Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Oilers still make the playoffs?

It seems ridiculous to count a team out in November, but Oilers fans know just how easily that can happen.

Edmonton has 22 points in 25 games and are five points out of a Wild Card spot, with both Chicago and Calgary having a game in hand. The Oilers have dug themselves a hole that history doesn’t favour. No team has made the playoffs since the last lockout with 16 points after 20 games. Since then, they’re 3-2, but they still have a ways to go. Their win against Arizona only moved their playoff chances from 1.3% to 6.1%, according to Sports Club Stats. Dom Luszczyszyn’s model has the Oilers at 18%.

The Schedule

The Oilers are on the outside looking in right now, but there are still 57 games left in the season. They’ll need a serious comeback and they’ll need to play better than their 10-13-2 record if they want to start passing other teams in the West.

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Forty of their remaining 57 games are against Western Conference teams. Twenty-five of those are against Pacific teams. They’ll have an opportunity to prevent their competition from gaining points on them, but that means winning in regulation, something they’ve only done six times in 25 games. The loser point makes regulation wins crucial to get back in the race.

Vegas isn’t likely to continue at their current pace, but they’ll probably get better goaltending as Fleury and Subban return. Vancouver could take a step back, but they have a group of solid, if unspectacular veterans.

It took 94 points to make the playoffs last year. Edmonton would need to go something like 32-17-8 in the rest of their games.

The 16-17 Flames

Oct 4, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) and Calgary Flames forward Tanner Glass (15) fight during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

There was one team last year who started 10-13-2 and ended up making the playoffs: the Calgary Flames. Calgary finished the season 35-20-2 and in the first Wild Card playoff spot. They needed hot streaks from both Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott, as well as a 10-game win streak to claw their way up the standings, which shows how difficult it is to make up lost points from October and November.

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That Flames team doesn’t seem markedly better than this Oilers team. Andrej Sekera’s return will help, but scoring up front and goaltending are bigger concerns right now. Cam Talbot needs to be better than his .903 save percentage. He’s also on track to play 72 games again, which is a lot for a goalie who became a regular starter two years ago. It’s a tough situation for the Oilers and Todd McLellan. Do you risk starting Laurent Brossoit to rest Talbot?

Edmonton was top ten in scoring last season but currently sits in the bottom ten so far. McLellan’s put all three of Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Leon Draisaitl at centre to spread the offence around, rather than rely on a loaded top line.

Playoffs are still in reach. It’ll take a significant winning streak and playing like a top team for the rest of the way, but it’s hard to count out a team with Connor McDavid on it.

  • CMG30

    Last year solid goal tending led to a sense of confidence and a never-say-die/go-for-it attitude among the players. Chia spent the off season twiddling his thumbs before shipping out scoring meanwhile everyone else in the West was trying to get better.

    This year started poorly with key players on IR and shaky goal-tending. Confidence has been sapped as a result. Now we have a team that’s unsure of itself which is leading to the inconsistent effort from game to game.

    As much as it’s unfair to pin the hopes of playoffs on one player, that’s the reality we’re facing. Talbot must lead this team out of the darkness by regaining his form from last season.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    There are 22 teams with either less points than the Oilers or within 4 points of the Oilers.

    If their season is over so are a lot of other teams’ seasons.

    • crabman

      the East doesn’t matter to the Oilers playoff hopes. looking at the west the Oilers are only better than 1 team and 4 teams are beating them by 4 points all other teams are leading by 5 or more points. The Oilers need to leap frog 6 teams to make the playoffs and don’t have any games at hand on any of these teams. In fact 4 of the 6 teams they need to pass have played less games. with their schedule being heavily against Westren teams and they have a good record so far against the Pacific it isn’t impossible to make the playoffs but they have dug themselves a hole that will be hard to get out of.

  • Clayton

    There is one other issue that is missed here. In order for the Oilers to make the playoffs their record must improve significantly…BUT…also must have a better record during the rest of the season that 6 other teams ahead of them. And that is just to get into the final wild card spot. And that creates another issue for the Oilers…that is playoff matchups…instead of going in with a high seed and at least getting a round or two with easier competition and hope that there is an upset or two to knock off some top tier teams the Oilers will likely have to through the top western teams…Nashville and St. Louis! If they manage to make the playoffs their early season gong show likely creates horrible seeding for them.

    • 3rdTierFan

      I don’t think many of us will complain about first round matchups, if they actually manage to get into the playoffs. Honestly, to me, it seems like we are asking for a favour from the hockey gods for them just to get in, let alone actually do anything once they get there.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I know this is gonna sound weird coming from a Flames, but I got a bad feeling about playing you guys since last season, and especially after we broke the Anaheim curse. You guys seem to always outwork us in our games lately-Gully said something to that effect-and I don’t like it.

        Like, seriously, a weird premonition that there’s a new curse coming…and I’m seriously not kidding. It’s in my gut and I feel uneasy.

  • morsecode89

    I’m of two mind sets. The league with 31 teams and the expansion draft once again drained many NHL teams of talent. And the western conference – especially the pacific – is about as even as they come. If there is a year a team can over come a start like this, it’s probably this season. Especially considering the West heavy shedule the Oil face in the second half of this season.

    The problem is, the hurdle is already made. The team has dug themselves a hole that just making the playoffs would be a wild accomplishment. Despite what Gregor and other Oiler theorists say, the team also plays slow. I just don’t know if they have the legs to make it. And I don’t trust Peter Chiarelli to pull the trigger on a trade to push them over the hump.

    Either way, Katz should completely re-evaluate the teams management for having put themselfs in this hole in the final year of Mcdavids ECL. That alone is a fireable offense. Cheers to what looks like another lost season in Oil country.

    • TruthHurts98

      TM is on the hot seat, his facial expressions said it all in the 3rd period against Arizona. I hope he comes up with a magic formula to get the team back on the right track, most games they come out with little jump and seem disinterested. It’s flat out bizarre. When they come out to play like they did against Detroit and Boston they look like a playoff team. Against Arizona they got lucky and looked like a lottery draft team. I hope they turn it around and quit this inconsistent garbage.

    • TruthHurts98

      Oh… we’re screwed. Hope they draft well and don’t trade for another Reinhart. Barzal would sure look good in Oiler silks along with Carlo. Sigh…

    • Jordan88

      Trash my comment all you want. Doesn’t change the simple fact that his play last season is a large reason we went to the post season. If McDavid was league MVP Talbot was was team MVP.

      His play this season is also a reason where we are now. He finally looked in form last game and is now out.

      We are going up against two powerhouse teams that score in bunches and we won’t have his services. This can get ugly and can get ugly fast of we don’t start lighting teams up.

    • oilerjed

      Or this will be what finally pulls this team together. That and Ellis coming out of nowhere to light it up pushing Broissoit out of the picture completely. It ani’t over yet.

  • camdog

    If it was just one issue it would be easier to see them make a push. It’s not just goaltending here like it was with that Calgary team,. They score about less than last season and give up more than last year The positive is the schedule. They weren’t a 500 hockey team against the east last season and have played a majority of games against the east this season. They are 3-1 against Pacific this season. If Talbot isn’t hurt too bad and they find reliable back up they have a chance. Another positive is they were one of the few teams that didn’t lose anything during expansion, or is that a negative, most good teams had more depth in their organization.

  • Boom76

    Why so many wanting heads to roll? I hate all you troll that think the best answer is to always just fire people. Like hate. There’s no substance or depth to your comments other than, “If _______, fire / trade ________.” So banal. So negative. So annoying. Like trolls under the bridge.

    In other news, we might need to trade for a goalie now.

  • madjam

    Oilers 3W-1L against Pacific division . That type of dominance carried forward against Pacific division clubs should keep us in the playoff race . Chia revamped club to flourish in our division first and foremost and having Vegas in there makes for possible better points in division . When we start losing to divisional rivalries then we need to worry . Our record last year in division was best of all the clubs , and so far that trend seems to be continuing . We are built for rigors of playoffs in own division and the less penalties the games are trending toward is also a benefit to our truculent team – not like start of season when everything was getting called . Not like most expected Oilers to be a Presidents trophy winner this year .

  • Klef abs

    Nope. They looked bad against the last place team in the league even though they got two points by getting lucky. This team doesn’t have it. No playoffs this year.

  • Winterkush

    A lot of good teams in front of the oilers competing for the wild card. From what we seen no way oilers make playoffs.
    Oilers will need at least a 4 game win streak at this point to be taken serious

  • Jaxon

    Nope. Trade Maroon, Letestu , Cammalleri and Auvitu now. Their value will be higher now than at the trade deadline as it will make them more than a rental and help those teams find chemistry earlier. Maroon to STL for who? Letestu to a contender who needs better FO, PK, PP (CBJ, NYI, NJD, PIT)?

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    “That Flames team doesn’t seem markedly better than this Oilers team.”

    To be precise, if you look at our team last year we had almost literally half a team. At the very least half our defense sucked (insert joke from Oiler fan saying all of it sucks this season here). If you guys were healthy, you’d have more than half of a team, more than what we had last year.

    I don’t know if that means anything to you guys, but it’s true.

  • Melvin

    I’m not giving up on the team yet. They will make the playoffs but it will likely be close to wild card. I don’t place as much relevancy on seeding. Play is a lot different in the post season so success in regular season isn’t always an indicator of success in the playoffs. Just get there and its a new game.