Just when we thought we finally knew who the Oilers were, they once again showed that they are beyond understanding.
Most of the time when I talk about the Oilers I want to try and provide at least some important analysis or real takeaways from what the team has shown, but right now that feels almost impossible. Let me give a quick rundown of recent events to explain why. After starting the season 2-3, the Oilers went on a run, winning five straight while outscoring their opponents 25-15. They looked like they would win a sixth straight, but blew a 3-2 within the span of seven seconds with under four minutes to go against the Devils, then lost their next two to the Stars and Capitals. They then went to Tampa Bay where they got outshot 10-0 to start the game before Warren Foegele scored short-handed on the Oilers’ first shot of the game. After escaping the first period with the game tied 1-1, they took it to the Bolts for the final two periods and won the game 3-2.
What makes the Oilers so confusing is that what I just said is a series of contradictory events. They look bad to start the season, go on a heater and look elite, look flat for the next three games, and then go into Tampa and beat the three-time reigning Eastern Conference Champs despite playing what might have been their worst period of the season to start the game. I don’t know what to take from this. I would struggle to confidently say that they’re good or bad but they also don’t feel like they’re in the middle. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it makes sense to rank them with other teams because they’re a completely different entity. So this has led me to the conclusion that the Oilers are just the Oilers, and there’s no other way to explain it.
Let’s look at what seems to be the way the Oilers win games as an example. While their depth this year is better than it’s probably ever been, now more than ever, it seems like the team is just relying on stalling until McDavid and Draisaitl get on the ice. This is, in theory, a horrible plan, but whenever they win it feels like that was their formula. Their goaltending situation is also a new type of weird. Stuart Skinner has been outstanding, and Jack Campbells has been terrible, but I still don’t know who’s better. I know this is a common early-season problem, but for some reason, it just feels like the Oilers play differently depending on who’s in net, and I’m not entirely convinced that we have any idea who either of these guys really are (that being said, I am still a huge Stu supporter).
Finally, let’s do a quick thought experiment. Think of an issue the Oilers have, we’ll use their lack of really good defensive defensemen as an example. Now think of what the other side of that problem is, in this case, it’s that the Oilers’ generally offensively-minded defensemen help support their high-scoring style. The same goes for their lack of depth, which forces the stars to carry more of the weight, which just leads to them playing more which is what got them going in the playoffs last season. Every single one of their issues has some sort of counterbalance to the point where it feels like there’s no way of actually fixing them without tearing it all down. In a way, the good and the bad are just the same thing. I’m not sure if any of this made sense, but the point is that the Oilers don’t make sense and are beyond analysis. That being said, I will continue trying to understand them, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s impossible.