3) Edmonton Oilers will become the best defensive team in the NHL
Making this prediction earlier in the season would have quite rightly had people questioning your very sanity. To say the Oilers' defensive game was horrific, would have been a significant understatement.
The Oilers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Golden Knights last season, in large part due to their defensive setup being repeatedly ripped apart. As a result, Jay Woodcroft quite understandably decided there was a need for a revamp.
This resulted in Woodcroft adopting a zone defensive scheme akin to what the Golden Knights deployed. However, the early returns were terrible, as the Oilers players struggled to adapt and impliment the new scheme.
The result was that at one point, the Oilers had allowed the second-most goals in the NHL and had the worst team save percentage. Unfortunately for Woodcroft, this led to his demise as Oilers coach.
However, as much as it seemed harsh for Woodcroft to be made the fall guy for the players -- who admitted they had let their coach down -- it proved to be the correct decision. Since Kris Knoblauch has taken over he's revitalised the team, with their defensive game proving to be the back bone for his ridiculous 26-6-0 record through 32 games.
Behind the calm and cerebral leadership of Knoblauch, the defense has been particularly impressive during the past 14 games. They've not allowed more than two goals in any one game, with a total of just 18 overall, at 1.29 per contest.
As a result, the Oilers have now allowed just 124 goals overall, second-least behind the Winnipeg Jets at 109. This is where the bold aspect of this particular prediction comes in, with the Oilers have allowed 15 more than the Jets.
The Oilers will play 12 games in February following the All-Star break, while the Jets will play just 10. We appreciate this is the most outlandish and unlikely of our three bold predictions for February specifically, but that's what makes all of this fun.
Another angle which has to be considered, is that in terms of average goals allowed per game, the Oilers are actually 'only' eighth- best, at 2.76. The Jets similarly led the way with an average of 2.30 goals per contest.
Overall, if we're being honest, I've almost talked myself out of this prediction while I've been writing this, but we've come this far so I'll stick with it. However, from where the Oilers were earlier in the season, if they keep trending in their current direction, they have a genuine chance of being the NHL's best defensive team by the end of the regular season if not the conclusion of February.