The name of the game for the Oilers is “Inconsistent” at least after 20 games we can say that much about them.
In the 10 games since we did “After 10” the Oilers have continued the trend of Win one, Lose one, Lose in OT, Wash, Rinse, Repeat. They have shown no ability to string Wins together at all and creat any kind of momentum. The only saving grace is that a 3 game winning streak against the right opponents could put them right back in a playoff position.
The Oilers today are in 22nd place in the NHL and if the season ended right now that means drafting 9th Overall. The Oil have 20 points in their 20 games and the cut off for the playoffs right now is 23. There are 3 teams occupying 6th-8th all tied with 23 and they’ve all played more games than the Oilers. Thats the good news. The bad news is that there are only 4 points separating 9th-14th in the West. With all play coming from within the Division teams are cannibalizing each other out there and there is just a huge grouping that could change spots over the next 28 games.
Hall has continued his stellar play this year and apparently added a level of toughness/dirtiness that just might give him even more space out there than what he creates with his speed alone. His 2 game suspension was weathered pretty well by the club, all things considered, but he is a shot generating machine out there. I expected more goals than he has right now, but it obviously wasnt just lip service that he was working on his passing this year because he is a point per game player despite only having 4 goals in 18 games. He’s shooting 6% s far this year and I expect when that number normalizes we wont be talking about his curiously low goal total.
Seemingly against all odds Gagner has continued at nearly a point per game pace this season. He is leading the Oilers in scoring still with 19 points in 20 games. Over the past 20 games, and especially in the last 10, he has also shown a lot of the fire in his belly. When the team plays poorly he is quick to point it out, speaking on behalf of the team. You can see a sense of leadership in young Sam that is coming out more often, likely a byproduct of the confidence that comes with consistency. Gagner even got into his once or twice yearly fight in this last 10 game segment, fighting not just another medium weight player but a Giant by comparison. Say what you will about his subpar Faceoff skill, Gagner can be a 2C on my team any day of the week.
I’m not about to Panic, but there is something wrong with RNH. Nuge only ha 1 goal and 7 points in 19 games so far this season. He isnt a useless player by any means, but the traditional points are not showing up. He’s been stoned from the slot by so many goalies that he must start to wonder what he did to the hockey gods to deserve this. The chances are coming, they just arent going in. Myself, I think there are 2 things going on.
1) The dreaded sophomore jinx. Its real, like the Madden Curse. Whether its teams focussing in on him more, or the lack of “protection” hes getting from other top lines, year 2 has not been kind to Nuge.
2) That shoulder is not right. He took a couple weeks off in the AHL because of it and at least 1 game off in the NHL. It wouldnt surprise me in the least to find out he gets surgery on it as soon as the season is over. How badly is he hurting? We wont find out until it gets so bad he cant play anymore or Golf season starts, whichever comes first.
Hemsky over the last 20 games has risen from the ashes. He looks again to be the world class puck handler that he has been in the past. His point totals are good, not gaudy, but its obvious that he finally feels comfortable again. When Hemsky has the puck he skates at full speed and can create something out of nothing. His classic move is to get the puck on the right side of the offensive zone, skate behind the net, and circle back out on the left creating absolute chaos for the defenders. Love it. Hemsky’s back.
The team in general has struggled to score at even strength, this in part to many failed scoring opportunities by Jordan Eberle and Nuge. The team needs those two to put mire in the back of the net, but its more than them. One night the Oilers look world class, the next night they miss start time by 30 minutes. Ryan Whitney looks like a shadow of himself, then plays great against St Louis. Justin Schultz is still playing great hockey in general, especially for a rookie, but one wonders if he has hit a bit of a wall and same goes for Yakupov. Yak, however, is still apparently trying to earn ice time from Krueger, so he isnt getting the same kind of minutes as Schultz.
The standings after 20 show the Oilers to be a bubble team for the NHL Playoffs but the good news is that the top 8 havent ran away with it. There is still time to turn things around. Can they? Maybe after the next 10 games we will know better.