Oilers burning orange and blue

by | Apr 26, 2023 | Opinion

There’s no doubt a club will have a good season when they have the two highest-scoring players in the game on one team. Everybody and their mom knows that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the best Oilers, but the team offers much more than those guys.

The Oilers have talent in every facet of their game, from the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, Mattias Ekholm, Stuart Skinner and more. McDavid and Draisaitl get all the press, but it’s high time some of these other players get recognition for their amazing seasons. 

Stuart Skinner has taken the reins as the Oilers starting netminder and has been a diamond in the rough for Oilers goaltenders this season. Born and raised in Edmonton, Skinner has achieved many young players’ dream of playing for their home team. He didn’t only achieve this goal; he took it and ran with it. 

The 24-year-old goaltender was a part of the Pacific Division All-Star team and also broke the Oilers’ record for the most wins in March with 10 victories. This season, Skinner has been crucial to the Oilers’ success, posting a 24-14-5 record, 2.73 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. Without Skinner, the Oilers would have lost a lot more because of poor goaltending.

Defence is another essential part of a team’s back-end success and Mattias Ekholm has been killing it. Before getting Ekholm, the Oilers’ defence had a few weaknesses that presented themselves in a handful of games throughout the season. These weaknesses sparked doubt in many fans, including myself. Fortunately, obtaining Ekholm at the trade deadline helped anchor the defence, allowing Captain Connor to steer the ship on offence.

A big part of the Oilers’ offence is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has had his best season yet with 37 goals and 67 assists. RNH has played for the Oilers for 12 seasons, and this is the first time he has got a point per game. He’s one of four players with a point per game: Zach Hyman with 83 points, Leon Draisaitl with 128, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 104 and last but certainly not least, Connor McDavid with an astonishing 153 points. These numbers have allowed the red-hot oil to heat up in many areas of the game.

This team’s scoring has been phenomenal and has led to insane some insane statistics for the team. The Oilers led the league in 3.96 goals for per game and had the NHL’s all-time best powerplay at 32.4. This has helped the orange and blue have the upper hand over undisciplined squads. About one-third of their power-play chances end up in a goal, showing they are ruthless with the extra man. 

The Oilers can score on the man advantage as well as the penalty kill. With 18 goals on the penalty kill, Edmonton leads the NHL in short-handed goals this season.

Some may argue that the Oilers let too many goals in the net, but the team is built to score goals, not keep them out.  Though it helps a team keep the puck out of the net, the Oilers feed off their opponent’s mistakes to take the win. 

This sort of playstyle is reminiscent of the 1980s Oilers, where each game would end in a 6-5 score, with the Oilers coming out on top regardless. Exciting hockey is a part of the Oilers’ legacy, and this new generation of players are showing the organization’s roots in their play.

Because of this, the Oilers are a dangerous team and prove to be the most exciting club in the NHL, with Connor McDavid, the living highlight, gliding his way through the game’s history.

Cover photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images

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