The Oilers snapped out of their three-game losing skid with a rather surprising victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday evening.
The win wasn’t surprising because the Oilers are a bad team compared to Tampa Bay. This Oilers team is, on paper, one of the better teams in the league in my opinion and they’re certainly more than capable of beating anyone in the league on any given night.
It was surprising because they looked terrible in the first half of the back-to-back set. They were wildly undisciplined, their penalty kill was helpless, and they struggled to break up the cycle at 5v5. It was a miserable effort all around and that was against a Capitals team that was missing several key contributors. The Lightning are miles better than Washington and yet the Oilers managed to squeak out a victory against a team that’s been to three straight Stanley Cup Finals.
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The Oilers’ penalty kill was terrible on Monday and then on Tuesday, they went a perfect 5/5 and even got a shorthanded goal. Jack Campbell has underperformed in most of his starts so far this season and yet he finished the game against Tampa Bay with a .946 save percentage. There was a lot to like about the Oiler’s victory.
Still, the losing streak is still fresh in everyone’s mind and I had NHL Insider Frank Seravalli on my daily live show, Oilersnation Everyday, and asked him if the tough three-game stretch for the Oilers may have opened management’s eyes to the deficiencies on this roster.
“I think they have their marching orders. I think that they’re beginning to formulate what that looks like whether that’s adding someone to the bottom six that provides a bit of an edge or a specialty, like a penalty killer.” said Seravalli.
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He went on to add “I think ideally they’d like to add a bonafide centre to this mix. Maybe not now, but maybe a lot closer to March 3rd”.
While we have spent a significant amount of time talking about the Oiler’s need to go get a defenseman, it’s interesting to hear that GM Ken Holland may be looking at going after some forward help.
Which centres could be available? Well, it is kind of tough to tell right now. There will be plenty of bottom-six, penalty killing specaliasts available closer to the deadline, but what if the Oilers wanted to aim higher than that?
Jonathan Toews is a player that Frank has brought up before on my show and if the Oilers wanted to get a defensively responsible, veteran player with plenty of playoff experience, he would fit that description. It probably wouldn’t cost that much either.
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Bo Horvat is another player that could very well be moved in the months leading up to the trade deadline, but he would cost a lot more to acquire and I feel like the Oilers would be better off spending their more valuable trade assets on some help for their blueline.
Regardless, I love the idea of adding a strong veteran centreman to this bottom six, even if it means Ryan McLeod has to be moved to the wing for the playoff run. Having someone who can help the penalty kill while also driving play when McDavid and Draisailt are off the ice would be a huge boost to this team. Also, injuries always happen and if the Oilers want to go on another deep playoff run, they should be covering all their bases.
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Frank also brought up tomorrow’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. For those who don’t know, there is a literal hurricane running through the state of Florida right now and Carolina is taking on the Panthers tonight. There was some concern that if the weather took a turn, that the Canes wouldn’t be able to get out of Florida and their game against the Oilers on Thursday would have to be pushed.
Frank said that the Hurricanes have created a backup plan and actually have planes waiting at two separate airports so that if the weather takes a turn for the worse at one, they could just bus to another airport and fly out of there.
Frank also provided an update on the Evander Kane situation and more in his hit. You can watch the full show here (also, it’s available as a podcast wherever you listen to those): 
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