2014-15: MEASURING SUCCESS

Success

It’s perfectly understandable after eight seasons out of the playoffs that fans of the Edmonton Oilers want to see their team back in the post-season mix, but if that’s the expectation, you’re in for another year of frustration.

It goes without saying, or should, that what long-suffering Oiler fans want and what they can reasonably expect from a roster that’s been re-vamped considerably by GM Craig MacTavish since he inherited a mess from Steve Tambellini are two distinctly different entities.

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The Oilers are coming off a season in which they finished 14th in the Western Conference with 67 points, which left them 24 points behind the eighth-place Dallas Stars. They play in the Pacific Division, a Murderer’s Row that includes the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings along with Phoenix, Vancouver and Calgary.

The Hockey News today picked the Oilers to finish sixth in the division, and even allowing for the most optimistic outcome for coach Dallas Eakins and his team, the THN bottom line is one I have difficulty poking holes in. You can find the entire item here.

“Like Calgary, the Oilers will face a lot of California creamin’ this season. As much as we liked Edmonton’s chances of moving up the standings the past few years, we now think the team is capable of making positives strides forward, but that’s coming on an escalator that’s moving downhill. Any gains the Oilers make this season will have to be in the form of spiritual and psychological advancement rather than in the standings.”

PICK YOUR PROGRESS

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workInProgress

If you’re in the camp of fans where the post-season cutline is what separates success from failure – enough of this we’re-getting-better crap and give us a freakin’ playoff game already – “spiritual and psychological advancement” isn’t going to do it for you.

If, on the other hand, when you separate what you want from what you expect and accept that the chances of the Oilers making the playoffs in 2014-15 are only marginally better than Justin Schultz winning the Norris Trophy during his career, the measuring stick changes. What’s yours?

From where I sit, expecting an improvement of 12-15 points is a perfectly reasonable and would mean the Oilers would be playing “meaningful” games in March and April. That’s something we haven’t seen for years. Of course, 79-82 points would still leave the Oilers short of the playoffs.

Based on last season’s standings, that improvement would also move the Oilers up just one place in conference standings, ahead of the Calgary Flames. Based on off-season moves, I can see the Oilers also vaulting past Winnipeg and Nashville. Is there a team I’m missing?

Seeing as it’s eight years and counting since the Stanley Cup final run of 2006, I understand those with a playoff-or-bust mentality, but I don’t see any way a post-season berth is in the cards. What I do expect is a significantly improved – although still flawed – team that’ll stay in contention deeper into the season than we’ve seen in years.

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WHILE I’M AT IT . . . 

WalkAMile

One of our regular readers at Oilersnation and an old colleague on the Edmonton sports scene, Paul Wodehouse, is struggling through a very difficult time. I’d like to pass along an item brought to my attention the other day by way of a tweet from Mike Brophy of CBC. The item is here.

Oilersnation is again participating in the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes campaign against family violence Sept. 23 by entering a team. I’m taking part this year. If you would like to donate to my participation, as a couple of you have already generously done, or our team, you can do it here. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.


  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I agree the Oilers wont make the playoffs this year or even next but as long as we finish ahead of Calgary its ok. I am getting very tired of Edmonton teams getting beat by Calgary.

  • Batfink

    The criteria I used to watch Oiler games last year was is the other team a bottom feeder? If yes, watch the game. If no, find something else to do. A successful season is one where I want to watch an Oilers game every night and not see them in their own zone for multiple shifts with weak counterattacks that are easily defended.

    I don’t care where they end up in the standings. I want them to stay close with a team throughout the game every night and not look completely outmatched by better teams.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    I can accept that for this year, holes have been filled and not just plugged for a change, yes we are short a #2 C, but I think it can filled from within barring any injuries.

    I still have my doubts about Eakins and I hope he learns his lessons from last season. With his choices of assistants being granted, its all on him now.

    But, I still made a $100 bet with my Flyer fan friend last weekend that the Oilers will make post season this year lol…….heres hoping!

  • Serious Gord

    All I want is for them look like they have a clue. Look like an NHL calibre team. Like, don’t give up a break away every single PP. Don’t get hemmed in your own zone for 5 minutes.

    Everyone points to the C position as the big question mark, but I think the biggest make-or-break areas are goaltending and coaching. They had the worst goaltending and coaching I have ever seen in the NHL last year. Both ‘should’ be better, but I will need to see it.

  • Zarny

    Realistic assessment. Playoffs would mean bumping one of Ana, Col, StL, SJ, Chi, LA, Min or Dal. Not going to happen this year.

    The Oilers’ point total last year was marred by starting 4-15-2. Picking up 5 wins should be low hanging fruit. After that gains will be hard. I think 82 PT is a realistic average to expect. 88-89 PT if things go really well and 77-78 PT if things go poorly.

    Or basically where they were supposed to be last year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Ole Steve came in and did exactly what he was brought in here to do….and that was drive this team face first into the mud. He succeeded beyond Katz and Lowes wildest dreams I have to think. Three first overalls on his watch is the stuff dreams are made of. The problem is now, how do you turn off the suck when it’s been their gameplan for so long.

    Over to you now Daryl and Kevin. You’ve shown you know how to wreck things, and Kevin says he knows a thing or two about winning. Lets see if you and 6 rings are equally as capable of reversing that losing culture you felt was necessary.

    • paul wodehouse

      Q…it appears that you are leaning, albeit not generously, toward a change in Oiler fortunes if these two can put the right product on the ice at the right time…maybe even to have a team that might be close to middle of some road down the road … AND far enough away from yet another charity lottery pick…
      …therefore my friend I think it’s time to get back to reality, change that mcjesus moniker thingy you’ve been sporting for these last many months and be QUICKSILVER BALLET again!

      your other words at comment #45 are heartfelt

      many thanks
      wodehouse

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Krueger oilers were on a 77 point pace the year tambo got fired.

    I find it amusing that we would define success for this team as being similar performance as the one that got tambo and Krueger fired.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Cancer is so limited…

    It cannot cripple love.

    It cannot shatter hope.

    It cannot corrode faith.

    It cannot destroy peace.

    It cannot kill friendship.

    It cannot suppress memories.

    It cannot silence courage.

    It cannot invade the soul.

    It cannot steal eternal life.

    It cannot conquer the spirit.

    God speed to our friend Paul Wodehouse.

  • Craig1981

    You know most fans cheer for their team to win the championship……..what a said state we are in that we question if finishing in the top half is too optimistic..

    • Paq Twinn

      I just spent a fortune on a satellite system for my motorhome so I can watch the oiler hockey games in Arizona this winter. I just hope we get some effort and some passion. I know were not in the playoffs, but lets play some meaningful games in March please.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Goaltending and the psychology around babysitting/worrying around your goaltending cost the Oilers 10 – 14 pts last year alone. A 12 – 15 pt improvement means nothing more than they improved the tending. They need and will likely get a 20pt increase based on the tenders changing, player changes, a little maturity, offset against the unknowns. If the unknowns come through – more than 20pts. If they don’t, then we’ll be at a 10pt increase. Yawn.

  • Paq Twinn

    No one has a crystal ball to see what will happen. Even the year we made the playoffs was out of nowhere and with a less talented roster we have now. It’s either ur in the positive boat or the negative boat. 10 more wins then last year puts us in 8 th spot. That’s not in the highly unlikely realm. Let’s drop the puck and see what happens. If your a fan u wipe 8 yrs past away and evaluate as the season goes.

  • Batfink

    I think we are a playoff bubble team. We don’t play EVERY game in our division.. if we can manage to win 50 % of the games against our division ( I know it’s a big IF) I think we will be real close.. It’s a different year for me as I think we made some good changes such as size and most importantly improvement on the blueline. Four things need to break right for us to compete for a playoff spot..

    1. Yak needs a breakout year.. 70 pts..

    2. Nuge needs to return to his rookie year pts per game

    3. We need a min of a 918 save%.

    4. Jultz has a 50 pt season.