Oilers fall to bottom of NHL standings following loss to Sharks: What’s wrong with Edmonton – The Athletic

The Edmonton Oilers lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, falling to 2-9-1 on the season. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Oilers are tied with the Sharks for 32nd in the NHL standings, with both franchises having five points. The Sharks suffered their worst home defeat in franchise history on Nov. 3, losing 10-1 to the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Edmonton has a 1-5 record on the road in 2022-23. The Oilers have a minus-19 goal differential, ranked second last in the league.
  • Oilers captain Connor McDavid was held pointless against the Sharks. McDavid, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, has two goals and eight assists in 2023-24.

What’s wrong with Edmonton

In a word: everything. The Oilers have the worst team save percentage in the NHL and have allowed the second most goals. When they allow chances defensively, they’re whoppers — and they’re going in at an alarming rate. The penalty killing is awful. And, unbelievably, the top offensive team in the league last season can’t score from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on down. They’re tied for fourth from the bottom at 2.58 goals per game. Even their power play is amiss. Naturally, things should course correct themselves.

But with the Oilers tied for 32nd almost 15 percent of the way through the season, time is running out for general manager Ken Holland to stand pat. Demoting backup goalie Jack Campbell isn’t enough. It says here a trade — as hard as one would be to pull off — is the better move than firing coach Jay Woodcroft. Holland had better work the phones quickly if that’s the plan. — Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Oilers beat writer

Where do the Oilers go from here?

You got to hand it to the Sharks, who’ve responded from consecutive thrashings where they allowed 10 goals each to Vancouver and Pittsburgh that necessitated a one-way team-wide address from general manager Mike Grier on Monday. While they didn’t outplay Philadelphia on Tuesday, they got timely scoring, a committed effort and terrific goaltending from Mackenzie Blackwood in a 2-1 win that snapped their season-opening 11-game losing streak.

The same occurred Thursday as Blackwood was a wall again with 39 saves while goals from Fabian Zetterlund, Tomas Hertl and Filip Zadina provided enough offense. More than what Edmonton could muster even with a 41-18 shot advantage. The Oilers never held a lead against the NHL’s worst team and their current brutal 1-7-1 stretch has left with the same point total — five — as the lowly Sharks. This is unimaginable for a team led by two supernovas in McDavid and Draisaitl that have lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the last two postseasons.

Does Woodcroft pay for their struggles? Or does Ken Holland? His own seat must be cooking as he has an underachieving roster and a massive problem in goal with Stuart Skinner being shaky and Campbell sent down to the minors. Does a significant trade need to occur to shake the Oilers out of their doldrums? Something must happen before it is too late to save their season. — Eric Stephens, staff NHL writer

How did the Sharks’ new defenseman do?

Calen Addison made his San Jose debut after being acquired from Minnesota on Wednesday. Sharks coach David Quinn threw the 23-year-old right into the fire in putting him alongside Mario Ferraro on the to pairing. He put two of his four shot attempts on goal and was credited with three blocked shots.

Addison logged 19 minutes, 47 seconds, including 2:35 on the power play that he will now be quarterbacking. That’s been his strength as an NHL player, and he could respond well to a higher role after falling out of the Wild’s plans. He’s had significant defensive issues and while he was a minus-1 on Thursday, he did some solid breakups in his zone and appeared to be solid overall. — Stephens

What they’re saying

When asked after the game if he was worried about his job, Woodcroft said he’s worried about “taking care of my daily business and daily process and making sure that I give my players something to focus on and concentrate on.”

“No one is happy where we are at,” Woodcroft said. “We all own it. We can be better. That’s where my focus is.”

Required reading

(Photo of Connor McDavid: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

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