Edmonton Oilers vs. Ottawa Senators Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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As the struggling Ottawa Senators visit Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers are riding a six-game winning streak and a 14-3-0 run that has them on the verge of vaulting into a playoff position.

Two months ago, the Oilers sat 31st in the standings and fired coach Jay Woodcroft shortly after losing to the NHL’s last-place team, the San Jose Sharks.

It would be easy to say Edmonton’s turnaround is solely due to stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but there are many more factors.

Sure, Draisaitl is riding a four-game goal-scoring streak and McDavid, who posted his 10th career five-point game during Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, has collected 12 points in a six-game spree.

However, a huge key is how the Oilers are handling in-game adversity and the expectations of being considered a Stanley Cup contender.

Case in point, Edmonton blew a 2-0 lead against the Flyers but instead of panicking, the Oilers regrouped and pulled away.

“I’m sure we wouldn’t have handled it the same two months ago,” coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Now it’s, ‘Yeah, we made some mistakes, we can’t do that again. Let’s get back to work and play the right way.’ They’ve become unfazed. It’s nice to see them very mature on the bench.”

In turn, the Oilers have evolved into the team they were expected to be going into the 2023-24 season.

“I try not to look at the standings; we’re not even at the halfway mark yet,” forward Zach Hyman said. “For us, it’s just laying the foundation, playing with a level of consistency that gives us a chance every night.”

The Senators are on the other side of the coin. With their 4-1 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Thursday, Ottawa has lost two straight to begin a five-game road trip and has dropped three of its last four outings overall.

To say this recent stretch has been disappointing for the Senators would be an understatement, but adding to the frustration was that former Senators goalie Joey Daccord was the difference maker in backstopping the Kraken to victory.

Daccord, Ottawa’s 2015 seventh-round draft pick, played nine games for the Senators before going to the Kraken in the expansion draft.

“He was standing on his head, credit to him, but I don’t think we made it hard enough for him,” Senators defenseman Jake Sanderson said during the team’s radio broadcast. “He played great, but it was lot of perimeter play. We had our chances, we had a couple of Grade A’s, a couple of back-door plays.”

The Senators, who sit last in the Eastern Conference standings, are 3-9-0 in their last 12 games and have only four wins in 14 road games.

The frustration and sense of panic seeping in cost them on the West Coast.

“I thought we were playing pretty good, and we just lost our composure,” interim coach Jacques Martin said. “We had a couple good chances to score, their goalie makes some saves, and then we don’t stay with the course. We tried to cheat, we gave them some opportunities, they score two, and it’s tough to come back.”

–Field Level Media

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