After spending most of the 2013 season as underachievers, the Edmonton Oilers have suddenly worked their way to a three-game win streak and now sit two points out of the playoff picture. Two of those Oilers wins have been shutouts, as a lethal offense continues to find the back of the net and goaltenders Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk have turned in season-best performances.
Offensively, Taylor Hall has stepped up his game and had a hat trick in a huge win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been huge in the past week as well, as the Oilers young talent continues to be their best asset. Nugent-Hopkins had two assists in each of the last three games, while Eberle had three goals and five points. Sam Gagner has slowed a bit since a great start to the season, but if a one goal, two assist performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday is any indication he may be ready to start scoring regularly again.
If the Oilers hope to make the playoffs, they face a tough road ahead. Only five of their remaining games are against teams behind them in the standings, and they will face all five of the Western Conference’s top teams at least once. Dubnyk’s confidence should be boosted by the two recent wins, as he sports a 10-10-6 record more from a lack of offensive support at earlier points in the season than his own shortcomings. The Oilers have the offensive weapons and special teams strength to reach the playoffs, and if their goaltending can remain solid they will be in good shape for the season’s final month.