A Quick Glance at the Oilers Slow Start

Via NHL.com

Is it too early to panic five games into the season? Most likely. It’s typical in Oilers Country to do so. To start off the season, the Oilers have a record of 2-3-0. Certainly, not the start one was expecting them to have, but what caused this so far? There are a few factors that have been plaguing this squad and making them look like the Pre-Woodcroft Oilers that this fan base definitely does not want to see again.

Slow Starts

Quite frankly, starting the game off slow have always been an issue for the Oilers in their entire history. From Dallas Eakins to Todd McLellan to Ken Hitchcock to Dave Tippett and now Jay Woodcroft, the Oilers have almost always started their games off slow and hemmed in their own zone a lot of the time. This issue seemed to be clarified come playoff time last season, but this bad habit has perked back up in every game thus far and it’s been costing them. They were lucky enough to comeback against the Canucks during their season opener but the next game, halfway through the 1st period they were down 4-1 against their provincial rivals. This slow start also cost them an easy win against Buffalo where they only played a good third period and absolutely peppered Eric Comrie, and a Blues team where the only goal of the game was on the power play. They NEED to fix up this issue if they want any chance of winning games.

Lack of Finishing and Poor Defensive Play

We all knew heading in that the Oilers defense wasn’t great. As I wrote in my expectations for the team this season as well in my Ryan Murray article, while not being a top d-core in the league, the defenders the Oilers have could still get the job down. However, the only one who’s been consistently good has been Cody Ceci. Brett Kulak has struggled ever since being elevated to the 2nd pair and I don’t know if it’s because of an injury, the increase in minutes or what, but he doesn’t look like his steady presence he brought to the team last year. While I do think he rebounds, I believe Kulak is best suited for the 3rd pair and come deadline day the Oilers must acquire a legit top 4 LHD option.

What we didn’t know heading into the season is that the Oilers superb offence would forget how to finish. Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele have a combined four goals between them thus far. While Hyman has been providing value on special teams, and great 5-on-5 play with his tenacious fore-check, the others have been extremely underwhelming. As of right now, the Oilers most consistent forwards have been Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Ryan McLeod. Once the Oilers get consistency and actually convert on their chances from their other players, their record will easily get better.

Goaltending Woes

It’s not been the best start for Jack Campbell with his new team. He started slow against Vancouver, but then made a lot of huge saves to get his team the win. However, getting pulled in the 1st period against Calgary was really tough on him. He played alright against the Hurricanes and was great against Buffalo. He’s the guy for at least the next three years and if the Oilers want any success, it’s going to have to come from him. It usually takes awhile for goalies to get comfortable with their new team’s systems and even working with a new goalie coach. So while I’m not concerned about his play just yet, if it continues on until mid-November one would have to be worried.

Final Thoughts

The Oilers SHOULD be fine for the rest of the season. They usually have a slump every year in December, but who knows. Maybe that slump is occurring earlier than expected. This is still a good team and I still stand by that they can make it to the Western Conference Finals. Monday night against Pittsburgh will be a fun, entertaining game for both sides and I know the Oilers will come out of the gates with fire as they try to turn around this slow start to the 22-23 campaign.

You can find me on Twitter: @Shae_Nuge93.


Published by shaedonshergill

Love to chat and write about the sport of Hockey.

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