The Edmonton Oilers Are Peaking At The Right Time

Edmonton Oilers Derek Ryan, #10, celebrates goal. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers Derek Ryan, #10, celebrates goal. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s always an element of luck involved in the road to the Stanley Cup. Sometimes series are so tight that it comes down to one play or one goal to decide the series. Oftentimes the team that wins the cup isn’t the best team in the league, but the hottest. The St. Louis Blues in 2018, as one example. Well I wouldn’t classify the Edmonton Oilers as a Cup contender at this point, and am less optimistic of their chances once they get out of the division, never say never.

There’s a lot of ingredients coming together at the right time for the Edmonton Oilers.


At the time of this writing, Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith have both won six of their last seven starts. Teams can often ride a hot goaltender all the way. St. Louis did it with Binnington in 2018. New Jersey did it in the late 90s multiple times with Martin Brodeur tending the nets for them. Colorado was one of the league’s best teams for a long time in large part because of Patrick Roy, who had also played a huge part in the Habs last win in 1993, and they did the same with Carey Price leading the way in the Cup finals of 2021.

Even the Oilers have seen this in their history too. Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog were quite a tandem back in the 80s. Bill Ranford won the Conn Smythe trophy for the Oilers in 1990. Even getting to the Cup final back in 2006 the Edmonton Oilers had Dwayne Roloson to ride all the way to the Cup final. I firmly believe if he hadn’t been injured in game one the Oilers would’ve come out on top instead of the Hurricanes in that series.

This is a good omen for the Oilers that they have not one but two hot goaltenders going into the playoffs

Better Defensive Play

We can largely thank Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson for this. I’m not sure what the dynamic duo have done here but the Edmonton Oilers defensive play as of late has been absolutely fantastic. They even took what at this point look like the surefire President’s Trophy winners – the Colorado Avalanche – to a shootout.

The difference is absolutely like night and day. Players who had a negative +/- are now into the positive. Jesse Puljujarvi has become a defensive stalwart. IIRC he was somewhere up around +7 or +8 early in the season, now he’s at +21. Derek Ryan was -10 earlier in the season, now he’s at -2. Even the worst guy on the team, Warren Foegele, is still the worst guy on the team but he was at -20 earlier on in the season and now has cut that by more than half to -9. That’s a huge improvement.

Even Tyson Barrie, long known as a defensive adventure, is at +2 right now. Cody Ceci has been a revelation defensively and is +12 on the season. Keep this up and they’re giving themselves a great chance to win in the playoffs.

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More Scoring

That last point will naturally lead to more offence. Both McDavid and Draisaitl have picked up their scoring again since the coaching change. Zach Hyman is having a career year, having already set new highs in goals and points. Nugent-Hopkins is back to close to a point a game despite playing on the third line and being injured for part of the season.

Evan Bouchard is blowing everybody away, and is a threat to score every time he unleashes a Bouch bomb. Kailer Yamamoto is having a career year as well. Jesse Puljujarvi is having a career year in points and is no longer labelled as damaged goods and a draft bust. Darnell Nurse is chugging along at 0.5 PPG, fantastic numbers for a blueliner.

Derek Ryan has gone from an afterthought to a quality secondary scorer. All the newcomers to the team – Evander Kane, Brett Kulak, Warren Foegele, and Derrick Brassard – are finding ways to contribute on offence. For the first time in many years, the Oilers are getting contributions from up and down the lineup.

That depth allows the Edmonton Oilers to hold guys accountable. As good as Josh Archibald is defensively, because the team has no choice but to sit him out for almost all road games, he’s been sitting for awhile now. Kyle Turris is in the minors, which is probably where he will spend the rest of the season unless the team has huge injury issues.

Colton Sceviour and Brendan Perlini, good but inconsistent players, are also toiling in the minors because other guys have usurped their spots. Kassian sits for long periods of time when he’s invisible in the games. Tyson Barrie is playing on the third pairing because Bouchard has outplayed him as of late.

All of these things are only good for the team, and will only serve as a good omen when the playoffs start

Improved Special Teams

The Edmonton Oilers PP was #1 in the league for awhile, but then dropped off as the losing streak was a byproduct of PP scoring drying up. It’s recently rebounded to fourth overall and is only 0.3% away from making it to third. The PK was languishing in 25th in the league for awhile but has since rebounded to 21st.

Room to improve in both areas, of course, but having hot special teams is a good thing going into the playoffs for sure.

I don’t know about you but I look forward to seeing what damage the Edmonton Oilers can do in the playoffs. They’ve got the best chance they’ve had in a long time to win in the first round, and after that, who knows?

Next. Potential Playoff Opponents: LA Kings. dark