Hockey

Down the Stretch: Edmonton Potential

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The NHL all-star break comes to an end, and the second half of the season resumes. With 42 games played, the Oilers have a busy schedule coming up as they are set to take on the Pacific Division leader, the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night. The Chicago Blackhawks will come to town the following day as the Oilers look to defend a three-game homestand. 

Mike Smith is scheduled to make his return very soon as he has appeared back in practice and was activated off of the Oilers injured reserve.

NHL Trade Deadline Approaching

The NHL has a little more than a month until the annual trade deadline, so it remains a mystery which players Edmonton might scoop up. Rumours about Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk have been active for several months as well as talks about Chicago netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury

Acquiring Fleury at the deadline could be considered a gamble, but at this point, what do the Oilers have to lose? Statements made from Connor McDavid, the Oilers captain, made it obvious the group looks to go on a deeper run in the playoffs. If the veteran goaltender is able to perform similarly to the 2020-21 campaign, the Oilers will be in luck. 

Talks have also included a possible acquisition of Blue Jackets goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo as he is a younger option who might be looking for a change of scenery. 

If Edmonton GM, Ken Holland is able to make the correct moves at the deadline, the Oilers could be set for a more proficient ending to their roller coaster of a season. 

Playoffs

A question Oiler fans have shockingly found themselves asking this season is, “will we make the playoffs?” With two of the league’s best offensive talents, this shouldn’t be a question; but it is. The Oilers have just 42 games played this far as opposed to the majority of the division that already has 46 games played or more. If the group can keep up what went into the all-star break, they have a high chance of making the playoffs. 

Over the span of 42 games, the Edmonton Oilers recorded 23 wins, and 16 losses, not including the three losses decided in overtime. 

On paper, the team has improved since last season with the additions of Zach Hyman, Evander Kane, Warren Foegele, and some others. All three of the players mentioned have visited the postseason several times, where three-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith was also added to the roster. 

Considering the on-ice attributes of the additions to the team, the Oilers are a better team going into the second half of the season and could even get more dangerous at the deadline. 

What to Be Excited About Now

After a win in America’s capital, the third line strength of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman was phenomenal, and they seem to demonstrate the much-needed chemistry that the Oilers have been searching for in their bottom-six forwards. Getting the center depth of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins seems like a dream come true for the fans, and probably some of the players too. 

“I’ve had a blast playing with him, seems like good chemistry. He’s so solid in all aspects of the game, and obviously, he had a big night on the scoreboard. Great to see him get rewarded” said Hyman, according to the Toronto Sun

The appreciation of each other is critical when looking for a team that will click when it matters most. As an Oilers fan, there is a lot to be hopeful for in the near future, and down this final stretch of the 2022 campaign.

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