The Oilers find themselves in first place in the Pacific division, although San Jose has three games in hand and is one point behind, yet they have only won five of 12 games versus the eight weakest teams in the NHL.
The Oilers are 9-6-1 versus the top 21 teams in the standings.
It seems they play to the level of their competition. They’ve dominated Chicago, Washington and St.Louis, yet they’ve been unable to defeat Toronto, Buffalo or Arizona in six contests.
The standings in both conferences are very tight, and if the Oilers continue to struggle against the bottom teams it could cost them a playoff berth.
The western conference race is very tight. Every team except Arizona and Colorado is within four points of a playoff spot. If we prorate today’s standings over an 82-game season we would only have three teams with more than 95 points in the western conference.
Chicago 37 pts… Prorated to 108
St.Louis 24 pts.. Prorated to 107
Winnipeg 29 pts… Prorated to 82
Minnesota 28 pts…Prorated to 95
Nashville 28 pts… Prorated to 92
Dallas 26 pts… Prorated to 78
Colorado 19 pts… Prorated to 65
Edmonton 32 pts… Prorated to 94
San Jose 31 pts.. Prorated to 101
Calgary 30 pts.. Prorated to 85
Anaheim 29 pts… Prorated to 91
Los Angeles 28 pts… Prorated to 92
Vancouver 24 pts… Prorated to 76
Arizona 20 pts Prorated to 66
There is always room for change. Some teams will be better in the final two-thirds of their season than they were in the first, while others will be worse and some will be the same. It is solely a projection, but when you compare to previous seasons, we simply don’t have as many projected 100-point teams as we’ve seen in the past.
There seems to be even more parity than ever before.
While the Oilers only have four wins in ten games versus the eight teams with the fewest points (Colorado, Arizona, Vancouver, Dallas, NYI, Toronto, Buffalo and Carolina), they have managed 11 of a possible 20 points due to the lovely Bettman bonus point.
What is frustrating is how the Oilers focus, determination and consistency has not been as sharp in those ten games as it has against better teams.
The Oilers soiled the sheets for the first 20 minutes last night in Buffalo. They had two shots on goal in the first 16 minutes versus a team who had played the night before and had a depleted defence. Yes, they controlled the second period and the third until the final minute, but if they were ready to play in the first 16 minutes, they likely wouldn’t have needed to cling to a one-goal lead in the final seconds.
The Oilers have 12 games remaining against the aforementioned bottom eight teams.
They play Vancouver four times, Arizona three, Colorado twice and Carolina, Dallas and the Islanders once.
They must find a way to stop playing down to the level of the opposition. The good news is the Oilers have shown they can rise to the level of the top teams. They play 42 more games against the top 21 teams, and the challenge will be ensuring they can remain as successful against them as they have been so far this season.
I didn’t expect the Oilers to have a smooth ascension up the Western Conference standings. There will be dips, but Todd McLellan must be frustrated with this team’s inability to be consistent against teams with less talent.
Learning how to win regularly is more difficult than it looks. The dominant teams find ways to defeat the bottom teams more regularly.
Chicago is 6-0-0 vs. Arizona, Colorado, Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver.
Montreal is 7-1-0 vs. Arizona, Carolina, NYI, Toronto and Vancouver.
St.Louis is 4-1-1 vs. Buffalo, Colorado, Dallas and Vancouver.
The Oilers have shown that when they’re prepared and focused, they can beat top teams. The next step in their evolution is to learn to be consistent. It is difficult, and while a 5-4-3 record versus the bottom eight teams is not terrible, they have left some “easier” points on the table, and will need to be better than picking up 13 of a possible 24 points.
In the ultra-tight Western Conference, they have to hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them on April 10th.
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you to Bryan and Bryce for their bids and to The Base and Mr. Derks for the great packages. We raised $3,950 for Santas Anonymous yesterday.
It includes $500 in gift certificates at OTR or Urban Tavern (The old Druid).
Crab Boil dinner for four at On the Rocks.
Pub Party for 10 at Urban Tavern (Opens up this weekend)
Pub Party for 10 at OTR.
Trust me, only bid on this if you have a fun group of friends. Dr. Wang and crew will treat you well at OTR and Marko and crew will ensure you have a blast at Urban Tavern.
- $1,000 in Hughes Gift cards to be used for fuel or car washes.
- Four tickets in their Theatre Box at Rogers Place on January 1st. Oil Kings vs. Calgary. It includes dinner and an underground parking pass.
Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out Operation Friendship Seniors Society and Santas Anonymous.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- GDB 28.0: Buffalo Beat Up
- Monday Musings: The Library
- Who Are You with Oscar Klefbom
- GDB 25.0: Avoid self destructing
- Oilers need to be better
- GDB 24.0: A budding rivalry