We finally got there, after almost a year since they last played hockey and after numerous delays to the 2020-2021 season. The WHL Central Division will play all 2020-2021 Regular Seasons games within the provincial boundaries of Alberta. They will play a 24-game schedule with the rest of the schedule being announced in early March.
Edmonton started their season with a home-and-home against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the first Friday night in which Edmonton walked away with a 7-1 win at Roger’s Place. Both teams then took a long bus ride down to Lethbridge where Edmonton scored another touchdown with a 7-2 win, sweeping the weekend series against the Hurricanes with a combined score of 14-3. However, as expected in the early season, there were positives and negatives. In this article, we will go over those.
First, let’s look at the good things the Oil Kings did this weekend. Any time you outscore your opponent 14-3 in a two-game series you have to be happy with how you played. There are lots of things the Oil Kings did well this weekend. The dominance of what very well be the best line in the WHL. Kaid Oliver, Jake Neighbours former first-round pick by the St. Louis Blues, and Dylan Guenther who is projected by some to go in the top 5 of next year’s Entry Draft combined for 19 points in the two games against Lethbridge.
Sebastian Cossa was also a bright spot for the Oil Kings, the second-year goaltender who is also projected by some to be a first-rounder in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Cossa looks to build on his performance last season where he posted up a 2.23GAA and .921SV% in 33 appearances. Cossa played both games in the back-to-back allowing only 3 goals for a 1.50GA and .935SV%. It’s very important for the Oil Kings to get strong goaltending from the Fort McMurray product if they want to be a contender.
Lastly, one of the best parts of the weekend for the Oil Kings was their powerplay, they were able to get 9 attempts within the two games and scored on 4 of them for a PP% of 44.4, which is twice as good as any other team that played this weekend. Edmonton is truly one of the contenders in the WHL and will be likely competing for the Memorial Cup in the summer, world conditions permitting.
It’s hard to find flaws in a team that outscored their opponents 17-3 in two games, but for the purpose of the article, these are some things the Oil Kings are likely hoping to improve on before they face the Medicine Hat Tigers next weekend.
Discipline, as good as the Oil Kings were at scoring goals, they were equally bad at staying out of the box. 32 penalty minutes in 2 games, which’s an average of 16 penalty minutes per game, almost a whole period a game. Simply not good enough, thankfully the penalty kill was up to the task as they did kill off 13 out of those 14 penalties for a 92.9 PK%. It’s just not sustainable for the long term. If the Oil Kings want to be WHL contenders as they should be, they need to stay out of the box, better teams than the Hurricanes will absolutely capitalize on those chances.
If we had to knit-pick to create two negatives this weekend, it would have to be the Oil Kings depth. It is only two games into the season so there really is no alarm. Honestly, if the top line of Edmonton is going to play as well as they did this weekend, they likely won’t need the depth scoring most nights. However, against better teams than the Hurricanes, they will need the depth of their lineup to put points up. It’s more of a key to success for the remainder of the season than it was negative for the weekend.
Honestly, the Edmonton Oil Kings are going to probably be the best team in the WHL this season, they simply have too much talent at every position and in my opinion by far the best starting 5 in the WHL and it’s not particularly close. Under the format of this season, we’ll be taking a look at the positives and the negatives of every home-and-home series. Edmonton will face the Medicine Hat Tigers next weekend as they look to continue their hot streak.