It is has been a rather interesting start to the month February for the Edmonton Oilers. After watching Connor McDavid grab the attention of hockey fans all over the world on two separate occasions in the span of ten days, many felt the Oilers were headed for a nice little run with their new prized possession back in their lineup. While things got off to a real good start against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators, the last two weeks have not exactly gone according to plan…at least in the eyes of some.
Yes, they have gone 1-5-1 over their last seven and currently own a Western Conference worst 22-31-6 record but let’s not pull any punches here. Anyone in their right-mind that truly believed this was a lineup that could compete for a playoff spot has either A) never watched Edmonton play with any sort of regularity over the last handful of seasons or B) are one of those fans who believe their favourite team can do just about anything. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that is not the world we live in.
McDavid Will Keep Oilers’ Fans Smiling
While the kid wearing No. 97 on his back continues to pick up his points, scoring his tenth of the year during last night’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of the visiting Minnesota Wild, the losses continue to keep piling up for the Oilers. Despite being in the midst of what no one would describe as a difficult six game home stand, if not for an evening to remember from McDavid against just an awful Toronto Maple Leafs squad, Todd McLellan’s crew could very well be looking at having gone winless during the first four games of that stretch.
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Are their recent results tough to stomach? Sure but again, look at this lineup and you tell me how good it really is. No question, they have talented forwards but as we all know…teams who are fighting for their playoff lives tend to tightening things up over the last 25 games of their schedule. Add to that what is just a terrible backend and no one should be surprised or even overly discouraged with their continued failures night after night.
— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) February 19, 2016
Just look at the defence the Oilers dressed against the Wild and it tells you all you need to know. Sorry but anyone who believes for a second a blue line that consists of Adam Clendening, Brandon Davidson, Mark Fayne, Darnell Nurse, Justin Schultz and Andrej Sekera can win games with any sort of frequency at this level is completely off their rocker. Unless your goalie stands on his head, something which Cam Talbot has been unable to do in either of his last two starts, this team is simply not equipped to win hockey games.
A Unplesant But Not Unexpected Outcome
That may not be what fans want to hear but it does not change the reality of the situation. While general manager Peter Chiarelli gave this lineup yet another makeover after being handed the reins to the organization last April, it was never a group that had a legitimate shot of earning a post-season berth in 2015-16. So in fact, the Edmonton Oilers have not really been a disappointment but rather, have been exactly who we thought they were.
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To their credit, this collection of players have shown signs of improvement in certain areas but when you mix in a handful of injuries to key contributors, suddenly a best case scenario finish of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20-25 in the overall standings has turned into yet another frustrating campaign. With 23 games left to play and just 50 points under their belt, expecting much to change over the coming weeks is frankly unrealistic. The Edmonton Oilers may still have a small run or two left in them but make no mistake, they are simply playing out the string… and no one should be surprised by this.
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.