The Edmonton Oilers are streaking right now, to the tune of setting a team record on Saturday night. The come from behind 2-1 overtime win in Montreal made it 10 victories in a row, something which even Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and company never accomplished during their glorious run in the 1980s.
To say Kris Knoblauch has had a positive effect on the team, would be considered a significant understatement. He's already set an NHL record during his time as coach in Edmonton, and the Oilers have a scintillating 20-6-0 record under his watch at the time of posting.
As a result the Oilers have risen like a Phoenix from the ashes, after at one stage being tied for the fewest points in the entire NHL and having the worst record in team history through 12 games. They are now in a playoff spot, with a realistic shot at third place and even second spot in the Pacific Division standings.
The recent run of form has been reflected in The Athletic's first NHL power rankings of 2024. Ranked dead last earlier in the 2023-24 season -- and we mean dead last -- the latest edition has the Oilers all the way up to seventh place.
Heady heights for the Oilers
There have been times when we believed The Athletic was being overly generous with where they placed the Oilers, but on this occasion seventh is fair - and keep in mind this is prior to Saturday's game versus the Canadiens. As per Sean Gentille and Dom Luszczyszyn:
'The Oilers are now firmly in a playoff spot thanks to a nine-game win streak and are now on pace for 97 points. Remember when some folks said it was too late for them and there wouldn’t be enough time to get back into the race? The Oilers did it well before the All-Star break. Edmonton’s recent excellence has them looking like one of the league’s best teams, one that is extremely close to landing in our top five. Deservedly so. The wildest part: with how much the Kings and Golden Knightshave fallen off, the Oilers have a very real shot at home-ice advantage this season. Imagine thinking that just three weeks ago, let alone back in November.'
Of course there's still a long way to go yet, with the Oilers not even at the halfway point of their regular season. Even this can be construed as a positive though, with them having at least three games in hand on all of the Western Conference teams ahead of them in the standings, with the exception of the Kings.
Canada ruling the NHL
The latest The Athletic power rankings are a victory in general for Canadian NHL teams, with four featured in the top 10. Aside from the Oilers, the Jets are in second place and the Leafs are in 10th spot.
Top spot is currently held by the Canucks, who just continue to surprise everyone and have the most points in the NHL following Saturday's slate of games. The Oilers know all too well just how good their Vancouver rivals are, having lost all three times they've faced them so far this season, including a humiliating 8-1 battering on opening night.
The Oilers and Canucks are only slated to meet one more time this regular season, during the final week of the 2023-24 campaign. If all goes well, both teams should have playoff spots secured by then, although with the Oilers in particular you don't want to take anything granted, no matter how hot they are right now.