Three points out

Jonathan Willis
March 21 2013 12:19AM

The Edmonton Oilers played what might have been there most important game in three seasons on Wednesday night. A hot run, and some help in other cities had put them in a position to tie for the final playoff spot in the West. Their shootout loss to San Jose means that they’re now three points out of both that post-season berth and dead last in the West.

An eye on the post-season

According to sportsclubstats.com, six teams in the West have an 80 percent or better chance of making the playoffs. The exceptions are Detroit and San Jose – the Red Wings took a hit with their loss to Minnesota, but remain ahead of the Sharks (who were significantly boosted by their win over Edmonton). Both the Sharks and Red Wings are rated as over 50 percent likely to hang on to their spots, with the other six teams on the chart above all somewhere between 10 and 30 percent likely to make it to the post-season.

Edmonton closes out the month with very little chance to damage the hopes of those other teams. They play Nashville on March 25, and Columbus on March 28 – with three other games against St. Louis (twice) and Vancouver. A good run here, and despite tonight’s loss they’ll be in decent shape. Needless to say, they need a good run.

Some good news: Detroit and San Jose don’t have an easy schedule to conclude March - between them they will play a combined five of their final 10 games in the month against Chicago and Anaheim.

An eye on draft position

I completely understand that (virtually) nobody wants to watch the draft rankings. The organization is at a point where wins, not losses, are what will advance the rebuild. This remains the silver lining to a potential ugly losing streak, though. Colorado’s regulation win over Dallas on Wednesday worked out well for the Oilers, come what may. It kept the Stars tied with Edmonton, hurting playoff hopes in Texas, and moved Colorado up two points, hurting their draft position (and while nobody’s really out of the race in the West, Colorado is as close as it gets).

It’s March. A streak of wins, and the Oilers are buying at the deadline. A streak of losses, and the Oilers are buying at the draft. The Oilers’ on-ice results haven’t been this interesting this late in the season since the spring of 2009.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 2004Z06
March 21 2013, 09:35AM
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I compare the relationship between the team and the coach to a Taylor Swift song....After the first male bashing hit one could think she had some bad luck in the dating department. After five different guy bashing hits you start to realize that she is the problem.

4 coaches in 3 years and this team is no further ahead. Therefore you must conclude that coaching isn't the problem.

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#52 Marcus
March 21 2013, 09:49AM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Seriously, what the hell was up with Dub'er last night on Boyle's SO goal? Whenever you can throw out Ebs and Gags, you're likely to get at least 1 goal. Dub'er though needs some serious practice with this. Maybe he's just not that athletic, who knows.....?

DD played like crap last night. Numerous goalposts (means the goalie has been beat) and overall just slow to react.

I'm thinking that he's just a big goalie that seems smaller in net at times than he should be. He weaknesses seem to be both blocker and glove side. And in shootouts, well lets just say Freddy Chabot better be teaching him the 'ol pokecheck soon.

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#53 Citizen David
March 21 2013, 09:54AM
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I hope that if they miss the playoffs they're close to it so they draft Lazar. The players I want the oilers to get one or two of: Lazar, Rychel, Nurse, Zadorov, Ristolainen.

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#54 madjam
March 21 2013, 09:57AM
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Bad teams find ways to lose and fall on excuses , while good teams find ways to win .

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#55 Rod from Viking
March 21 2013, 10:11AM
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Marcus wrote:

DD played like crap last night. Numerous goalposts (means the goalie has been beat) and overall just slow to react.

I'm thinking that he's just a big goalie that seems smaller in net at times than he should be. He weaknesses seem to be both blocker and glove side. And in shootouts, well lets just say Freddy Chabot better be teaching him the 'ol pokecheck soon.

The Oilers had to see if Dubby is truly a #1,he has played well at times but he is letting in questionable goals at bad times,If Mike Smith is available July 1 I would like to see the Oilers take a run at him or possibly try to make a trade for his rights and Henrick Samuellsen.

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#56 DSF
March 21 2013, 10:20AM
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The title of this article should read "Four Points Out".

To finish in 8th, the Oilers need to finish one point AHEAD of the teams they are trying to vanquish.

If they end up tied for 8th, they would need to rely on tie breakers.

At the moment, they lose the ROW tie breaker to Phoenix and Dallas while being 1 ahead of Columbus and San Jose.

If it comes down to goal differential, the Oilers are currently worse than everyone ahead of them.

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#57 Jay
March 21 2013, 10:27AM
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I've never been a Dubnyk fan. I don't have confidence in the guy being a guy we can ride to the Stanley Cup. But he always seems to play just enough good games a year for everyone to "give him a chance" next year, and he'll be here again next year. The holes on this team are glaring and obvious. Unfortunately we're already going to start running into cap trouble starting next year. And that's before we hand out undeserved 6 mill/ year contracts to nuge and yak simply cuz they played good as 17 year olds and got selected 1st overall.

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#58 dman
March 21 2013, 10:28AM
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Did anyone notice how silent Hemsky has been as of late. Dispite his 17 points (8 goals of which 5 came on the pp), I feel he is totally selfish with his play. He rarely passes to his line mates and tries to do too much.

I think it would be a win-win for everyone if he's delt. We might get some a vet d man or bigger forward. I think we should be talking about trading him rather than Gags.

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#59 Rod from Viking
March 21 2013, 10:38AM
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dman wrote:

Did anyone notice how silent Hemsky has been as of late. Dispite his 17 points (8 goals of which 5 came on the pp), I feel he is totally selfish with his play. He rarely passes to his line mates and tries to do too much.

I think it would be a win-win for everyone if he's delt. We might get some a vet d man or bigger forward. I think we should be talking about trading him rather than Gags.

He sure isn't helping his trade value,maybe that is the plan.

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#60 DSF
March 21 2013, 10:40AM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

you guys are tough to please

if the oilers continue this point streak, they are going to make the playoffs.

At the moment, the playoffs cutoff appears to be 53 points.

In order to get 54 points, the Oilers need to go 11-5-3 in their remaining games.

They are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games.

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#61 DSF
March 21 2013, 10:43AM
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dman wrote:

Did anyone notice how silent Hemsky has been as of late. Dispite his 17 points (8 goals of which 5 came on the pp), I feel he is totally selfish with his play. He rarely passes to his line mates and tries to do too much.

I think it would be a win-win for everyone if he's delt. We might get some a vet d man or bigger forward. I think we should be talking about trading him rather than Gags.

Hemsky was riding a 24% shooting percentage early in the season.

No surprise he has fallen off.

He's back down to 12.5% which is still a bit higher than his career average.

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#62 The Oilers Shot Clock
March 21 2013, 10:46AM
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I dont question whether Dubnyk belongs in the NHL like I do Petrell and Belanger. Dub's is low on my fix it list right now because there are other issues way more glaring.

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#63 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 10:53AM
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dman wrote:

Did anyone notice how silent Hemsky has been as of late. Dispite his 17 points (8 goals of which 5 came on the pp), I feel he is totally selfish with his play. He rarely passes to his line mates and tries to do too much.

I think it would be a win-win for everyone if he's delt. We might get some a vet d man or bigger forward. I think we should be talking about trading him rather than Gags.

Hemsky could definitely play better, but I don't think driving the play with possession in zone exits and entries is a fault anyone should lay at a player.

You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss good players.

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#64 nunyour
March 21 2013, 10:55AM
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J.W. you still think Dudnyk is the starting goalie we need? Those weak goals are back breakers when the team needs him to shut the door.Too many soft goals for me.

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#65 Will
March 21 2013, 11:03AM
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Being at the game last night, it really sucked to watch them blow a 2 goal lead with 12 minutes left. I blame Whitney for both goals. One was a penalty, the other was a bed play defensively that allowed a guy named wiggles to top cheese it on Dubnyk, who was also mediocre last night.

Our power play, even though we got a goal, struggled to get shots. It was sad watching Whitney constantly pass the puck around. He needs to go; I don't even care if we don't have a better option. Much like replacing Habby with Dubnyk, we didn't have an option that could possibly be any worse.

For the most part I thought Yak had another great game, including one shift where he had three hits, nearly got into a scrap, then had a rocket shot Niemi had to be really sharp on.

Horcoff was good again tonight, as was Hall. Though my friend and I noticed how Nuge does not look like he's trying that hard because he has amazing hockey sense. Where as Hall always looks like he's trying hard. We wonder if maybe Hall could always just get by on his natural talent, and never had to develop a smarter way to play. Does anyone else get this?

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#66 nunyour
March 21 2013, 11:08AM
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Hemsky is over rated imo,great talent,zero intensity,he has never found chemistry with anyone in all the years he has been here.i would be shopping him around for a d- man.

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#67 DSF
March 21 2013, 11:11AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

If your going to do this, at least be reasonable.

1. playing with a lead

2. see above and not by much:

https://twitter.com/DKingBH/status/314594156137807873

3. The Oil hit the post just as often

4. which were questionable? I'd say the interference, but that was matched by N. Schultz' call. the Sharks got some pretty sweet no calls too.

5. agreed. but neither did the sharks. Neither team was clearly better than the other.

6. bs trolling.

1) So what? Good teams don't sit back.

2) Scoring chances were 21-17 even as recorded by Oilercentric Bruce McCurdy.

3) I don't recall the Oilers hitting the post even once.

4) The penalties to Havlat were ridiculous and the Dan Boyle penalty was phantom.

5) I was responding to the poster who said the Oilers deserved to win. They didn't.

6) Fanboy B.S.

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#68 Matt
March 21 2013, 11:17AM
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The Beaker wrote:

Chicago, the year before they made the playoffs then the year before they won the bloody thing. (i could totally be misremembering and im too lazy to look)

No you're right, they finished around 10th in '08, made the WCF in '09, and won the cup in '10.

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#69 nunyour
March 21 2013, 11:19AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

he's in the top 11 in the league in save %. top 7 of Gs who have player at least 15 games.

he's not the problem.

He's one of them,i don't need stats to see he is not the 11 best goalie's in the league,no way i'm buying that argument.

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#70 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 11:23AM
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DSF wrote:

1) So what? Good teams don't sit back.

2) Scoring chances were 21-17 even as recorded by Oilercentric Bruce McCurdy.

3) I don't recall the Oilers hitting the post even once.

4) The penalties to Havlat were ridiculous and the Dan Boyle penalty was phantom.

5) I was responding to the poster who said the Oilers deserved to win. They didn't.

6) Fanboy B.S.

1. there is a reason people correct for "close." if you don't acknowledge that teams without the lead "press" and that ALL teams show different possession numbers with and without leads then that's your problem.

2. and? your point is? staying close in scoring chances while leading most of the game... means... it was close. Not sure how McCurdy's chances differ from Kings in a meaningful way either.

3. well, maybe you didn't watch the game! TSN wouldn't stop blabbering about Gagner's post in the 3rd and Brown hit the post in the 1st

4. no. and no. but Murray and Schultz' were questionable, Schultz' more so. Whitney and Havlat's were both clear calls.

5. and I was responding you.

6. sure, guy.

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#71 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 11:24AM
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nunyour wrote:

He's one of them,i don't need stats to see he is not the 11 best goalie's in the league,no way i'm buying that argument.

Exactly... who you gonna believe if not your own lying eyes, right?

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#72 nunyour
March 21 2013, 11:36AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Exactly... who you gonna believe if not your own lying eyes, right?

o.k. your right,that goal to tie the game was unstoppable,and he was brilliant in the shoot out.i will get my eyes checked.

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#73 Will
March 21 2013, 11:37AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Hey Will, how many brewskys did you and your friend have... Nuge, didnt even play last night?

Ha! a few I suppose. And yes, we were well aware Nuge didn't play last night. The conversation came up when watching Hall, and thinking back to watching Nuge in previous games.

It's too bad Nuge didn't play as maybe we would have gotten another pawer play marker.

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#74 DSF
March 21 2013, 11:41AM
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match16 wrote:

So basically, the Oilers are three points out to taking the Sharks position at 8th?

Sure...while the Oilers are getting those 3 points, the following will also happen:

DAL@LA

COL@DAL

MIN@DAL

SJS@MIN

VCR @PHX

DET@PHX

CAL@CLB

CLB@NSH

CLB@VCR

As long as Dallas, San Jose, Phoenix and Columbus lose ALL those games and NONE go to OT. the Oilers will be right there.

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#75 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 11:43AM
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nunyour wrote:

o.k. your right,that goal to tie the game was unstoppable,and he was brilliant in the shoot out.i will get my eyes checked.

so, toss every player that makes errors?

makes sense right? except your turnover is going to be mighty high!

really, really good baseball players hit the ball around .300. That means they miss 7 times out of 10.

You sound like the guy who can't get over those 7 misses and have no context for what "good" looks like.

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#76 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 11:45AM
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DSF wrote:

Sure...while the Oilers are getting those 3 points, the following will also happen:

DAL@LA

COL@DAL

MIN@DAL

SJS@MIN

VCR @PHX

DET@PHX

CAL@CLB

CLB@NSH

CLB@VCR

As long as Dallas, San Jose, Phoenix and Columbus lose ALL those games and NONE go to OT. the Oilers will be right there.

It's a pointless conversation anyway.

briefly occupying 8th spot in late march is completely meaningless.

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#77 David S
March 21 2013, 11:48AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

he's in the top 11 in the league in save %. top 7 of Gs who have player at least 15 games.

he's not the problem.

It doesn't matter what his save % is if the ones he does let in come at the most unfortunate moments. Like it or not Dubnyk lets in one suspicious goal a game (signified by the color guys saying "he'd like to have that one back").

Don't let percentages blind you to the fact that more often than not Dubnyk has failed to shut the door when his team needed it. A #1 goalie makes ALL the saves he should and a few he shouldn't.

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#78 Quicksilver ballet
March 21 2013, 11:50AM
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11 wins after 30 games and we're still in it.

Dats* progress.

* pun intended.

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#80 match16
March 21 2013, 12:00PM
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DSF wrote:

Sure...while the Oilers are getting those 3 points, the following will also happen:

DAL@LA

COL@DAL

MIN@DAL

SJS@MIN

VCR @PHX

DET@PHX

CAL@CLB

CLB@NSH

CLB@VCR

As long as Dallas, San Jose, Phoenix and Columbus lose ALL those games and NONE go to OT. the Oilers will be right there.

Then what you're trying to say is that the Oilers are 24 points out if 53 is the magic number, but this article is saying we are currently three points out

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#81 DSF
March 21 2013, 12:06PM
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match16 wrote:

Then what you're trying to say is that the Oilers are 24 points out if 53 is the magic number, but this article is saying we are currently three points out

Four

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#82 106 and 106
March 21 2013, 12:10PM
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"Petrell was playing centre" - JW

By the hammer of Thor, Tambellini.

I know we want to sign some College guys and we're at the limit for professional contracts, but this isn't Peewee hockey where you can just transfer wingers (Smyth, you too bud) to playing the middle... in a push for the playoffs...

WE NEED AN ACTUAL CENTRE-MAN.

How many times have we said this - this year? Nuge is Hurt, Belanger is tweaked something fierce, and Adam Hall was on waivers.

If this team punches into the playoffs, lack of depth will punch us back out. How the heck Kruger is supposed to roll two lines in an NHL game is ridiculous.

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#83 Eddie Shore
March 21 2013, 12:27PM
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Dubnyk has been far from perfect but his play is NOT holding the team back. This team is horrible at creating offense 5vs5. The Oilers have scored only 70 goals in 29 games and only 38 have come at even strength. That needs to improve and guys like RNH, Eberle, Hemsky, Smyth need to do more for them to stay in the fight for a playoff birth.

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#84 DSF
March 21 2013, 12:38PM
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oilerjed wrote:

You said the exact same thing two nights ago and guess what, every team the oilers needed to lose did. So why dont you jump of the wagon already and be done with it. You sound as pathetic as the canuck fans on the coast.

Two nights ago...the Oilers were in 11th place...two points back of San Jose.

Today...they are in 12th place...three points back of San Jose.

Depending on the results of tonight's game, they could be in 13th, 3 points back of San Jose AND Phoenix and a point behind Nashville.

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#85 jonny94
March 21 2013, 01:03PM
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DSF wrote:

Two nights ago...the Oilers were in 11th place...two points back of San Jose.

Today...they are in 12th place...three points back of San Jose.

Depending on the results of tonight's game, they could be in 13th, 3 points back of San Jose AND Phoenix and a point behind Nashville.

Phoenix and Nashville will have played TWO more games then the Oilers and will only be 3 points out? So Edmonton needs to win back to back games that will give them a chance. I like those odds; the Oilers probably won't pull it off but DSF as an upset Oilers fan as you claim to be after years of disappointment I'm sure deep down you have a small portion of hope that this team is capable enough to keep things exciting all the way until the end of this season whether the Oilers make the playoffs or not. I'll give you credit reading your posts keeps things realistic. But is it unrealistic the Oilers to finish anywhere from 8th-10th? I believe thats where most fans have them landing at the end of the season.

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#86 Citizen David
March 21 2013, 01:16PM
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The thing that has been bothering me is that at the beginning of the season most people said that they expected the oilers to finish 9th-11th. They said that that would be a good step forward. Well here the oilers sit. Right there. And even through that's where people pegged them, everyone is hating on the players and on the management. But if they keep up what they've done so far they will finish where we said would be a good improvement. Please people come back from the cliff! Don't become Montreal and Vancouver fans! Stick with your team, root for your players, and enjoy this teams rise.

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#87 StHenriOilBomb
March 21 2013, 01:46PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I can't speak to what's being said, but I will say this: Krueger really had no choice but to shorten the bench last night. That fourth line was getting killed and Petrell was playing centre; there's just no good way to play a four-line game with only two natural centres.

As for leads by period, that data can be found here.

You made this point well in another article.

Question for you, J.W.: When you grade the Oilers' players, why never the coach?

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#88 turnover
March 21 2013, 02:15PM
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The Oilers seem to be stuck in groundhog day.

So who is scarred to lose? Some of the players? Or the coach? how many more time does this same movie have to played? Getting really boring.

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#89 madjam
March 21 2013, 02:30PM
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Draft Nemishnekov this year , and wait for him while other youth continue to grow here.

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#90 Curcro
March 21 2013, 03:04PM
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The Beaker wrote:

yes but those picks have consistently been later on in the draft then the top 10 where the oilers are currently picking....

Granted, which is why I didn't suggest it last year. This year we are currently in the 9th overall position.

In 9th overall drafted 2000-Brent Krahn, 2001-Tuomo Ruutu, 2002-Petr Taticek, 2003-Dion Phaneuf, 2004-Ladislav Smid, 2005-Brian Lee, 2006-James Sheppard, 2007-Logan Couture, 2008-Josh Baily, 2009-Jared Cowen, 2010-Mikael Granlund, 2011-Dougie Hamilton, 2011-Jacob Trouba

The older we go on the list the more accurate information we have, but it is more or less 50% chance at getting a player.

If you trade for someone that will help you can get 100% chance of getting a player.

For instance the Wings trade for Kyle Quincey and it was a 1st Rd pick straight across. He is in their top 4.

If the Oilers could get a top 4 defenseman for a 1st Round pick, which will likely be a higher 1st than the Wings had I think that is a win. We could even throw in Peckham or Potter so the other team has a body.

The reality is by doing this it would likely mean a few extra points in the standings, and thus a worse position for the team getting the pick. There is a chance the Oilers could win the lottery, but as the old saying, it is better a bird in hand than a bird in the bush.

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#92 DSF
March 21 2013, 04:41PM
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jonny94 wrote:

Phoenix and Nashville will have played TWO more games then the Oilers and will only be 3 points out? So Edmonton needs to win back to back games that will give them a chance. I like those odds; the Oilers probably won't pull it off but DSF as an upset Oilers fan as you claim to be after years of disappointment I'm sure deep down you have a small portion of hope that this team is capable enough to keep things exciting all the way until the end of this season whether the Oilers make the playoffs or not. I'll give you credit reading your posts keeps things realistic. But is it unrealistic the Oilers to finish anywhere from 8th-10th? I believe thats where most fans have them landing at the end of the season.

Oh, no doubt if the Oilers can beat STL and Nashville (who are 6-2-4 at home) they can stay in the hunt.

I wouldn't be betting big bucks on that though.

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#93 Rod from Viking
March 21 2013, 04:53PM
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Dubynk is not the only problem of this young team but he also isn't the long term solution, he doesn't making the big save to turn the tide that a true #1 makes, Jonathan is right about middle of the pack numbers but that will not give the players and the coaching staff confidence playing with the lead.Stats are not everything but his record in OT and shootout should tell you something.

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#94 Serious Gord
March 21 2013, 04:55PM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Isnt that for just the first overall. No team can move down more than one spot this year with 14 teams having a chance at the first overall. Finishing dead last should guarantee you the second overall at worst as I read it. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=658503

I stand corrected. Thank you for that.

This new format is then arguably worse than the old one IMO. There is far too much incentive to tank a season - even arguably more than in years past.

Also lets assume that the team that finishes 20th gets the number one. As I read it, everyone else from part place up to 21st last automatically gets the pick position that is one plays where they finished (2nd last gets the third pick for example) then lottery draw resumes with the 21st pick.

The temptation for a bottom feeding team 2nd to 5th last to tank is even higher than last year.

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#95 Serious Gord
March 21 2013, 04:55PM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Isnt that for just the first overall. No team can move down more than one spot this year with 14 teams having a chance at the first overall. Finishing dead last should guarantee you the second overall at worst as I read it. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=658503

I stand corrected. Thank you for that.

This new format is then arguably worse than the old one IMO. There is far too much incentive to tank a season - even arguably more than in years past.

Also lets assume that the team that finishes 20th gets the number one. As I read it, everyone else from part place up to 21st last automatically gets the pick position that is one plays where they finished (2nd last gets the third pick for example) then lottery draw resumes with the 21st pick.

The temptation for a bottom feeding team 2nd to 5th last to tank is even higher than last year.

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#96 Dog Train
March 21 2013, 05:19PM
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Our heads are going to explode if we try to project what is going to happen on any given night in the west. It's too tight. One night we could be 12th and the next we could be in 8th. We just need to put together a solid streak and stay in the hunt until the end. I definitely want to make the playoffs but progress is a process and if we finish within a few points of 8th, well that's progress.

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#97 DSF
March 21 2013, 06:18PM
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jonny94 wrote:

Ya I'm just a hopeless optimistic fan, I believe the Oilers can honestly beat every team in the NHL but the record is rarely there to prove it, and we can always point fingers as to why the Oilers suck but for the first time in 6 seasons were 3 pts out of the playoffs in March as opposed to being out altogether. Of course the big asterisk is there due to a lock out but I'll take whatever positives i can get from this team and I'm sure many fans including the Oilers themselves can relate/agree

You realize this March is the equivalent of December in a regular 82 game season, right?

If the Oilers are out of contention at the end of this month it's the same as being out by Christmas in a normal season.

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#98 Rod from Viking
March 21 2013, 07:12PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Hahahaha!! Ya!!! get those stupid stats out of here, they don't actually mean anything! lol

They don't mean everthing!!!

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#99 StHenriOilBomb
March 21 2013, 07:45PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't think it's that fair to the coaches, and it's difficult to do a good job of it. As an example: I caught Petrell on the ice vs. Thornton but honestly didn't notice how Krueger adjusted to avoid that matchup in the latter two periods until he pointed it out. So in the game grades I might have slammed him for getting out-coached, with L4 out vs. Thornton at home, when in reality he saw the problem and did a pretty good job of compensating for it.

That's fair. Lots going on already watching the players.

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