The Edmonton Oilers got off to a fast start this season, but things have cooled off quite a bit over the last little while. The Oilers, who once had a 7-1-0 record, now sit at 9-7-1 and they’ve lost four in a row.
Even Connor McDavid has struggled to find the back of the net lately (no goals in his last nine games).
No one’s really worried about McDavid. After all, he’s still picked up six assists in his last five outings. It’s the rest of the team that’s a concern at this point.
“Sometimes we’re a team that gets watching 97 and we may let ourselves off the hook if players on the second or third line are getting chances but not scoring because we’ll say, ‘That’s OK, Connor will get it done.’ Others have to pick up the slack. I’m not worried about 97, I’m worried about others,” head coach Todd McLellan said, per the Edmonton Sun.
The Oilers have played 17 games at this point, and McDavid is the only player who has more than 12 points. He and Jordan Eberle are the only ones to have hit the double digit point mark so far.
So, who’s McLellan talking about? The supporting cast has to step it up:
–Eberle has five goals and 12 points this season, but he’s produced just two goals in his last 13 games (they both came in the same game).
—Milan Lucic, who signed a monster deal during the off-season, has one goal in his last nine contests.
—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has two goals in 2016-17 and they both came on the man-advantage.
—Leon Draisaitl scored in Tuesday’s game against Anaheim, but he’s found the back of the net just twice in his last 15 games.
—Benoit Pouliot hasn’t even collected a single point in his last 10.
As the Pittsburgh Penguins showed us last season, it’s OK to rely on star players, but balanced scoring is what separates good teams from great teams.
If the Oilers hope to break their playoff drought, they’ll need to find a way to get some of their highest paid forwards going.
Things won’t get easier for Edmonton. They’ll be at Los Angeles tonight and at Dallas on Saturday before hosting the Blackhawks next Monday.