Giant lizards flew through the sky. Flowers looked more colorful. The puck had sparks flying from it and the sparks turned into butterflies that flew away faster than stealth bombers, bombers who dropped marshmallow bombs on surprised Gingerbread Men. The trip was real on Saturday. At this time last year, the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars were going in opposite directions. They still are, but now the roles are reversed. What happened?
In their last five games the Oilers are 1-5-1. They’ve been outscored 20-3 in those “contests.” Tyler Seguin, Mattias Janmark, and Alexander Radulov each have three goals over that span. Devin Shore, John Klingberg, and Oiler castoff Tyler Pitlick have a pair each.
Benn, Janmark, Radulov, Klingberg, and Seguin have a combined 39 points over the last five. You have to add up all of the points awarded from the last eight Oiler games to match the 39 points of just five of the Stars.
Watching the Oilers brought back so many flashbacks of 2017 Stars hockey. Those Stars had more cumulative talent than these Oilers, but these Oilers have the best player in the game in their lineup. With Connor McDavid on the ice, it’s inexcusable to be this bad. Watching the Stars last year, there were many nights you could look down and see legit starpower on the ice then wonder how in the world they were getting crushed regularly.
This isn’t supposed to happen when you employ a player like McDavid. When you’re given a gift like McDavid, you have to make it work. General Manager Peter Chiarelli, noted trader of Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle for an underwhelming combined package of Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Adam Larsson, and Ryan Strome, has hung the kid out to dry with the roster he and his staff constructed.
The 2017 Stars had a terrible time guarding the center of the ice. It was difficult to get a read on how good or bad the goaltending was at times because you had a hard time gauging how many pucks they realistically should have stopped. Some of the chances were so glorious that no mortal human being is stopping them.
Edmonton didn’t have a prayer of defending the home plate zone out front on Saturday. The Stars could have easily put seven goals on the board in the first period. The Stars left the period with a 3-0 lead that may as well have been 30-0 with how poorly the Oilers were playing. A team with the best player in the league had no answer for the Stars’ top unit. At all. The passing through slot was so precise and crisp that Cam Talbot never had a chance in net either.
Perhaps that says more about the current Stars team than it does the Oilers. Somewhere in Stars fans’ DNA is an evolutionary advancement requiring them to be amused by Oiler failure, but maybe instead of focusing on that we should focus on just how good the Stars’ top players are.
The All-Star game is right around the corner. The Dallas Stars have four All-Stars. Two and maybe three will make it, but Benn, Seguin, Radulov, and Klingberg are all premier players in this league. Successful NHL teams make their hay off of top level play from their star players. No team has a better top-end group than the Stars right now.
The Oilers have McDavid. When you put virtually nothing around him, you can’t reasonably expect his team to be any good. You almost feel for Oiler fans because this is a trippy flashback to what Stars fans witnessed in 2017: a team with star power wallowing in mediocrity for no real good reason.