June 19, 2024

The Edmonton Oilers are about to set a new record. With their 17th straight victory on February 6, the Oilers, who defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Saturday, can tie the NHL record for the longest winning run. However, no matter how many games they win, this streak cannot be the season’s high point.

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It was set by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992–1993. The Oilers still need to accomplish something in order for their streak to be respected, even if they do end up matching the Penguins’ record.

The Penguins, headed by Mario Lemieux, had just won back-to-back Stanley Cups, an achievement not shared by the Oilers since well before Connor McDavid was even born. Born in 1997, McDavid was seven years removed from Edmonton’s last championship. Pittsburgh broke the record for the longest winning streak, although they were unable to complete a three-peat that season as they were upsetly eliminated by the New York Islanders in seven games. But by then, the majority of the roster had already won the Lord Stanley’s Cup.

McDavid and his Oilers have been close, but have yet to even get over the hump and into the Stanley Cup Final itself. The Oilers’ last Cup Final appearance came back when McDavid was just nine in 2006. Edmonton was on the brink two years ago, falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.

Despite McDavid scoring 33 points in the 2022 playoffs, all that appears to stick in people’s minds is that the Oilers failed to win the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton. In contrast to McDavid’s postseason exploits, Sidney Crosby has the highest point total in a single postseason at 31.

In the next 2023–24 season, the Oilers were under even greater pressure after losing in the second round a few months prior. In just 12 games during the 2023 playoffs, McDavid scored eight goals and earned twenty points.

Though it’s difficult to look at those stats and hold McDavid too responsible, in fairness, he’s the Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby of his team, the face of this new chapter in Oilers hockey history. In addition, he is the player under the greatest pressure to fulfill the wishes of the hockey gods by winning the Stanley Cup and ending a 31-year run without a Canadian team becoming victorious. 1993 saw Montreal host the final one.

The Oilers are firmly positioned in the “win or bust” scenario for the duration of McDavid’s stay in Edmonton, despite having completely turned around their season following a difficult 3-9-1 start that resulted in the firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft. Neither the recent memory nor the previous Oilers teams will be able to erase the real objective or the past disappointments, even with a winning streak record and another MVP.

The Oilers will be judged by the postseason — they can’t win the Stanley Cup in January or February. Until the spring, the task at hand is to beat the Vegas Golden Knights, ironically the defending Stanley Cup champions, and join NHL history.

 

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