Oilers’ fast start begs the question: Is this for real?
NEWARK — The Edmonton Oilers are 3-0 after blowing the New York Islanders out of Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. Frankly, Connor McDavid’s team looks nothing like the confused crew that stumbled through the 2018-19 season.
There is really only one question worth asking on a rainy New Jersey practice day, with the Devils on tap Thursday night:
Is this for real?
“It’s early,” winger James Neal said, “but you like to think it’s for real.”
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OK — they’re not going to go 82-0. And even though Neal — the “Real Steal” who has six goals in three games — leads the NHL in goals, he’s probably not going to win the Rocket Richard Trophy.
More to the point, however, the Oilers have received steady goaltending and they’re breaking the puck out of their zone with far more skill and consistency. And if you dig into the ‘why’ a little bit, it sounds very much like the big guns (read: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) have changed their games to help the concept of team defence take hold.
“There are certain things we want to do as a team defending, and it has nothing to do with the offensive game,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “Our goals against has to come down, and it’s not, ‘OK, you guys over here defend. And you guys over here, don’t worry about it.’ It’s, ‘Everybody defend.'”
It’s not about McDavid, Draisaitl and the rest of the forwards becoming checkers. It’s about going on offence only when the team is ready to support …read more