Not good. That is the simple explanation for the Edmonton Oilers 2013-14 season so far. When the year began, the belief in hockey was the Oilers might take a huge leap forward this season and finally make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06. After 25 days of hockey that possibility already looks bleak.
Defence wins hockey games. You’ve heard that before right? History has proven the importance of strong team D, and so far this year, the Oilers are giving up goals like free samples at Costco. At the moment Edmonton’s 43 goals against is the most allowed in the NHL. Even the predicted bottom feeders like the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils are respectable defensively.
It gets worse. The defensively poor Oilers lost their most potent offensive player to month long knee injury. The Oilers win games with offence, and Hall’s absence hurts their chances of doing that over the next few weeks. Hall has 8 points through 9 games.
Earlier this week, Habs’ forward labelled the Oilers similar to a ‘junior team.’ The Oilers won that game in Montreal by a score of 4-3. But if you thought it lit the spark within them that would turn their season around, that is still highly up for debate. Their next game was a decisive 4-1 home ice loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals.
The Oilers have a lot of young skill at the forward position. They brought in veteran defenceman Andrew Ference to add stability on the blueline. And, the addition of David Perron on the wing gave them some needed experience and size in their top six. However, none of the moves have translated to success yet.
Top three are guaranteed a playoff spot in the new NHL realignment setup. The Oilers are 11 points back of the Pacific Division’s 3rd place Anaheim Ducks. They have dug themselves into a deep hole. There is a saying in hockey – you can’t make the playoffs in October, but you can get eliminated. The Oilers may have already done enough damage. This season looks like another miss for Edmonton unless something incredible happens.
The bright side – their core is young. Winning now is important but a young team need not panic and worry too much. Another year of mistakes and losses will only make them better in the future. However, the belief that the future is now, may have been premature for the Edmonton Oilers.