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Record-Chasing Oilers Are Not The Same Team VGK Eliminated Last Year

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Edmonton Oilers step on the ice at T-Mobile Arena tomorrow they’ll be chasing history. With a win, they tie the NHL record for most consecutive wins at 17. They also have a chance to make it 15 straight games allowing two or fewer goals. And, they can officially clinch the regular season series against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year.

Then, there’s the Golden Knights, who on paper have a lot less to play for, but would love nothing less than to continue tormenting a team that is quickly becoming their most hated rival.

Vegas has to enter this game with plenty of confidence. They are still the reigning champs and there’s not a player on the roster who has forgotten the playoff series from nine months ago.

But, this is not the same Oilers team from last year though. It starts with a systematic change that may have just been inspired by the Golden Knights.

They’ve changed their D-Zone system from last year. It looks very familiar because I’ve coached it for 15 years so I recognize it when I see it. -Bruce Cassidy

Edmonton’s former head coach Jay Woodcroft attributes the system to “the team that had the best record in the NHL last year” but it’s also the same one Cassidy installed the moment he became the head coach of the Golden Knights.

It took quite a while, and a coaching change, for the Oilers to truly become comfortable playing the system, but since December 1st, only Edmonton and Winnipeg have allowed fewer than two goals per game (VGK are at 3.08 since 12/1/23).

Are their D trying to be a little less aggressive and reckless trying to win 3-2 instead of 5-4, that could be part of the formula as well. -Cassidy

Cassidy pointed to usage as another reason why the Oilers look a bit different. Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are down nearly a minute per game in ice time this season. That has meant a bit more time for some of Edmonton’s depth players.

If you are using four lines the chances are those 3rd and 4th lines are more inclined to be good checking lines. When you have guys like McDavid and Draisaitl, the role (of the bottom-six) is probably first and foremost to check well. -Cassidy

And finally, maybe the biggest difference with this version of the Oilers is their reliance on the power play has decreased dramatically. Edmonton has outscored their opponents at 5-on-5, 58-34 since December 1st while they rank just 14th in power play goals scored in that same span. The Oiler power play remains potent (4th in the NHL), but they aren’t up a creek if they don’t get them like they were last season.

Without Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore, and William Carrier, and with William Karlsson returning to game action for the first time in five weeks, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Golden Knights to end the new-look Oilers’ historic streak. However, if there’s any team that knows how to expose the Edmonton, it’s Vegas.

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10 Comments

  1. Vic

    Also, their goaltender problems are gone for now. It’s bad news and a compliment that they copied the VGK. There is some good news….The Oilers may have peaked in January, and the second season doesn’t begin for a while. If the VGK can meet them with the injured guys healed, it will be an even matchup with Hill the difference maker. The mile horse race isn’t decided at the 1/2 mile pole (Bruins can relate).

  2. What’s up date on Karlsson – I thought he was ready to play tomorrow night.

  3. Carl

    Fuck edmonton and the horses they rode in on.

  4. Jake

    Edmonton is “soft” and they know it.

    NM

  5. Its the perfect scenario and recipe tomorrow night…oilers in as road faves riding their crazy hot streak…the Stanley Cup champs…who not 1 talking head mentions them as worthy..or if they do its as an afterthought as stu grimson did last week…is waiting here in the Fortress with storm clouds overhead just waiting to be the ones to send the message that THE CUP goes thru Vegas!!!

  6. Tim

    15 wins in a row is incredible playing us to tie the record has something to do with the hockey gods. For us being the last team standing to stop there streak seeing we eliminated them last year from the playoffs is comical. Let’s make a statement tonight because you know the whole hockey world will be watching. Don’t embarrass us like you did with that out door game in Seattle.

  7. ThG

    this guy is on 24.7

    get out your check , it’s that time of the month

  8. Bill S

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We’ll see if Edmonton can keep this defensive system up consistently for the rest of the season and the playoffs. I for one doubt it. Since Cassidy arrived, the Knights, for the most part, have this system in their DNA. Adin Hill has been on an elite level again since his return and further proved it last night in their 3-1 win to end Edmonton’s streak. Karlsson played great in his first game back. When they get Eichel and Theodore back, look out.

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