Editorials

Behind Enemy Lines: Edmonton Oilers

By JoHannah Lowder
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Jan 12, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center

Andrew Shaw

(65) looks for the puck with Edmonton Oilers goalie

Devan Dubnyk

(40) and defenseman

Jeff Petry

(2) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few seasons, there have been a couple teams that gave the Chicago Blackhawks trouble for no explainable reason. The Edmonton Oilers are one of those teams. The Oilers have been in a rebuilding phase for a while now, and are rebuilding around a core group of young players. Their youth and energy seems to clash with the Blackhawks who are also a fairly young and quick team. Blackhawks fans are well aware of the 8 and 9 goals scored against them by the Oilers in previous seasons, but the Blackhawks put a stop to that last season.

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In three meetings with the Oilers last year, the Blackhawks took all three, scoring 5 goals each game. They will face each other 3 more times this coming season, but this time the Oilers hope to have a stronger defense. They signed defenseman Justin Schultz to a one year contract extension and expect him to perform his way to a heftier contract the following year. Goaltenders Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth are also a more reliable duo than any netminders the Oilers have had for a few seasons. They’re hoping with more experience and maturity, their defense situation will improve.

On the offensive side, the Oilers still have Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, with Nail Yakupov signed through 2015. They bring loads of dynamic talent to Edmonton and have already proven difficult for the Blackhawks to maintain at times. If their defense improves, the Oilers will soon be a team that the Blackhawks take seriously as a threat in the Western Conference.

But maybe not as soon as next season. It would be quite a leap to go from finishing last in the West with 67 points and second to last in the league last season to being one of the league’s top contenders this coming season. Their players are still young and the Oilers’ head coach Dallas Eakins is starting his second season with the team. Their word is patience. But it doesn’t mean they won’t give Chicago a fight in the meantime.

The Blackhawks and Oilers will face off 3 times in the 2014-2015 season in November, January, and March. What is your prediction for the outcome?

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