If the Edmonton Oilers have any chance of making the playoffs this season, they need to start winning and winning a lot. The team is currently on a five-game losing streak, but somehow are still within striking distance of a wild card spot in the Western Conference thanks to the struggles of several other teams. Today they got some of the best news they could hope for, as Oscar Klefbom has been activated from injured reserve and will return to the lineup tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Klefbom is arguably the most important defenseman on the Oilers, and his injuries this season have had a drastic effect on the team success. The 25-year old hasn’t played since leaving a game against the Colorado Avalanche on December 11th, and the team has gone 6-12-3 without him. Obviously not all of those struggles can be traced back to the absence of the 6’3″ defenseman, but there is a reason that he had been playing more than 25 minutes a game.
If Klefbom can get back up to speed quickly, the Oilers still have a legitimate chance at the playoffs. Improbable as it may be, the team sits just three points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the second wild card spot and five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the first. That’s a difficult gap to cover over the last third of the season, especially given that they’ll need to leap over teams like the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes to do it, but not an impossible one. Klefbom may very well be the key to the Oilers play, and if the team can make an addition of some sort at the deadline to give him some help they may not end up wasting another year of Connor McDavid by missing the playoffs entirely.