Edmonton Oilers Stock Report: Tailspin continues as losing streak hits six games

Dec 14, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) collides with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ondrej Kase (25) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) collides with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ondrej Kase (25) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of their worst stretch of hockey this season. As they dropped their sixth consecutive game on Tuesday evening, losing 5-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The game script has been relatively similar in all six losses; give up the first goal, try to fight back, but regressing special teams and lack of forward depth costs the team in the end.

On Tuesday you knew it would be one of those nights early after Leon Draisaitl missed an open chance to score. Edmonton actually outplayed the Leafs for a good portion of that game, but like the other games before it, they could not get the job done.

After scoring to cut the deficit to two, the Oilers immediately gave up another goal, which took the life out of the bench.

This team looks completely dejected on the ice, whenever Draisaitl or Connor McDavid are on the bench there is no scoring threat.

This week’s stock report is going to be a little bit different because there is really only one story to focus on. So rather than divvy up the number of ailments this team has, allow me to simply talk about it all at once.

Trending down: Everything

Where to begin?

Let’s start with the sudden lack of offence. The Oilers have scored just nine goals in this stretch, and of those nine just five of them were at five-on-five.

That means Edmonton has scored less than one goal per game at even strength, that is flat out awful.

Additionally, four of those nine goals were from one of McDavid or Draisaitl. 44 per cent of the team’s goals have come from two players, which is also not very sustainable.

The Oilers coaching staff seems to think that whenever they are facing a deficit in a game the answer is to put their two stars on a line together. The problem with that is you become a one-line team. You have to split McDavid and Draisaitl up just for the sack of having any semblance of a balanced attack.

However, even when the Oilers star tandem is at their best, Edmonton is still very top-heavy. Add a legitimate depth scoring option to the Christmas wish list.

Next, let’s look at the goals against because there are two parts to this equation. The first is the goaltending, it has been a rough few weeks for Mikko Koskinen.

Last week I said that Koskinen needs to be better, particularly early in games. The Oilers have allowed the first goal in every game of this losing streak, and all in the first period.

At the same time though, the defence needs to be better in front of him.

Take a look at this play from Tuesday’s game for instance.

This play starts off with McDavid pursuing William Nylander through the neutral zone and Nylander carries the puck. As he enters the zone McDavid steps off the gas for a second, and that allows Nylander to create space as he heads to the outside.

The problems start when both McDavid and Cody Ceci are unable to prevent Nylander from going behind the net. And as Nylander circles behind the goal, the Oilers have a line of four skaters defending just one man, Alexander Kerfoot, in front of the net. While two other Leafs’ skaters are left wide open in high-danger areas.

Then of course Nylander feeds a pass to a wide-open Morgan Rielly who scores on Koskinen.

This is what people are talking about when they criticize the Oilers’ defence. A simple two-on-two rush with a forward chasing from behind should not be turning into chances like that.

So while the Oilers do need better goaltending if they want to get out of this slump, they need to start giving their goalies more support.

The power play hasn’t been as potent, but even with the recent struggles, the Oilers boast the best power-play percentage in the league.

The penalty kill has seen more severe regression, as they have allowed at least one goal per game to opposing power plays five games in a row. And Edmonton’s penalty kill now sits tied for 10th in the league.

Overall, it has been a brutal stretch for the Edmonton Oilers. And while this obviously will not persist for much longer, the flaws in the construction of this roster have been exposed to the entire hockey world.

Now it’s up to the coaching staff to start to fix the problems that have lingered with this team all season long.