It looks like the Edmonton Oilers are hitting their stride.
After Friday night’s win over the Wild, one that snapped a seven-game winning streak that Minnesota held over Edmonton, the Oilers have picked up six wins in their last eight games.
While the 8-2 win over a listless, exhausted Arizona Coyotes team might not have been all that impressive, this win over the Wild showed an Oilers team that’s settling into a groove. Edmonton started well against a tough opponent, they didn’t bend when the Wild challenged them, and they finished off strong.
The result was a four-point swing against a team the Oilers might be battling with for positioning in the Western Conference playoff picture a few months from now. But if the Oilers continue to put forward efforts like this one more often than not, they won’t be worrying about wild-card spots.
“I see a maturity to our game,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “I see an understanding of what it takes to win. That’s a good hockey team we just beat tonight. They played hard and they were right there. But we found a way to win and it’s a credit to our players.“What we’re learning is that when you play towards a structure and an identity, it allows you to win hockey games. Even if you are banged up, even if you are missing important pieces. “As much as everybody wants it to happen immediately. It’s a process.”
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
- A major positive from the win over Minnesota was Edmonton finding some depth scoring at even strength. It was the Derek Ryan, Klim Kostin, and Devin Shore line that opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game and it was Kailer Yamamoto giving the Oilers a 3-2 lead after the Wild had tied the game in the second period. Goals from the second and fourth line at even strength coupled with a pair of goals from the league’s most lethal power-play unit is what changes Edmonton’s offence from a good one to an elite one.
- Though they didn’t score, the young trio of Jesse Puljujarvi, James Hamblin, and Dylan Holloway again pushed things in the right direction for the Oilers with their speed and tenacity. They were in the green 8-to-3 in shot attempts and 3-to-1 in scoring chances through 6:28 of play at even-strength. Ryan McLeod should seamlessly fill into the pivot role on this line when he’s back from injury.
- Before the start of the season, there was talk that Holloway could become the first Oiler ever to win the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie. Maybe Stuart Skinner’s name was the one we should have been talking about. With a 42-save performance against the Wild, Skinner now has a .919 save percentage on the season, which ranks tied for sixth in the NHL among goalies who have played at least 10 games. Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken has 21 points in 26 games and Owen Power of the Buffalo Sabres is already a top-pairing defenceman, so this won’t be an easy award for Skinner to win, but he should be firmly in the conversation.