Better Now Than Later
Sucks. What else do you say? 13 days ago it looked like we were seeing the beginning of a season where the Edmonton Oilers were going to take another step and this time into the group of elite teams in the league. Now? Maybe the worst team in the league.
But while that is the case today, it’s highly unlikely that’ll continue, for few reasons.
For starters, as of writing this, the game has just ended and Gene Principe just mentioned in his interview with Justin Williams how the Hurricanes have had a tough time getting going having only played three games previous to this one. Well the same can be said for the Oilers, at least in their last two games. Going into last night, the Oilers had played one game in eight days. Thank you schedule makers. You might think that’s just a piss poor excuse, but the Hurricanes are saying it, I picked them to win the Metro.
As for the Oilers, it may hurt them even more so because they don’t have set lines right now. McDavid and Maroon, Klefbom and Larsson (Klefbom has made some horrendous mistakes so far, that won’t continue), and Letestu and Kassian. That’s literally it right now for players on the team who have had success together. Maybe you’ll say Lucic and Nuge…they’ve played together…some….I wouldn’t say they’ve had success together. So they’re a really unsettled team. Combined with the lack of games lately and it’s not all that shocking it took them until late in the second period last night to start gelling.
Another thing I’d like to point out, the last two teams couldn’t have been worse matchups for the Oilers. Without Leon Draisaitl and with so many guys struggling to start the season, you at least want to play teams who you matchup well with. The Sens and the Canes are miserable to play against. Both play extremely disciplined, fast, and move the puck as well as any teams in the league. So when you’re not going right against teams like these, you’re in trouble.
I know it’s scary to see a team that looks like the Dallas Eakins coached Oilers. Those were insanely dark days. But this team simply isn’t that. It’s funny how level headed some of the analytics guys I follow on Twitter try to convince everyone that they’re level headed and just following the numbers, but then when things go like this they believe Peter Chiarelli has done everything wrong and that he’s put the Oilers in a helpless position. And I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of the moves Chiarelli has done of late, but don’t be completely insane. They’ve got all the pieces to be a playoff team, and they’ve got the trade chips to fill the holes that could push them into contender status.
You know who was the second worst team in the league last year after eight games? The Nashville Predators. 2-6-1. Meanwhile the Red Wings sat 5th overall in the league. The Devils were a point ahead of the Caps. The Leafs were a point behind the Jets. And as we know, this is basically how the standings ended up…
By the end of the game last night, it was clear they were starting to bust out of the slump. They out played the Canes, and very literally just didn’t get the bounces, which as we all know is what happens towards the end of slumps. Now, no doubt, if Draisaitl can’t return soon (we’ll find out today if he’s going on the road trip), things could get worse. But I actually believe getting out of town is what this team needs right now. And it’s not an easy upcoming schedule, but it’s a lot of teams they at least matchup well with. They can match, if not better, the Hawks speed, and the Hawks tend to have trouble with bigger teams. The Flyers are playing well, but it’s a winnable game. The Stars are a heavy team that the Oilers are built to beat. And five on five the Oilers are a better team than the Caps…though the huge issue there is if the Oilers PK continues to be hot garbage then the Caps could destroy them. Those are four of the next five games. They also get the Pens in this five game stretch, and twice in the next two weeks. They’re a bad matchup for the Oilers, but I’d guess that most in the room view the Pens as their measuring stick right now and we will see the best out of the team in both of those games.
This isn’t going to keep up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s BRUTAL to see! I really believed they would be hot out of the gate and then have a slump like this later on. But would you rather this adversity come now, or come in April? I personally prefer a team that has to go through tough times in a season. It’s THE reason I had the Preds to upset the Hawks in the playoffs last year. The Preds took all season to get their game to where it was capable of being, while the Hawks had everything go perfectly for them.
McDavid isn’t this bad, Talbot isn’t this bad, Klefbom isn’t this bad, the PP will get better, the PK will get better, Draisaitl will be back, the shooting percentage will go up, the save percentage will go up, it can’t go much worse than this right now…and with any kind of puck luck they’d be a 3-2 team right now and I wouldn’t have anything to write this week other than my Saturday picks article (which I’m 7-3 to start the season, that’s the only amazing start to a hockey season that is sustainable….). Hard to see it this way right now, but this club will be much better off going through a stretch like this in mid October rather than…let’s say…mid April.
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups