Three points out

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.

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An eye on the post-season

According to, 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.

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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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        • Rambelaya

          Yep, you nailed it.

          Right in that link it says “No club will move down more than one position as a result of the Draft Lottery.”

          So finishing dead dog last will get you 2nd overall pick, at the worst (unless you trade it away).

        • Wax Man Riley

          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.

        • DSF

          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.

      • Phixieus666

        actually I believe it does. I think they changed it so that its only a lottery for the first overall and winner goes to the bottom and everyone else just shuffles up one spot. So ya finished last means at least you’ll get the second pick. Unless I’m wrong but that was my understanding of the lottery changes

    • OilLeak

      Back at what exactly? Did e suddenly became a better player because he finally scored after consistently cheating for offense and leaving the defensive work for his teammates? Seriously, watch Jones for a whole game. The guy is everywhere, but where he should be.

  • Bonvie

    They didn’t sell last year when they were clearly out of the playoffs I can’t see them selling this year. I was clearly frustrated when depth D were fetching 2nd and thirds and we didn’t move any of those D, same went for the depth forwards.

    Nothing changes with this team from year to year they still need a top pair D man and depth at center is paper thin. These are the problems caused with the trade of Brodziak for nothing, and punishing Souray banishing him from the kingdom.

    I would really like them to use Yakapov to get them Tyler Myers or another young top flight D-man. the center problem could have been dealt with in a minor trade or signing such as Arnott, maybe not a permanent fix but a better contract than having three Hordichuk type players two of them in the minors. At least Eager is a good player down there Hordichuk still is out of his league.

    • Bonvie

      Many discussions around Buffalo trade situations automatically exclude Myers, whose contract is thought to be awful at this point. His numbers have declined year after year. It sounds like he may be a casualty of the amnesty buyout by some accounts. And you want to give up Yakupov for him?

      Yak had some great shifts in the game, including that sequence in the 3rd. I get why Kreuger does not want to throw him into the fire, but I can’t understand why he is not trying to give him more responsibility in the late stages of the games. He wants to win more than anyone, and thrives to play in those tight games where there is more meaning (exhibit A – game tying goal in LA). I usually will defend RK, but his unwillingness to develop Yak in later stages in the game is in my mind a huge blunder, and is possibly costing this team points. Who was on the ice on the 3rd goal? Why, Petrell and Brown, those stalwarts that have the veteran experience and defensive presence that Yakupov lacks…

      • Oilers89

        The Yak situation appears to be a microcosm of what the oilers try to do too often. Which of course is trying not to lose instead of trying to win. Our ‘defensive’ players like petrell are almost guaranteed to never win you the game, but there is a chance they will lose it. At least with Yak he has a high chance at both ends (while not as bad in his own end as he is made out to be). I would highly prefer they go after the win, obviously you share the same feeling.

        Side note: with all that said, I have liked the oilers game lately and other than the issue with Yak it appears as though the team might be learning how to be competitive.

  • Sorry everyone, they’re not doing it this year. This year is about gaining that valuable experience of coming close but not quite pulling it together at the right time (in both the game and the season).

    If this year’s lessons are learned, then next year will be different.

    • 106 and 106

      Tonight was quite telling boys, and though 3 points out is just 3 points out – we can’t keep expecting teams to keep beating the sharks/detroit/phoenix and had a chance to reel them in tonight. If anything this year will finish really strong and light a spark for any UFA’s considering Edmonton/the kids to rally around for next go.

      And we were up 3-1 – sigh.

    • 106 and 106

      when has a good run that barely misses the playoffs ever translated into success the following year? not for this team. learn? these guys? they keep making the same mistakes, putting fourth a half a.. effort, making the same excuses, these guys don’t learn and even when they seem like they might have they can’t change on a consistent basis.

  • @Bonvie

    You would trade Yakupov (who has only played 29 NHL games) for Tyler Myers (who is in his fourth season and struggling big time)? Give your head a shake. People need to quit pulling the trigger so early on Yakupov. Throwing him under the bus,and putting him in trade situations is ludicrous. Give him a few years and let the kid play. As DSF would say, good grief

  • 106 and 106

    I think the Oilers need to trade their first round pick for a player that actually help them now.

    Detroit has been successfully doing this for years, 10 of the last 16 years they have traded their 1st round pick away.

    Yes we may end up being Brian Burked but it is worth the risk.

      • vetinari

        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.

    • There are two problems with trading away the first round pick this year

      1 – it’s likely to be a top 10 pick in a deep draft year.

      2 – What kind of top six roster player or top four d-man can the team really expect to get?

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i’d be VERY cautious before the Oilers start doing this. i get worried when i hear people say let’s trade Eberle or Marincin or Yakupov for a proven top end player….then after he’s here, he wants to be traded, or doesn’t want to sign long term here and leaves when he’s a UFA, and we end up with nothing.

  • draft nail yakupov – check

    sign justin schultz – check

    ink hall and eberle to potential albatross contacts before required – check

    shuffle a couple of deck chairs – check

    play a meaningful game in march (results irrelevant) – check

    i would think tambo is pretty happy with himself.

    well done

  • LinkfromHyrule

    Yet again a two goal lead blown in the third… I get the feeling that the task of grooming our crop of talented young players into real NHL players is above the head of RK. He seems like he is a good coach that understands his system but what he’s been tasked with is too much for him.

    And man, STOP MESSING WITH THE LINES IN THE THIRD. Our young players need to be put into those difficult situations so that they can grow as players. Instead you put out brown and petrell. That is a joke.

    I think maybe a coaching change is needed for this team

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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…..?

    • Marcus

      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.

      • TayLordBalls

        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.

  • 2004Z06

    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.

  • Citizen David

    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.

  • BEST RESULT – Oiler finish 4 points out of the playoffs making a steady and determined push with the kids feeling confident they got the goods for next year. However with all the parity and 3 pts distrubition in the league – even finishing 4pts out the Oilers finish 13th in the Conference meaning they are in the top 6 picks and collect another piece of the puzzle.

    The real dealing will occur in the draft and the Oilers should set their sights on Shea Weber.. without a doubt the Oilers need a bonafide legitamate proven No. 1 Defencemen – then watch the team take off!

    If it means Sam Gagner, Oscar Klefbom and a pick so be it – One thing you cannot deny about Chris Pronger, the defense changed dramatically when a legit No. 1 is in place.

  • DSF

    I don’t like to knock Dubnyk,because I really like the guy… but he stunk on the tying goal, and he crapped the bed in the shoot out. When you have a 2 goal lead in the third, your goalie needs to come up big for you once in awhile. He has been great at times this year, but he also has let in way to many softies. In a compressed season like this one it would have helped to have a back up capable of giving him a rest once in awhile. He started 11 in a row… that is too many for any goalie in this league. The Oil deserved to win last night, but the hockey Gods are not always fair.

    • DSF

      San Jose out shot the Oilers 34-27.

      San Jose out chanced the Oilers.

      San Jose hit the post at least twice.

      The Oilers had 5 PP’s (a couple very questionable), while the Sharks had only 2.

      The Oilers did NOT “deserve to win” last night.

      They were lucky to be in the game.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

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

        1. playing with a lead

        2. see above and not by much:

        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.

        • DSF

          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.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            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.

  • DSF

    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.

        • match16

          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

        • oilerjed

          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.

          • DSF

            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.

          • Citizen David

            Do I think the Oilers will make the playoffs? No. Do I think they have no holes still to fill? No. Do I think they are on the rise and have a bright future? Yes. Will I be bothered by your massive list of reasons you’ll give me as to why every player on their team sucks and they will finish last for the next ten years? No. Go Oilers!

          • Citizen David

            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.

          • Wax Man Riley

            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

          • DSF

            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.

          • Eddie Shore

            Haha of course hence the comment about the lockout. I’m not saying the Oilers have made the leap to being a legitimate playoff team it’s just nice to know they are still in it.

  • DSF

    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.

  • DSF

    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.

    • DSF

      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.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        I think it will be too little too late, but also agree with an earlier post that being in the mix and falling just short wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world (they aren’t winning the cup this year even if they make the playoffs, and could use another top 10 pick in 1st and 2nd rounds of a deep draft).

        That being said I am pretty sure that TayLord wasn’t referring to the last 10 games DSF, I think he was referring to continuing the pace of the last 5 games, where they are 3-0-2. If they kept that pace up, they would surely make the playoffs. As usual, out of either stupidity or sheer spite (look up the term oppositional defiant disorder), you were taking the positive thoughts of a fan and trying to turn them into a negative, even if it means being a hypocrite.

        To further prove this point, you know I am a fan of Dubnyk’s work. But last night, I will admit that I thought his stats didn’t tell the story as he let in some suspect goals. He let the Sharks back in the 1st after the Oilers were taking over, and totally shifted the momentum of the period (Sharks had 3 shots before the goal, then I think 6 more after in the last few minutes). Then the PP goal there was lots of traffic but the melee would not have ensued had he controlled the rebound. I am sure he wanted the 3rd one back too. He was moving around too much and had poor rebound control. So he’s allowed to have some average games, I am still a fan, but will be the first to admit that he certainly didn’t help the cause last night. Dubnyk stinks, you have been saying night in and night out, but from your earlier post you imply he was the reason the Oilers were “even in the game.” You are certainly a person of many contradictions, only to annoy fans on this site. Please go away…

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    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.

  • Connor Snipes

    What do you guys (JW) think is being said in the dressing room and on the bench by the “great motivator” when this team has a lead? I know talking and executing are two different things but…

    When sixteen some odd thousand can sense a monumental momentum change and the coach doesn’t utilize a timeout to rally cry the troops in third period crunch time baffles me; especially with such a young team. (After the Sharks’ 3-2 PP goal; 8 min mark of the third against the wings when the Oil were outshot 8-1 and clearly came out flat; if the Preds have 5 more minutes, they tie that game also)

    I know it’s only thirty seconds, but a timeout can be effective to get everyone refocused. I know he’s talking on the bench all the time (hoping the captains are too) but his Switzerland “defend the lead” tactics aren’t working. He’s being hypocritical by not rolling four lines to push the pace even with a lead; “staying aggressive”. Yes, the fourth line can be a defensive liability but they can also be effective keeping the play in the other end. You are the home team with last change; find situations to make it work!

    Does anyone know the Oil’s records with leads in various periods? I’d be curious to see what those numbers are…

        • 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 the biggest thing for sure. It’s one thing to watch the players, and assess them based on how they’re doing in the role; I generally have to go back afterward to catch why the coach made the decisions he did. Some are obvious, but most games it’s a little more subtle and it’s hard to be both quick and fair.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    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.

      • 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.

    • Yes, I do.

      There’s a lot of up-and-down in every goaltender’s game; the best indicator is long-term performance. Dubnyk’s has been good.

      I doubt he ever wins the Vezina, but I’m comfortable with him as a middle of the pack starter, which given the price point of the high-end goalies is something I’m comfortable with.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    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?

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        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.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    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.

  • TayLordBalls

    There are 19 games to go and the Oilers are in the playoff run.

    They have points in 5 straight games.

    We’re on a roll and you guys have counted them out already.

    I don’t think this team has peaked and yes……

    I do Believe!

  • 106 and 106

    “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…


    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.

  • Eddie Shore

    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.