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By the Numbers: History not on Oilers side amid disastrous start

Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton Oilers Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton Oilers - The Canadian Press

After entering the season with Stanley Cup hopes, the Edmonton Oilers currently sit second last in the NHL, ahead of only the winless San Jose Sharks

With just five points through their first 11 games, the 2023-24 Oilers have tied the franchise record for fewest points in that span. History is not their favour when it comes to rebounding to make the postseason.

Of the five other teams in franchise history that started with five points out of possible 22, only the 1990-91 Oilers reached the playoffs. After slipping into the postseason with a 37-37-6 record, that team reached the Western Conference Final before being eliminated in five games by the Minnesota North Stars.

This season's start has been a significant drop-off for the Oilers, who have reached the playoffs for the fourth straight year last season. Their best result during that stretch was reaching the Western Conference Final in 2022, when the Oilers were swept by the Colorado Avalanche

Entering play Tuesday, the Oilers are ahead, again, of only the San Jose Sharks when it comes to both goals allowed and goal differential this season. 

Goaltending has been a major concern early with both Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell owning save percentages below .875 as the team allows an average of 4.27 goals-against per game. 

Skinner allowed six goals on 30 shots in the team's latest loss - a 6-2 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks - Monday, calling himself out after the game.

“I think I can do a lot better to help my team out,” Skinner said. “I’m the goalie. My job is to stop the puck. I let in six. That’s not a good recipe to win games.”

“Our goaltenders wear the same jerseys as the rest of the team,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said when asked about criticism directed at the netminders. “Are there moments that our goaltenders can be better? Yeah, there are.”

ContentId(1.2032291): NHL: Oilers 2, Canucks 6

Edmonton's issues, however, appear to extend to the offensive zone as well, with the team sitting 26th in goals per game with an average of 2.64. 

Injury slows McDavid's start, Draisaitl also off pace

Sidelined for two games due to injury, Connor McDavid is well off his historic pace from last season with two goals and 10 points through nine games. Leon Draisaitl is also on pace to fall well short of his 2022-23 production, currently sitting at five goals and 14 points in 11 games. 

McDavid, who led the league with 64 goals and 153 points last season, is on pace for 15 goals and 62 points this year. Draisaitl had 52 goals and 128 points last season, is on pace for 37 goals and 104 points.

Key matchup with Sharks awaits

If the Oilers are to get their season back on track, a golden opportunity awaits Thursday against the Sharks. 

The 0-10-1 Sharks have managed just to score just 12 goals through 11 games entering their game Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.  

However, should the Sharks manage to find their win on Tuesday, a second win Thursday would allow them to equal the Oilers at five points. 

Beyond the Oilers and Sharks, no team has fewer than seven points this season.