Pandemic aside, the years go by and look the same in the Oilers environment. At the start of the season, we take a look at their training, we tell ourselves that the attack will spark. Then, along the way, everything collapses.
Since reaching the Stanley Cup final in the spring of 2006, the Canadiens’ next opponents have only made the playoffs on one occasion, being shown exit in the second round in 2017.
What about their presence in the Edmonton bubble last summer? They were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round. So technically they didn’t make the 2020 playoffs.
“Last year, that doesn’t count,” Connor McDavid even said on videoconference earlier this week.
Still, there was much better hope as the Oilers finished fifth in the Western Conference.
“It was a bitter disappointment,” admitted Ken Holland, Alberta training director general. We played disastrously. Hopefully this has served as a motivation for the guys and that they will be determined and dedicated to doing the little things that keep the puck out of the net. “
Tired of losing
The first-ever pick in the 2015 Draft, McDavid celebrated his 24th birthday on Wednesday. Although still in the prime of his life, the Oilers captain is starting to feel that time is running out.
“The years go by quickly. I have only made the playoffs once since coming to Edmonton. I begin to feel the urgency. I want to play in crucial games and try to win something, ”he said.
Obviously, he is not the only one. Darnell Nurse and Zack Kassian are two more entering their sixth season in the Alberta capital. They hope that the coming season will take them to another stage.
“We haven’t won much since I’ve been here. We had good times, good streaks, but we had a lot more failures and frustrating times, ”Kassian said.
“The heart of this team, which has been in place for a while, is tired of losing, hammered Nurse. We want to win, we are starving. But who is not?
“Want to win, you can say it as much as you want, but what is proof of everything and which transforms this desire into reality, is the will to work and to give everything every day. This is where we are now, ”said the defender.
Diversify the attack
In such a competitive league, we can bet on two of the best scorers on the circuit, if the rest of the team does not follow, we are hardly further ahead. Last year, four players (McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) split 80 of the 141 goals (56.7%) scored by tied Oilers forwards.
With that in mind, Holland shopped during the offseason. In attack, he acquired the services of Kyle Turris and Dominik Kahun, in addition to repatriating Jesse Puljujarvi, exiled in Finland during the last two campaigns.
“We added depth to the bottom of our roster,” said Holland. Last year, this group gave us a helping hand with a shorthandedness and playing good minutes. We want him to continue to do so, but we would like him to participate a little more in attack. “
On the blue line, Tyson Barrie and Slater Koekkoek joined the ranks of the defensive brigade.
It’s better. A little. But that doesn’t solve everything. And there are still big question marks in the net with Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith.