Going into Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves with a 1-4-0 record. That puts them seventh in the Pacific Division and second from the basement in the Western Conference. Only the Arizona Coyotes, still without a win in six games, are worse.
The Oilers have somehow only scored 11 goals thus far this season and they’ve allowed 19 goals against.
When centre Leon Draisaitl was put on the injured reserve a few days ago, the suggestion was to not panic. And in many ways, the same advice applies now. It is still too early to say how this winds up, but it’s not too early to say that the Oilers have some serious problems to address.
For one, they’ve been outscored 9-1 in first periods this season. And they’ve been outscored 19-8 overall during their last four games.
That’s why Edmonton is hoping a change will do them good, which puts the Windy City into perspective.
“Home certainly isn’t working right now,” centre Mark Letestu said. “It might be nice to have a little change of scenery.”
The Blackhawks are up first in Chicago, while Philadelphia is the second stop on Saturday. The Oilers will draw Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in Pittsburgh for the final stop on Tuesday.
After starting the season with a win over the Calgary Flames, Edmonton has struggled to find footing. They lost to the Canucks, Jets, Senators, and Hurricanes and looked lacklustre in each effort, with fits of sheer incompetence on display at times.
Connor McDavid may be on a three-game assist streak, but he hasn’t scored a goal since his hat trick in the season opener. His totals look sharp by comparison – six points in five games – but he’d obviously like to find the net soon.
Goalie Cam Talbot hasn’t been good, with a 1-3-0 record going into Thursday and a 3.96 goals against average. Last season, he posted 42 wins. This season, he’s been twice replaced by backup Laurent Broissot.
It would do the Oilers little good to panic right about now, but this slump certainly puts things in perspective. Perhaps Edmonton was taking this season too lightly, expecting too many good things to happen without effort. Perhaps expectations in the City of Champions were too high.
With the 4-2-1 Blackhawks on tap, opportunity knocks. Chicago has dropped two of their past three and has been outscored 11-6 in that period.