Whereas so many individuals, with their work wrapped up by 8pm native time, would like to spend a Saturday night time in Las Vegas with the remainder of the night time open to hit the city, the Oilers had been as a substitute glad to hop on a aircraft and never onto the strip for one more night within the metropolis that by no means sleeps.
By the point midnight rolled round, they had been landed safely again dwelling and able to have a day of relaxation on Sunday. A well-earned breather with the 20 video games of the schedule full. Ending it off in fashion with one other good Knights’ work.
It is arduous to say whether or not the Oilers, within the opening two months of the season, have exceeded their very own expectations. I am undecided what targets that they had set for themselves, however whether or not they have or they have not, it definitely does not take away from an unbelievable begin.
Because the crew awoke Monday morning and headed again to Rogers Place for follow, they discovered themselves first within the Pacific Division with a 15-5-0 report. Just one NHL crew had extra wins (Toronto, 16) and just one crew (Carolina) had a barely higher successful proportion with a 15-4-1 report.
Video: [email protected]: Nugent-Hopkins cashes in on 2-on-1 rush
The Oilers had been adamant — and in the event that they mentioned it as soon as they mentioned it 100 occasions — in coaching camp that they needed to have a greater begin. Boy have they ever and to get it completed wasn’t straightforward beneath some very troublesome circumstances. Let’s begin with the lack of Mike Smith. Sport three of the season and their primary netminder was injured.
It was believed to be one thing minor, however six weeks later and his return remains to be undetermined. In stepped — or possibly higher put, stepped up — Mikko Koskinen. He has been nothing wanting sensational and was once more Saturday night time with 36 saves. Additionally pitching in has been Edmonton native Stuart Skinner.
The defence has been decimated by harm of late as effectively. I suppose the excellent news is that it hasn’t been something too long-term. No lacking of months however weeks within the case of Darnell Nurse and Slater Koekkoek, and days for Duncan Keith. The left facet of the blue line ripped aside. Doubtlessly devastating, however as a substitute it has been a possibility for others to play.
Philip Broberg does not seem like a man who started November within the minors and completed the month taking part in extra minutes than every other defenceman on Saturday night time. Youth has been served, however expertise has been important. Kris Russell stepping in to make use of his nearly 900 video games’ price of NHL expertise is invaluable. To not point out he is blocked a pair thousand photographs and counting to set a league report. It is given Edmonton the stabilizing power wanted on the again finish.
Video: [email protected]: Koskinen denies Roy, robs Marchessault
Nicely, contemplating Edmonton is off to the second-best 20-game begin in franchise historical past, I needed to point out Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in some unspecified time in the future. They’re the driving power(s) behind a starting that slots second to the 1983-84 crew that started the season 16-3-1.
The 2 of them are the very best gamers within the league and the very best duo within the league. Used collectively or aside, they’ve been setting new scoring requirements. Connor has already develop into the fourth-fastest to 400 assists and seventh-fastest to 600 factors on the all-time listing. Then there’s Leon who had 40 factors in 19 video games to hitch Wayne Gretzky as the one two to try this in Oilers historical past. There’s additionally his chase for 50 targets in 50 video games. Solely Gretzky, Maurice Richard, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull have ever performed that. These two are in a category of their very own.
Whereas they proceed to work on their sport, the Oilers are definitely the place they wish to be by 20 video games. Blissful however not happy. It does not take 20/20 imaginative and prescient to see the place this crew is headed.