The Edmonton Oil Kings have entered the last week of the 2018-2019 WHL regular season. Only three games remain for the Oil Kings (with two of the games against Calgary and one against Red Deer), and the Oil Kings remain perched atop the WHL Central Division. Currently that is just because they have a game in hand on the Lethbridge Hurricanes though making the upcoming weekend an important one.
The Oil Kings play the Red Deer (who are currently in a wild card spot) tonight in Red Deer and then complete the season with a home and home series against Calgary. The weekend before last the Oil Kings clinched a playoff spot and their strong performance against Calgary last Friday night ensured that the Oil Kings will have home ice for the first round of the playoffs. Pretty remarkable for a team that was last in the WHL just one season ago.
The Oil Kings have seen very strong seasons from captain Trey Fix-Wolansky and defender Connor McDonald. Both players achieved milestones on Sunday. Fix-Wolansky score his 100th point on the season and 64th assist which sets a new record for most assists in a single season in modern franchise history. McDonald scored his 18th goal, replacing Cody Corbett, as the defender with the most goals in a single season in the Oil Kings record books.
The Oil Kings playoff opponent is yet to be determined as the incredibly tight eastern conference has only four points between the seventh place team and the ninth place team. With some teams having as many as four games remaining, anything can happen. The Oil Kings may also not finish first in the Central Division which would change who they play quite a bit. However, whoever they play the Oil Kings have shown a consistency late in the season which was missing at the start. With nine wins and only one loss in their last ten games everything seems to be coming together at the right time.
With more secondary scoring, the Oil Kings have been able to capitalize on more opportunities. In their last game against Kootenay (also their last ever game against Kootenay), the Oil Kings had offense on not only their power play and at even strength, but also on the penalty kill. With nine players picking up points on four goals, there’s some diversity to the Oil Kings offense.
Having missed the playoffs for the last two seasons and being a fairly young team, the Oil Kings will have to rely on players like Andrew Fyten (who won the championship with Swift Current last season) or Vince Loschiavo, (who had some success with Moose Jaw last season in the playoffs), to guide them. After all, for a lot of them this will be their first trip to the post season. And they’ll be hoping to make a splash. With powerhouses like Prince Albert, Everett, and Vancouver stealing the headlines, the Oil Kings will be hoping to be somewhat of a dark horse and win before everyone thinks they’re supposed to. After all, they did it 2011-2012 so why not now?