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G51: Oilers versus Red Wings - FINALLY

February 7, 2023, 4:20 PM ET [12 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Let's not do that again.

I don't know about everyone else but it certainly felt like far more than ten days since the Oilers last played a game. Edmonton was playing the most consistent hockey of the season, leading up to the All-Star game. Even though the start of January was a bit dicey, with the team going 1-2-1 and playing pretty brutal in all three losses, they built momentum on a three game road trip, treating the Sharks and Ducks like AHL teams and then ending on a high note with a close fought win against the Golden Knights. After that Edmonton won their next three in a row before putting up a stinker against the Blue Jackets where they still earned a point before ending on a fun game against the Hawks where the Oilers played a University goalie because they were up 7-3.

In the month of January, the Oilers ranked 6th in goals for at 5 on 5 with 35 and more impressively, allowed the 5th fewest goals against at 22.

All of that was great but that was nearly two weeks ago. That momentum is gone and if this team wants to have Cup aspirations this season they need to refocus and create new momentum all over again. Luckily the Oilers continue to enjoy a bit of an easier schedule, playing a number of teams that are out of the playoffs. The issue however is that Edmonton hasn't exactly been world beaters against the East thus far this season. In 17 games against the East, Edmonton has gone 9-7-1. Not a losing record but nothing phenomenal either.

The Red Wings, Flyers, Senators, and Canadiens; these are all teams that Edmonton should win against but we saw against the Blue Jackets what happens when the Oil walk into a game, thinking they deserve to win based on skill alone.


Some other thoughts:

Whether you agree with what mainstream media journalists have to say or not, there is no denying they are connected to the organization so when they say things you can bet it's been mirrored by someone in the organization. I say this because suddenly everyone in Edmonton seems to be talking about Jakob Chychrun after months of saying they didn't think he was a fit here. I don't know if a deal gets done but at the very least I think it's safe to say it's merits are being discussed within the organization. Recognizing the value in Chychrun over say someone like Joel Edmundson is a step forward for this group.

Kailer Yamamoto is travelling with the team on this road trip which means he will likely be taken off LTIR soon. The Oilers cannot do that unless they shed some cap space. Once again we are talking about trading someone like Jesse Puljujarvi or Warren Foegele to finally open up some cap flexibility for this team.

Chychrun checks a ton of boxes for this team but I still just don't know how they would make the cap work. This isn't a rental player we are talking about. Chychrun is 24 years old and on a highly team friendly contract at 4.6 million. This isn't the type of trade where teams will be taking on salary for the remainder of one season. Looking at the Oilers roster as it is currently constructed I just don't see how they make him fit.

The easiest solution would be sending Barrie the other way but my understanding is that is a move that would be wildly unpopular in the Oilers dressing room as well as within the organization. Team chemistry matters and Barrie is a core guy in that room. I think Chychrun improves this roster more than Barrie but I just don't see them doing that type of move during the season.

Curious to see who starts in goal tonight for the Oilers. Campbell was playing very well down the stretch for the Oilers but Skinner I believe still has the starters net. Expect to see much more swapping between goalies over the next month to see which goalie rises to the challenge.

Thanks for reading and finally we can enjoy a game.
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