Zach Hyman believes Oilers haven’t played ‘our best hockey yet’

Edmonton Oilers Zach Hyman (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Edmonton Oilers Zach Hyman (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Despite starting out to a franchise-best 9-1-0 record, forward Zach Hyman believes the Edmonton Oilers still have a lot left to prove.

The Edmonton Oilers just wrapped up a perfect 3-0 homestand, including a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory against the New York Rangers on Friday night. In the finale, the Oilers overcame a three-goal deficit, eventually taking both points in the overtime period.

As the media scrums were getting underway, a ‘Let’s Go Oilers!’ chant roared through the adjacent walls as fans were exiting Rogers Place. Like many other teams around the league, Edmonton could not accommodate fans in the abbreviated 56-game schedule last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming over from Toronto during the offseason, forward Zach Hyman was familiar with no fans in attendance north of the border. But he was the first to praise the Oilers faithful following Friday’s win.

“The atmosphere is electric, like, for a game in November, it felt like a playoff game, which is just awesome,” Hyman said. “I mean, even outside, you have fans still here, so it’s really fun to be a part of.”

The 29-year-old signed a seven-year contract worth $38.5M to leave the Maple Leafs and head west to Edmonton over the summer. On Friday, he opened the scoring for the Oilers, establishing position in front of the opposing crease and jamming home his own rebound.

Hyman already has seven goals through the first 10 games of the 2021-22 season, well on his way to surpassing his career-high 21 goals set in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. He’s also had the opportunity to play with Oilers’ 2016 fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujärvi in the early goings of this season.

The 23-year-old scored twice in Friday’s game against the Rangers and has amassed 12 points thus far.

“Jesse is awesome, just so fun to play with,” Hyman added. “He’s just such a great guy, he loves playing hockey. It’s fun to be around guys that love hockey and we have a group of guys that just love playing hockey and love being together. I mean, winning is fun. everybody’s enjoying it because we’re winning and we’re doing it together and we’re building and we’re getting better every game and we’re winning in different ways.”

Despite the promising and record-breaking start, Hyman still believes the Oilers haven’t peaked this year. Obviously, overcoming a three-goal deficit on a nightly basis is not something the team would prefer to do, no matter how thrilling the result was on Friday.

The Oilers have the number one powerplay unit in the league, converting at a ridiculous 50.0 percent clip, including 2-for-2 against the Rangers. They lead the league in several categories, both as a team and individually.

If the Oilers still have another level to reach, they may be downright unbeatable, especially if they can get some consistency in net.

“I don’t think we played our best hockey yet,” Hyman concluded. “We haven’t really played a consistent 60 [minutes], and we’re just always pushing and trying to find a way to win. And that’s what good teams do is they find ways to win, and it doesn’t matter how and doesn’t have to be pretty. You find a way to win, and this group really enjoys playing together. It’s early, but we’re having a ton of fun.”