Those looking for another Edmonton Oilers fix are going to be waiting for a few more weeks with the upcoming all-star break.
Edmonton isn’t squaring up against another opponent until the 29th for the highly anticipated BoA rematch against the Calgary Flames.
The timing of the break is both a blessing and a curse for the Oilers. Edmonton is playing some of the best hockey they’ve played since the teams’ first dozen or so games riding a nice little 6-1-1 streak that started with a big New Year’s Eve win against the New York Rangers.
While some of the wins came on the road against the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens, the team has won a few key matchups at home against the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes in the last week.
Edmonton’s points percentage of .813 during that time — the second-best in the entire league — all the while posting the third-best goals for percentage at 60.66 per cent. Those are both elite numbers and a great representation of the things this club can do.
I don’t think there’s any denying that the recall of Kailer Yamamoto on Dec. 29 had something to do with it. He was immediately placed on a line alongside Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the trio have been electric. Draisaitl has five goals and nine assists in eight games, while Nugent-Hopkins has six goals and seven assists in the same time.
Meanwhile, Yamamoto, a rookie, has scored a cool three goals and three assists.
There’s been an elevation in play from some of Edmonton’s depth scorers too, with Josh Archibald scoring four goals and three assists, and Riley Sheahan’s three goals and four assist.
And don’t forget about Mike Smith, who has gone 5-0-1 in six starts during the last eight game stretch. He posted a .924 save percentage and helped win some key, key games.
The break is a blessing because it gives the team some time to rest up. Matthew Benning is expected to return from a concussion post-break, while I’m sure some of the rest of the roster has some bumps and bruises that could use 10 days for some recovery.
It’s a curse because Edmonton has been playing so well for the last few weeks. The Oilers will need to look quickly to regain their form on the 29th for a huge, huge game against Calgary.
Nonetheless, Edmonton has other big games coming up too. Here’s a look at the key conference matchups between the 29th and Feb. 12: vs. @St. Louis Blues on Jan. 31, @ Calgary Flames on Feb. 1, @ Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 4, vs. San Jose Sharks on Feb. 6, vs. Nashville Predators on Feb. 8 and vs. Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 11.
These are all games that the Oilers need to win as they fight to gain ground in a Pacific Division that sees one point separate 1st and 5th.
On Twitter: @zjlaing