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Worst. Race. Ever.

I’ve seen teams suck before but the teams involved in the wild card race this year are the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked…and that’s great news for the Edmonton Oilers!!

How crazy is it that while many people in Edmonton are suggesting the Oilers make their second coaching change of the season, the team is actually just three points out of the final playoff spot in the west?

With another important battle looming against the Wild, I’ve decided to break down all of the “contenders” in what can adequately be described as the worst race ever.

MINNESOTA WILD: 57 points (1st Wild Card)

Why They Will Get In: Bruce Boudreau finds a way to make the playoffs. That’s what he has always done and that’s what he’s likely going to do again this season. Zach Parise is having a very nice bounce back season for the Wild with 21 goals and 46 points in 52 games. If Devan Dubnyk can maintain the numbers he’s put up so far this season, which are good but not great, I think they’ll be alright. Boudreau has only missed the playoffs once in his career and he’s never missed while spending a full season with a club.

Why They Won’t Get In: They just got the news that Mikko Koivu will miss the rest of the season. Koivu was not having a great season offensively but is a key faceoff guy and very important to the club defensively. He plays over 18 minutes a night for the Wild. That’s third on the team among forwards but just a few seconds behind Parise and Granlund. He will be missed.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 54 points (2nd Wild Card)

Why They Will Get In: Two words, Elias Pettersson. This kid is absolutely phenomenal. He leads the team in basically every single offensive category including an all-important seven game winning goals. The rest of the Canucks forwards have combined for 12 game winners. I knew he was going to be good, I knew he would eventually become great, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this type of immediate impact. If they make the playoffs, he will likely get more than a few Hart Trophy votes tossed his way. 

Why They Won’t Get In: I’m not sure they have another gear and, in the end, I think one or two teams will find another level to pull away from the group. The good news for the Canucks is that they could remain in this wild card race the rest of the way and still end up with another high draft pick, which would be the best of both worlds.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: 53 points (9th in West)

Why They Will Get In: They are the hottest team in this race with a 7-2-1 record in their past ten games. Ryan O’Reilly might be one of the most consistent offensive players that nobody talks about. O’Reilly has been even better than I think the Blues were expecting when they brought him over from Buffalo. He leads the team with 53 points, a 17-point cushion over Tarasenko. One of the main reasons for this turn around has been the play of Jordan Binnington. He has been brilliant while going 7-1-1 in nine starts with a save percentage of .921 and a goals against average of 1.88. 

Why They Won’t Get In: I’ll be interested in seeing how their overall team speed holds up as games get even quicker and more intense down the stretch. The Blues made their team slower in the off-season; does it come back to bite them in the end?

COLORADO AVALANCHE: 52 points (10th in West)

Why They Will Get In: They have one of the best lines in hockey and if they are going to make the playoffs that trio of players is going to have to carry them all the way. Rantanen and MacKinnon are 5th and 6th in NHL scoring while Landeskog currently sits 28th but is averaging 1.04 points per game. Landeskog leads the trio in goals with 29 on the season. At this point I’d be stunned if the entire line doesn’t hit the 30-goal mark.   

Why They Won’t Get In: Goaltending. The Avalanche have the 8th worst goals against average in the league despite allowing the 12th fewest shots. Semyon Varlamov is 13-13-5 with a .905% and 2.89 G.A.A while Philipp Grubauer has not lived up to expectations with a 3.47 G.A.A. and a .890%.

ARIZONA COYOTES: 51 points (11th in West)

Why They Will Get In: They are likely feeling the least pressure out of all of the teams in this race — maybe that gives them some sort of weird advantage. I didn’t expect them to make the jump to the playoffs this season, especially without Antti Raanta for the majority of the season. Clayton Keller has been good in his second season but hasn’t been good enough to get this team to where they need to be just yet.

Why They Won’t Get In: They just aren’t good enough in all aspects of the game.

EDMONTON OILERS: 51 points (12th in West)

Why They Will Get In: The Oilers get into the playoffs in one of two ways. They’ll need one of their goaltenders to go on a heater to end all heaters, or Connor McDavid will need to go full blown supernova the rest of the way. It’s much more likely that McDavid averages 2.5 points per game the rest of the way than Talbot or Koskinen start standing on their head. Some support scoring would go a long way but if you are expecting it at this point you are a fool. 

Why They Won’t Get In: There are a number of reasons why the Oilers won’t make it to the post-season but I think I’ll go with a general lack of defensive awareness ahead of everything else. Support scoring, a questionable blueline and subpar goaltending are all excellent answers but if the team continues to run around in their own end, and I’m talking about EVERYONE, they don’t have a hope in hell.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: 51 points (12th in West)

Why They Will Get In: The core of this team is winners, they always have been. Pat Kane is absolutely scorching the league right now and Jonathan Toews has regained his offensive touch. Dylan Strome has 24 points in 30 games since joining the Hawks which is an excellent contribution for a guy that many people were writing off.   

Why They Won’t Get In: The Hawks are horrible defensively. They are second last in the entire league in goals against per game and shots allowed per game. I have a hard time believing they can work their way up the standings while continuing to hemorrhage scoring chances.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: 51 points (12th in West)

Why They Will Get In: They’ve lost 17 of 19. They are done. The real question here is if Dallas Eakins gets an opportunity to save the season.

Why They Won’t Get In: I know teams don’t want to use injuries as an excuse but this team has been hammered by them this season.

IN CLOSING:

So, there you have it, the worst race ever. If I was a betting man, I’d probably go with the final standings looking something like this.

Minnesota (1st WC)
St. Louis (2nd WC)
Colorado (9th)
Edmonton (10th)
Anaheim (11th)
Vancouver (12th)
Chicago (13th)
Arizona (14th)
Los Angeles (15th)

Enjoy what will certainly be the most pathetic, yet thrilling, race to the finish we’ve ever seen.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • That's My Point

    It’s like Monty Python’s 100 yard dash for people with no sense of direction, except it’s teams with no sense of direction.
    How can they all be that bad, parity??

  • Rama Lama

    Minny is a very stingy team and does not give up goals easily………we are a team with one driver and a lot of passengers. Not sure how we win anymore so let’s concentrate on what we do well…….pick high at the draft, that is our Stanley Cup. Except we always seem to pick the wrong player except in McDavids case.

    I for one hope that Leon Driasatle finally plays a complete game……..last game he was minus two and scored two goals, that means he was on for four goals. If he can work like McDavid, instead of riding on his coat tails we have a chance. Watching him play reminds me of Eberle……..a lot of skill but no heart!

      • HockeyRooster

        Leon is the least of this teams problems. I can’t believe the heat he takes. It’s disappointing to watch fans line up to run the best players out of town. Bag on The rest of the passengers if you need to; Leon is firmly in the “part of the solution” category…full stop.

    • Baroil79

      You must not have a lot of hockey knowledge to not know that +\- does not count on the pp which means he was only on for 2 goals … on pace for 100 pts which must mean he has a little bit of skill

    • Jason Gregor

      @Rama Lama… That is not how +/- works. He was on for two goals against. His two goals for came on the PP, and you don’t get a + for those. Hard to take someone’s analysis of a player seriously when they don’t know how +/- works. Saying Draisaitl has no heart is an opinion, but it based on nothing factual. Saying a kid who leaves home at 16, to a new country, to chase his dream has no heart is utterly idiotic. Please be better.

      • Rama Lama

        I will try and be better…….but calling someone an Idiot is classless. What I should have said is that he is a giveaway machine, which is demonstrably true, at least every game I watch. Yes he is on pace to score a lot of points and he can thank McDavid for that. Playing on his own line he would have half the points.

        • Jason Gregor

          I said saying someone has no heart is idiotic statement. Didn’t say you are an idiot. Said the statement was. Also..McDavid has half the points at 5×5 when he plays away from Draisaitl this year.

          In 481 min with Draisaitl he has 28 points.
          In 417 min without Drai he has 14 points.
          Even the best offensive player in the NHL sees his points drop when he has to play with other wingers on this team. You know why? Cause they aren’t good. You can keep hating on Draisailt, but it simply illustrates an incorrect analysis of a player.

          • Geomessier

            Hey Gregor.

            Really appreciate your analysis as always!

            Any chance you could provide the exact same stats, but for Draisaitl?

            So Draisaitl points at 5×5 when he plays away from McDavid this year.

            In ___ min with McDavid he has __ points.
            In ___ min without McDavid he has __ points.

            Would really appreciate so can indeed compare apples to apples.

            cheers

      • FlamesFan27

        While his comment showed a lack of understanding of +/-, no one should be called an idiot on these Nation sites, especially by a contributor and prominent media person. Please be better. You work hard at your craft and you have great knowledge. But your attitude turns off a lot of people.

        • slats-west

          Dumba$$ …….there ……….feel better snowflake. He said the “comment was idiotic” – it’s a real word (meaning = showing complete lack of thought or common sense) and when used properly conveys a point – which Gregor did.

        • BobbyCanuck

          It is idiotic that these folks do not have reading comprehension skills, but that does not make those folks idiots.

          It was idiotic that Einstien failed grade 9 math, but that did not mean that he was an idiot

          Read the above sentences over and over again, until you understand the difference

    • TruthHurts98

      He was on for four goals? Sure 2 for which he scored on the PP. Only 2 against at even strength thus the minus 2 which might be a little too much math for some people. The problem is our defense is awful and the wingers couldn’t make any other team in the league.

    • Kool-Aid Man

      @Rama Lama

      Lol, there are a plethora of players on this team you could legitimately criticize but instead you go after the guy whom is on pace for 100 pts.. Do you see where you went wrong on that one?

      • Rama Lama

        My analysis on this player is based on careful observation, and not on stats. On that basis I will try and be better, ( full disclosure I hate stats). What I see night in and out is this player has a good offensive game but lacks situational awareness on the defensive side of the game.

        I have no hate on for him nor have I ever asked for him to be traded……..he has the potential to be considered a “great “ hockey player…….this is what frustrates me the most. If he was to be the hardest worker on the team I would be his greatest supporter.

    • Heschultzhescores

      It’s hard to find guys who can score 40 or 50 in the NHL. That’s a small group. Appreciate him for the huge talent he is. His defensive play will get better.

  • SylarHRG

    LOL!!!!! Who is suggesting another coaching change? My lord, this fan base. Guys, ride it out. We make playoffs, great, we don’t, we know exactly where it went wrong and how it unfolded.

    • CMG30

      I know right? How many coaches have we gone through? The old truism applies here: the coach gets too much credit for wins and to much blame for the losses.

      How much more do some folks need to see to understand that the coach is NOT the problem… Management put together a team that’s just not good enough. Connor aside, no amount of chopping wood and carrying water can overcome a general lack of puck moving ability. No coach can instill enough ‘character’ to increase the foot-speed of this team. No amount of ‘intangibles’ and ‘leadership’ can overcome atrocious goal-tending.

      If we do make the playoffs it will be stumbling in backwards tripping over both skates.

  • Darcy yaceyko

    Kind of makes you wonder how some of these guys made it. Scouting was horrible? Nepotism? What is it because like Roenick said, these guys can’t even perform the basics.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Remember when Will Acton was on the Oiler roster and everyone (outside of team management) wondered why? Nothing has changed. Somehow, the brain trust thought that Ryan Spooner was an upgrade on Strome and Manning was worth Cagguila. I swear that any commenter on this site would have made better decisions. And, it is these same hockey people that will be hiring the new GM to “fit into the Oiler culture” Painful

      • ed from edmonton

        Acton played about 30 games in the 13/14 season until the Oil obtained Matt Hendricks and Acton was sent to the AHL. Acton only had to be better than guys like Anton Ladner (the Tobias Reider of the time), Tyler Pitlick (who of course was injured) and Roman Horak. When guys like Acton are on your team its a obvious indication the organization doesn’t have enough good players to put a winning team on the ice. Current group has their share of “Actons” (Petrovic, Manning, Gravel, Cave, Reider, Brodziak…)

      • Rick Stroppel

        SPEAKING OF NEPOTISM
        Can someone please explain to me why Keegan Lowe is the captain of the Bakersfield Condors? He has zero goals, 13 assists in 43 games. Could it be his connection to certain other guy named Lowe ? Well, I must be wrong about that, because according to the Oilers Braintrust (and this is heartily endorsed by the MSM in Edmonton), Kevin Lowe is responsible for deciding how many hot dogs and pretzels to order, he has nothing to do with hockey. Asking for a friend!

        • Katz, Lowe , Mac-T, and Nicholson are all above K Gretzky on the organizational chart. We all know who is running the show, and Keegan would not even be in the ECHL right now. He is the captain because DADDY! Goes from” please do not draft me ” to nobody else wants me, please give me a job, might as well make me Captain as well, as I have already failed with 4 other organizations. Failure part fits right in. Only a few years until we get another lecture from another Lowe on how he knows a thing or two about winning. Gm? Asst GM? Who knows, but as long as the clown car remains, they will keep hiring clowns.

          • ed from edmonton

            I have never seen Keagan Lowe play an AHL game, and I strongly suspect neither have you. Is Keoni Texiara (top point man for the ECHL Witchita Thunder) a better player than Kegan Lowe? If you think so please let me know why. What have you seen from Texiara that brings you to that conclusion? Having thoroughly trashed any logic in your embarrassing simple minded thoughts, I would suggest that it is Keagan Lowes best interest to pursue his hockey interests separated from his father This kind of question will dog him whether it is justified or not. Also suggest the Oil should see that this relationship doesn’t look good on them either. Gives the simple minded one more thing to complain about.

        • Spaceman Spiff

          Keegan Lowe’s captaincy in the AHL is a non-issue. The fact that he’s captaining Bakersfield should be evidence enough of where he career is going. He’s a minor leaguer and he’s staying that way. If you’re the captain of your AHL team, that basically means you’re not in the callup plans. You are where you’re gonna be.

          If it’s nepotism, it’s not working very well. It’s landed him a captaincy in the AHL – a role that he likely would have had been handed on almost every other team’s AHL club. Heck, he could probably go over to Europe and make more money than he’s making in The Bake, score more points, play in the Spengler Cup, etc.

          Criticizing Keegan Lowe’s AHL captaincy as some form of nepotism is silly – very much symptomatic of the Lowe Derangement Syndrome we’ve seen on this site and in the city for the past several years.

    • @ ed from edmonton. I have seen him play, he is terrible. Point still stands , if not for DADDY, he would be asking if you want fries with your Bobby Nick burger. The Oil sees this as it does not look good on them? LOL. What has? They have no shame whatsoever, if they did , they would be long gone and that would make this conversation a moot point.

  • ed from edmonton

    This turtle race reminds me a bit of the 2006 “race” when the Oil finished 8th and then of course had a remarkable playoff. The race came down between the Oil and the Nucks to see who was the least worst. Oil record from the 1st of March to the end of the year was 10-9-5 but was good enough to leap frog from 10th to 8th spot.

  • KennyG

    Unless Chevy Chase fires up the hot tub time machine there’s only one direction to go. Forward. Please someone grab the wheel and steer us in the right direction. Someone preferably with at least a learners licence.

  • Serious Gord

    Generally agree with neilson’s rankings – I think the oil will be better the next 29 than they have been the last 15-20.

    But I see chi Ana and van doing better down the stretch than col and EDM.

    Regardless unless a couple of teams within this motley crew play out of their minds this is going to be settled on the last day of the season.

  • Alberta Ice

    Give the advantage for the wildcard race to the Blues and Blackhawks. These two teams looked dead in the water two months ago. Now they have motivation to prove something. (I’d put the Oilers in this category with them merely because everyone else is now counting them out. But there are so many other problems in their present situation, it may seem quite hopeless.) These next 5 tough games towards the trade deadline will go a long way to determining if they will stay in this tortoise race for the wildcard. (Loving the Ducks having their quack up year. Couldn’t happen to a ‘nicer’ team. I wonder why we don’t hear more about that tire fire? Is Carlyle going to last?)

  • Spaceman Spiff

    For us older folks, the NHL Western Conference playoff “race” is becoming reminiscent of the infamous playoff “races” in the old Norris Division in the 1980s. Not so much races as annual contests between two or three sub-.500 teams to determine who stank the least.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Ah yes the *Snorris* division. I remember it fondly. The Campbell Conference final was basically a rest for the Oilers after Smythe Division final and a nice light warm-up for the Stanley Cup Final.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Former St. Louis GM Ron Caron said it best back then – the playoff race in the Norris Division was like puppy love because it really only meant anything to the puppies.