We’ve hit the 20-game-of-the-year mark, which means we’re almost a quarter of the way through the regular season. For the Oilers, it was an almost perfect start. They are 15-5-0 and currently rank first in the Western Conference in terms of wins and points percentage. They are also tied for second in the league in these two categories.
The whole regular season won’t go smoothly, but the fact that the Oilers have racked up the points they already have this year is huge.
I thought the 20-game mark was also a good place to look back and give a general overview of the team’s start to the season. Here is what I learned in the first 20 games.
It has been very impressive to see how this team has managed to overcome their injury issues. It’s one thing to miss a couple of players at some point this year, but the fact that they continued to rack up wins despite the absence of their starting goalie and THE ENTIRE LEFT TECH OF THEIR BLUE LINE has been great to see.
2 – This team does not give up matches
This team has always had a strong ability to come back to games and it is clear that they did not lose that. With the Oilers’ dynamic top six, no lead is certain for the opposition and they now have some great back wins under their belt. Tonight against the Rangers is still something I think about. The crowd was unreal.
3 – Draisaitl could score 60 goals
Before the start of the season, I was hesitant to take over Leon Draisaitlthe goal pillar of the season, which has been set at 46.5. Well, I was very wrong. He’s going to crush that mark and now I’m honestly starting to think he can hit the 60-goal mark, which has only been done twice since the 2004 lockout.
4 – 150 seems like a good mark for McDavid
I thought 150 points were possible for Connor mcdavid and through 20 games he’s currently on pace for 148. I like his chances of getting there. If he is even close to that mark in the home stretch, he will find other equipment like he did last season when he was chasing the 100 points.
5 – I did not learn it, but the powerplay confirmed that it is unreal
On Oilersnation Radio I said the power play could hit 40% this season and people laughed. Well, who’s laughing now ?! The power play was absolutely dynamite, at 37.7%, the best in the league, 8.4% better than any other team in the league. I still believe they could finish around 40% and should set the NHL record for best PP% in a single season.
6 – Cody This was deviously good
As I walked away from the two superstars, I was very impressed with Cody This this season. To say I was nervous about the contract Ken Holland gave him would be an understatement. So far this season he has been on the ice for 346 evenly minutes and even though he has been outscored 18-15, it is mainly because he has had to deal with many tough clashes. He was solid and that surprised me. He’s not quite a good Adam Larsson, but he’s been a pretty decent replacement.
7 – Maybe I should have been higher on Stuart Skinner
I really wasn’t convinced Stuart Skinner was the Oilers’ future goalie heading into this season. Now he’s starting to change my mind. He’s given them a shot at winning in every game he’s appeared in and his save percentage of .928 is well above the league average of .913. I would love to see him get more starts as Mike Smith continues to recover from injury.
8 – And Mikko?
His dominating performance on Saturday night against Vegas was much needed after allowing three or more goals in five consecutive appearances. His bouncing night brought his save percentage of the year down to .912. You have to be happy with how the great Finn has played this season. He gave them a good start at a point in the season when they really needed him to be successful. His all-year record is now a staggering 11-2-0.
9 – Maybe they don’t need a goalie
I’m now not convinced that goalkeepers are this team’s greatest need at the deadline. I’m pretty confident that a duo of Smith, Skinner or Koskinen will be able to do the job. All you need is one of them to get the playoff time hot.
10 – No worries for Evan Bouchard
Over the summer we heard Dave Tippet call the youngsters Evan bouchard the key to the Oilers’ blue line. It was scary to hear the head coach call a player with less than a year of NHL experience the key to the team’s backend, but honestly, it’s not far off. He’s been their best defenseman to move the puck and while there have been a few short tough times he’s been a strong top-four defenseman for them for most of this season.
11 – Philip Broberg is near
When Darnell Nurse fell and Broberg got the call, I thought it might be a moment we see at the end of the year as a strange blessing in disguise. Broberg wouldn’t have been this lucky if Nurse wasn’t injured and now, even though the sample size is small, there’s a chance Broberg could stay even after everyone is healthy. He was excellent.
12 – Ryan McLeod Should Stay
One player who I’m sure played his last game as Bakersfield Condor is Ryan McLeod. He wasn’t very good at training camp, but since being called up he looks like the quick third-row offensive center this team desperately needed.
13 – Zack Kassian is back?
In the year of the contract, Kass appears to be back for the Oilers. He was very irregular during his time in Edmonton and while his contract is still not good, he brings real value to the team on the ice. I would still love to see him contribute in a role in the bottom six, but he does well in the top six. They need this version of Zack Kassian stay for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
14 – Zach Hyman was worth it
Was he perfect? No. Hyman has had a few short drops, but for the most part he’s been a good driving game winger for this Oilers team and adds an element of physics that I think their top six needed. He was also very good on the power play. I loved what I saw of him in 20 games and think he will only improve after the playoffs are over.
15 – They could use an attacker
That being said, I think Ken Holland needs to add one more winger to this group. They appear to be placed in the middle, but they could use another winger capable of producing an attack.
16 – This winger could be Dylan Holloway
Before getting into the striker rental market, I think they’d be wise to take a serious look at Dylan Holloway. Let him play at Bakersfield for a month once he’s healthy and then give him a try with the big club. I think his combination of size and speed could fit right into any place in the Oilers lineup. If that doesn’t work, the Netherlands should consider acquiring another striker before the deadline.
17 – Puljujarvi should be paid
I guess it will wait until the offseason, but it looks like Jesse puljujarvi has taken another step forward this season and the best: I still don’t think he has reached his full potential. He should only continue to become more confident at the NHL level and as he does, he will start to have an even bigger impact. I think he could be an eternal 25-goal scorer and the Oilers should lock him up as soon as they can.
18 – You have to love overs!
Blindly betting the over in every game would have saved you money this year! The top is 12-7-1 so far this season and honestly I would continue to hammer it. It’s fun and it earns money!
19 – They must be buyers
This team is clearly a contender and I would expect Ken Holland to recognize that. They have the top-of-the-line skills to perform a deep run and I think Holland would be wise to use this year’s first round pick and even a “B” level prospect as the commercial bait to add two more pieces to it. this list. Adding an LHD and a front middle-six would really change the dynamics. Holland has said he will spend if he thinks his team has a chance, now is the time for the Oilers general manager to put his money, or his assets, where his mouth is.
20 – COVID is still here
And finally, we come to the news that fell today. Cody This is in the COVID protocol as the Oilers have been added to the growing list of league teams that could potentially face issues related to the pandemic. The Oilers’ 15-5 departure has been great to watch and I hope the issues with COVID-19 don’t distract them from their current path.