A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the Oilers schedule and grimaced when I saw the list of teams they would have to face. The Oilers had a murderers row consisting of the Blue Jackets, Nashville, San Jose and the Blues, all happening before the Christmas break. I won’t lie, I was preparing for the team to drop those games and head into the break on a low note, but luckily enough none of that came true. There isn’t much I’m asking for this holiday season, but if I could walk into the Oilers dressing room and ask for one thing, I would tell the boys, “Keep the foot on the gas pedal.” Unfortunately, I’m going to be greedy because it takes a lot to keep their foot on the pedal.
The beasts are waking up
It was a slow and very agonizing start of the first quarter of the season, but the Oilers are starting to wake up like the lions that they were supposed to be. It’s taken a couple McLellan meltdowns, Sekera’s big return, a special teams disaster, weathering a Talbot injury, and a few line changes but I think we’re finally in the right gear. Also, can I just thank baby Jesus for all of the secondary scoring that we’re seeing lately? Kassian started off his season ice cold, but he’s engaged, back to his chippy self and producing like we need him to.
Dadbot returning to form
Talbot has to be on his game for the Oilers to have a chance at making the playoffs, and it was a hard pill to swallow while he was struggling and was on the injured reserve. Since returning, he has bounced back well and, in my mind, there’s no doubt that he won’t continue his ascent to dominance after the Christmas break. Needless to say, he has certainly earned himself a three-day rest with his twins, but I can’t wait to watch him get back at it.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 24, 2017
Lining up down the middle
After McLellan finally decided to put Draisaitl back at centre, giving the Oilers four legitimate centres, and four fairly lethal lines the sky looks to be the limit. Bob Stauffer tweeted out that same sentiment before the game against the Habs, and it’s clear that TMac made the right move by stacking his three start centremen down the middle. Back in September, a lot of people wouldn’t have expect Nuge to have the year that he’s having, but he has been a key part in all of this and arguably a candidate for the first half MVP. Drai hadn’t looked the same since coming back from a concussion, but it looks like he’s finally starting to find his groove. Hopefully, after the break, he continues to step it up and finds the form we saw last year in the playoffs.
Oilers last 12 GP (8-4-0) with 97/29/93 at C:
Lucic leads wingers with 4-7-11/+8
EDM PP just 4/34 (11.8%)
Oilers getting solid 5v5 production at C
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 23, 2017
A healthy defence
Welcome back, Reggie! It’s unreal how underrated some players are simply because they don’t score a tonne and Andrej Sekera is one of those guys. We all knew there was going to be a big hole on the back end while he recovered from surgery, but did any of us imagine that the Oilers would struggle that much without him? I know, it certainly didn’t help that Klefbom was also underwhelming early on in the year, though he has started to turn things around in his own right.
The Oilers also made the right move in picking up Davidson off waivers. He is so aware on the ice, it’s been nice to watch him emerge from chaos in our zone, unlike some other guys. Obviously, there will be questions about who stays and who goes once Oscar returns from the IR *cough* Gryba and Auvitu *cough* but for now the Oilers are getting some solid defending from their top six. While I’m at it, go knock on wood and hope that these guys stay healthy and that Klef can figure things out because the team needs him at his best.
What else do the Oilers need to continue to succeed?
If there’s anything else I could ask for this holiday season it would be a full-fledged top six winger that has speed and can score. We haven’t been able to convert bottom six guys like Caggiula into that position with any consistency and I wonder if there will be any moves coming after the freeze is lifted. There isn’t time to waste, and we could use a guy like Hoffman putting pucks on net as the team makes its push for the postseason.
Fortunately, this recent run has the Nation feeling positive for a change. Had the Oilers traded a couple of those wins for losses I would’ve been writing a dead in the water article, chalking this all up as a learning lesson and move on. However, I’m not. I’m sitting at my computer excited for the Oilers, and I think we can make an honest push for the playoffs if we can get some help from other teams, of course. Buckle up your seat belts Oilers fans, it’s going to be a fun 46 games!
Christmas is also a time to be thankful for what we have. Firstly, I’m thankful that McDavid’s x-ray came back negative! Secondly, I want to thank you all for taking the time to read an article that I write, it really means a lot. Have a Merry Christmas!