Just two seasons ago the Oilers were, well, good.
With 103 points and a record good enough for the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division, the McDavid-led offensive-powerhouse snapped a 10-season playoff drought and appeared primed and ready to build upon their breakout year in 2017-18.
That’s not quite how it went, though, and as defenceman Darnell Nurse explained, putting pucks in the net wasn’t the problem.
Keeping them out was.
“We score with basically anyone in the league. Goals have never been something we lacked, it’s our ability to defend and keep pucks out of our own net — we made strides with that our second year and then last year kind of gave that back. So that’s going to be a main focus for everyone.”
The Oilers entered last season as a consensus top-three favourite to win the Stanley Cup according to the major Nevada sports books, and many around the hockey world agreed that the team was poised for another big year.
According to Nurse, those expectations may have crept into the club’s collective psyche more than they should have.
“One of the things I’ve learned is you can’t believe your own hype. … We didn’t have that hunger that we had the year before that made us so successful and for us, it’ll be good to have that back in the room.”