We’ve come to the halfway point of the 2021-22 NHL Season. The Oilers are 4-0-1 in their last five games, good for fifth in the Pacific as of today. They had a roaring start to the season, they also had a couple of slippery points along the way. Who are these Oilers? Are the Oilers ready to peel off eight or nine wins in a row? Are they just an average club that had a red hot start?
Our staff weighs in. This is the first of a five-part roundtable that will last throughout the All-Star break. Kick off your loafers and stay a while.
Question: This year’s Oilers burst onto the scene quickly, going 16-5 in the first quarter of the season. Since then, they’ve had a pair of six game winless streaks and were 2-11-2 from the beginning of December until the third week of January. Is this club more like the first quarter of the season, or the second?
Shona: I think they’re neither, to be honest. I don’t think they’re as good as they started or as bad as the run before Christmas. I think they’re maybe closer to the bad run before Christmas than the hot start, but I do think they have the component parts to be better than the majority of their January. But Oilers… only team I personally know that are consistently less than the sum of their parts.
Sunil: I would put the Oilers right in the middle. They’re not a top-end team like they were at the start and they’re not a bottom-feeder either. They’re right in that mushy middle – pretty much where they rank today in the league - with average shot-share numbers at even-strength and a solid powerplay. Their season is going to largely depend on the top end forwards being outstanding and dragging the rest of the flawed roster along. And their goaltending will have to improve from the lowly depths of the league to more league-average levels.
Matt: The Oilers are about what we thought. A middling team with the ability to string a few Ws together when everything goes their way and the ability to lose a ton when things don’t..
Alex: Somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, the roster is flawed but I think the forward group should still win them more games than they lose. That being said, I also believe that Holland will improve the defensive core and/or goaltending to bring them back up to the level of the first quarter of the season.
Czechboy: I think our record after 41 games (exactly half the season) is about accurate. .573 win percentage. I’m shocked how up and down we are. We are definitely not a 9-1 Juggernaut with our D and Goalies. We’re also not the flaming trash bin of a team that went 2-11-2. Both are an anomaly. It’s enough to make you need meds to enjoy watching this team as we are a Pandora’s box.
Rob: At this point, I’m not really sure. The easy and most reasonable answer is the Oilers land somewhere in the mushy middle. Problem being, the blue line has major shortcomings that simply cannot be fixed in season. The goaltending needs a major upgrade in order to make up for flaws elsewhere on the roster and Dave Tippett is as stubborn a coach as there is in the league today. Not to mention how dreadful their penalty-kill has been. On a positive note, the forwards are good but need time to form chemistry and the coach to be more creative in his deployment. If the power play starts to roll again, Edmonton will win a bunch of games over the back half of the season. If not, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will have to carry the collective along the way. So yeah…the mushy middle sounds about right.
Have your say: Now that we’ve reached the midpoint of the season, are the Oilers more like the team that went on a 16-5 run to start the season? Or, are the Oilers closer to the club that endured a long winless streak in December and January?