This hasn’t been the start that many Edmonton Oilers fans dreamed about since last summer. After winning the draft lottery and earning the right to select the most hyped prospect since Sidney Crosby Oilers fans were excited. Just two games into the season and some fans are already frustrated. One hundred and twenty minutes of hockey have been played for Edmonton and the Oilers have just one goal. Even worse that one goal didn’t even come from an Oilers stick, rather a St Louis Blues defenseman shooting the puck off his own teammate and into the net.
It’s just two games, with eighty games left and two hundred and forty periods of regulation hockey left there is plenty of time to score and win. For new coach Todd McLellan and his coaching staff I think this is more of the challenge than possibly anything else this entire season. Learning how to snap losing streaks.
That doesn’t even mean the Oilers have to win, It doesn’t mean Edmonton has to turn in four, five, six or seven game winning streaks, it means exactly what it sounds like, stop losing streaks. We’ve seen it in years past with the Oilers, a two or three game skid at some point in the regular season turns into a six or seven game streak. That can’t happen this year, The Oilers have to snap losing streaks quicker this season.
Confidence is the main reason. The excitement of the fans and media has to have creeped into the locker room and into the heads of these young players. If losing streaks get to long the confidence of the team has to fall and inevitably the thought of “Here we go again” starts.
Through the first two games though there should be confidence and there are definitely positive things to look at. The defense is looking improved so far. Letting up just four goals in two games, five if you count an empty netter, is a pretty good number. A big reason that the Oilers have only let up four goals is the goaltending. Cam Talbot was acquired from the New York Rangers for three drafts pick in 2015, a pretty hefty price, but Talbot has stepped right in and looked good. If Edmonton can have confidence in their goalie they maybe be able to take risks knowing he’s back there. That’s a luxury they haven’t had in a long while.
The defense hasn’t looked great, but didn’t look bad, which for a team that allowed two hundred and eighty-three goals last season is a big improvement. The Oilers were able to hold two of the best teams in the central division to two goals.
The offense will come, or at least it should. If you’re able to hold your opponent to two goals or less, you’ll be winning a good majority of your games. The team has too much skill and talent to go through prolonged scoring slumps. The problem to start the season will be chemistry and for the coaching staff it will take time to figure out who goes with who and what are the best combos. On top of that you have an injury to Jordan Eberle who when he returns could give the team a very different look adding even more depth.
For the Edmonton Oilers though, this season you can never look to far ahead. When you lose two or three games straight they have to find ways to end the skids there before they get out of control. Be competitive in nearly every single game, be responsible defensively and the offense will come as will victories.