3 Takeaways from impressive Oilers 4-1 win in Kris Knoblauch debut

Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his goal with center Leon Draisaitl (29) during the third period against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his goal with center Leon Draisaitl (29) during the third period against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Edmonton Oilers Kris Knoblauch
Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

A breakdown of Kris Knoblauch’s strong debut, as the Oilers beat the Islanders 4-1 and have their first winning streak of the 2023-24 season.

If nothing else, you can call the start to this season eventful for the Edmonton Oilers. There never really seems to be a dull moment, when it comes to this team.

Along these lines, Monday night’s game versus the Islanders doubled as the coaching debut for Kris Knoblauch. While he did briefly coach the Rangers during COVID-19 due to health-related absences, this represents his first official NHL tenure as the main man behind the bench.

It helped that the Oilers were facing a struggling Islanders team, who they always seem to do well against at home. Regardless, a night which started with nervous anticipation, ended with a hard-earned 4-1 win.

Whether this represents the beginning of a new dawn for an underachieving team remains to be seen, but for one game at least, Oilers fans can rejoice. Let’s get to our three takeaways from a much-needed win:

1) A game of firsts

With Knoblauch making his debut as coach for the Oilers, it made sense that this would be a night of firsts for the team. This included the team winning for the first time this season at Rogers Place.

The 4-1 victory over the Islanders also represented the first winning streak of the 2023-24 campaign for the Oilers. However, arguably most important of all, this was also the first win for their new coach.

There are those who quite rightly believe the Oilers were too hasty in getting rid of Jay Woodcroft, no matter how poorly the team had been playing. However, for one game at least, the decision was proven to be the right one.

For a start, Zach Hyman talked about the calming presence of Knoblauch, which is an invaluable trait to have in the face of a team not performing up to expectation and just adversity in general. What was just as important, were some of the changes on the ice.

There had been a lot of talk about Woodcroft relying on his top two lines too much, increasingly so as he desperately looked for ways to get the team back on the winning track. The balance was more noticeable against the Islanders in terms of ice time for everyone, with only three of the 12 forwards seeing less than 10 minutes of action.

Knoblauch was understandably happy with the win, which was made even better by what the Oilers did for him after the game in the dressing room. Speaking to the media, he said:

"“After the game, they did something really special. They had a video on the TV, they presented the puck and they had my wife on the TV just saying a few words, and that was very nice of them to do.”"

There’s obviously still a lot of pressure on the 45-year-old to get the Oilers to perform up to expectations, and for him to stop the coaching carousel in Edmonton. For the first game at least though, he’s off to a great start.