The Edmonton Oilers are close to setting a new franchise record for consecutive wins, but Leon Draisaitl stressed the team will not be distracted.
When the Oilers began this season with a 5-12-1 record, it was one of the worst starts in franchise history. Only three times since joining the NHL for the 1979-80 season, had the team started worse through their first 18 games.
The team was in disarray and seemed all but out of the playoff race, with not even a quarter of the regular season completed. It was going to take something special, for the Oilers to turn things around and return to contention.
Since then the Oilers have indeed accomplished something special, by going on an eight-game winning streak which is the longest run of any team this season. As a result, they are now on the verge of history.
If the Oilers can emerge victorious at home to the Lightning on Thursday night, they will equal the franchise record for most consecutive wins. This has only been achieved twice before, including last season, when they closed out the 2022-23 campaign with nine straight wins.
If the Oilers do indeed manage this, they will then look to set a new team record for wins when they host the Panthers on Saturday night. When considering the glory days of the 1980s, this would undoubtedly be a remarkable accomplishment.
Oilers remaining focused
However, don’t for one minute think the Oilers are being distracted by what potentially lies ahead. When asked about it by the media following practice on Wednesday afternoon, Leon Draisaitl said:
"“I mean that would be amazing of course, but we’re in no position to look that far (ahead). We’ve got to take this one game at a time and continue to get better, continue to build, and I think that’s where our mindset’s at right now.”"
This mindset is of course the right one to have. It has contributed towards the Oilers’ ability to recover from the depths of being tied for the fewest points in the NHL earlier this season.
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Further, even if the team does equal and then set a new team record for consecutive wins, it still doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. All that matters is making the playoffs and then aiming to win the Stanley Cup.
A prime example of this comes from just last season, when the Oilers equalled the team win streak, led the NHL in scoring and set a new league record for power play productivity. However, they still ended up being knocked out of the playoffs in the second round, by the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
NHL record a long way off
At the same time though, as Draisaitl mentioned, it would still be an amazing achievement. Interestingly though, the Oilers would still have some way to go, to catch the longest winning streak in NHL history.
That’s because the current record is 17 games, achieved by the Penguins during the 1992-93 season. Their dominance during this streak was impressive, as they beat opponents by an average of 2.8 goals.
This run contributed towards the Penguins leading the NHL with 56 wins and 119 points, resulting in being awarded the Presidents’ Trophy. However, this serves as another cautionary tale, as they were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by the Islanders.
The Blue Jackets have the record for the second-longest streak, with 16 consecutive wins. The Sabres, Islanders and then Penguins again, are all tied with the third-longest run of 15 straight wins.
If the Oilers do somehow get into a position to challenge any of these streaks, then good for them, but ultimately its significance is negligible to a certain extent. For Kris Knoblauch’s team, the main aim is to continue playing well, moving up the standings, and qualifying for the playoffs come season’s end.