Another NHL regular season is in the books. With that said, lets review the rollercoaster of a season that was the Edmonton Oilers.

The Bad Start

The Edmonton Oilers had an abysmal start to their season. They started 2-9-1. This lead to the eventual firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft. He was replaced by former Erie Otters head coach, Kris Knoblauch on November 12th. By American Thanksgiving, the Oilers were 30th place in the NHL with a record of 5-12-1. They were already 19 points behind the division leading Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers flaws were getting exposed. They were getting poor goaltending, they were giving up way too many odd man rushes, and they were simply not defending well enough. Many hockey insiders had the Oilers as Stanley Cup favorites, but it wasn’t looking like they would make the playoffs at all.

The Run

After American Thanksgiving, everything changed. The Oilers had an 8 game winning streak, followed by a historic 16 game winning streak. That 16 game heater is tied with the 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets for the second longest winning streak in NHL history, 1 win behind the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. During those 16 games, the Oilers gave up 3 or more goals only twice. Those two games were the first two during this streak back on December 21st, and December 22nd. The Oilers were starting to look dangerous. They were playing way more structured defensively, and were getting great goaltending. Those two things combined is a recipe for success.

After that 2-9-1 start, the Oilers were 47-18-6 since. That is the best record in the NHL during that span. The Oilers also finished 27-5-3 at home since the Knoblauch hire. The Oilers came within three points of the division lead, but ultimately finished 2nd in the Pacific, behind the Vancouver Canucks. It was truly a remarkable run. The Oilers are once again a threat in the juggernaut known as the Western Conference.

The Goaltending

Goaltending was extremely hit or miss this season. It was either really good or really bad. Just like the team, the goaltending was dreadful in the first two months. Stuart Skinner had a save percentage of .863 in October, and .888 in November. Those numbers were putrid. Jack Campbell was no better. In 5 games, he posted a 4.50 goals against average and .873 save percentage. Due to his poor play, the Oilers assigned Campbell to the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League after he successfully cleared waivers on November 7th. Campbell has not returned to the NHL since.

December was much better for Skinner, posting a .915 save percentage. But, January was by far his best month. The Oilers netminder had a perfect 9-0 record with an incredible .953 save percentage and 1.33 goals against average. He then regressed in February, posting an .887 save percentage, but rebounded nicely down the stretch with a .917 save percentage in March. It was an up and down season for skinner, but it looks like he’s found his game.

As a result of the Jack Campbell demotion, the Oilers recalled Calvin Pickard from the AHL for the remainder of the season. Pickard had a very respectable stint in Edmonton as the backup. In 23 games, he had 12 wins with a 2.45 goals against average, .909 save percentage, and 1 shutout. Those are very solid numbers for someone who wasn’t supposed to play in the NHL this year.

The Acquisitions

The Oilers added three players throughout the season including Corey Perry, Adam Henrique, and Sam Carrick. On January 22nd, The Oilers signed Corey Perry for the remainder of the season after his contract was terminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in late November. Perry added much needed depth to the Oilers bottom 6 without giving anything up. The former Anaheim Ducks 1st-rounder came exactly as advertised. He goes to the net and gets under the opponents skin. He had 8 goals in 38 games since joining Edmonton.

The day before the trade deadline, the Oilers acquired Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick from the Anaheim Ducks. Carrick is a 4th line centre who kills penalties. He provided grit to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He had 2 goals in 16 games with the Oilers, as well as a fighting major in his first game. The most impactful acquisition was Henrique. Henrique is a versatile player which is extremely beneficial to any team. He can play up and down the lineup. He spent time as the 3rd line center, but he also played left wing on the 1st and 2nd lines alongside McDavid, and Draisaitl. This versatility allowed the Oilers to spread the depth across their lineup. Henrique had 6 goals in 22 games since the trade.

The Milestones

A few Oilers had incredible individual seasons. Pending unrestricted free agent, Warren Foegele hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. This is impressive considering he gets limited powerplay time. He scored 18 of his 20 goals 5 on 5, and 1 short-handed goal. As a result of his play, he may have priced himself out of Edmonton. It will be interesting to see if the Oilers attempt to resign him before he hits the open market on July 1st.

Zach Hyman had an outstanding season, as he hit the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career. I wrote about Hyman’s Milestone here. Evan Bouchard also became the first Oilers defenceman since Paul Coffey in 1986 to score 80+ points in a single season. Ironically enough, Coffey was behind the bench to witness this occurrence as a part of the coaching staff. The final milestone was Connor McDavid becoming the 4th player in NHL history to record 100 assists in a single season. He joins an exclusive list that includes Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. While some players had monumental seasons, the team is focused on more important things come playoff time.

Looking Ahead

The Oilers finished the season 2nd in the Pacific Division with a 49-27-6 record. For the 3rd year in a row, the Edmonton Oilers will play the Los Angeles Kings in the 1st-round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Oilers have won the previous two series. This season, the Oilers were 3-1 against the Kings. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Monday, April 22nd at 8 PM MT.

As this rollercoaster of a regular season has concluded, be sure to check out more NHL, and Oilers content at Area 51 Sports Network throughout the playoffs.