If Oilers Are to Turn Season Around, It Better Start vs. Avalanche

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 5:39 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 5:39 PM UTC

The Edmonton Oilers have been the NHL’s most disappointing team this season. They open the second half of the season Thursday against a suddenly struggling Avalanche side.

Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton OilersFree NHL Pick: OilersBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a 9 p.m. ET puck drop from Rogers Place on Thursday as the Oilers host the Avalanche – Edmonton is one of the last teams to play its first game out of the All-Star break.

Here we are on Feb. 1, and somehow these Western Conference foes, albeit in different divisions, haven’t played one another yet. They will again twice more this month: Feb. 18 in Denver and Feb. 22 back in Edmonton.

It’s hard to take too much from their series last season because the Oilers were a very good team and the Avalanche were absolutely atrocious. The Oilers won all three by a combined score of 17-8. Superstar Connor McDavid led Edmonton with six points (one goal, five assists) vs. Colorado. Jordan Eberle led the team with four goals, but he’s now with the Islanders. Laurent Brossoit was 2-0-0 with a 0.75 goals-against average and .968 save percentage. Usual No. 1 Cam Talbot was 1-0-0 with a 4.23 GAA and .837 SV. Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, three assists) and Mikko Rantanen (two goals, two assists) led the Avs with four points each vs. Edmonton. Three different goalies started the three games: Calvin Pickard, Semyon Varlamov and Jeremy Smith. None had success.

The road team has won four of the past five in this series and the ‘under’ is 4-1 in the past five in Edmonton.

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Coach McLellan discusses unique schedule gaps of late, preparing for a packed slate in February & more following today's #Oilers practice. pic.twitter.com/mfC2F97NnX

— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 30, 2018

Oilers Have Dug Massive Hole

Edmonton was the preseason favorite on the NHL futures to win the Western Conference after its push to the West semifinals last season and McDavid winning the Hart Trophy. However, no team has underachieved more with the Oilers at 22-24-3 and third-from-last in the conference standings. They aren’t even in shouting distance of the second wild-card spot. This team has to go on a hot streak right now with just 33 regular-season games left and so many clubs ahead of it.

An 11-13-1 home record hasn’t helped the Oilers’ cause. They are 24th in scoring and 26th in goals-against. Special teams are worse: 30th on the power play and dead last on the penalty kill. McDavid is having a solid season with 15 goals and 39 assists but doesn’t get much help most nights. Third-leading scorer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (16 goals, 15 assists) hasn’t played since Jan. 13 due to cracked ribs and likely won’t be back until March. The Oilers will be without defenseman Adam Larsson on Thursday because of a personal issue. He has three goals and three assists and plays an average of 21:30 per night. It's not clear if it will be Talbot or not in net. He missed practice Wednesday with an illness.

The Avalanche (27-18-4) have followed an NHL season-best 10-game winning streak with three straight losses. They came out of the break Tuesday and were 4-3 overtime losers an Vancouver, which is a bad team. Gabriel Landeskog scored twice in the loss. Jonathan Bernier allowed four goals on 26 shots. He has followed a personal nine-game winning streak by going 0-2-1 with a 3.34 GAA in the past three.

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Please Nohttps://t.co/enPmDQ3J6z

— Nathan Rudolph (@AvalancheReview) January 31, 2018

To make matters much worse, the team’s star, MacKinnon, left Tuesday in the second period with an upper-body injury after he was involved in a collision Vancouver defensemen Alexander Edler. MacKinnon has been ruled out Thursday. He leads the team in just about every offensive category, including goals (24), assists (37) and of course points (61).

The Oilers might be figuring things out as they won four of five before the break and obviously catch a huge break here with no MacKinnon. Edmonton is the Thursday NHL pick.

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