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Oilers tie record for worst start in franchise history

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
3 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers couldn’t have imagined a worse start to the season.
Three losses to the Vancouver Canucks in the first 11 games.
Allowing four or more goals in seven of the first 11 games.
Scoring two goals or fewer in six of the first 11 games.
This has led to the Oilers tying the franchise record for worst record through 11 games.
Edmonton is 2-8-1, which ties the 1992-93 and 1993-94 teams for the worst record through 11 games.
The 1992-93 team started 1-8-1, before winning game #11. They actually won four in a row to improve to 5-8-1 but finished the season 26-50-8.
The 1993-94 group actually won its first two games of the season, but then lost two and tied one before losing six in a row to drop to 2-8-1. They proceeded to lose 11 in a row and were 2-13-1 in their first 16 games. They finished with a record of 25-45-14.
Oddly, the two worst starts in franchise history, prior to this season, occurred in the only two years when the NHL played 84 games.
The 1992-93 team was outscored 29-52.
The PP was 21.2% (14 of 66), but they allowed three shorthanded goals to post a net PP of 16.7%.
The PK was 70.2% allowing 20 goals on 67 kills. They scored one shorthanded goal for a 71.6 net PK%.
They scored 14 even strength goals but allowed 29. They got crushed at even strength.
Twelve forwards and two D-men scored at least one goal, but Esa Tikkanen and Joseph Beranek each were goalless in 11 games. Tikkanen was a team worst -14.
Craig Simpson (6-4-10), Bernie Nicholls (3-7-10), Petr Klima (6-1-7), Shayne Corson (1-6-7) and Craig MacTavish (2-4-6) were the top-five scorers.
Bill Ranford started nine games, went 2-8 with a .852Sv% and 4.76 GAA.
Ron Tugnutt started twice and went 0-0-1 with a .864Sv% and 4.24 GAA. He was pulled after 25 minutes in his second start.
The 1993-94 team was outscored 38-28.
The PP was 14.3% (8 of 56), but they allowed two shorties and had a net PP of 10.7%.
The PK was 71.9% allowing 16 goals on 56 kills. Edmonton didn’t score a shorthanded goal.
They scored 20 even strength goals and allowed 18.
Zdeno Ciger led them in scoring with 5-5-10, while Jason Arnott (3-5-8), Shayne Corson (4-4-8), Vladimir Vjotek (1-6-7) and Doug Weight (3-4-7) rounded out their top-five scorers.
Ten forwards and two D-men had at least one goal and 18 skaters had at least one point.
Bill Ranford started nine games, went 2-5-1 and had a .913Sv% and 3.10 GAA.
Fred Braithwaite started two games, went 0-2 with a .882Sv% and 3.78 GAA.
This year’s Oilers have been outscored 49-27.
The PP is 25.6% (10 of 39), and they’ve allowed two shorties for a net PP of 20.5%.
The PK is an ugly 68.9% allowing 14 goals on 45 kills. They have no shorthanded goals.
They’ve scored 18 even strength goals and allowed 30 (28 at 5×5, one at 4×4 and 3×3).
Leon Draisaitl leads them in scoring with 5-9-14 followed by Zach Hyman (4-6-10), Evan Bouchard (3-7-10), Connor McDavid (2-8-10) and Evander Kane (3-6-9).
Seven forwards and five D-men have at least one goal and 15 skaters have a point.
Stuart Skinner has made six starts and is 1-4-1 with a .856Sv% and 3.99 GAA.
Jack Campbell has five starts, is 1-4 with a .8783Sv% and 4.50 GAA.
Every facet of the Oilers’ game is off.
They can’t score.
Won’t defend consistently.
Can’t get a save.
They outshot the Canucks 19-2 in the first 11:30, but then they allowed three goals on four shots in a span of 3:22 and never recovered. And they gave up two goals that never should have happened.
The first Canucks’ goal was a bit unlucky as Vincent Desharnais tried to knock Quinn Hughes’ cross crease pass down, and it deflected past Skinner. However, watch the sequence leading up to it. Vancouver is able to make two passes, while Edmonton has more players back, and it ends with Hughes being wide open.
The second goal starts behind Vancouver’s net. The Oilers don’t protect the middle of ice which allows Vancouver to make a cross ice pass to Dakota Joshua on the right side. Even when he has the puck it is a 3-on-3, but Warren Foegele and Brett Kulak don’t communicate and both go towards Joshua, and that leaves Pius Suter open in the slot. He then shoots one right through Skinner.
This goal is the perfect summary of the Oilers’ season: Allow an easy entry off the rush, even with bodies back, then no communication which leaves a player open in the slot, and your goalie can’t make a stop. It was Suter shooting, not Elias Pettersson, and the shot went right through Skinner. A ghastly goal on all accounts. Even Draisaitl could be hustling back a bit more, but that is being picky. It is a three-on-three against the Canucks’ bottom six and no way it should lead to a wide-open shot.
The Oilers made it 3-2 eight minutes into the second and were back in the game, but then another classic 2023 Oilers defensive lapse allows the Canucks to grab a 4-2 lead.
Off the offensive zone faceoff, Foegele races to the puck and tries to chip in deep, but it hits the Canucks player and Vancouver has possession. Bouchard elects to step up rather than just retreat back. At this point there is no danger. It would be a 2-on-2, maybe a 3-on-2, but he steps up, and the Canucks easily pass it off the boards and now have a two-on-one. Skinner makes a good initial save, but Bouchard opted to stop skating at the blue line and allowed Hoglander to bury the rebound.
Bouchard didn’t miss one shift after this sequence. At some point Jay Woodcroft needs to hold players accountable. Even if it was only for the rest of the second period. Just send a message to him, and the entire team, that that type of play and lack of desperation on the backcheck is unacceptable. Woodcroft has mentioned “the standard” many times this year. I assume that can’t be their standard, but if there is no recourse to players who make that play, then maybe it is the standard.
Those two goals outline very well how the season has gone for Edmonton. They allow easy zone entries. The goalie can’t make a decent save. They make an ill-advised decision, and then don’t play with enough desperation to recover.
Eventually the players will decide to change their mindset and effort, or the coach will make an example of one — and if not, then he might be the one paying the price.
Those are the only options. Either decide to play better, set a new standard or keep floundering.
What will the players and coach decide?

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