3 key reasons for the recent losing skid for the Oilers

Nov 18, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) (not pictured) scored a goal on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 18, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) (not pictured) scored a goal on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports /
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EDMONTON, CANADA – DECEMBER 16: Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers scores a goal in the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on December 16, 2023 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, CANADA – DECEMBER 16: Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers scores a goal in the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on December 16, 2023 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /

2) Oilers D-zone Play

As the Edmonton Oilers navigate through a challenging stretch, it’s tempting to cast the spotlight solely on goaltending struggles during this recent funk. However, hockey is the ultimate team sport, and a closer look reveals that defensive lapses have played a significant role in the team’s downturn. Over the past two games, the Oilers have found themselves on the wrong end of a 12-5 goal differential, underscoring the collective responsibility required to achieve success in the dynamic landscape of the NHL.

While the goaltender is often the last line of defence, they are not an island unto themselves. The recent struggles in the Oilers’ crease may be the most visible, but it’s essential to recognize the broader defensive context within which these challenges arise. Goaltenders can only do so much when faced with a barrage of quality scoring chances resulting from defensive breakdowns.

The past two games have exposed vulnerabilities in the Oilers’ defensive structure, with opponents finding seams and exploiting gaps to generate high-quality scoring opportunities. Defensive lapses, whether in the form of missed assignments, turnovers, or breakdowns in coverage, have contributed to the team being outscored by a significant margin. Addressing these issues will be paramount in restoring stability to the defensive end.

Hockey is a game that demands accountability from every player on the ice, and the defensive zone is no exception. Forwards tracking back, defencemen covering their assignments, and a collective commitment to team defence are all crucial components of a successful defensive strategy. In times of struggle, reinforcing these fundamentals becomes even more imperative.

While it’s easy to single out goaltending during a team’s rough patch, a holistic perspective recognizes that hockey is a multifaceted sport where success is contingent on the collective efforts of every player on the ice. The Oilers’ recent defensive struggles highlight the need for a comprehensive team approach to address the lapses and reinforce the fundamentals that form the bedrock of a sound defensive strategy. In the face of adversity, it is through a unified commitment to defensive excellence that the Oilers can navigate their way back to success.