I don't understand what the Edmonton Oilers are doing. I'm not really talking about Ilya Bryzgalov, but that's kind of relative to my general confusion. This franchise has been sputtering for several years and this was supposed to be the year they finally turn the corner. By most accounts, that meant making the playoffs.
I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I wouldn't be betting on that.
With the season creeping towards the midway mark of its second month, it appears as though Edmonton will be on the outside looking in for an eighth consecutive year. Despite this unfortunate development, the franchise still could turn a corner this year, and that might come by trading a significant piece. Jordan Eberle's name already creeped into the ether last week and while that might be wishful thinking on the part of a rival club, it still shows that they think it's getting time for Edmonton to consider a serious shakeup.
Of course, that doesn't matter much until Edmonton decides it's time for serious shakeup. In terms of my own speculation, I think it's getting real close to that time. But every trade needs a willing partner and that partner needs to have value worth trading for. What does Edmonton need that would be enticing via trade? Well, I don't think there is any one stop solution. Making a trade just to make a trade won't really do much; it needs to be a trade that has the potential to significantly improve the club. This is especially true if a major piece is being moved.
Ultimately, I'm confused by what direction the Oilers are going. What's their timeline? How do they plan to fix their areas of need? Is Devan Dubnyk the guy? Is Bryzgalov going to be given an opportunity to be the guy? Is he just a rental to flip at the deadline?
There have been concerns about the team's goaltending situation for basically the entirety of this year, so I understand acquiring a new goaltender. It's the general direction of things that perplexes me and I wonder whether they're progressing forward or just kind of stuck in neutral (or worse). It appears from the outside that Edmonton is experimenting with things and hoping they stick. For the sake of everyone who follows that club, I hope it's more a detailed plan than that.
Western Conference logjam
I give up. Whether it's for the sake of nuance -- or my lack of ability as a writer -- I keep trying to identify the best division in hockey. One week I'm sold it's the Central, the next I think it's the Pacific. Well, forget that because it's like picking between your favorite child (the first one, obviously).
Entering competition on Monday, every Central Division team has at least 18 points and all but two teams in the Pacific have at least 22. Of course, there are varying degrees of games played but still the general sentiment still stands: the West has been real good this season and some talented teams stand to miss the playoffs.
If someone told you the Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning would be division leaders near the mid-way mark of November, you would probably be surprised. Anaheim played well last season, but I wondered whether it would carry over to this year (not to mention the talent in their division). Ultimately, that's my bad for underestimating them.
Colorado and Tampa Bay came out of nowhere for me, but are completely welcomed surprises in the early goings of the year. Both teams have blistering goal differentials (Colorado is at plus-26, while Tampa is plus-15) and have top-10 penalty kill units. Colorado have been road warriors by winning all six games away from Pepsi Center, while Tampa Bay only has two losses at home and two losses on the road.
It'll be interesting to see how these teams develop as the season progresses.
Stamkos, Steen and Sidney
Alexander Steen lost control of the goal scoring race when Steven Stamkos pulled even with his 14th tally of the season on Saturday night. The goal was mutually beneficial to Stamkos' overall point total as the tally also pulled him even with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in points with 23.
Game of the Week
Check out the slate on Thursday night. That might be a night you have a multi-computer/TV setup going on.