3 Edmonton Oilers Players Who Need to Get Hot in the Home Stretch
With only 10 games remaining in the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves currently sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference, four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
After an impressive five-game winning streak which saw the team briefly hold down the last playoff spot, the Oilers have lost two straight and are on the outside looking in.
The Oilers have been led by the young trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, but in order for the team to battle for that last playoff spot, other members of the team must step up their performances.
Here are three Edmonton Oilers players who need to get hot in the home stretch of the 2013 season.
3. Ales Hemsky
With only three points in his last 10 games, Ales Hemsky needs to start contributing if the Edmonton Oilers hope to sneak into the playoffs this season.
Hemsky has enjoyed a relatively healthy season in 2013 and has decent numbers, with nine goals and 11 assists for a total of 20 points.
While opponents are keying in on the Oilers' talented first line, players like Hemsky will have to step up their contributions and provide the team with some consistent secondary scoring down the stretch.
2. Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner has been the most consistent Edmonton Oilers player this season and one of the main catalysts for a potent Oilers attack.
So far this season, Gagner has look like a much improved player and has credited off-ice training for his success this year.
The offensive production has been there for Gagner, but at times during the year his even-strength play has tapered off and become a defensive liability for the club, as he is surrendering more than his fair share of scoring chances.
The highs and lows of the season will have to be corrected, and Gagner will have to continue his offensive production if Edmonton is to compete every night.
1. Devan Dubnyk
A team is only as strong as its goaltender, and if the Edmonton Oilers hope to end up in the playoffs this season, they will need Devan Dubnyk to play the best hockey of his career.
Dubnyk played some of his best hockey during the five-game winning streak, posting two shutouts and making timely saves for the club.
The remaining 10 games of the season will go a long way in determining whether or not Dubnyk remains as the Oilers No. 1 goaltender heading into next season.
If Dubnyk can get hot, the momentum could carry the team into the playoffs, and as Dwayne Roloson and the Oilers proved during the amazing 2005-2006 playoff run, a hot goaltender can often be the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs.