The Edmonton Oilers are off to a rough start to 2017-18, kicking off the season with a lacklustre 2-5 record.
In their two victories so far this year, they have shown a lot of positives, however, they cannot string together wins, and have been unable to secure a victory or fight past their opponents. Not only that, their offence has not been able to produce, and they are not getting enough out of their defence.
Still, despite the fact that this is a start that shows a lot of negatives, it is still too early for the team to press the panic button. And though there shouldn’t be widespread hysteria and concern, Edmonton needs to acknowledge their mistakes and resolve them.
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Problems to Fix
First off, the offence seems to be getting plenty of shots on goal, but they cannot finish on their opportunities. Beyond the top line, the Oilers aren’t getting enough out of their bottom-two lines; Ryan Strome and Jussi Jokinen have not been impressive of late, but are just two big-name forwards who need to step up.
Edmonton’s average of two goals per game is the worst offensive production in the league, and their 16.7 success on the power play is 20th overall. They appear to have no chemistry, and despite the talent on the forward lines, the Oilers cannot capitalize on their opportunities. While this may get better with injured players Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula poised to return, they need to find some synergy and utilize their talent beyond the top line.
On the blue line, the Oilers need to assess their defence corps; their penalty kill is the third-worst in the league with around a 72 percent success rate, and Edmonton surrenders 3.1 goals per game on average.
Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson have been doing well, but do appear to struggle at times, especially as a shutdown pairing. Both of them are a minus-3 to start the year. Matthew Benning and Darnell Nurse also haven’t impressed, and Yohann Auvitu hasn’t gone above and beyond, and neither has Eric Gryba, though he has been decent.
Cam Talbot has since resolved most of his issues to start the year, but now, he is getting left to dry by his blue line. If the defence can step up, he will have a much stronger performance between the pipes moving forward.
If Edmonton wants to find success and start to return to winning form, they need to recapture their culture from last year. Everyone played a role and gave full effort every night, and everyone, despite calibre, stepped up to bring enough to the table. In addition, the team made themselves a constant threat on the ice each shift, and also played a very physical game.
Overall, the Oilers will certainly start to find their touch and click, and thankfully, it’s too early for them to panic. However, they can’t wait on fixing their issues and regaining the rhythm.