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JONES: So far, 2020 Oilers drawing historical club comparisons


The Edmonton Oilers were The Team of the Eighties. Is it too early to start thinking Edmonton may be watching them take first steps of The Team of the Twenties?

Of course it is. That’s silly. It’s only 65 days into the decade. They’ve done nothing yet except get on a bit of a roll for a few games here and there.

But how long might it take for Edmonton’s long frustrated fans to at least start dreaming of what might happen here with general manager Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippett showing up to officially open the Connor McDavid Window and the Leon Draisaitl Window?

One thing that is becoming clear is that Edmonton is only days away from putting the Decade of Darkness in the rearview mirror for good.

It’s a new decade. And it’s becoming a significant statistic. In 2020, the Oilers are now 15-6-4.

And that doesn’t count the win on New Year’s Eve that welcomed in the new decade with them calling up Kailer Yamamoto to play with Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which allowed Tippett to break-up the Dynamic Duo of Draisaitl and McDavid.

Let’s have some fun in this space today.

They’re not the 1984-90 Edmonton Oilers. It is my belief that no team will ever be. But take it from a guy who was there, covering them is getting sort of similar when it comes to the statistics. You can’t have much more fun with figures than this.

It’s getting to the point where it’s kind of hard to keep track of them all. I mean, consider the numbers that are out there right now, with 15 games to go in the regular season.

Tuesday, the Oilers won a game against a good team playing good hockey when they didn’t play particularly well. They beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime because they’re getting good goaltending, because they have the best power play and because they have the second-best penalty kill in the league.

And when they get it going, like they did in the third period Monday in Nashville, they win 8-3 and you have to fight off all urges to make comparisons to the ‘80s Oilers.

The story of what appears to be happening here is in the stats.

How do you explain Edmonton now having a 7-1 record in the second of back-to-back games?

No other team in the league has a stat like that.

No other team has a combination like McDavid, Draisaitl and, as of Tuesday, you can also add Nugent-Hopkins.

Since Dec. 31, Draisaitl has been averaging 1.81 points per game, McDavid 1.60 and Nugent-Hopkins 1.46.

They’re 1-2-3 in the entire 31-team league since the start of the third decade of the new millennium.

The NHL’s Three Stars of the ‘20s are all Oilers. And that doesn’t count goalies.

Add goaltender Mike Smith’s revival from a dreadful December. He’s now 12-1-4 in 2020.

In Nashville, McDavid and Draisaitl became the first Oilers teammates to record five points on multiple occasions in the same season since 1985-86.

Draisaitl, who had 50 goals and 105 points last year, with his first-ever four-goal night of his career Monday, heads in the final game of the road trip Thursday in Chicago with 43 goals and on pace to hit 50 again with 15 games remaining in the regular season.

The 24-year-old, who was tagged with nicknames Neon Leon, Deutchland Dangler, Dr. Drai and The Germanator in one tweet by the Two Guys & a Goalie podcast this week, left the ice in Dallas leading the league by 13 points for the scoring title and the Art Ross Trophy that goes with it.

McDavid sits second with 95 points.

It’s too bad it doesn’t work like horse racing, where you could bet the Dynamic Duo as an entry for the Hart Trophy.

McDavid, when he hits 100 points, will make it four consecutive seasons with triple digits, which means two or three games from now, the Dynamic Duo, will be the first Oilers to reach 100-points in consecutive seasons since Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in 1986-87 and 1987-88.

Draisaitl was held to a single point in Dallas, but when it comes to fun with figures, that extended this one: The Oilers are 36-14-5 when Draisaitl produces a point and 0-9-3 when he doesn’t.

Now, Nugent-Hopkins has very much entered the equation. The Nuge, who scored and set-up the two goals in Dallas after a three-assist night in Nashville, has 12 goals, 22 assists and 34 points since Jan. 1.

Both Nugent-Hopkins’ points came off the power play in Dallas to improve the Oilers’ to 29.9 per cent on the power play, which is getting up there to 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens’ record 31.9 per cent territory.

Very much a part of the story, of course, is 21-year-old Yamamoto. He’s been the key. Since his call-up from Bakersfield for the New Year’s Eve game and the creation of the line, Yamamoto has been a point-per-game player with 23 of them in 23 games, including 10 goals, with the Oilers going 15-5-3 with him in the lineup.

You get the idea. In each of those separate stats there’s a story. But put them all together and, so far, the Edmonton Oilers of the ‘20s are writing one whale of a story.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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