While a 5-7 record for the month of October may not sound like much to write home about, when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, finishing the opening month of their 2015-16 schedule in such fashion would have to be viewed as nothing but a step in the right direction. Considering just how difficult their schedule was out of the gate and the fact they dropped their first four games in regulation, closing out the month with 10 points in the standings would actually be quite an accomplishment.
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Should Todd McLellan’s side find a way to knock off the Calgary Flames for the second time in a two-week stretch on Hockey Night in Canada, they will have done exactly that and won five of their previous eight games. Again, far from earth shattering but let’s not lose sight of what this group is. While there were those who were hoping Edmonton could push for a post-season berth this year, those people are dreaming.
— James Tanner (@James_Tanner123) October 12, 2015
Anyone hoping for this collection of players to finish anywhere higher than 10th-12th in the West was and still is kidding themselves. That may be tough for some to stomach, but that is this group’s current lot in life. With that said, beat the Flames tonight and Edmonton will be sitting in eleventh place with 70 games left to play. That my friends is what you call a marked improvement. Remember, this team finished with 62 points in 2014-15.
McDavid Is Carrying the Mail
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, Connor McDavid has arguably been better than advertised and in the process, has played a starring role in helping right this ship when this team needed it most. With Jordan Eberle out of action due to a bad shoulder and his usual linemates Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off to slow starts, the Oilers were in desperate need of someone to step forward and carry the load up front. Lucky for them, the 18-year old rookie has been more than ready for the challenge.
As impressive as McDavid has looked, his ability to help pry out the best of Nail Yakupov cannot be overlooked. After struggling mightily in each of the previous two seasons, the talented Russian has started to once again resemble the player Edmonton used the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on. Both are currently on seven-game point streaks and those runs started exactly two weeks ago, coincidentally enough, against their provincial rival on…Hockey Night in Canada.
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While the Oilers are coming off a thrilling come from behind 4-3 win over Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, the Flames were not so lucky. After giving away two points they had no business losing in Edmonton, the Habs put the boots to Calgary on Friday evening on the strength of a three-goal effort from none other than…wait for it…Dale Weise. Following last night’s 6-2 thumping, Bob Hartley’s crew have come away with a rather ugly 2-8-1 mark from their first eleven outings of the season.
Edmonton Is More Than A Little Overdue
Considering the Oilers 5-2 win at the Saddledome was the first against Calgary in eight tries, one would think Edmonton is due for some success against their southern neighbours. In fact, since January 1, 2009, the Flames have put together an absurd 28-9 mark against the “mighty” Oil, seven of which came in overtime or via the shootout. If that is not the definition of complete and utter domination, I am not exactly sure what is.
CGY loses to MTL. Oilers can pretty much knock Flames out of playoff race tomorrow. CGY loss means they’d need 90 pts in final 70 games. — Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 31, 2015
With these teams looking as though they could possibly be heading in opposite directions, perhaps this is the moment the Oilers finally turn the tide and secure back-to-back wins over Calgary for the first time since 2013. Don’t get me wrong, by no means is Edmonton playing well but compared to the kind of hockey we have seen from the Flames to start the year, tonight could turn out pretty well for the team wearing Orange and Blue.
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.