After a dreadful start to the 2019-20 regular season, the San Jose Sharks started to look like the perennial playoff contender we have become used to seeing.
While the Sharks don’t have the ultimate trophy to back up their run over the past decade, they have long been the class of the Pacific Division.
However, with a new culture in Edmonton, the Oilers are looking to establish themselves as the new elite team in the Western Conference.
Oilers kept foot on the gas pedal
A strong start helped the Oilers capture an early two-goal lead. But their response after Kevin Labanc cut their lead in half is why they left the arena with two points against a division rival. Not only did Jujhar Khaira score late in the first period to restore a two-goal advantage, James Neal recorded his 13th of the season to keep the game out of reach.
Neal has enjoyed a bounce-back season after an extremely tough season with the Calgary Flames last year.
Dave Tippet has installed a system that allows skilled players to flourish in the offensive zone as long as they handle their responsibilities on the other end of the ice.
Through 23 games, the results have been favorable in Edmonton.
Draisaitl deserves more respect
When mentioning the top players of the game throughout the NHL, Draisaitl is often left off most lists.
Connor McDavid’s tantalizing skill set usually overshadows Draisaitl, but the German forward is quietly leading the NHL in points (16 goals, 28 assists) and should be considered a favorite for the Hart Trophy.
Draisaitl is currently riding a 13-game point streak while McDavid extended his own point streak to eight games.
The Oilers have eyes on returning to the postseason but will need more secondary scoring to compete for a Stanley Cup. The question general manager Ken Holland will have to answer is, do they have the pieces internally, or does Edmonton need to make an acquisition?
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.