What it Would Take for the Edmonton Oilers to Miss the Playoffs

Oilers fans

For Edmonton Oilers fans long since embittered by their team’s lengthy playoff drought, the club’s performance this season has been a welcome change. Now, in mid-February, the club is in such a good position that it would take a historic collapse to miss the playoffs.

What prompted this piece was an interesting exchange during (skip to the 12:20 mark above) Peter Chiarelli’s Valentine’s Day media availability about how making the playoffs this season fit into the Oilers long-term plans.

Question: “As far as where you guys are in the plan, the five-year plan or however long [inaudible] does this team have to make the playoffs this year in that scope? Or if they come up short, will you still say ‘we’ve made a lot of progress this year’?

Answer: “I’m satisfied with where we are. I haven’t liked our last little bit, but it’s a long season. I wanted to be in the conversation; we are. So if we make the playoffs I’d be ecstatic, because it really helps the development of these players to see what a playoff series or two is like. The fact that they’re competing right now and they’re feeling the pressures, that’s really positive for their development as well. But of course I’d like to make the playoffs.”

I was surprised at the tenure of the exchange. I hadn’t expected to hear a question framed around making or missing the playoffs as if they had relatively equal probabilities of occurring.

Chiarelli’s answer was less surprising in that he’s stressed the Oilers as a developing team than a true contender this year. Answer with an “of course they’re going to make the playoffs” and one not only risks looking silly if the team collapses down the stretch but also invites questions as to why the trade deadline strategy isn’t more aggressive.

Nevertheless, it’s relatively certain that Edmonton is heading to the postseason. One only need look at the standings.

The Standings

2.19.17 standings

That 11-point gap on Winnipeg looks pretty good right now, as does the fact that four different teams would need to pass the Oilers in order to knock them out of a postseason position. But hypothetically, what would it take?

Let’s imagine for a moment that every team in the West continues at exactly their current pace, and narrow the focus to the six teams with at least some semi-plausible path to getting ahead of the Oilers:

  • Edmonton: 102 points
  • Anaheim: 98 points
  • Nashville: 90 points
  • Calgary: 86 points
  • Los Angeles: 85 points
  • Winnipeg: 81 points
  • Vancouver: 79 points

Remember, four teams have to leapfrog the Oilers, which means that Edmonton would have to fall behind the Kings, which means a finish somewhere in the 85-point range. For the Oilers to drop to that level, they would have to collect just 13 points in their final 23 games. That’s a 6-16-1 or 5-15-3 collapse.

The team’s worst run this season was a 2-7-1 run starting on October 30; the Oilers could do that, and then do it again, and as long as they won two of their three other games they’d still be on-pace to make the playoffs.

There’s been a lot of talk about Edmonton’s great record against the West this year, but the West just isn’t the powerhouse conference it once was. In 2014-15, the eighth place team had a plus-20 goal differential and 99 points; L.A. missed the playoffs with 95 points and a plus-15 rating. This year there’s a chance that multiple negative goal differential teams will make the playoffs in the West and the Flames are on-pace to make it even with a losing record.

It’s also difficult to foresee a scenario where multiple Western teams make big pushes, because all these teams play each other a ton. Los Angeles has nine games against the other teams that have to push past Edmonton; even if the Kings make a big jump, they’re going to cost Calgary, Vancouver and Anaheim in the process. The Flames are in the same boat and with a strong run would depress other teams on this list in the standings.

In a normal year, 72 points in mid-February wouldn’t guarantee the Oilers anything. But with the conference collapsing the way it has, it’s going to take a truly epic implosion for Edmonton to slide out of playoff position now. 


Pray For Playoffs Party 

As you probably expected, the Pray for Playoffs party will be happening at the Pint Downtown on Friday, February 24th, with doors opening at 4pm and the hockey game starting at 5pm. Aside from making sure we’re all well hydrated, we’ve got the usual swag bags planned along with raffles, giveaways, and more. I encourage you to start coughing now so that your boss won’t be suspicious when you call in sick. 

As always, it wouldn’t be a Nation party without trying to raise as much money as possible for our charity partner, Sport Central. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, Sport Central is a local organization dedicated to making resources available to assist kids in sports in the Edmonton area as well as central and northern Alberta.

Your $20 ticket gets you:

  • A Pray for Playoffs Party t-shirt
  • A $20 Pint GC
  • $10 worth of Oodle Noodle GCs
  • A lottery ticket for our door prizes
  • Access to the exclusive Pray for Playoffs NationGear launch
  • You’ll be in attendance for the re-launch of NationBeer! Yes, we have our own beer now. Not only that, we’ll buy a beer for the first 100 people to show up with their ticket as a thank you for your support. 

As always, all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated directly to Sport Central so bring your friends, get involved, and help us support a community in need. You can get your tickets here before they sell out.

This is a party that’s been 10 years in the making and you’re going to want to be a part of it.


  • Randaman

    Why? No, seriously, why would you even have the need to write something like this?

    Were you that annoying geek on the playground that questioned everything good in life?

    Like, why?

    • Two things:

      1. If you want to know why, there’s a handy guide inside the article. I’ll give you a hint: The paragraph that starts with “What prompted this piece…”

      2. I honestly have no idea what you’re babbling about anyway. The theme of the article, shorter, is that the Oilers are in fantastic shape and the playoffs are all-but-certain at this point. How that leads to ‘questioning everything good in life’ is beyond me.

  • knee deep in it

    in the remaining schedule, we have Colorado twice and Vancouver 3 times. We would be heavily favoured to win those games.

    That means we would have 18 other games to come up with 1 win and 1 OTL if your math is correct.

    Is it OK to start dreaming about the playoffs?

  • Boom or Bust

    Obviously making the playoffs is the best…but man this team has given us a fantastic season so far. Swept the Flames…beating teams like the Coyotes that were our kryptonite. I am satisfied this far…playoffs would be the icing!!

  • MessyEH!

    So what your saying is there’s a chance we don’t make it?

    *Knocks on wood and throws salt over his shoulder.*

    Why do you hate the Oilers so much Mr Willis?

    • Heavy Stick

      He’s a writer. They just need story lines. Some writers(Oil on Whyte) know nothing about hockey, yet, come up with stories that the average Joe doesn’t critique. The more they can raise emotions, the more people read and respond.
      It’s a game in itself.

      • wiseguy

        Hockey is all about fun superstitions, rituals and traditions. Do playoff beards help a team win? 15 teams with beards don’t win the cup each year. Goalie rituals? Tambellini’s lucky draft tie? Throwing octopi? Not touching the conference championship trophies? Sure, saying shutout has no impact on the goalie, but saying it in a crowd of fans during a game will still understandably draw their ire.

      • oilerjed

        Stirring up the hornets nest. Nice.

        I understand the need to rile up the masses of pins and needle fans. Its fun, I get it.

        But tempting fate in the name of science is dangerous stuff.

        And messing with a goalies shutout is sacrilege, is in not?

        If this was Star Trek would you’d be a Vulcan for sure.

      • FISTO Siltanen


        Next thing you’re going to tell me is that what jersey I wear to the game has no impact on how they play. Or if I leave my seat with 5 minutes to go it will disrupt the chakras causing the Oilers to not score the tying goal.

        Ya right. You need to write an article on advanced stats and fan superstitions.