Time: 9:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Rogers Place
Broadcast / Streaming: SNW, SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Copper & Blue
When you Google the phrase “Why are the Edmonton Oilers...” it autocompletes to “...so bad.” And the first hit that pops up is from our friend Steve Dangle, entitled “Why is the Oilers’ penalty kill historically bad at home?” The Oilers’ special teams are terrible, by the way. The worst in the league:
The Edmonton Oilers have the NHL's worst special teams by a mile.— Wise Content Lad (@HardevLad) February 5, 2018
PP: 14.2% (31st)
Pk: 71.7% (31st)
Since Jan 1:
PP: 3.5% (!!!)
After that, Google hands you a series of articles by two poor, beleaguered souls named David Staples and Bruce McCurdy, who are long-suffering Oilers beat writers. Their articles for the Edmonton Journal attempt to break down why the Oilers are having a terrible season despite Connor McDavid, and despite making it almost to the conference final last season. In summary, the answers are: injuries from their deep playoff run, getting rid of the wrong people, and failure to find cohesion after an early season goaltending meltdown.
Here are a few of their recent offerings:
No one credible in Oil Country is going to argue the loss of Purcell and Yakupov were hits to the team, but many will argue the loss of Hall, Eberle and even Pitlick damaged the team’s depth on the wing, so much so that a lack of quality on the wing has been a major problem for the Oilers this year. It’s hard to take issue with that thought.
And now the 29-year-old Maroon is, evidently, on the block. He’s an Unrestricted Free Agent in July, and if the Oilers can’t sign him in the next few weeks there’s little choice but to move him for some combination of picks and prospects.
[...] Andrej Sekera’s injury. This is the most obvious down side from the series, as Sekera was knocked out of it on a Ryan Getzlaf hit. He suffered a knee injury that required surgery and only now is he back in the line-up, though perhaps he came back too soon.
[...] Eberle’s usual 55 to 60 points would have been a major boost to the Oilers this year, especially as young wingers like Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev have failed to take flight and the Oilers have moved slowly with Jesse Puljujarvi.
[...] The development of young players isn’t a straight line, it’s up and down, and while the Ducks series was a major step up for both, Slepyshev has crashed this year and Caggiula has failed to build on his strong performance.
[...] Draisaitl played exceptional two-way hockey in those playoffs, but he’s yet to approach that level this year.
[...] Perhaps if the Oilers had lost to a high skill team like Chicago in the playoffs, the Oilers would have taken a different message out of the experience and might well have placed more value on skill, skill and more skill this past summer.
Got to give those Edmonton Oilers credit, they sure do save their worst performances for their home ice. Faced with not so much a “must win” as a “must streak” situation, the gracious hosts torpedoed a three-game winning streak with an horrendous performance before their long-suffering fans, who suffered through another 60 minutes of awful hockey that gave them virtually no reason to cheer at any point. This time it was the league’s second-worst team, the Buffalo Sabres — playing a back-to-back on the road, mind — who skated into Rogers Palace and utterly demolished the Oilers, 5-0.
“This all seems very negative,” I thought, so I went to twitter and asked if people there had insight. Here were the responses:
And a few that went into more detail:
A team that was picked to be the success of 2018 and a contender who have failed miserably throughout the season even with their superstar Conner McDavid in the line up.— Lets Go Bolts! (Bob) (@ATS_Tampa) February 5, 2018
“Somehow simultaneously representing ‘old-time hockey’ and struggling expansion, the ‘Orange-And-White’ aren’t what they were in olden times, but nonetheless are not a foe to be taken lightly...”— Meghan Morris (@seaghost78) February 5, 2018
KatyaKnappe of Pension Plan Puppets had an interesting insight, one that pries the team open beyond just “they are bad:” “Their goaltending was bad, and they have too much practice at being bad, so they fell back on old habits, the group cohesion fell apart, and it took too long to get themselves back together. They aren’t as bad as their record.”
But for Oilers fans, they are faced with the grim reality that their team needs a streak to make playoffs this season:
The Oilers have 32 games remaining in the season, and they’ll need to roughly double their 48 points in that time. They’ll face off against Tampa Bay tomorrow, then they’ll head off on a three game roadie in LA, Anaheim and San Jose. Edmonton will need to win all of the California games. Hope Cam Talbot is ready, because they’ll need to win all of the games after that, too.
Um. Good luck, Oilers! But not tonight.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Chris Kunitz — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Vladislav Namestnikov — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn — Matt Peca — Yanni Gourde
Cory Conacher — Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
Michael Cammalleri - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic - Jujhar Khaira - Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon - Ryan Strome - Drake Caggiula
Anton Slepyshev - Mark Letestu - Iiro Pakarinen
Darnell Nurse - Kris Russell
Oscar Klefbom - Matthew Benning
Andrej Sekera - Brandon Davidson
Lines from Left Wing Lock.