With just one win in their last eight games, Saturday evening cannot come soon enough for the Edmonton Oilers. Yes, it has not been a pleasant start to the New Year for Todd McLellan’s crew but with tonight’s tilt against the Arizona Coyotes and their first official visit to Las Vegas next on the docket, this team actually has a shot at heading into their NHL mandated week off on a positive note.
It is no secret Rick Tocchet’s squad isn’t very good and if the Oilers were going to pick an opponent to break out against, it would likely be the Desert Dogs. After all, we are talking about a team with 10 wins in 43 games and a league-low 26 points. As an added bonus, both the Coyotes and Golden Knights will be coming off their own week-long break and will surely have some rust to work through in their first games back.
Taking Advantage of Schedule Break
Though they did fall to the Nashville Predators their last time out, Edmonton deserved a better fate and were easily the superior side over the final forty minutes of play. Even with their aforementioned struggles being what they are, it is more a matter when and not if this team puts an end to their most recent cold spell. Not sold yet? Understandable but it’s only a matter of time before some luck starts bouncing the other way.
Let’s not forget, this is a team that lost their last game after Cam Talbot stopped a Roman Josi blast, watched the rebound ricochet off Adam Larsson’s face and drop to the ice for Viktor Arvidsson to tap home the eventual game-winner into a yawning cage. That is how things have gone for this group of late and, believe it or not, this will come to an end.
Now THAT'S adding insult to injury
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 10, 2018
Again, with the Coyotes being the mess they are, this could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Connor McDavid and company. Despite having just ended a seven-game goal drought with the Oilers lone marker against the Predators, the reigning league MVP and Ted Lindsay Award winner has been dominant more often than not since the club returned from the Christmas break but has little to show from it on the counting stat front.
Oilers Not Burying Chances
In his last eight games, the kid has picked up a total of five points and been held pointless on four separate occasions. By no means a typical McDavid run and not one that comes close to matching the chances being created on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, his own goal-scoring slump has coincided with that of the rest of his teammates doing the same. Hence, it should surprise no one that Edmonton has scored all of ten goals during said timeframe.
Considering only the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres have allowed more goals against than the Coyotes, all signs are pointing to tonight being the night. Should the Oilers happen to light the lamp with some regularity in Arizona, the chances of it carrying forward to the following evening, in their final game before their hiatus and on the 21st birthday of their captain, seems rather plausible.
To suggest this team is overdue is being kind and on the flip side of the equation, the Golden Knights have to come back down to earth…even if it is for just one night. With their absurd 18-2-1 mark at T-Mobile Arena and having grabbed 19 of the last 20 points available to them on home-ice, it seems only logical that they would drop a game in the not too distant future and the Oilers are as good a candidate as any to make that a reality.
Golden Knights Continue to Roll
Just like the Coyotes, Edmonton will be the first opponent Vegas faces since beating the New York Rangers last weekend and could be groggy to start things off. With that said, something tells me the Western Conference leaders remember the 8-2 beat down the Oilers laid on them at Rogers Place back in mid-November on a night in which the visitors were forced to use youngster Dylan Ferguson, their fifth-string netminder, for the final nine minutes.
You can bet the Golden Knights will be looking for their pound of flesh but if Edmonton can score early and the idea of being embarrassed on home-ice by the league’s best player creeps into the heads of Gerard Gallant’s squad, it may just work in the favour of the team wearing white. Not a guarantee but certainly a possibility and with upwards of 2,500 Oilers fans expected to be in attendance to cheer them on, the atmosphere could be absolutely electric.
— OilersGirl (@OilersHockey94) January 10, 2018
Mix in the special nature of the day/moment for Connor McDavid and the fact the team is already in Las Vegas and likely had a bash planned well in advance, this one could turn out to be loads of fun. After all, if there was ever a team that needed to get away from the rink and just let loose, it would be these Edmonton Oilers and doing it with a couple of wins in their back pocket would make it all the more enjoyable.
Also available from Rob Soria:
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.