It only took a five-game winning streak to open the season for the Edmonton Oilers to become legit Stanley Cup contenders. That’s an exaggeration. Two more wins out of the next three, that’s what put the Oilers over the top. Joking aside, this has been a season of optimism for the Oilers, who are high up in the Pacific division standings after failing to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Before that, we all remember the run to the second round the Oilers made, coming within one goal of reaching the Western Conference Finals. That team was a bit different, so let’s get into it a bit below. First, let’s see where the Oilers are at.
Where do the Edmonton Oilers stand during the break?
Points: 83 (preseason over/under: 84.5)
Place: 2nd in Pacific (No. 4 overall seed in conference)
Stanley Cup odds (March 10): +2000
So as the Oilers currently stand, the team isn’t too far behind the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division. They are only three points to be exact, a number that would normally be more than enough to overcome before the end of the regular season. The issue there is the regular season may not end. So if the NHL decides to roll right into the postseason, this is what the Oilers are dealt. We’d get the Battle for Alberta in the first round of the playoffs, which nobody will complain about other than Oilers fans.
Standing aside, this has been a season of improvements for Edmonton. As you can see, the points total for them set during the preseason was just 84.5. The Oilers were a point away from reaching that number until the League was shutdown due to coronavirus. That’s gotta hurt if you’re an Oilers OVER point total card holder.
Now, let’s get to those differences between the Oilers team from 2016-17 and now. Back then, Todd McLellan was at the helm for the Oilers as coach. He’s since been ousted in favor first of Ken Hitchcock briefly and now Dave Tippett, the former Coyotes coach. Tippett has improved the team overall, which isn’t surprising given what he was dealt in Arizona for so many years.
The goaltending is now Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, not Cam Talbot, who we should probably give some credit in that 2016-17 season. The great part is Smith was with the Calgary Flames last season and Talbot was still in Edmonton. Now the two have swapped and could meet in the playoffs after having fought each other. The forward group isn’t much different, mostly because the guys at the top are still at the top and that’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. These two are the key to the Oilers success in the playoffs. Edmonton will go as far as McDavid and Draisaitl drag them.