The Edmonton Oilers played some pretty decent hockey this past week, going 2-1-1 to get five out of a possible eight points, and finished tied for second in the tight Northwest Division with the Minnesota Wild, one point behind the Vancouver Canucks.
Strong victories over the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes at the start of the week helped offset their losses to the San Jose Sharks and Avalanche at the end of the week and there were a number of positives to take on all sides of the ice. Devan Dubnyk allowed only one goal in two separate games and never allowed more than two (the third goals that the Sharks and Avalanche scored in the Oilers’ final two games were due to a shootout victory and an empty-net goal), which was enough to give the Oilers a chance to remain in the hunt to win all four games. The Oilers have to be pleased with his progression as their netminder, and the two-year extension he received before this season is looking like a pretty reasonable deal right now.
The offense continued to rely heavily on their power play (as evidenced by their going 4 for 6 in their victory over the Avalanche at the start of the week), but they also managed to score four even-strength goals. They still aren’t scoring a ton to begin with, let alone in even-strength situations, and their current gaudy power play percentage is unsustainable over the long-term, even for them, so they still have some work to do. They have yet to score more than four goals in a game this season, which is shocking given the amount of offensive talent they have and how many other teams seem to be scoring five goals or more at will so far this season.
The defense remains a work in progress, but despite some key slip-ups this week, particularly in this weekend’s tilt with the Avalanche, they are progressing. While Dubnyk is the main reason why only six goals were scored against him while he was actually in net these past four games, the defense played its part as well. Ladislav Smid and Mark Fistric were both even for the week and Fistric recorded his first point in the team’s loss to the Sharks. And while Justin Schultz was held without a point, he was a plus-one; he and Nick Schultz were the only Oilers defensemen on the plus side of things.
This week, the Oilers will be squaring off against the Canucks at home tonight, and will be home against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, before going on the road to face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.