Edmonton Oilers becoming erratic again at the worst possible time

With a .500 record in their past seven games, the Oilers are ruining their chances of catching the Canucks, while also now having to look over their shoulders.
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Edmonton Oilers have been a particularly perplexing and unpredictable team this season, with their tendency to be equally capable of dominating or being dominated in games. On the one hand they have beaten the likes of the Ducks, Capitals and Sabres 8-2, 7-2 and 8-3 respectively, while also being on the receiving end of 8-1 and 6-2 drubbings by the Canucks, as well as a 5-1 beat-down from the Panthers.

This erratic play extends to the Oilers' ability to go on both winning and losing runs with seemingly equal ease. For example, they began the 2023-24 campaign with just two victories in 12 games, but also came within one game of the Penguins' all-time record of 17 consecutive wins.

On an overall level, the Oilers have been more good than bad, with a record of 45-24-5 through 74 games, and a +50 goal difference which ranks sixth-best in the NHL as of Friday morning. However, there has been a worrying trend of late.

Kris Knoblauch's team had overcome their awful start to this season, to put themselves in with a chance of winning both the Pacific Division and home-ice advantage in the Western Conference. However, they then picked the worst possible time to revert to the unpredictable version of themselves.

Drubbing by Stars a sign of recent struggles

The Oilers' most recent game saw them suffer a humbling 5-0 loss to the Stars on the road. The chance to show what they can do versus one of the NHL's top teams, instead left fans with more questions and concerns, than answers and hopes.

Of course one game doesn't matter that much, but the 5-0 shutout continues a recent downturn in the Oilers' ability to win on a consistent basis. Consider that they are on a run of 3-3-1 in their past seven games, effectively meaning they are playing .500 hockey of late.

The Oilers are still headed to the playoffs, with a 11-point lead over Blues team which can only claim a maximum of 12 points the rest of the way. However, it doesn't change the reality that the Oilers are faltering at a time when they need to be playing their best and proving to the rest of the league what they're capable of.

The Oilers' arch nemesis

As a result of the recent inconsistency in production, the Oilers also now face the possibility of losing out on home-ice advantage for the first round, never mind the playoffs as a whole. At the time of posting they hold a three-point lead over the Knights and with a game in hand, but consider that the two teams still have to play each other one more time in the regular season.

The Knights are of course the team which knocked the Oilers out of the playoffs in the second round last season. The Knights -- who went on to win their first ever Stanley Cup -- had home-ice for that matchup, further highlighting the importance of the Oilers not screwing up their current position.

Lets be clear in stating there is no disputing the talent on the Oilers roster, with a team capable of beating anyone in the NHL if they're in form. However, 'in form' is the key, with Knoblauch's players needing to rediscover some consistency.

If the Oilers cannot manage this, then they will yet again be wasting another season of the prime of the best player in the game today. The thought of Connor McDavid never winning a Stanley Cup seems unfeasible, but in reality is a growing concern for fans in Edmonton.

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In theory, this is a team built to win now and they undoubtedly are capable of reaching the Holy Grail. However, as things stand, all the potential in the world doesn't mean a damn thing if you can't produce on a consistent basis.

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