November 19 2008 05:49PM
Much of the angst about the Oilers this season stems from a quick look at the standings: hovering around or below eighth place after a summer of team-building is not accepted anymore in these parts. The usual solutions (fire the coach, trade bums a, b and c) have been trotted out, and even Craig MacTavish seems more uneasy than usual.
The context—in this case, the schedule—really matters here. The Oilers have played 14 of their 19 games on the road, and have points in four of their five home games. To make this point crystal clear, here are the Western Conference standings, based solely on road record:
Detroit (8-1-1): 1.80 PTS/GM Anaheim (5-2-0): 1.43 PTS/GM San Jose (6-3-0): 1.33 PTS/GM Minnesota (6-3-0): 1.33 PTS/GM Edmonton (7-7-0): 1.00 PTS/GM Vancouver (4-4-1): 1.00 PTS/GM Colorado (4-5-0): 0.89 PTS/GM Columbus (3-4-2): 0.89 PTS/GM Nashville (4-6-1): 0.82 PTS/GM Dallas (4-6-1): 0.82 PTS/GM Los Angeles (2-3-0): 0.80 PTS/GM Phoenix (3-5-0): 0.75 PTS/GM St. Louis (2-4-1): 0.71 PTS/GM Calgary (3-6-0): 0.67 PTS/GM Chicago (2-3-1): 0.50 PTS/GM
Edmonton, by this particular standard, is in fifth. But, you say, what about their home record? Let’s look at how their home record stacks up:
San Jose (10-0-1): 1.91 PTS/GM Calgary (7-2-1): 1.67 PTS/GM Minnesota (5-1-1): 1.57 PTS/GM Chicago (6-1-4): 1.45 PTS/GM Vancouver (6-2-1): 1.44 PTS/GM Nashville (5-2-0): 1.43 PTS/GM Detroit (4-1-2): 1.43 PTS/GM Phoenix (5-3-1): 1.22 PTS/GM Edmonton (2-1-2): 1.20 PTS/GM Columbus (5-4-1): 1.10 PTS/GM Colorado (4-4-0): 1.00 PTS/GM St. Louis (4-4-1): 1.00 PTS/GM Anaheim (5-5-2): 1.00 PTS/GM Los Angeles (5-5-2): 1.00 PTS/GM Dallas (2-2-2): 1.00 PTS/GM
Obviously, it’s very early, so a hot streak or a cold streak are particularly exaggerated right now, but if we take each teams road/home PTS/GM and multiply them by 41, we get the exact pace of each team, with home and road records placed with equal value:
San Jose: 133 PTS Detroit: 132 PTS Minnesota: 119 PTS Anaheim: 100 PTS Vancouver: 100 PTS Calgary: 96 PTS Nashville: 92 PTS Edmonton: 90 PTS Colorado: 87 PTS Columbus: 81 PTS Phoenix: 81 PTS Chicago: 80 PTS Dallas: 75 PTS Los Angeles: 74 PTS St. Louis: 70 PTS
The Oilers are currently on pace for an eight place finish, which would have to be considered an underachievement. However, that’s largely based on their home record, which consists of a grand total of five games. Once there is a larger record to extrapolate from, we’ll have a better idea of where everybody sits.
It’s also worth noting that the Oilers have had far-and-away the most difficult schedule in the Western Conference. Even Dallas, the team with the second-most road games, has played 35 per cent of their games at home, while Edmonton has played just 26 per cent. Edmonton’s road record to date puts them in with the heavy-hitters of the Western Conference.