Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers clinch a 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs spot

One of the biggest, most persistent, and most scathing criticisms of the Connor McDavid era Edmonton Oilers was the team’s inability to provide him and Leon Draisaitl the support they deserved. The sheer rarity of having two Hart trophy winners in their prime on the same team should provide the Oilers with the very opportunity before them today, a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup.

The team is looking strong as ever

From the technicalities of the play-in loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, to the outright disappointment of missing the playoffs altogether 2017–18, even a sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets, any modicum of postseason success was and is never guaranteed, even to a team with the league’s top two scorers.

It is for this reason that the mere accomplishment of clinching a playoff spot is never to be taken for granted. The fact that the Oilers and their fans across the proverbial Oil Country are able to do so speaks to just how strong the Oilers have been of late.

In a culmination of the improving roster, internal development, and career seasons for all of the Oilers top four forwards, McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman, clinching a playoff spot has been a given since at least the new year. The real test in the minds of the Oilers is surely their play in the postseason, looking to equal or improve their Conference Final appearance of last season.

Woodcroft has turned the team around

Jay Woodcroft, like many coaches around training camp, noted that regardless of what the Oilers accomplished last season, that the team’s strengths and identity as a whole needed to be reestablished, earned, if not forged, anew. Sports aren’t quite the cut and dry meritocracy that some might suggest, but an NHL schedule demands results. Reputation can carry a team only so far.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Oilers learned that lesson the hard way, starting the season with a record that was too close to .500 for comfort. As the calendar flipped to 2023, the Oilers regained the form they discovered under Woodcroft last season. The Oilers have rounded into form, regaining the defensive focus and attention to detail that brought them so deep into the playoffs last season, if not exceeding it. Re-forging their status as legitimate contenders has not been a walk in the park, but the Oilers are stronger for having so.

Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

Gregory Babinski

twitter: @axiomsofice

Leave a Reply

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: