With six games left for the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017-18 National Hockey League Regular Season, one could argue that the Oilers are playing some of their best hockey they have played all season long. In their last 10 games, they have gone 6-2-2. However one could argue the winning surge has come in garbage times, when the games simply do not matter much as Edmonton will miss the playoffs for the 12th time in the last 14 years.
The major reason why the Oilers have collected a series of wins lately has been the offensive prowess of Connor McDavid. On Monday, McDavid was named the NHL’s first star of the week from March 19-25. In four games in which the Oilers went 3-0-1, McDavid had five goals and five assists for 10 points. His best offensive game came in a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday where he had two goals and two assists for four points.
With the Oilers missing the playoffs, it is highly unlikely that McDavid will win the Hart Trophy this season, however there are strong chances he could still win the Art Ross Trophy for leading the NHL in points. McDavid is currently at 99 points (39 goals and 60 assists) and leads Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning by three points. McDavid also has a strong chance of exceeding his 2016-17 NHL total of 100 points, where he won the scoring title by 11 over Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane.
McDavid is obviously not the problem in Edmonton. The problem in Edmonton is keeping the puck out of the net, where Edmonton has taken some significant steps back. Last season the Oilers gave up 212 goals, which was the fourth least in the Western Conference. This year they have given up 243 goals, which is the second most in the Western Conference. Only the Vancouver Canucks at 247 goals, have given up more.
Cam Talbot has seen his goals against average rise from 2.39 to 2.98. However it is the Oilers two European defensemen that had glaringly poor seasons. Andrej Sekera went from a +14 to a -14 and has not scored a goal all year. Oscar Klefbom went from a +7 to a -12 before his injury. Despite the disappointments from Klefbom and Sekera, Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson are a combined +30 this season, and have definitely taken one steps forward.
Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli will have some interesting decisions to make over the next couple of months. Do not forget it is around the time of the NHL Entry Draft is where Chiarelli has made some very interesting deals.