Edmonton Oilers winning streak, scoring race among things to watch as NHL season resumes

The NHL All-Star Game weekend is over and the stretch drive starts on Monday night, but first there will be a legal update involving four of the league's players.

Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote and Dillon Dube, all on leave from their NHL teams, and former NHL player Alex Formenton have been charged with sexual assault, their lawyers told the Associated Press. The alleged incident occurred in 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario, that honored members of the gold-medal-winning world junior championship team.

Police will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET Monday to offer details of their investigation.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the issue Friday, saying the "alleged behavior" was "abhorrent." But he said the league would let the judicial proceedings play out before deciding a response. He and deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league would not release the findings of an independent 12-month investigation while the case is ongoing.

Here are pressing questions for the NHL stretch drive:

Connor McDavid's Edmonton Oilers are on a roll.
Connor McDavid's Edmonton Oilers are on a roll.

Will the Edmonton Oilers set the record for consecutive wins?

What's more surprising: that the Oilers are on a 16-game winning streak or that they opened the season 2-9-1? A coaching change from Jay Woodcroft to Kris Knoblauch and the addition of Hall of Famer Paul Coffey to coach the defense has made the difference. The Oilers have given up only 24 goals during the streak.

The Oilers can tie the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins' record winning streak on Tuesday at the Vegas Golden Knights, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. If they get past the defending champions, they can break the record on Friday at Anaheim. They've outscored the Ducks 15-4 over two games this season.

The last time the Oilers made a midseason coaching change (to Woodcroft), they reached the conference final.

Who will win the scoring race?

It certainly has been exciting with current leader Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, one point behind, seemingly trying to top each other every night. One will have a big game and be matched by the other. MacKinnon is working on a 13-game point streak (28 points) and Kucherov averaged two points a game in January. MacKinnon is much better at home and his team is going on a six-game road trip. Kucherov has similar numbers at home and on the road. This could go to the end of the regular season. They'll face each other on Feb. 15 in Tampa.

Who could be moved before the trade deadline?

The deadline is March 8. Calgary's Elias Lindholm and Montreal's Sean Monahan just got traded. Calgary's Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev could move as well. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas is sizing up his team. If he decides to sell, pending unrestricted free agent Jake Guentzel would fetch a good price. The Ducks, Sharks, Blackhawks, Senators and rebuilding Flyers could also be sellers.

Can Alex Ovechkin get back on track in Wayne Gretzky goal record chase?

The Washington Capitals star needs to score 24.3 goals a season to pass Gretzky's record in the remaining two-plus seasons of his contract but is on pace for about 16. He had a career-worst 14-game drought and had another eight-game drought surrounding a three-game injury absence. He did score his ninth goal right before the break and will be rested, but in his career, his goals-per-game numbers have dropped slightly after the All-Star break.

Can Connor Bedard win rookie of the year?

The Chicago Blackhawks 2023 No. 1 overall pick was a front-runner before suffering a broken jaw on Jan. 5. He still holds the rookie scoring lead but Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber is closing in while playing big minutes. Bedard made a surprise appearance at All-Star weekend, passing pucks for the one-timer contest. He told Sportsnet he was feeling better but still needs time to heal. His timeline for returning is late February to early March. If he returns then and goes back to his pre-injury pace, he should be able to finish the season as the top-scoring rookie.

Which 2022-23 non-playoff teams can make 2024 postseason?

The Vancouver Canucks are tied for the league's best record. The St. Louis Blues hold the final spot in the West and the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes are five points back. In the East, the Philadelphia Flyers hold a spot but lost five in a row heading into the break. The Detroit Red Wings have played better this season and sit in the final wild-card spot. Outside the Canucks, none of them are a sure thing.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL stretch drive after All Star break: Can surging Oilers set record?