We have heard about "the process" since last May, and if the Oilers can muster a victory in Denver this afternoon then they can safely say they did improve this season. A win would give the Oilers 63 points, a measly one point better than last year’s 30th place team, but improvement is a progress right? Right?
The attitude in the dressing room has been much better this year than last, and when you compare Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark to Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson, Ryan Potulny and Ethan Moreau it is easy to see why fans are more optimistic about this team now than you were 365 days ago.
When your team has finished dead last two years running you have to find something to cling to, so I understand why this ENDER original poster would be hanging inside every Oiler fan’s house. Of course he’d have to actually get it published, but that’s for another day.
This afternoon’s tilt will ultimately have no real impact on the PROCESS or H.O.P.E, but you probably needed to find a reason to plop yourself down on the couch and watch the 29th and 30th place teams do battle, and this is the best I could come up with.
Maybe Ryan Jones and Jordan Eberle’s quest for a 20-goal season is enough to keep you interested, or you’ll watch to see if Liam Reddox, Ladislav Smid or Jason Strudwick actually score a goal this season. Hell, maybe you’ll tune in hoping to see round two between Steve MacIntyre and David Koci.
Considering Oiler fans gave this 30th place squad a standing ovation after Friday night’s loss to Minnesota, then I’m sure the chance to actually improve on last season’s point totals will be more than enough reason for you to tune in. I have to say I’m blown away by the loyalty of Oiler fans. Who else gives a standing ovation to a team that only won 13 of 41 home games? I’d venture to say very few cities would do the same.
- I like that ROW (regulation and OT wins) is the first tiebreaker now, but did you know that the 3rd tiebreaker is goal differential? Goal Differential: Using the total goals scored during the regular season, the greater positive differential between goals for and against among the tied teams (no where in the wording does it say excluding SO goals). On the surface that might seem fine, but the total goals scored will include SO goals for and against! Who was the genius that came up with that system?
How can the first tiebreaker not include SO, which is smart, but then the 3rd tiebreaker does? If you look at the NHL standings, under goals scored it say the Oilers have 190, when in fact they’ve only scored 188 goals. Their two shootout wins add two imaginary goals to their totals. The same goes for goals against. The Oilers have actually given up 256 goals, but nine SO losses gives them 265. The goals don’t count for the individual player, so I don’t see why they count for the team’s totals. This year they won’t need to go to the 3rd tiebreaker, but they might consider changing that rule moving forward.
If you are wondering why under goalie stats it has Dubnyk surrending 93, Khabibulin 149 and Gerber 4 for a total of 246, it is because they don’t count empty net goals against the goalie. The Oilers have allowed ten empty netters this year.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will wrap up their 31st NHL season with a 4-2 win. The Oilers are 16-11-3 in their final regular season game including going 2-0 v. Colorado.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: At various points during the game you will comment, "thank goodness this is the last game of the year." Despite the potential of H.O.P.E, this year has been a grind for fans and you’ll find yourself happy that after today you get six months to replenish your "fan tank", and by next October you’ll believe the Oilers will actually compete for the playoffs.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Adam Foote will play his final NHL game this afternoon. Foote has missed the past 12 games with an ankle injury, but he is going to dress tonight. Foote won’t be 100%, and on his 2nd shift Paajarvi will blow by him like he was standing still and bury his 16th goal of the year. Foote will tweak his ankle on the play and spend the rest of the game sitting on the bench. Not every career has a story book ending.