After an encouraging start to the Jay Woodcroft era, the Oilers seem completely broken and I’m not sure if they can be fixed.
Just over a week ago, the Oilers traveled down south to play the Lightning, Canes, and Panthers, and despite only going 1-2 in those games, showed some encouraging signs and gave some hope that Jay Woodcroft may have righted the ship. Times have changed though, and right now the Oilers are in an absolute tailspin. They’ve lost consecutive games to the Blackhawks, Habs, and Flames, and are firing on no cylinders.
The Blackhawks loss seemed like an omen of bad things to come. As you may be aware, the Hawks are a horrendous franchise and team, yet the Oilers barely kept pace with them in regulation and took the loss in OT. The Habs game was even worse. Despite the final score being 5-2, the Habs really scored seven, with two goals being disallowed due to a reviewable offside. One of those goals came on an empty net, but if you do the math, Mike Smith let in six goals against the team with the lowest point percentage in the NHL. There’s only one thing worse than losing to two of the league’s worst teams, so of course, the Oilers had to do that too.
Losing sucks, but losing to the Flames is crushing. By this point it’s no secret, the Flames are very good, almost certainly the best team in the Pacific. That doesn’t make getting absolutely outclassed by them any better. The Oilers did hang with Calgary for stretches of the game, but in the end, the Flames were just a better team. So what exactly has caused this tailspin?
It’s easy to point to the injuries of the Nuge and the Bison King, but even then, the team as a whole just has not been playing very well. It’s gotten to a point where unless McDavid, Draisaitl, or Mikko Koskinen play absolutely lights out, they lose, which just can’t happen every night. His performance may not have impacted the outcome of the Habs game too much, but Mike Smith has been a liability all season, and it’s well past time that Stuart Skinner takes his roster spot. No matter what the exact issues are though, the Oilers recent struggles are more than concerning, they’re embarrassing.
We’re in year seven of the McDavid era, yet somehow the team has only won a singular playoff series in that time. Most franchises will never have a player as good as McDavid or Draisaitl, let alone two of them, and the fact that Edmonton has failed to produce any success should be up there for the biggest waste of talent in professional sports history. I’m not blaming Jay Woodcroft for all this, in fact, I think he’s part of the solution. These issues start from the top, and the people in charge, namely Bob Nicholson and Ken Holland, have failed this team, and honestly, the city of Edmonton as a whole. That’s all big picture though, for now, let’s just hope the Oilers can rally and slip into this year’s playoffs.