The Edmonton Oilers are cooking with fire right now. During a blistering six-game winning streak, the Oilers look like a well-oiled machine, outscoring opponents by a whopping 31-13 margin.
The bad news is that the Oilers aren’t as dominant as their six-game winning streak would indicate. The good news is that you can get away with serious flaws when you feature Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — especially in a vulnerable Western Conference.
Let’s sort through what’s real about this hot streak, what fans should take with a grain of salt, and how this could all lead into a fascinating 2023 NHL Trade Deadline for the Oilers.
A soft schedule could keep Edmonton on a roll
Through thick and thin, you can usually rely on the obvious with the Edmonton Oilers: plenty of scoring from McDavid, Draisaitl, and a few other top players. In this case, Zach Hyman is especially hot, slightly outscoring McDavid and Draisaitl during the Oilers’ six-game winning streak ( for Hyman, 11 for McDavid and Draisaitl) .
Home or away (@)
Opponent + record
Wed, Jan 25
Sat, Jan 28
Tue, Feb 7
Thu, Feb 9
Sat, Feb 11
Sun, Feb 12
Wed, Feb 15
Fri, Feb 17
NY Rangers 25-14-7
Sun, Feb 19
Tue, Feb 21
Thu, Feb 23
Sat, Feb 25
Overall, that looks like a very Oilers-friendly month. They also are set up for a cushy finish, as they still have three games left against the Sharks, and two games apiece versus the lowly Ducks and Coyotes.
Oilers need to learn the right lessons from this hot streak
Historically, lucky scoring runs and hot winning streaks can bring hidden drawbacks if teams assume that they’ll keep getting those lucky bounces. It’s crucial that the Oilers weigh the exhilaration of this stretch with memories of recent struggles.
Take, for instance, goaltending.
On one hand, it’s promising that Jack Campbell managed after putting up stats that would’ve been shaky in the ‘80s. On the other hand, it’s dangerous to assume that his work is done, and that he’s certain to be Edmonton’s best option.
*Jack Campbell has 5 games where he plays above .880 hockey*
NHL Media: pic.twitter.com/xDSVxudN5e
— Fris (@Frisbob) January 20, 2023
Management likely prefers leaning on their $5-million goalie instead of surprise All-Star Stuart Skinner, but it’s important for Edmonton to let the hottest goalie play. Between injuries and cold streaks, there’s a solid chance the Oilers will call upon both goalies during a potential playoff push.
Also, it’s promising that the Oilers are getting more production from both expected supporting cast members (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ nine points in six games) and relatively new faces (four points each from Klim Kostin and Dylan Holloway). Even so, the Oilers have a tendency to view a nice short-term solution as something more permanent.
I like Klim Kostin and I hope he remains an Oiler.
The news that EDM is looking to extend his contract right now is a concern as he's on quite a heater in a 31 game sample.
This reminds me of Holland signing Kassian after a 45 game heater in 19/20 (1/
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) January 21, 2023
For all we know, those supporting cast members might be the real deal. There’s really little sense expecting Edmonton’s penalty kill to stay this hot, though.
Before the Oilers’ winning streak began, Edmonton’s penalty kill success rate was at 72.7 percent, the sixth-worst mark in the NHL. The Seattle Kraken (69.5 percent, second-worst) and Los Angeles Kings (73.4 percent, eighth-worst) . During this streak, the Oilers have killed a ridiculous 94.1 percent of their penalties (). To give you an idea of how unsustainable that stretch is, consider that , and Edmonton’s best mark .
Clearly, gravity will pull down that PK eventually. But what if the Oilers can nudge what was once a problematic penalty kill closer to average?
There’s a path for the Oilers to gather the momentum from this streak and improve in some areas, even if the results won’t always be so dramatic:
It’s not just about the strengths and weaknesses of Draisaitl, either. Ideally, you’d have depth players soaking up those difficult minutes, and blocking shots. Injuries happen, but why not limit some of your risks? If Edmonton solidifies its playoff position down the stretch, the Oilers can take measures to keep Draisaitl, McDavid, and other key players as fresh and healthy as possible.
Whether Jack Campbell really is back on track or not, it makes a ton of sense to keep both goalies as sharp as possible.
A real opportunity in an uncertain Western Conference
It’s not that hard to picture the Oilers nabbing the Pacific second seed, and there’s even room to win the division. Picture a variety of likely first-round matchups; while most potential series can go either way, is there really a nightmare opponent in the Pacific?
At times, Ken Holland’s been cautious regarding the Oilers’ trade deadline plans. Considering last season, and how frequently trade deadline rentals disappoint across the NHL, it’s understandable if some flinch at the idea of an aggressive approach.
Yet, it would be negligent if the Oilers didn’t at least turn over every stone . Yes, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl , but sitting out a golden opportunity like this could really leave a lasting impression.
No, the Oilers aren’t as strong as their six-game winning streak indicates. However, a flawed-but-improved Oilers team could really make some noise in an unconvincing West if they play their cards right.
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