If you’ll excuse the stinker on Sunday, the Oilers have had a pretty good run since Jay Woodcroft has come along. They’ll need those good vibes to continue as they’re about to head into some potentially choppy waters.
The Oilers will be busy away from Rogers Place this week. They’re in Tampa Bay tomorrow night, they’ll then have a busy weekend with Florida on Saturday and Carolina on Sunday. That’s three top teams in five days. They’ll finish the trip with a stop over in Philadelphia next Tuesday, and the fifth and final game in Chicago next Thursday. A couple of wins against the NHL’s top clubs could chart a different course in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. If they can pull off something like 3-1-1 or 4-1, that might be the fuel that lights the fire.
OILERS, AFTER WOODCROFT
“We’re not in the business of making excuses. The schedule is what the schedule is.” — Jay Woodcroft— Daniel Nugent-Bowman (@DNBsports) February 21, 2022
The Oilers have shown well since the arrival of Jay Woodcroft. The Oilers are 5-1, with five of these games taking place over a seven day window last week. (The Oilers went 4-1 during that set, they were beaten good by the Wild on Sunday). There’s a belief by some that this period of good play by the Oilers is nothing more than a temporary bounce, some good fortune after a new hire. This is a fair concern for now, but that discussion will fade if the wins keep coming. The Oilers are doing some things a little bit different with Woodcroft behind the bench; from time on ice, to the way that the Dave Manson-coached defence is helping orchestrate the rush.
The Oilers will get put to the test this week.
The Panthers are averaging over four goals a game. The Lightning (6th) and Hurricanes (7th) aren’t too far behind. Games in Philly and Chicago are certainly no gimmies either. The Oilers will rely on their top lines for some goals, while the defence will need to hold steady. The tandem is Mike Smith / Mikko Koskinen will be tested often against some of the top teams in the league. Edmonton will rely on their stars, but they’ll likely need all parts of the club working together to take two points in each of these games.
If the Oilers can take three or four wins on this road trip, Ken Holland might start thinking about getting a bit more aggressive toward the trade deadline. The club is tight against the cap, no doubt. If they were to take on any cap space, they’d need to send some cap space away, or be sure that any players on IR wouldn’t be available until game one of the playoffs.
This is a giant, giant road trip. A club that comes back with 7 or 8 points is going to be tough to turn away from. If they find their way back to Edmonton with three points out of 10, that’s another thing altogether.
If Woodcroft’s Oilers come back to Edmonton next week with something like a 32-20-3 record, they’ve got be thinking about going fishing at the deadline for at least a goalie. That’s a long way away from 23-18-3 a little more than a week ago, and the Oilers will need to think long and hard about the stretch run.
How many points will the Oilers take in their upcoming five game road trip?
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Less than 3