Pacific seeding: Home ice on the line

Rearview

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the biggest story surrounding the Oilers as we head into the final six weeks of the season will be where they finish in the Pacific Division. Making the playoffs is almost guaranteed at this point, but the real race will be for home ice advantage in the first round.

Can the Oilers secure home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 27 years?

At the start of the season no one would have believed the Oilers would be sitting in second place, and had swept the season series versus the Calgary Flames and St.Louis Blues, yet here we are.

The Oilers have taken massive strides this season, and with 18 games remaining they have a chance to reward their incredibly loyal fans with home ice advantage on opening night of the 2017 NHL playoffs.

PACIFIC DIVISION

POS Team GP W L OTL ROW PTS GF GA Home Road
1 San Jose 62 37 18 7 35 81 173 146 19-7-4 18-11-3
2 Edmonton 64 34 22 8 30 76 183 167 15-10-3 19-12-5
3 Anaheim 63 32 21 10 30 74 162 161 19-7-3 13-14-7
4 Calgary 64 34 26 4 31 72 171 178 16-14-0 18-12-4
5 Los Angeles 63 30 27 6 29 66 155 158 16-11-1 14-16-5
6 Vancouver 62 26 29 7 22 59 145 179 18-10-4 8-19-3
7 Arizona 62 22 33 7 17 51 149 200 14-14-3 8-19-4

The Oilers are two points ahead of the Ducks and four up on Calgary. First place seems unrealistic with the Sharks holding a five-point lead with two games in hand, so I’m going to focus on second place.

The Ducks have one game in hand, which they will play tomorrow versus Toronto, while Edmonton and Calgary have 18 games remaining.

The Oilers have a very favourable schedule down the stretch, while the Ducks have the most difficult of the three. Calgary’s home schedule is almost identical to Edmonton’s.

OILERS:

They play 13 at home and five on the road.

Eleven of their games are against teams currently out of the playoffs, however, three of them are against the Kings, who are one point out of the second Wildcard spot, and one game against the New York Islanders, who are also one point of the second Wilcard spot.

They have two sets of back-to-back.

They play, in order, Detroit, NYI, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, LA, Colorado, LA, San Jose, Anaheim and Vancouver at home.

Road games in Anaheim, Colorado, LA, San Jose and Vancouver.

They play 11 of 13 at home this March and start the month on an eight-game homestand.

FLAMES:

They play eleven home games and seven on the road.

Eight of their are against teams currently out of the playoffs, however three of them are against the Kings,  and they have one against the New York Islanders.

They have no back-to-back sets. They have one three-day break, next Mon-Wed, but then they play every second day the rest of the season.

They play, in order, Detroit, NYI, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Boston, Dallas, LA, Colorado, LA, San Jose and Anaheim at home. **The play the exact same 11 home opponents as the OIlers. Edmonton just has two extra home games vs. Vancouver.**

Road games in Winnipeg, Washington, Nashville, St.Louis, Anaheim, LA and San Jose.

They play ten of 14 at home this March.

DUCKS:

They play 12 at home and seven on the road.

Six of their games are against teams out of the playoffs, and they have one against the Kings.

They have three back-to-back sets including one in Edmonton and Calgary on April 1st and 2nd.

They play, in order, Toronto, Vancouver, Nashville, Washington, St.Louis, Buffalo, Edmonton, Winnipeg, NYR, Calgary, Chicago and LA at home. **They only have two of the same home opponents as the Oilers, and only one similar to the Flames.**

Road games in Chicago, St.Louis, San Jose, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary.

They play nine of 14 at home this March.

HOME TEAM?

Home

So who finishes in second place? 

In their last 18 games the Ducks are 8-8-2, the Oilers are 10-7-1 and the Flames are 11-6-1. The previous 18 won’t impact the next 18, but it gives us a sense of what we could see moving forward. The Flames made up five points on the Ducks and two on the Oilers.

It would be surprising to see one of the teams run away with second place. It is shaping up as a great race.

Leading up to the deadline the Flames have made the most changes to their roster.

They added D-men Michael Stone and Matt Bartowski and then shipped out Jyrki Jokippakka for Curtis Lazar. Stone has played 19:17/game in his first five games, while Bartowski has logged 13:59/night in six games. Lazar will likely rotate somewhere in their bottom six.

The Ducks added Patrick Eaves, but he’s only played one game because the Ducks have been on their bye week. Eaves skated with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry in his first game and he’ll get a long look with those two or alongside Ryan Getzlaf.

The Oilers added David Desharnais and he’ll play on the third line, and most likely take Drake Caggiula’s spot on the second unit PP. 

Stone will play the most minutes of all the new acquisitions, while the Ducks are hoping Eaves helps their top-two lines. Desharnais was brought in to add some experience and add offence in the bottom six.

I don’t see any of the new players suddenly making one team better. The Flames have improved recently because Johnny Gaudreau has started to produce, along with their top line. In Edmonton, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic are starting to show signs of breaking out offensively.

The Ducks will make a jump if Getzlaf and Perry start to score like they should. Getzlaf only has 46 points, while Perry has a paltry 11 goals and 42 points.

The recently added players could become solid complementary players, but I believe whoever finishes second will land there because of guys who have struggled for much of the season start producing.

The Oilers have the advantage of having Connor McDavid. He leads the NHL in scoring and he has more potential than any player on these three teams to get red-hot over the final 18 games and win a few games himself.

COULD IT HAPPEN?

Maybe

If I’m being completely honest, the scenario I want to see unfold the most is an Oilers/Flames first round matchup. Edmonton and Calgary haven’t met in the playoffs in 26 years. Both fanbases would love it and home ice advantage wouldn’t mean much.

The Flames won game seven in Edmonton in 1986. The Oilers swept the first two in Calgary on their way to a four game sweep in 1988, and in 1991 Esa Tikkanen scored in OT in Calgary to win game seven.

It would be awesome for the province, especially coming off the economic struggles of the past 18 months and the tough times some Albertans are still dealing with.

We have seen so many unexpected sporting events recently. We’ve seen the Thunder and Warriors blow 3-1 series leads. The Falcons just had the worst collapse in Super Bowl history. The Sharks finally made a Stanley Cup Finals. Leicester City won the Premier League. The Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year Championship drought.

It is time we see the Oilers and Flames meet in the playoffs again, and I think it happens.

The Oilers have the easiest schedule and that will allow them to remain in second place, and the Flames will catch the Ducks.

Dare to Dream Oilernsation, dare to dream.

Who do you see finishing 1st-4th in the Pacific?

Recently by Jason Gregor: 

  • Davidson vs. Desharnais
  • The Steve Austin Line
  • GDB 64.0: Streaking in St.Louis
  • Oilers 3rd quarter report card
  • GDB 62.0: Capital Challenge
  • Talbot chasing a record and Oilers trade options
    • WhoreableGuy

      Flames just need to lose 3 or 4 in a row and then their fans can go back to not caring about hockey again.

      Imagine if Calgary went through 10 seasons without Playoffs? We’d have the Seattle Flames in the Oilers division.

        • Prototype369

          Can’t the same be said of Talbot and the oilers lol? Everyone knew Talbot was an excellent 1B, but to take on a starters workload behind the D the oilers had two years ago didn’t inspire confidence in everyone. With the D core you guys have now, it’s a different story. Kiprusoff was an unknown commodity behind a decent D, nothing all star, grabbed out of the blue.

          I still miss Kiprusoff 🙁

    • Randaman

      Personally I think the Ducks will hold onto third. Your dream match up might happen but I’m not as confident as I should be that the Oil would beat the Flames..

      Sweeps in the regular season don’t mean squat when it comes to the play offs.

      I would think the Oilers would prevail in 6 but like I say, I think I’d rather face the Ducks in round 1

    • Natejax97

      Oilers might very well stumble a bit down the stretch…Thank god for October and January. We are sitting good today. Staying healthy, that will be key. A few wins in a row and maybe we get some confidence and get a streak going.

      The flames should cool off a bit, I hope the Kings and Ducks continue to struggle.

      It is nice to be fighting for second, rather than a second wildcard.

      Here’s to the hope that we secure a playoff spot by the end of March, then we can enjoy April games all the more!!! Cheeers ON!!!!

      • OilersGM

        I don’t wanna face the Minnesota Wild in the firs Rd, they scare me way more than the predators do to be honest. Realistically we won’t face any of the two in the first Rd.

    • Big Cap

      This is unreal and awesome!

      Whoever would have believed we would be talking about home ice advantage with less than 20 games to go?!?!?

      The past decade was a complete disaster, but its in the rear view mirror and its all been worth it now!!!

      GO OILERS!

    • OriginalPouzar

      Battle of Alberta – bah – the flames should finish one point out of the playoffs every year for the rest of their existence.

      Oilers 2nd – Ducks 3rd.

      Already looking at making plans for a road trip to ANA for games 3 and 4.

    • Prototype369

      Flames fan here. There is a comment section on FlamesNation discussing the exact same thing, and how much we want/dont want a BOA playoffs series, and most of us are in the boat of no. Reason being 1) the oilers have swept the flames in the regular season this year, so the matchup doesnt really favor us, and 2) when/if either team wins, 90% of the fanbase on both sides will be happy/sad and move on, but the remaining 10% trolls will make things unbearable on here. So no, not this year lol

      • orion

        Oilers fan – I agree about the trolling. I wish things were a little more civilized, but this year is different. Flames fans are frustrated that Edmonton is starting to win, and Oilers fans are frustrated at 10 years of being down – gets pretty intense in here some days.

      • theJason

        Trolls?! Trolls!!! Don’t complain to Oiler’s Fans about Trolls. We know all about them the last ten years.

        I really don’t think that Flames fans are afraid of the Trolls anyways. Some of the comments on FN had to do with reliving the BOA of he 80’s when the Flames were always second best to the Oilers. They were a great team, but were always measured up to the Oilers. They lived in the Oilers shadow. I think that is what is going on here. Flames fans are not dumb. They know they are building a great team, but when they look up North, they see something they recognize and fear. They see a team with a generational talent on it that they will never have. They fear losing to the Oilers because for whatever reason, they still are so self consciousness about the city up North. Anytime a comparison is made about the two cities, Calgarians are so defensive, more so then Edmontonians.

        Anyways… I didn’t want this rant to degrade into a battle of the two cities, but the BOA is a sore spot for the Flames fans, while the BOA is good thing for Oilers Fans. I think it should be a good thing for the Flames too because it will make them better, but because they fear us, they don’t want a BOA.

    • Rob...

      The trolls that visit this site ruined it for me. I want to see Jarome Iginla pick up his game, lifting the Kings over the Flames for the final playoff spot.

      • Hemmercules

        Funny thing is, they complain about all the Oiler trolls on their site and they average like 20 comments per article. Way more Shames trolls here than Oiler trolls there.

        • Rob...

          Not happy with our ‘fans’ that troll FN either. Deplorable addiction to making others angry or upset. Not to be confused with those who legitimately are trying to share an unpopular view that they hold.

          • Danomitee

            Most of us feel the same man. I hate when the Oilers beat us, but I’m glad these games have some meaning again finally. As for playing each other I’d love for a second round match up, however unlikely. When we played Van a couple years ago everyone in town knew that was our one series to win, this year the west is unpredictable

    • btrain

      An Oilers/Flames series would be quite exciting! however, like Gregor said, the underperformers on each team will likely be the difference makers and that extends to LA as well. LA still has the same core that played at their best when their backs were against the wall in their run to the cup. I don’t think you can count them out of this playoff race just yet. Kopitar has been massively underperforming this year but that could easily change. With Quick and Bishop in net, who knows.

      Therefore, I think there will be two battles to watch for down the stretch. The race for second place and the race for 4th. I could see a scenario where the Oilers could drop to 3rd (overtaken by the ducks or flames) if they struggle a bit down the stretch. However, I don’t see them any lower than 3rd. I could also see the games between the flames and Kings down the stretch as critical for both as it might end up deciding who gets the 4th spot and who dusts of the clubs. 6 points will be available and if you give the kings their game in hand, they are just 4 points back of the Flames. Should be fun to watch!

    • Dan 1919

      Calgary has the most GP out of them, StL & LA. StL & LA aren’t two teams I’d count out. A lackluster three games and the Flames could be outside looking in. The Oilers are far from clinched, the Flames are still in the middle of a very tight race they could lose.

    • D'oh-ilers

      I like the Oilers chances against any team in the first round of the playoffs. It feels so strange to be saying that after the decade we’ve gone through. I’m definitely not complaining.

      • DoubleDIon

        I’d like a first round match up against the Oilers. One goaltender, one defense pairing and one forward line. Your lack of anything NHL quality after your first unit would make you a pretty easy match up for the Flames. At home McDavid would get a steady dose of Backlund and on the road you can only play Klefbom and Larsson against one of our two scoring threats and the other line gets your collection of bottom pairing guys.

    • Harry2

      I think Edm being in a payoff spot down the stretch is going to create so much momentum for the team on and off the ice. Not to mention the fans. Having so many home games to end the season after being out of the playoffs for so long is going to make Rogers Arena a powderkeg leading up to the first playoff home game.

      Not to mention Chiarelli giving his vote of confidence.

      The Oilers are only going to get better down the stretch and they will start the playoffs with a massive bang!! Cant wait.

    • Maggie the Monkey

      If we’re daring to dream why not dream big?

      1. Edmonton
      2. San Jose
      3. Anaheim
      4. Calgary

      Beating San Jose in both remaining games would make this possible, building momentum for a complete season and post-season sweep of the Flames.

      That’s dreaming big.

    • Pouzar99

      The Oilers almost played the Flames in the second round of the 2006 playoffs. The Number 8 seed Oilers beat the Number 1 seed Red Wings. Incredibly the 2 and 4 seeds also lost to the 7th and 5th seeds. If Calgary, the Number 3 seed had beaten Number 6 Anaheim they would have faced the Oilers, but they blew a 3-2 series lead. All four top seeds were eliminated in the first round, while all four top seeds won in the East. Bizarre.