A couple weeks ago, we asked if it was time for the Edmonton Oilers to panic. At that point, the club was 1-4-0.
Now, the Oilers are 4-8-1 and their fortunes in the Pacific Division haven’t turned around. They’re seventh and were blown out by the 7-7-1 Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
13 games into the season, Edmonton does not look good. They have the second fewest points in the Western Conference and they’ve only scored 30 goals, the fewest in the entire league. Their penalty kill is awful, and they have yet to win consecutive games.
For a team expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup this season, it’s safe to say the Oilers have come up short.
“You don’t get to participate in late April or early May hockey at .333,” said head coach Todd McLellan on Sunday. “You sure don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. The effect of losses accumulating also plays on the mentality of the team and the belief system. We worked hard for two years to get it up. Now it’s being tested, so we’ve got to put some performances together.”
There are other telling issues, like the fact that Connor McDavid only played 15:55 against the Red Wings on Sunday. He skated just 4:25 in the third period and that was with his team down a number of goals.
Granted, McDavid still leads the Oilers with 16 points and he’s been averaging 21:55 of ice time across 13 games this season. But there has to be more to it than a single player’s efforts and that’s what Edmonton is up against right now.
Just like Montreal had to determine how to play beyond Carey Price, the Oilers have to figure out how to play beyond Connor McDavid. That may be easier said than done, but McLellan thinks the whole squad could use a tune-up.
“We’re not playing fast enough,” McLellan said. “When you describe fast you think about Connor flying down the wing and beating somebody one-on-one. That’s fast. But the group has to play fast as a whole. We’re not quick enough to loose pucks. We don’t keep a lot of plays alive in the offensive zone.”
The little things are starting to add up for the Oilers and so are the losses, which makes the upcoming road trip out East all the more important. Consider that Edmonton has to win all four games to climb back to .500 on the season and you’ve got an indication as to how deep of a hole this is.
Does that mean the playoffs are already out of reach? No.
But it does mean that it may, indeed, be time for Edmonton to put some panic in their game. They’re up against it with American Thanksgiving around the corner and that’s not a good sign if the post-season is still the ultimate goal.