Oilers find themselves in position to do something both impressive and surprising

Despite an unpredictable season by the Oilers, Wednesday night's impressive 5-1 win over the Golden Knights has them in position to achieve something special.
Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers
Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

The 2023-24 campaign is one where two differing realities can exist at the same time for the Edmonton Oilers. On the one hand, they have been an erratic and streaky team.

Consider that this is a team which both began this season with just two wins in their first 12 games and came within one game of the Penguins' record of 17 consecutive victories. A team which suffered a 8-1 loss to the Canucks and 5-1 beat-down by the Panthers, while also dominating the Capitals and Sabres 7-2 and 8-3 respectively.

On the flip side, the Oilers have also turned out to be a team which overall has been one of the more dominant ones in the NHL. Following Wednesday night's 5-1 win over the Golden Knights, they reached 100 points for the third season in a row, for the second time in team history.

More importantly, the Oilers truly have a genuine shot at claiming top spot in the Pacific Division, after the Canucks lost 4-3 in overtime at home to the Coyotes. The Oilers are now within four points, with two games in hand and the teams scheduled to face off one more time this regular season.

An unlikely position

That the Oilers are even in with a chance at this, still seems unlikely on some levels. They began the 2023-24 campaign with their worst ever start in team history through 12 games, and fourth-worst ever after 18 games.

Also consider that even recently, the Oilers have continued to show a propensity for erratic production. Prior to their last three contest, they had a seven-game run of playing .500 hockey.

However, again, the Oilers' overall domination also still stands out, highlighted in several ways when looking at the standings as of Thursday morning. They are tied for the third-best goal difference in the NHL at +60 and tied-ninth in points with games in hand on everyone above them, while also having the fourth-most goals and fourth-best power play percentage.

The Golden Knights are considered one of the main obstacles and bogey teams facing the Oilers. As Edmonton fans will remember painfully, their beloved team was knocked out in the second round last season by the Golden Knights, who went on to claim their first ever Stanley Cup.

Along these lines, it appeared as if the two teams were destined to face each other in the opening round in this season's playoffs. They only thing which seemingly needed to be determined, was who would have home-ice advantage.

An evolving playoff picture

Now though, the playoff picture has changed, after the Oilers' dominating 5-1 win versus the Golden Knights on Wednesday night. This is not to say the two teams couldn't still meet in the first round, but they are other variables now just as likely to transpire, specifically if the Oilers do manage to overtake the Canucks at the top of the Pacific Division.

The general consensus is that the Oilers' 5-1 victory over the Golden Knights was one of their best performances of the season. That they managed it without Connor McDavid, speaks volumes about the confidence and talent throughout the rest of the roster.

Of course the Oilers need McDavid, if they are to have a realistic shot of their first Stanley Cup since 1990. However, it's still reassuring to know they can handily beat a quality opponent without their captain.

This speaks volumes about the impact of Kris Knoblauch, since taking over as Oilers coach from the unfortunate Jay Woodcroft. Consider that Knoblauch's record of 45-15-4 would translate to the most points in team history over the course of an entire regular season.

As for McDavid, it should be noted that his lower body injury is only considered day-to-day. He still has the opportunity to become just the fourth player in NHL history to reach 100 assists, with him sitting on 99 and with still five regular season games remaining for the Oilers.

dark. Next. Kane has second dustup with teammate in less than a month. Kane has second dustup with teammate in less than a month

Overall, let's be clear that nothing is guaranteed with this particular Oilers team, despite finding themselves in an excellent position right now and with everything to play for. As much as they can beat anyone on their day, they are equally capable of beating themselves with their streaky and erratic play.

Recent Posts