Achieving a winning streak comes with a cardinal rule – silence prevails within the Edmonton Oilers’ dressing room about their current 16-game triumphs.
The Oilers are on the brink of equaling the NHL record with their 17th consecutive win in a game set for Tuesday night in Las Vegas. The existing record belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who etched their name in history during the spring of 1993.
A compelling narrative unfolds as the Oilers eye tying the record against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Golden Knights – the very team that terminated their playoff aspirations last spring.
Downplaying the significance of the streak, Oilers’ all-star forward Leon Draisaitl remarked during Monday’s practice at Rogers Place, “What’s made us so successful over the last little bit is that we didn’t talk about it. We didn’t make too big of a fuss out of it. We’re just going to continue down that path. It’s going to be a good test for us tomorrow, and hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Echoing a similar sentiment, captain Connor McDavid, currently tied for fourth in the scoring race with 67 points, emphasized the team’s focus on the day-to-day challenges. “We’re not talking about it in there (the dressing room). It’s just about the day-to-day — staying focused on what’s in front of us. And what’s in front of us is a very good Vegas team, one that’s ahead of us in the standings, and one that we’d like to catch.”
The Oilers’ remarkable win streak has propelled them to the third spot in the Pacific Division, following a turbulent 3-9-1 start that led to the dismissal of head coach Jay Woodcroft. Despite being five points behind Vegas, the Oilers boast five games in hand. They also trail the leading Vancouver Canucks by 12 points but have four games in hand.
The Oilers last hit the ice on Jan. 27, securing a 4-1 victory against Nashville at Rogers Place. Following a break for the All-Star game and a bye week, coach Kris Knoblauch values rest over concerns about momentum, stating, “Usually, when you’re on a winning streak, you don’t want it to break up, but I think it was good for our guys to recharge. And it looked like we were just kind of limping in, doing enough just to win hockey games.”
Looking ahead, Knoblauch is pleased that the Oilers will kick off their post-break period with a three-game road trip to Nevada and California. After a substantial hiatus, he believes it is easier to focus on games while playing away from the home crowd, allowing lines to roll and alleviating the pressure on everyone.
With 45 games played, the Oilers find themselves with games in hand compared to other NHL teams, entering the next three months with the most congested schedule in the league.
McDavid acknowledged the unique schedule, stating, “It seems like we’ve had lots of different breaks. We’re still four, five, six games behind some teams — behind the whole league, it almost seems like.”
Despite the advantage of games in hand, Knoblauch emphasizes the importance of not exhausting the team chasing down leaders like Vegas and Vancouver. The primary goal is to be playoff-ready in April, regardless of seeding.
“We want to win as many games as we can,” Knoblauch stressed. “But we don’t want to push so hard that we waste up all our energy chasing first place in our division. That’d be great, and if that happens, it happens. But, ultimately, we just want to be getting better every day and putting ourselves in a position to have success in the playoffs.”