The Edmonton Oilers came into the 2011/12 season with higher hopes after drafting both, Taylor Hall (2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) 1st overall in the last 2 years. You’d think that Hall would have more pressure on him to perform better than Hopkins but that is not the case at all, they are on the same line (along with Jordan Eberle) and are creating amazing chemistry. You might ask: Why would Hall have more pressure? The answer to that is simple, Hall and Hopkins were both drafted 1st overall but Hopkins is on pace to end the season with better point totals then what Hall did last year (65 games, 22 goals, 20 assists, -9).
In the off-season, the Oilers traded for long time fan favorite, Ryan Smyth. Smyth brought the Oilers a player who can score dirty goals in front of the net which the Oilers did not have after trading Smyth to the Islanders in 2007. He also brings leadership; At 35, Smyth is the Oilers 3rd oldest player, but unlike the others, he brings tons of leadership to the team acting as a leader to the younger players such as Hall and Hopkins. 11 games into the season, Smyth has out up great numbers posting 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points along with a +2 rating. Smyth’s $6.25M contract expires at the end of the season and he is very optimistic about returning for the Oilers but we all know, along with him, that he won’t be making near that kind of money.
Along with Smyth, comes Nikolai Khabibulin, a 38 year old goaltender who is performing outstanding. Before the start of last season, Nikolai Khabibulin was charged with a DUI conviction after driving under the influence and speeding. Last season, Khabby played terrible posting a 10-32-2 record along with a .890% save percentage and a 3.40 goals against average i n 47 appearances. This season though, Khabby has arguably been the best goaltender in the league posting a 5-0-2 record along with a .960% save percentage and a 1.12 goals against average in 7 appearances.
The “kid line” of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle has been amazing 11 games into this season scoring 11 of Edmonton’s 25 goals. In 10 games this season, Taylor Hall has scored 3 goals, and has added 6 assists to go along with a +5 rating. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the other hand, has played in all 11 games scoring 5 goals, and adding 6 assists to go along with a +4 rating. Last, but not least, Jordan Eberle has played in all 11 games as well scoring 3 goals, and adding 7 assists to go along with a +4 rating.
The Oilers are currently on a 5 game winning streak and when you think about it, none of those wins have come against pretty easy teams. To end off this quick post, you have to wonder, how long will this hot run last?
You decide: Are the Oilers for real?
Will the Oilers be able to make the playoffs this season?
Will Khabibulin be able to continue his strong play?