Are the Oilers, like, good now?


The Edmonton Oilers won their fifth straight Sunday night with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Rexall Arena. The win pushed the Oilers’ record to 7-2-2, their 16 points good for first place in the Western Conference.

Not too shabby for a team that finished last overall in 2010-11.

Edmonton’s strong start begs the question…are the Oilers, like, good now?

The knee-jerk answer is no, they are not good now. Unless you think:

—- Nikolai Khabibulin, 38, can win the Vezina with the greatest stats in modern hockey history.

—- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18 years old), Taylor Hall (19), and Jordan Eberle (21) can supply half the team’s offense all season.

—- Ryan Smyth, 35, can stay healthy and keep contributing.

—- Shawn Horcoff’s rebirth is legit.

—- A back end getting big minutes from the likes of Tom Gilbert, Corey Potter, Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid and Cam Barker can maintain the NHL’s best goals-against average.

—- It makes absolutely no difference the Oilers played eight of their first 11 at home.

Edmonton heads out on a six-game road trip starting Thursday in Los Angeles, with subsequent stops in Phoenix, Montreal, Boston, Detroit and Chicago. If you’re a bookie, you’re making the Oilers underdogs in all six games.

Indeed, it could all come crashing down for Edmonton in the next two weeks. However, it’s worth noting they predicted the demise of the 2009-10 Colorado Avalanche – a team with a number of similarities to the 2011-12 Oilers – all season long and the Avs held on to make the playoffs.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.