Let’s assume the Oilers can win out their remaining three games (1 against Los Angeles, 2 against Calgary). How much help would they need from their opposition?
Let’s take a quick glance at the standings and the attainable playoff spots:
7. Anaheim – 2GR, 88 PTS
8. Nashville – 3GR, 86 PTS
9. St. Louis – 3GR, 86 PTS
10. Minnesota – 3GR, 83 PTS
11. Edmonton – 3GR, 83 PTS
And here are the remaining schedules of those teams:
- Anaheim: vs. Stars, @ Coyotes
- Nashville: vs. Chicago, @ Detroit, @ Minnesota
- St. Louis: @ Coyotes, vs. Blue Jackets, @ Avalanche
- Minnesota: vs. Stars, vs. Predators, @ Blue Jackets
Finally, here are the NHL tie-breakers:
1. Greater number of wins.
2. Winner of the season series, or in the event of a three (or more) way tie, best record in games against the tied teams.
3. Goal differential.
With that in mind then, any two of these events would eliminate the Oilers from the playoffs, even if they were to win every last one of their remaining games:
1. Anaheim wins or loses in overtime to Dallas or Phoenix. They only need one point, since they have the tie-breaker with Edmonton.
2. Nashville records three points; they won the season series with Edmonton so they need only one win and an overtime loss to be unreachable.
3. St. Louis records four points, in whatever manner. The Oilers own the tie-breaker (wins) if they win out.
4. Minnesota wins out; they own the tie-breaker with Edmonton.
Keep in mind that this is the best case scenario; each of those four teams would have to do considerably less if the Oilers don’t go 3-0 to close off the season.
Sports Club Stats does an excellent breakdown of the probabilities. Even if the Oilers win every game from here on out, they only give them a 21% chance of making the playoffs. If they lose even one point, finishing 2-0-1, those chances drop from 21% to 4%.
Both of those are unlikely finishes, though. Based on their season to date, the Oilers have a 2.8% chance of making the playoffs. Put another way, we can be 97.2% sure that they won’t make the playoffs. It’s over.