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.


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • BlazingSaitls

    This is the first year since 06′ that I havent had to blatantly lie to myself with false optimism. Ok thats not completely true. Going through the Sched. I booked 16 points for Oilers in October. That may be wishful thinking but idc…Go Oilers Go!!!

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    The Oilers are on a verge of a remarkable dynasty, longest streak of playoff futility.Yikes.What are the advanced stats for this to happen? Daryl that would’nt look good moving into your new palace.Please hockey gods we need a serious intervention.

  • Batfink

    Hope springs eternal………..I for one am hoping that the so called “kids”, take a giant leap and propel this team forward.

    Mac T has made many moves that help point arrows in the right direction, especially on defence. The additions of Pouliot and Purcell also helo balance the offence, or so I’m hoping.

    All we need is one of the prospects ( or two say LD & Kahira) to have very strong camps and the positive energy roll!

    I’m hoping that Dallas Eakins has learned who his players are and how to use them so we can start the season of on a winning note. Winning the first few games will be the litmus test of the balance of the season……..fingers crossed.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Batfink

    If you do not have the players there is little to suggest going upwards in the standings . From a poor Gm to an even greener Gm that drove us backwards last season despite all the changes . New Gm has done little to fill the gaping holes in personnel . Until that changes optimism is in a holding mode . The GM sets the squad and coaches can only coach the group they are stuck with . I see no progress forward to suggest our GM is capable of taking us forward despite all his changes . We were expected to push Anaheim just a year ago for the last playoff spot by most odd makers . Well we all know now how that went with our acquisitions . Anaheim makes a couple of astute moves and we went opposite way and plummeted back to basement . Guess who was most responsible for that ? It certainly was not Tams .

    • ” We were expected to push Anaheim just a year ago for the last playoff spot by most odd makers .”

      I don’t recall ANY odds-maker saying this would happen, let alone MOST. Where does this come from? I’d like to see it.

      • Craig1981

        Sportsnet had Oilers at 25/1 and Anaheim, Colorado and Dallas at 40/1 . Sportsbook and Fox had Oilers @25/1 and Anaheim @ 22/1 .We were expected to do much better than we did .

        • Sportsnet and Fox aren’t odds-makers.

          I did find Sportsbook, however. Given that this outfit had the San Jose Sharks at the same odds as the Oilers, I’d question whether they’re an authority:

          Anaheim Ducks 22 to 1
          Montreal Canadiens 22 to 1
          Edmonton Oilers 25 to 1
          Minnesota Wild 25 to 1
          Ottawa Senators 25 to 1
          San Jose Sharks 25 to 1

          In any case, that’s a long way from “most.”

          • I wasn’t expecting a playoff appearance but after 2 years of fairly solid gains ; from 20 games under .500, to 8 games under .500, and then only 3 games under in the lock-out shortened season I was hoping for the next level, and definately not a 12 game slide back to 15 games under .500. I don’t expect progress in the standings every year but it seamed they took a really big step backwards last year. And on the ice is only part of it, the more Kblowe speaks the less respect the rest of the league has for this team. The way he handles himself in the media is a complete embarrassment to this team. And that earns him a promotion from his bud. But what do I know, I am only a tier 2 fan.

          • ONLY IN EDMONTON does Kevin remain employed. What a complete and utter failure and embarrassment that conceded milk man from LaChute QC is.
            THEN the truly ridiculous occurs. He’s actually defended by the town media except for a few brave scribes like McKinnon. And Brownlee deserves some credit there to.
            But honestly, if you’re not wondering where his resignation papers are… I want to come work for you. Because that folks… Is very easy money.

        • Anyone with a brain in their head knows that you font listen to.a damn thing Fox has to say when it comes to hockey.

          Coming out of the last lockout some bonehead writers at SI I believe had Edm at #3 league wide in power rankings. Does that mean we should be disappointed they didnt challenge for the Presidents Trophy? Get a clue

  • 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.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    it really is the same ol problem, it appears we got bigger but no way in hell did we get grittier. We will get pushed around, loose battle after battle, get frustrated and get hurt. Everybody should get ready for another season of men against boys.

  • Batfink

    How can a team like the oilers be bad for so long. You would think one if these years things would just go right for a change. Last year I saw lots of horrid hockey but I also say snippets of a team that actually looked decent. When will these guys put it all together.

    Last year there was too much running around in the defensive zone and way too many shots against. With the changes in the “D” and the investment on the “D” this season I think this will be the make or break of the season.

    The defence was BRUTAL last year. Even of they can be just average including the goaltending, I think the forwards have enough talent to get the job done.

  • 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

    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

  • Sevenseven

    I just hope that we as Oilers fans and bloggers are being overly pessimistic and for once play above our level. I see Vancouver taking a major fall and some of those elite teams showing some signs of weakness after years at the top. Miller isnt the goalie he once was, and I see the Sedins getting injured. The Oilers cant stay in the gutter forever, right?

  • Sevenseven

    Two things that will make this a season a fail regardless of where we finish.
    1) Another jersey being thrown on the ice due to fans being frustrated.
    2) Finishing behing calgary and being trashed 8-2 by them again

  • Serious Gord

    I suspect the casual oilers fan is going to have a difficult time swallowing a season where the oil finish 24-25 which is where I put them. They aren’t seeing what robin et al are.

    Compound that with how the season is likely to progress – lots of good news early – a scandalously easy schedule, likely few injuries and two goalies that other teams really haven’t had much data on regarding where the flaws in their game are.

    Then the bottom falls out. The big western teams maul what little there is at centre and top end defense and the below average goalies are exposed meaning a grim end to the season and those casual fans – the vast majority – will be out for blood.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I say they make the playoffs. LD’s great play will pressure older kids. Oil could be magic. …stranger things have happened.
    ?? What team has best winning %? In terms of. ..a playoff appearance resulting in a cup? We must be close to top, no? Special things happen when oil make the dance.