Are the Oilers Really Getting Better? | - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

Are the Oilers Really Getting Better?

Over the last few seasons, Edmonton wouldn't have won a hockey game the way they beat the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

As Blues' goaltender Jake Allen described it, "They are not the Oilers of the last few years, I’ll tell you that," This quote came after 3-1 loss St. Louis suffered at the hands of the Oilers. This also came after a presser in which the Blue's coach Ken Hitchcock described Edmonton as a team that looks like the Bruins and plays like the Bruins.

Perception Has Changed

Hitch knows how to blow smoke before a game. He's been doing it for years. Every time the Blues or one of Hitchcock's teams come to play Edmonton, pre-game interviews are full of compliments and praise. Most of the time it's about the Oilers speed or skill. It's nice to hear... until of course, one of Hitchcock's teams mops the floor with the Oilers.

On Thursday, it was a different story. Hitchcock didn't talk about Edmonton's skill much. He talked about their size, their grit, determination and toughness. It was clear, Hitchcock new this Oilers team was a different team and it meant playing a different game.

I believe, this is a sentiment being felt around the NHL.

The New Oilers

What are the new Oilers? Are they skilled? Yes. Are they big? Yes. Are they tough? Yes. Are they nasty? Not yet, but they could be. What the Oilers are, without hesitation, is a team that doesn't rely solely on skill and a team that can't be pushed around.

McLellan made it clear after the Oilers lost to Buffalo that this was a season where excuses weren't going to be tolerated. Laziness wasn't acceptable. It seems as though this wasn't just talk;. Edmonton came out with a far better effort and took this game.

The Defense

What seems evident is the difference on defense. The Oilers came into the season with a new-look blue line and while it hasn't been perfect, even flawed at times, the defense has been far and away better.

The additions of Adam Larsson and Kris Russell can't be understated. The ability to move down players like Darnell Nurse, Eric Gryba, Mark Fayne and fill holes when Brandon Davidson goes down is a blessing and the Oilers are not scrambling on every play to get out of the zone.

The Offense

It's still skilled, but it's also balanced. There isn't just speed, there is an ability to mix speed with push-back and aggression. The fourth line is contributing and the first line is taking over games. The problem is, the second and third lines are struggling.

Overall, Edmonton was defined as a team that could score goals but never did. They are finally putting up points on the scoreboard and living up to their billing. Are they good enough to keep this going?

The first five games have been a pleasant surprise. The beautiful part is, Edmonton seems to be improving. I wouldn't suggest this team is the team we see sitting at the top of the NHL standings. That said, it could be a team that is better than we first thought.

Playoffs? Ask me that question again after another five games. But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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2 Responses to "Are the Oilers Really Getting Better?"

  1. Usually agree with you pal, but saying the 3rd line hasn't been producing is simplyour, flat out wrong.

  2. I am surprised at how good the D-fence is. As you say, it isn't perfect - but good stuff. I can see a difference in play this year, and I am not that technical in my hockey expertise. So far so good.