The competition in the Western Conference is formidable.
One of the teams that may be a lot stronger in the future than it is right now is the Edmonton Oilers.
The team has been accumulating top-of-the-line talent for years and there have been signs that the talent is starting to mature and ripen.
Could another Oilers dynasty be at hand?
Not if you look at their most recent efforts. They have lost their last three games and have only scored two goals in the process.
However, the Oilers looked formidable in winning five straight games prior to these most recent difficulties. During the winning streak, the Oilers defeated the St. Louis Blues, the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets in addition to pounding the lowly Calgary Flames twice.
But it wasn't just the winning streak that was worthy of notice. It was the way the Oilers were doing it. They were playing like a dominant team. They were scoring early and taking opponents out of their game. They were building big margins and then playing excellent team defense as they figured out how to stifle their opponents' attack.
When the Oilers smelled blood—as they did against the Canucks and the Flames—they attacked with speed and power and put their opponents away before they knew what hit them.
At the conclusion of the five-game winning streak, the Oilers found themselves in eighth place. They quickly surrendered that position and they are once again on the outside looking in, but do not sell this team short.
They could turn things around again quite quickly because they have players who are blossoming into stars.
Taylor Hall (13 goals, 41 points) may have come farther this season than any other player. Jordan Eberle (12 goals, 28 points) establish his star last year.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19 assists, 22 points) sees the ice like a seasoned pro and knows how to set up his teammates. Nail Yakupov (nine goals, 22 points) looks like he could be come the league's next great finisher.
Ales Hemsky (nine goals) and Sam Gagner (14 goals) have the skills to pick up the slack when the youngsters are off their game.
Defensively, Justin Schultz (20 points) and Ladislav Smid (0 plus-minus rating) are going to be head coach Ralph Krueger's most dependable players. There are still some holes here and Devan Dubnyk (2.50 goals against average and .923 save percentage) may not be the goaltender of the future.
Fill these spots and find a goaltender and the Oilers will have a team that is formidable.
Few teams have the young talent on the roster that the Oilers can put out on an every-night basis.
That may not help Oilers fans who have been waiting since 2006-07 to see their team compete in postseason hockey.
But there is no reason to think that the Oilers are not on the right track.
A dynasty means at least two championships, and that's at the bare minimum. The Oilers have not made the playoffs yet and they would have to go on a hot streak to make it this year.
However, once this team gets an understanding of what it takes to win consistently, there may be no turning back.
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