STRIKE OIL!

It’s that time of year again where the Edmonton Oilers have ten games remaining and are beginning to catch fire. Following their 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12, the Oilers have managed at least one point in their previous four games, including a 5-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite their 5-2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers have managed to score at least four goals in their previous six games, including a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs and two shootout losses against the injury-riddled Columbus Blue Jackets. The Oilers have seen success with their offence, while defence and goaltending continue to be areas that need to be addressed.

Jordan Eberle has managed to score four goals and eight assists for 12 points in his six-game point streak. Eberle has found chemistry with Benoit Pouliot and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who have combined for 27 points in their previous five games. The second line has also found luck with the success of Nail Yakupov and Derek Roy. Yakupov has caught fire with five points in five games alongside his mentor and veteran center Derek Roy. With the team finding a potential top-six identity, the Oilers have a scoring identity that continues to pick up.

Goaltending has been the main issue for the Oilers in recent years. Whether it’s been Devan Dubnyk, Ben Scrivens, or Victor Fasth, the goaltending has not kept up to the task. The issue has been that the defence that can’t keep the puck out, but there have been many times that the goaltenders have seen pucks past them that should not have struck twine. It might be a simple fix to acquire a better goaltender, but the Oilers need to play better structured defence in front of the goaltender to keep the puck out of the defensive zone.

A major area of concern has been the issue of team defence. The issue has not been addressed properly in the previous few seasons, and a major issue worth tackling is adding a top defenceman. The left side of defence has seen Oscar Klefbom steadily improving and Darnell Nurse probable to play in the 2015-16 season. The right side of defence needs a revamp, with Justin Schultz and Mark Fayne who have played average, and should serve as members of the bottom pairings. The Oilers need a top right handed defenceman that can be paired with Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom in future years to have a top shutdown pair.

The Edmonton Oilers have a long road ahead of them. The 2015 offseason is crucial if the team wants to see a successful 2015-16 season, even if the team misses the playoffs by a couple of points. General Manager Craig MacTavish needs to assess the team’s assets and make moves over the 2015 offseason to significantly improve the Oilers. Whether it’s adding a top defenceman via trade or signing a goaltender from Free Agency, Edmonton needs to strike oil before the 2015-16 season begins.

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