Edmonton Oilers’ epic scoring drought threatens to put Decade of Darkness in the shade

Game Day 45: Oilers at Coyotes

Of all the things that potentially could go wrong with the Edmonton Oilers, scoring goals wasn’t supposed to be one. After all the club features the NHL’s reigning scoring champion and MVP, Connor McDavid, to build around, surrounded by a variety of players with a history of scoring from rising stars like Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to veterans Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, and even Mike Cammalleri. All six of these guys have scored at least 24 goals in an NHL season, with three of them having done just that for the Oilers one season ago.

But as the calendar on a disappointing season has turned from 2017 to 2018, the team as a whole is as ice cold as January in Edmonton. After losing a pair of 4-3 decisions just after Christmas, the offence dried up entirely: the Oilers suffered back-to-back 5-0 shutouts on their home ice, then proceeded to score exactly 1 real* goal in each of their next four games. (*One of those is officially recorded as a 2-1 Edmonton win, but the second “goal” was “scored” in the shootout and thus not a real goal at all.) In those six games, only Kris Russell, Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, and McDavid have found twine.

Six games. Four goals. It ooccurred to me that such a drought likely ranks high (low?) in the annals of franchise history, and subsequent research using the essential Hockey-reference.com bears that out.

My instincts unerringly took me first to the previous place where goals went to die, namely the disastrous final quarter of the 2006-07 season when the Oilers absolutely collapsed following the trade of Ryan Smyth. Many will remember that difficult night: visions of Cryin’ Ryan at the Edmonton International Airport fresh on our minds, Mark Messier’s banner getting raised to the roof of Rexall Place, then-GM Kevin Lowe nowhere to be seen at the ceremony. But the game that followed was entirely forgettable: a 3-0 whitewash by the Phoenix Coyotes. It was the start of an epic offensive drought.

In the very first six games immediately after Smytty’s departure, the Oilers scored — wait for it — 4 goals. Losses of 3-0, 5-0, 3-1, 4-2, 5-1, and 3-0 again. 4 goals for, 23 goals against, even (though barely) worse than the current +4/-22. Even that grotesque run saw the club score multiple goals in at least one of those games.

That was just the beginning of an extended drought that saw the Oilers net all of 23 goals in their final 20 games of that sorry season. The Smyth trade was the emotional nadir, but an injury bug that decimated the defence made the club flat-out non-competitive. That was the time of no AHL affiliate, leaving a thin line of replacements. Guys named Bryan Young, Sebastien Bisaillon, and Toby-Petersen-On-Defence got pressed into action. Suffice to say they couldn’t get the damn puck out of their own end.

But even at their lowest point, that punchless group never went six straight games …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports


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