There was a lot of understandable criticism when Jay Woodcroft was fired, with many contending it was short-sighted and too soon. Even allowing for the Oilers' horrific beginning to the 2023-24 season, he easily had the best winning percentage in team history.
At the same time, the 2-9-1 record was the worst ever record for the Oilers through the first 12 games of a season. As a result, even a win versus the Kraken in game number 13, wasn't enough to save Woodcroft.
In fairness though, it turns out the decision to bring in Kris Knoblauch was a good one. Like his predecessor, Knoblauch has also set a record with the Oilers, albeit one of the more positive kind.
Record-setting start in Edmonton
In fact, following Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Senators, Knoblauch has actually set an NHL record. He is the first ever head coach in league history to have two seven-game winning streaks in their first 25 games in charge.
When you consider the long and glorious history of the NHL, this is a remarkable achievement, even allowing for having the best player in the game today. It truly highlights just how good Knoblauch has been in Edmonton, with the team's turnaround seeing them in a playoff spot for the first time this season following the weekend's action.
Caleb Kerney of The Hockey News spoke to the 45-year-old about the accomplishment, with his response being typically low-key and more about the team as a whole. He said:
"It's new to me. I'm happy the team's winning and playing well. It was only a matter of time before they started winning hockey games, no matter what message I sent. Hopefully we've got many more seven game winning streaks (to come)."
Closing in on another record
With the current seven-game winning streak, thoughts also turn to the longest overall winning streak in Oilers history. The record is currently nine consecutive victories, which has been achieved twice, including at the end of last season.
The Oilers had the chance to equal the record earlier in Knablauch's tenure, but fell a game short with a 7-4 loss to the Lightning. In order to equal nine straight at the second attempt, they will need to beat the Blackhawks on Tuesday night and then the Red Wings on Thursday night.
Both games will be on the road, with the Blackhawks game easier by virtue of being sans Connor Bedard. However, the Red Wings game will be a challenge, versus a revitalized team that has a 10-7-3 record at home as of Monday morning and is right in the thick of the playoff hunt.
At the risk of looking too far down the road, fans could be forgiven for wondering what the longest winning streak is in NHL history? However, the Oilers have a long way to go yet, before considering breaking this record.
That's because the current record is 17 consecutive victories, held by the Penguins and set during the 1992-93 season. The Penguins truly dominated during this stretch, by beating teams by an average of 2.8 goals per game.
The Blue Jackets have the record for the second-longest streak, with 16 straight wins. The Sabres, Islanders and the Penguins again are tied with the third-longest run, at 15 consecutive wins.
Of course all that matters is that the Oilers win enough overall, to qualify for the playoffs and push for that elusive Stanley Cup. As special as Knoblauch's reign has been so far in Edmonton, it ultimately won't matter if he doesn't help the team achieve their ultimate goal.