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NHL scores 2016: The Oilers are taking advantage of a weak Pacific Division

Once a distant possibility at the start of the season, Edmonton is setting themselves up for a chance at the playoffs.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at New York Islanders Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacific Division is in a bit of disarray. A normally steady California lineup usually leads the pack, but there’s been a bit of a snag to start the year. The Kings are greatly missing their goaltender, the Sharks haven’t looked as dominant as we know they can be, and the Ducks are suffering from Randy Carlyle syndrome.

So, in their place a new challenger has approached. Maybe surprising for some — not others, if I may humblebrag — but the Edmonton Oilers are leading the Pacific with 19 points and a 9-3-1 record in their first 13 games.

You had to feel like the Oilers would one day rise above the ineptitude of their front office with their offensive talent. Connor McDavid is too good of a player. The offense had most of the pieces, but were unable to execute. The defense and goaltending were huge question marks, but have thus far exceeded expectations this year.

With all the talk of the dominance of the Montreal Canadiens in the opening month, the Oilers have been somewhat bypassed. Maybe because there’s a better chance the Oilers could falter. The Canadiens are an injury to one specific goaltender away from potential disaster like they were last year. The Oilers, on the other hand, have more Jenga blocks in danger.

Edmonton, by all rights, wasn’t supposed to be a sure-fire playoff team this season. They certainly had the chance to get a sniff at the wild card, but sub-par starts for the rest of the division are making that path to the postseason that much clearer.

It most definitely helps that they’ve got McDavid in their pocket, hopefully for a full season. The NHL’s next great player combined with an inspired team effort that Edmonton hasn’t had in a long time makes for one young, deadly talented team. Be wary, Pacific Division. The Oilers might just be for real.

Scores

Blues 5, Avalanche 1
Oilers 2, Red Wings 1
Devils 4, Hurricanes 1
Blackhawks 4, Stars 3 (OT)
Rangers 5, Jets 2
Ducks 4, Flames 1

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Three things we learned

1. The Blues got out of their scoring funk in a hurry

Coming into Sunday, the Blues had scored five goals in their last four games. If you read just a few inches above this, you’d know the Blues tallied five goals against the Avalanche in a very lopsided contest. Before the blowout, St. Louis was sitting at 25th in the league with just 26 goals in 12 contests. The five-spot against Colorado jettisoned them to a middling No. 17 in the NHL. Better, but still not great.

2. You know who else scored five? The Rangers.

The Rangers have, by far, the NHL’s biggest goal differential in the league at a staggering — for this early in the season anyway — plus-26. That marks the fifth time in a row that New York has hit the five-goal threshold in their five game win streak.

A pretty great goal from a rookie got them to that mark, too. Everything’s coming up Rangers, it seems.

3. Chicago will not relinquish the NHL scoring lead

Roses are red, violets are blue, the Blackhawks are leading the NHL in scoring, as if that’s anything new.

The Blackhawks did give up a power play goal for the first time in 15 games, though. Some things never change, indeed.

Impact Moment

Mike Cammalleri’s sixth career hat trick, and a natural one at that, lifted the Devils over the Hurricanes 4-1.

Stat of the Night