September 28 2008 05:32PM
The Oilers stayed in the playoff race last season due to their dominance in overtime and the shootout. They were 19–6 combined when reaching the 4th period (4–2) and into the breakaway drill (15–4).
It will be near impossible to match those totals—Atlanta had the second most wins in the SO with nine—but the bigger concern is that the Oilers went to overtime and beyond 25 times last year. Thirty per cent of their games went to extra time. But what should be more concerning to MacTavish and his players, is that the Oilers surrendered the lead in 15 of those games.
Ten times the opposition tied the game with 5:16 remaining or less.
- Game #1 (H): Sharks’ Joe Thornton ties it with 0:11 to go. Stoll wins it in shootout.
- Game #28 (R): Kings’ Ladislav Nagy ties it with 1:28 to go. Gagner wins it in shootout.
- Game #33 (R): Wings’ Zetterberg ties it with 2:40 to go. Hemsky wins it in shootout.
- Game #34 (H): Canucks’ Ohlund ties it with 1:22 to go. Pisani wins it in shootout.
- Game#39 (R)” Wild’s Burns ties it with 5:16 to go. Nummelin scores winner in OT. The Oilers gave up a three goal lead in this loss.
- Game #43 (H): Rangers’ Drury ties it with 0:07 to go. Gagner wins it in shootout.
- Game #66 (H): Jackets’ Tarnstrom ties it with 2:39 to go. Hemsky wins it in shootout.
- Game #68 (R): Jackets’ Fritsche ties it with 0:01 to go. Cogliano scores winner in OT.
- Game #69 (R): Hawks’ Byfuglien ties it with 4:35 to go. Cogliano scores winner in OT.
- Game#79 (R): Avs’ Sakic ties it with 0:06 to go. Sakic wins it in shootout.
Out of the 25 games that went to OT and beyond, only six times did the Oilers come from behind. Four games were tied from the first period on, so I didn’t include them in either category. Because the Oilers were so good in the SO and OT they didn’t lose many points, but by surrendering the lead 15 times, they gave the opposition an extra point.
The Oilers have repeated this trend twice already in the pre-season. Vancouver tied it with 5:17 to go, while Florida came back with only 1:42 to send it to OT. Horcoff’s line was on the ice versus Van, while the Kids were on versus the Panthers. I understand it’s pre-season, but this trend has spanned over a year so the players need to be aware of it.
If the Oilers hope to contend for the division, they have to become better at putting teams away and protecting leads. They can’t expect to be as good in the SO, but if they become better at holding onto a lead, then they won’t need to rely on their SO success.
This team needs to become mentally tougher playing with a lead, or once again they will find themselves scratching and clawing just to get to the playoffs.