It’s amazing what a few weeks of playing good hockey can do both in terms of the standings and a team’s confidence.
A perfect example of this is the Edmonton Oilers. After getting off to a really rough start to the season, the team finds itself at 6-3-1, good for 13 points, which puts them just one point behind the division-leading San Jose Sharks.
For this hockey club, it all starts with the play of their superstar and captain, Connor McDavid. As of this writing (October 30), McDavid has 17 points (8 goals and 9 assists) in 10 games.
This guy does it all for the Oilers. He hustles, he creates offense, he puts the puck in the net, he finds open teammates, and he plays well on both sides of the puck.
The debate will always rage on when it comes to who the best player in the game is right now whether it’s McDavid or Sidney Crosby. With that said, however, it is clear that McDavid is a generational talent and one who is going to be one of the best in the game for a very long time.
The club is also getting solid offense out of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This season, he has 12 points (3 goals and 9 assists) and is a +5, which means he is also playing very responsibly in his own zone.
I think people keep forgetting that Nugent-Hopkins, 25, was the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He’s still very young and just starting to come into his prime, which could mean that Oilers’ fans will be seeing a lot more offense from him in the near future.
Leon Draisaitl has also been a big part of this team’s offense. He has 11 points (6 goals and 5 assists) so far and hopefully for the Oilers, his production will continue to go up because this team still needs a lot of offense in order for them to be around come April.
The team is also getting good goaltending from starter Cam Talbot. Remember, Talbot was one of the best goalies in the game just two seasons ago before being very inconsistent last season.
Talbot, 31, is 5-3-1 to start the year with a 2.67 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. These numbers may not rank alongside the elite netminders of the game, but these numbers are more than good enough to help the Oilers win hockey games.
There are obviously areas where this team needs to improve. As mentioned above, this team needs to have more contributors offensively. The team is 24th in the league in goals scored with 29 in 10 games, which puts them just under three goals a game.
With how spotty the team’s defense is, this needs to improve rather quickly. Other than McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisaitl, no one else is really producing, which could end up costing them a playoff spot.
This team also needs to improve on the penalty kill. So far, the Oilers have killed just 75.8 percent of the penalties they have taken, which puts them 20th in the league.
With all of that said, the team is certainly not in a bad position. They are playing good enough to win hockey games and in the end, that is all that really matters.