Never, EVER, count the Edmonton Oilers out of the fight

After recovering from a pitiful start, the Edmonton Oilers are now proving all the doubters wrong as they approach the halfway point of the 2023-24 season
Ottawa Senators v Edmonton Oilers
Ottawa Senators v Edmonton Oilers / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

Following the embarrassing 3-2 loss to the Sharks in San Jose back in early November, the Oilers were tied for the fewest points in the NHL. Their 2-9-1 record was also the worst start through 12 games, in franchise history.

This was not the start anyone expected, for a team picked as Stanley Cup favourites by ESPN during the preseason. Even though the players accepted the horrific record was on them, it still proved not enough to save Jay Woodcroft's job.

When Kris Knoblauch took over as coach from Woodcroft, the Oilers followed two wins with three consecutive losses. At 5-12-1, only four times had the team ever began worse through their first 18 games.

They think it's all over ...

You can count this writer as one of those who truly believed the season was all but over for the Oilers. That's right, not even a quarter of the way through the regular season, I was giving up on them.

More fool me, and anyone else who believed likewise. As bad as the Oilers had been through 18 games -- particularly defensively -- this was still essentially the same roster which contained the best hockey player in the world, won 50 regular season games last season and led the league in scoring.

Since the 5-12-1 start, the Oilers have been on one hell of a streak. Actually, make that two streaks, as Knoblauch found himself in the NHL record books as the first ever coach to have two seven game winning streaks in his first 25 games as coach.

The first streak ended one shy of the franchise record for consecutive wins, while the second winning run has now seen the Oilers equal the record of nine straight victories, after beating the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night. They will now go to Montreal on Saturday night, in their attempt to set a new mark for a team which so far is a phenomenal 19-6-0 under Knoblauch.

Tough stretch on the horizon

Fans should hope for the best versus the Canadiens, as the Oilers will then face a tough three-game stretch. First up they will host a Leafs side which is one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and contains a certain Auston Matthews who is scoring goals at a ridiculous pace right, a la Wayne Gretzky.

Next up it will be the Kraken, also at home, who the Oilers have already beaten twice this season. However, this is now a very different Kraken side, which is on an eight-game win streak of their own and level on points at the time of posting. (Albeit, the Kraken have played three more games than the Oilers and are technically not in a playoff spot.)

After this, the Oilers well then travel to Calgary to renew hostilities with the Flames, who they beat 5-2 in the Heritage Classic. Similar to the Kraken though, this is now a different Flames team, which sits just two points out of a playoff place in the Western Conference entering Friday night's slate of games.

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Now for all we know, the Oilers could conceivably lose all three of the games in question, although you'd like to think not, given how they are playing these days. However, even if they do fall to three defeats, fans should not get down on them like they did earlier in the season; this is a team which is never, ever out of the fight.

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