Monday, March 18, 2013
Oilers poised to break through?
By Luke Lapinski
The Edmonton Oilers didn't exactly open the month of March on the right foot. In fact, they went winless in their first five games. But, following a victory over Nashville on Sunday, Ralph Krueger's squad has now won three of four. What's more, they're just two points back of a playoff spot with 20 games to go. Could this be the year they finally get back into the postseason?
There's certainly still plenty of work to be done, but the shortened season may actually work in this group's favor. The West is extremely bunched up right now, with no team completely fading from the playoff race just yet. At 11-11-6, the Oilers are essentially just a game back of San Jose and Phoenix for eighth -- and just four points out of the Northwest Division lead and the No. 3 overall spot in the conference. At the same time, they're just four points out of last place in the other direction.
To that end, they could just as easily drop off as go on a nice run. Regardless of what happens though, this is the latest in the year that this young cast of characters has been in contention for a playoff spot. No one questions their talent up front -- hitting on a seemingly endless supply of top draft picks will do that. And now Justin Schultz is in place to anchor the blue line, while Devan Dubnyk has been performing much better between the pipes of late. Even if it doesn't translate into playing meaningful hockey games this May, the experience that the next month and a half brings Edmonton could be invaluable going forward.