The Edmonton Oilers are in 14th place with 32 points and six points behind San Jose, who sit third in the Pacific Division. The Central has five teams with 39+ points. So they are seven points out of a wildcard spot, but six points out of third in the division. Either way, they have a lot of ground to make up and need to leapfrog six teams to make the playoffs.
It looks daunting, and for the past three weeks, many pundits and fans have said the Oilers are done. They won’t make the playoffs. I believe the Oilers have underachieved. They had sub-par goaltending, defensive zone coverage and secondary scoring in October and early November. But the offence has woken up, the team defence is much better and Cam Talbot has found his game. Of course the penalty kill is still an out-of-control-wild-fire, mainly at home, and if they can’t stop the hemorrhaging on the PK their quest for the playoffs will be more difficult.
If we decide 95 points is the playoff cut off, then the Oilers will need 61 points in their final 48 games. Challenging, no question, but not as rare as you think.
I decided to look back at the NHL standings dating back to the 1999/2000 season, when the league had played roughly 41% of the schedule, which they have this year. The exact date varied, but often the games played were similar to the Oilers’ 34 played thus far.
The Washington Capitals were in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They had 30 points (12-14-6) in 32 games. They were five points out of a playoff spot.
The Capitals went 32-10-8 in their final 50 games and finished with 102 points, third most in the conference. Quite the turnaround.
The Vancouver Canucks had 32 points (14-20-4) in 38 games, sat in 13th place in the west and were five points out of a playoff spot.
They went 28-10-6 in their final 44 games and finished with 94 points.
The San Jose Sharks had 34 points (15-13-4) and were five points out of a playoff spot and in 11th place. Seven teams had at 44+ points while Colorado, Phoenix and Anaheim had 39 each.
The Sharks ripped it up down the stretch going 29-14-7 for 65 points and finished with 99 points, 5th in the conference.
The crazy part about that season was how the LA Kings and Vancouver Canucks completely derailed. The Kings had 45 points (22-13-1) and Vancouver had 44 (20-13-1) on December 21st, but both missed the playoffs.
Ottawa was only four points out after 36 games with 35 points (17-18-1), but then they completely turned their season around.
They went 31-7-8 in their final 46 games, totaling 70 points, and finished with 105.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were three points out with 36 points, but they too went on a tear.
They finished the season 32-11-5 for 69 points and also finished with 105 points.
The Canucks were in 11th place in the west with 35 points (17-17-1).
They went 32-9-6 down the stretch, picked up 70 points, and also ended with 105 points.
The Oilers were in sixth place on December 21st with 38 points. But they fell apart and went 14-29-5 for 33 points in their final 46 games and the Decade of Darkness began.
The Penguins were 17-16-2 and three points out after 35 games.
But they turned it up going 30-11-6 (66 points) in their final 47 games and finished second in the conference and then lost in game seven of the Cup Final.
Washington was dead last in the east with 29 points (13-19-3) after 35 games.
The Capitals went 28-12-5 (61 points) in their final 45 games and finished sixth in the east with 94 points.
Nashville was 14-16-2 after 32 games and nine points out of a playoff spot.
They picked up 61 points (27-16-7) in their final 50 games and grabbed the final playoff spot.
The St.Louis Blues were in 15th place in the west with 29 points (13-18-3) after 34 games.
They went 28-13-7 (63 points) down the stretch and finished sixth in the west.
The Columbus Blue Jackets sat in 14th spot with 32 points (14-16-4) at the 34-game mark.
The produced 60 points (27-15-6) in their final 48 games and finished in seventh position.
Vancouver was in 10th place and four points out of a playoff spot with 38 points in 34 games (19-15-0).
The Canucks went 30-13-5 for 65 points and finished with 103 and 3rd in the conference.
They were six points behind the team they knocked out, Calgary, but the Flames, who had 44 points (20-10-4) in their first 34 games finished with only 46 points (20-22-6) in their final 48 and missed the playoffs by five points.
The Buffalo Sabres were six points back after 34 games (14-16-4).
They went 29-13-6 for 62 points in their final 48 games and finished seventh in the east.
The Los Angeles Kings were in 12th place after 33 games (15-14-4) and five points out of a playoff spot.
They went 25-13-11 for 61 points in their final 49 games to finish with 95 points and 8th in the west. They won the Stanley Cup.
Dallas was eight points out after 33 games. They had 37 points (16-12-5), but the west was very strong at that point.
They didn’t dominate down the stretch, they went 24-19-6 and finished with 91 points.
However, the Canucks tanked. They were 20-10-6 (46 points) after 36 games, but they fell apart, going 16-25-5 in their final 46 games and finished with 83 points.
The Ottawa Senators had 34 points (14-14-6) after 34 games and were five points out.
They went 27-12-7 for 61 points at crunch time and finished with 99 points.
The Sens were actually 10 points out of the playoffs after 46 games played on January 22nd.
Then they had a miraculous finish going 24-8-4 in their final 36 games.
The Penguins were in 12th place and five points out of the playoffs after 33 games (16-14-3) for 35 points.
They woke up and went 32-12-5 for 69 points to finish with 104 points. They won the Stanley Cup.
The Anaheim Ducks were in last place in the west after 33 games (12-15-6) and only had 30 points.
They finished the season 32-12-5 for 73 points and won the Pacific Division with 103 points.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had 35 points (14-12-7) after 33 games and were five points out of a playoff spot.
They went 26-15-8 (60 points) over their final 49 games and finished with 95 points to make the playoffs for their second time in 12 years.
Since the shootout was implemented, ensuring someone wins every game, we have seen 15 teams in eleven seasons overcome a deficit and then produce 60+ points down the stretch to make the playoffs.
It won’t be easy, but the Oilers underperformed early in the season. They dug a hole and have made their season more challenging than it should have been. But a six-point deficit after 34 games is not insurmountable. They need to figure out why they can kill a penalty on the road, 7th best at 84.1%, but can’t at home, 58.3%. It really makes no sense why they are 25.8% worse at home.
History proves teams can overcome a tough start, and many of them weren’t great teams. The Oilers aren’t great, but are they as good as the Leafs, Blue Jackets, Blues, Stars, Canucks, Sabres, Predators, Capitals and other teams who were able to turn their season around? They have the talent, and the biggest hurdle will be their special teams.
The season is far from over for the Oilers. The final 48 games will be more challenging, no question, but history tells us it is very possible to produce 60+ points in those games and get back in the playoff picture.
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you, Dave and Kevin, for your bids and to The Ranch Golf and Country Club and Genicoll Visual Communications for the great packages.
Day 14: Fan Cave TV Room from The Brick
- A Samsung 58″ MU6100 4K UHD Television
- Gena 2-Piece Linen-Look Fabric Left-Facing Sectional – Charcoal (Option to pick another colour)
- Allendale 56″ TV Stand – Anthracite
- Delivery of all three
- ***For the Sectional and TV Stand you can swap to another style. The Brick will redeem the retail value of those two items to choose whatever you want in furniture.**
Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out The Alberta MS Society
- A signed Connor McDavid orange jersey with the “C”.
Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out Operation Friendship Seniors Society