Edmonton Oilers: Do not write off James Neal just yet

Edmonton Oilers. James Neal #18 (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Edmonton Oilers. James Neal #18 (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Left winger James Neal made his regular season debut with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night but unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Not only did the Oilers, unfortunately, lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Neal showed some struggling throughout most of this matchup.

Of course, we have to be realistic here and understanding in the grand scheme of things. Neal is coming back from numerous injuries on top of unfortunately having COVID-19. He came back and will easily need a few games to get back into the swing of things on the ice.

Patience will be needed not just for Neal but for the Oilers as well. The truth of the matter is, the season is not even a month old and even though it’s a short one at just 56 games, things will be just fine as Neal adjusts himself back into consistent hockey action. Yes, he’s looked fine in practice but it’ll more than likely take a few weeks for him to get back into a natural rhythm in games that actually matter.

The Edmonton Oilers will be just fine as James Neal bounces back

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It’s best not to write off Neal anytime soon since obviously, there’s a ton of hockey left to be played. He will more than likely bounce back as the Oilers prepare for their next pair of road games against the Winnipeg Jets until they head back home for games against the Maple Leafs again.

Neal made some common mistakes on the ice on Friday which is understandable since he’s been out for a while. This will get tweaked and adjusted in team practices and meetings so it’s not anything to be too concerned about just yet.

Now, if by the end of February we still see Neal not playing the usual smart hockey he’s known for by passing the puck when it makes sense to set up better scoring opportunities, then it might make sense to move him down the lineup.

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For now, it’s just one game for Neal but things will be fine in due time. Head coach Dave Tippett knows what needs to happen for everything to fall into place for the Oilers as it’s best to take things one game at a time. Stick to this mantra as it might very well be what helps get the team, its players, and of course, us fans, through the ups and downs of the season ahead.