The Edmonton Oilers didn’t get off to the best start on this five-game Eastern Conference swing.
But despite playing in a back-to-back situation with travel this weekend, the Oilers have managed to salvage this road trip with wins over the New York Islanders and, on Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings. That’s now five of a possible eight points so far, following a shake-up of the lines from head coach Todd McLellan.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the winner, burying a nice pass from — who else? — Connor McDavid in the final seconds of the second period, as the Oilers left Detroit with a 2-1 victory.
That now sets up an intriguing match-up to end this trip.
The Oilers will face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
It’s McDavid versus Sidney Crosby, which follows last week’s highly anticipated match-up of McDavid vs. Auston Matthews.
For the Oilers, this may provide an indication of their potential this season. They’re off to a great start, opening up a considerable lead already in the Pacific Division, with a 9-3-1 record and seven wins in their last 10 games.
Meanwhile, the Penguins are an early contender in the Metropolitan Division, coming off their Stanley Cup victory in June.
Oh, and Crosby has been lighting it up of late, with a six-game point streak and at least two points in four of those games.
This game isn’t just about two incredibly skilled players, including one challenging to be the best in the game. That’s not to say McDavid vs. Crosby isn’t a juicy storyline.
But after 10 years of losing, the Oilers are making an early case that they could potentially be a playoff team next spring.
That should enhance the experience of seeing two of the game’s best players going head to head.