was good last year and there is no reason to believe that with essentially the same personal it is going to not be in the top 10 when the season concludes.
The Oilers have been able to create offence and create chances. The team is starting to look more comfortable with Dallas Eakins and his system. I am not ready to order my playoff tickets yet but, I am not going to order that Reinhart Jersey either. It is often darkest before the dawn. I am not ready to write off the Edmonton Oilers off yet!