The Edmonton Oilers lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, falling to 2-9-1 on the season. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Oilers are tied with the Sharks for 31st place in the NHL rankings. The Sharks went to overtime, but both teams still have five points. The Sharks suffered their worst home loss in franchise history on November 3, when they lost 10-1 to the Vancouver Canucks.
- Edmonton has a 1-5 record on the road in the 2022-23 season. The Oilers rank second from bottom in the league with a minus-19 goal differential.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid was treated like nothing against the Sharks. McDavid, the current Hart Trophy winner, had two goals and eight assists in the 2023-24 season.
What’s wrong with Edmonton?
In short, everything. The Oilers have the worst team save percentage in the NHL and have the second-most points allowed. When they allow opportunities defensively, they are phenomenal and attack with incredible speed. The death penalty is terrible. And incredibly, the league’s top offensive team last season can’t score from anyone below McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They are tied for fourth from the bottom with 2.58 goals per game. Even their power play is wrong. Naturally, things should correct themselves.
But with the Oilers tied for 32nd place at about 15 percent through the season, general manager Ken Holland’s time is running out. It’s not enough to demote reserve goalkeeper Jack Campbell. It says a trade would be harder to pull off than firing coach Jay Woodcroft, but it’s a better option. If that’s what you’re trying to do, Holland better get on the phone quickly. — Daniel Nugent Bowman, Oilers beat writer
Where do the Oilers go from here?
You have to give it to the Sharks, who rebounded from back-to-back losses that allowed 10 points each against Vancouver and Pittsburgh and required a one-sided team-wide address from general manager Mike Grier on Monday. Although they didn’t beat Philadelphia on Tuesday, a timely goal from Mackenzie Blackwood, a dedicated effort, and great goaltending led to a 2-1 win and an 11-game losing streak.
The same thing happened on Thursday, and while goals from Fabian Zetterlund, Tomas Hertl and Filip Zadina provided plenty of attacking power, Blackwood was once again the wall with 39 saves. More than Edmonton could muster, even with a 41-18 shot advantage. The Oilers have never been able to hold a lead against the worst team in the NHL, and their current 1-7-1 record has left them with just five points, the same as the last-place Sharks. That’s unimaginable for a team led by two supernovas in McDavid and Draisaitl, who lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the past two postseasons.
Will Woodcroft pay for their troubles? Or is it Ken Holland? His own spot must be in trouble as well, as the roster is underperforming, Stuart Skinner is unstable, Campbell has been sent down to the minor leagues, and he has major scoring problems. Will a big trade be necessary to pull the Oilers out of the doldrums? Something has to happen before it’s too late to save their season. — Eric Stevens, NHL Staff Writer
How did the Sharks’ new defenseman fare?
Karen Addison was acquired from Minnesota on Wednesday and made her San Jose debut. Sharks coach David Quinn really threw the 23-year-old into the fire when he paired him with Mario Ferraro. He converted two of his four shot attempts and had three blocked shots.
Addison recorded 19 minutes and 47 seconds, including 2 hours and 35 minutes on the power play where he played quarterback. That’s his strength as an NHL player, and even after he’s out of the Wild’s plans, he would be well suited for a higher role. He has had some serious issues defensively and was minus-1 on Thursday, but he made some solid breakups in the zone and looked solid overall. — stevens
what they are saying
Asked after the game if he was worried about his job, Woodcroft said he was concerned about “taking care of the day-to-day operations, the day-to-day process and making sure we give the players something to focus on.” I answered.
“No one is satisfied with where we are,” Woodcroft said. “We all own that. We can be better. That’s my focus.”
(Connor McDavid Photo: Sheeron W. Henderson/Getty Images)