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Orange and Blue: What the Oilers need to make it to the top and who to keep an eye on this season

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The sea of blue and orange is back in Rogers Place, and the boys are back putting on an absolute show. Last season, the Oilers finished with 35 wins in 52 games, clinching themselves a playoff spot. Unfortunately, the regular-season success didn’t play out the way the Oilers had hoped in the playoffs after being swept out by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round giving them an early end to the postseason.

This year so far has been much different. After a few trades and some hard work in the off-season, Rogers Place reopened its doors, and off the oilers went.

At the time of print, the Oilers are leading the Pacific Division with 18 points, nine wins, and two losses, and of course, Edmonton’s two stars of the show, Captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, are leading the league tied at 23 points each. Not a bad start if you ask me.

Who to keep an eye on

There’s a new guy in town rocking the orange and blue this season, and it’s number 18, Zach Hyman. In July, Hyman signed with the Oilers after putting up 33 points in just 43 games with Toronto in the 2020-2021 season. In just 11 games, Hyman has racked up 10 points and seven goals. He’s also benefited the Oilers in all situations: 5-on-5, Power Play, and Penalty Kill. The left-winger is someone I’ll be keeping my eye on this season.

Jesse Puljujarvi, or better recently known by Oilers fans as “The Bison King,” is going to be another guy on the ice you’re going to want to be watching. The 2016 draft pick quickly made it to the first line last season, winning not only the hearts of Oilers fans but also showing the Oilers association that he is meant to be here. The right-winger has found himself so far with 13 points and is the big man on the top line with McDavid. This season is also his contract year which means number 13 could be making some big moves out on the ice. 

And of course, everyone’s eyes are always drawn to numbers 29 and 97, our very own power duo. Both McDavid and Draisaitl are tied with 23 points so far this season. The two captured the stage in a home game against the New York Rangers (7-3-3) on Nov. 5, 2021. After an utter battle, the Oilers were down 5-4 late in the third. McDavid found himself dangling through four Rangers players and tying up the game; goal of the year? Secured. Draisaitl was the finishing touch, scoring the game-winning goal in just over three minutes into overtime. With these two on the ice, I don’t know how you’ll take your eyes off them. 

What the Oilers need to do to be successful

We’ve got our veteran guys out there for sure, but it’s going to be the young guys that will need to start putting numbers on the board. With Bouchard, Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, and McLeod, the Oilers have found a great group of young guys to bring some high energy to the team, but they’re going to have to put in the work for the Oilers to have overall success this season. Stuart Skinner is another young guy that’s stepped up to the plate, more so between the pipes. After a lower-body injury put goaltender Mike Smith on the injured reserve, Skinner will have to do his part for the team as well. 

Consistency is key. You can’t win every game, but the Oilers need to stay consistent in their play. Staying strong against teams that may be a bit sloppier around the edges and battling it out with the big dogs who find themselves at the top of the league. Consistency will also be a significant factor for the Oilers with the postseason in their goals. They’ll need to capture a good playoff run. The Oilers have secured a playoff position for the past two seasons (2019-2020, 2020-2021), but both years they fell short in either the first or second round. The Oilers will need to stay consistent in all areas, especially within the postseason. 

There are some high hopes for the Edmonton Oilers this season, and I’m in the firm belief that everyone is excited to see what the Oilers, at the hands of head coach Dave Tippett, will do. So get up Oil Country, and let’s stay loyal to the boys in orange and blue.

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