3) Key players starting to raise their game
There are those who will contest McDavid still doesn’t look quite like his old self. In some respects, this is right.
However, at the same time you can’t ignore that the Oilers captain seems to (finally) be trending in the right direction. While appreciating 13 points in 13 games is average when you’re the best player in the world, he has now scored in two consecutive contests, after enduring a career-worst tying eight-game goal drought.
Similarly, Leon Draisaitl appears to be over his own recent productivity struggles, with six combined points in his past two games. He now has a team-leading 21 points and is just five back of top spot in the NHL.
Arguably most encouraging of all though, is the return to form of Kane. Finally, he looks like the player who impressed during his first season in Edmonton.
In fairness to the 2009 fourth overall draft pick he’s been on a roll for a bit now, after a poor start saw him produce just one point in his first five games. Since then he has 10 points in 14 games, with him overall fighting — quite literally at times — to keep the team going while his superstar teammates struggled.
Along these lines, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge the offensive contributions of Zach Hyman and Evan Bouchard. Like Kane, they have stepped in and made up for the respective struggles at times for McDavid and Draisaitl.
Of course the Oilers still have some way to get anywhere close to last season’s scoring rate, when they lead the entire NHL. However, at least they’re beginning to look more like themselves.
Certainly Kane is encouraged by what he’s seen of late. Speaking to the media postgame, he said:
"“The last couple games, we’ve had big third periods and that propelled us to wins. I think we’re starting to find our groove here a little bit.”"
Quote of the day
Kane discussing the Oilers’ attempt to turn things around entering the third period. He said:
"“We talked about it in the second intermission – we’ve got to create some energy, we’ve got to flick the switch. I thought we did a pretty good job.”"
Overall, despite the win improving the Oilers’ record to 5-9-1, they remain six points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. For all the feel-good vibes emanating around the place right now, the upcoming four-game road trip will prove crucial in determining if this team really is back.