A Total Regression: The Edmonton Oilers
By Patrick Hoffman
Just last season, everyone was talking about how great it was that the Edmonton Oilers were back on the hockey map.
With the likes of star and team captain Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Cam Talbot, it appeared that the Oilers turned over a new leaf. Heck, not only did they make the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they took the Anaheim Ducks to a seventh game in the second round.
Because of how good the Oilers were last year, many pundits, fans, bloggers, etc., thought the team would be just as good this season. In fact, there were many that thought that this team would have what it takes to take it one step further this season and even make it to the Final.
While it's obviously nice to have positive thoughts based on what happened last season, it appears that nothing good is happening to this club this season. It can even be said that this season for the Oilers as been absolutely atrocious.
As of this writing (January 8, 2017), the team is currently 27th in the entire National Hockey League with a 18-22-3 record. That is certainly extremely disappointing considering how good this team was just a season ago.
There are many reasons why this team is struggling. For starters, this team is having trouble offensively.
Besides McDavid (14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points) Draisaitl (11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points), no one else seems to be producing. Guys like Milan Lucic (9 goal and 18 assists for 27 points), Patrick Maroon (9 goals and 12 assists for 21 points), Ryan Strome (7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points), and Mark Letestu (8 goals and 8 assists for 16 points) have all fallen off since last season when it comes to producing offense.
The team currently finds themselves 19th in the league in goals scored with 117 goals, which is far off the pace of the 243 goals they scored last season (Eighth in the league). If this part of their game does not change in a hurry, team general manager Peter Chiarelli may have to look into bring in some more offense when the salary cap goes up in the off-season.
Secondly, the goaltending this season from starter Cam Talbot has been sub-par. Last season, starter Cam Talbot was excellent (42-22-8 with a 2.39 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and 8 shutouts).
This season has been a much different story for the 30-year-old masked man. In 33 games, Talbot is 15-15-2 with a 3.12 goals against average, a .902 save percentage and 1 shutout. These certainly are not the kind of numbers that will get a team into the playoffs come April.
Lastly, things just seem extremely different this season. The club has trouble stringing wins together and also struggle to play with the same effort night in and night out.
You put all these things together and you have yourself a losing hockey club. It will be interesting to see what the Oilers do the rest of the way in order to play respectable hockey and finish out the year strong so they can begin anew next season.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.