The Oilers have won three of their last four games to move within five points of the 27th place Toronto Maple Leafs. Edmonton needs to win three of their final seven games and have the Leafs lose all six of their remaining games to catch them. If the Leafs win once the Oilers need to win four and so on.
Moving up to 27th could be tough, but the main goal for the organization next season will be trying to move up from 13th place in the western conference; and that will be much more difficult.
The Avalanche are currently in 12th place in the west, and they have 25 more points than the Orange and Blue.
You can make the argument that the Todd Nelson-coached Oilers are a better refection of their actual talent. So if you prorate the Oilers 15-18-6 record under Nelson over an 82-game season, they’d be a 75-point team.
That would place them about 20-21 points behind 8th place. Improving by 20 points in one season looks much less daunting than the 32-point deficit they currently face, but anyone who watches the Oilers has to realize they need significant improvements next year to have any hope of reaching the playoffs.
Climbing up the standings won’t be easy, especially when it looks like the Oilers will need to make a 30-32 point improvement next year.
The last team to make that big of a jump was the 2008 Philadelphia Flyers, who finished with 56 points in 2007, but bounced back with 95 in 2008. They improved by 39 points, but they also signed Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen in free agency and added Jason Smith, Brayden Coburn (he was added late in 2007), Martin Biron became the starter and Mike Richards emerged as their leader increasing his point totals from 32 in 2007 to 75 in 2008.
The 2014 Colorado Avalanche made a huge improvement from 2013, when they had 39 points in 48 games (prorates to 66 in full season), to 112 in 2014, an amazing 46-point increase. The Avs have fallen back to earth this season, but they still are competitive and only seven points out of 8th place.
The Avalanche were a statistical anomaly last season, and reality set in this season, but at least they are still in the hunt in March. The Calgary Flames will need 18-20 point improvement from last season, 77 points, to make the playoffs this year, and that might not be enough to get them in.
We know the Oilers need to make significant improvements, but even if they do that might not be enough to get them into the playoffs next year.
The Oilers will roll with the exact same lineup as Friday vs. Dallas. Richard Bachman gets the start. Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks were on the ice this morning, but their return looks more likely later in the road trip.
- Friday evening was a rare night of excitement for Oilers fans. The team played great. Bachman recorded a shutout, Andrew Miller became only the 6th player in NHL history to score his first NHL goal on a penalty shot and the fans were rewarded for their loyalty with a host of free trips and prizes during the game. For one night it was enjoyable being an Oilers fan. Here’s hoping those types of games become the norm again rather than the exception.
- Friday night was another example of why people need to stop thinking teams tank. The Dallas Stars were desperate for a win. They’ve been playing great, they are 8-2 in their last ten, but one of those losses was Friday night vs. the Oilers. The Oilers are a bad team, but they haven’t lost on purpose to increase their lottery chances by a few percentage points. Had the Stars won they would only be three points out of eighth place with six games to go. They knew how important the game was, but they still couldn’t win.
You can say that management might make a move or two with the hope their team fails, but the players don’t lose on purpose. Their intensity might wane, but that happens to decent teams as well — often bad teams are simply just bad teams. With the new lottery in place the odds of winning are so low that tanking on purpose is simply a stupid bet by management.
- Things I want to see happen by the end of the regular season: Alex Ovechkin score 50 goals. He needs one goal to become only the 6th player in NHL history to have six 50-goal seasons. Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky did it nine times, while Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux did it five times. Ovie is one the greatest goal scorers the game has ever seen.
I want the Jets and Kings to make the playoffs. I’d love to see playoff hockey back in Winnipeg for the first time in 19 years.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From Mile High Hockey…
After holding on through a shaky third period against the league’s worst team, the Avs still have a faint hope for the playoffs at 82 points. While unlikely, if the Avs can win out, it would put them at 96 points, a total that typically makes the playoffs. In order to make the playoffs, the Avs would need the Jets to go 2-3-1 in their final six as well as have the Stars lose at least one game and have either Calgary or LA to win no more than three of their final six and seven respectively. It’s a tall order. But maybe just maybe it could happen. One thing is for sure: the Avs can’t afford to lose any more games, especially to teams like the Oilers.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers haven’t won three straight since October, and sadly I don’t see it happening tonight. Oilers lose a close one 4-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle registers two more points to get back on the first page of point-producers at NHL.com.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Brandon Davidson gets penalized in the second period and hears his name announced for the first time on an NHL PA system. Through his first five NHL games he doesn’t have a point or a penalty but that changes tonight. For extra fun he picks up an assist as well.
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