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Off the Top of My Head: The Oilers’ four-game win streak, Jack Campbell’s future, and Corey Perry

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Photo credit:Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
6 months ago
“If there’s the right way to win, that’s what it looks like. I thought the guys stuck with it all night. I thought we did a great job in both ends overall.”
When you consider how badly the Edmonton Oilers started the season and how things could’ve come right off the rails by now, those words from Stuart Skinner after Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets is as good as it gets. The Oilers have four straight wins going into a stretch of five days without games.
With actual in-season time to re-set heading into a stretch of six straight games at home, the 9-12-1 Oilers are back in the Western Conference playoff race. That seemed like wishful thinking in the extreme not long ago when the bandwagon was emptying big-time, but here we are with 60 games remaining and the early jumpers are already climbing back aboard. 
This win had loss written all over it until the final seven minutes when goals by Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan McLeod erased a 1-0 deficit in front of stellar work by Skinner. This game was your proverbial tester — one the Oilers can feel good about as they hit the break. We’ll see what they can do with that.

STICKING WITH IT

“Obviously, some tweaks have to be made as always,” said Skinner, in the net for all four wins. “Every win and every loss there are things to improve on, so it’s just a matter of us sticking with it, which I know the guys will.”
Kris Knoblauch is 6-3-0 since arriving from the Hartford Wolf Packl and taking over from Jay Woodcroft. Knoblauch had to hit the ground running with the Oilers in big trouble at 3-9-1. I’m guessing he can use a chance to catch his breath. Likewise, the players. Some time for family. A bit of Christmas shopping.
“I love the way we stuck with it,” said Draisaitl, who carried the load for the Oilers until Connor McDavid shook off an injury and a slow start before he got rolling. “We didn’t deter from our game plan and stayed really, really patient. It was a very mature win.”
What does this four-game roll mean for the 60 games that remain this season? The Oilers have home dates – with days off between every game – against Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, Chicago, Tampa and Florida. The days between games mean Knoblauch can lean on Skinner, who has stopped pucks at a .931 rate these last four games, through the homestand if need be. Will he?
As for McDavid, he hits the break with 14 points in his last five games – that’s just one less than he had in his first 15 games. It won’t be long until he again sits atop the Art Ross Trophy heap. Let’s see if the Oilers came make a similar push in the wildcard race after spotting opponents such a sizeable head-start.

THE BLUE PAINT

Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) warms up before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
With so much speculation about GM Ken Holland pursuing a stopper to back-up Skinner, might a recall of Jack Campbell from AHL Bakersfield cover that instead of looking outside for help? I said no chance when Campbell was getting lit up like a cheap cigar early after his demotion, but he’s settled in with the Condors and a return to the Oilers doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Jason Gregor touched on this in his game notes before the Oilers faced the Jets. I’m not sure about Campbell in the long-term, but is it possible he can regain his form to the extent he can be a viable back-up behind Skinner short-term? Your guess is as good as mine because the swings in Campbell’s game are ridiculous. 

WHILE I’M AT IT

I wish Corey Perry the best in dealing with the aftermath of having his contract with the Chicago Blackhawks terminated after what’s been called an “alcohol-related incident.” I admire him for being willing to admit he’s got a problem. That doesn’t mean I see a fit for him with the Oilers. I don’t.
And before we drag out the “what about-isms” — like the Oilers taking on Evander Kane in 2022 or inking Craig MacTavish back in 1985 — I don’t see a fit with Perry because of where he’s at in his career, not because of what little we’ve heard so far about what landed him in trouble. It’s as simple as that.
Kane came with lots of baggage when the Oilers signed him, but he was 30 and had lots left in the tank. He’s not only flown straight and been a model citizen, he’s been a significant on-ice addition. I didn’t like the idea. Kane has proven me wrong. Perry, on the other hand, is 38 and a player in decline. He’s played with five different teams since 2018-19. Why is that?

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