29

The Race

It’s March and the Oilers are playing meaningful games. They have 69 points through 69 games and they’re in the mix for a playoff spot, while that certainly doesn’t meet expectations we all had for the fourth seasons of the McDavid era, it’s nice.

The Oilers sit five points back of the Minnesota Wild for the final wild-card seed. They have a game in hand on the Wild but they also have to jump over the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche and they have the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks right on their tail. The team will likely need to go something like 10-3 in their final 13 games to squeak in. It’s a steep climb but given the fact they’re 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and they have a fairly light schedule the rest of the way, there’s some reason to believe.

I’ll take cheering for a faint playoff push over looking at draft rankings any day of the week.

8. Minnesota Wild

33-29-8 (74 points)

The Wild have a tough schedule the rest of the way. They have 12 games left and none of them come against weak teams. The weakest team left on the schedule is the New York Rangers, who, as we saw on Monday night, are a formidable opponent. Beyond that, they also play six different top-10 teams.

9. Arizona Coyotes

Like the Oilers, the Coyotes have 13 games left to play. They have a much easier schedule than Minnesota does as they face sub-.500 points percentage teams like Florida, New Jersey, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. That said, two those games against the Devils and Panthers come on an Eastern swing, which is never easy.

10. Colorado Avalanche

The Avs have a middling schedule the rest of the way. They have two easy games against sub-.500 points percentage teams right off the hop and then they finish off with games against Winnipeg and San Jose at the end of the season. Between those games, they’re facing a bunch of middling teams. They also control their own destiny more than the other teams as they have five games against other teams in this race.

11. Edmonton Oilers

As I said earlier, Edmonton likely has the softest schedule down the stretch. They have four games against sub-.500 points percentage teams, three of which come on a five-game homestand. Their hardest games come at the very end of the season against San Jose and Calgary. Their head-to-head games against Arizona and Colorado will be massive.

12. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have kind of come out of nowhere to pull themselves back into the playoff mix. They had a statement 7-1 win over Arizona on Monday and sit tied with the Oilers just five points out. Unlike the Oilers, though, they have a tough schedule as the only sub-.500 points percentage team they face down the stretch is Vancouver.

What does it all mean?

As it stands right now, Arizona appears to be the team in the best position to grab that final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’re one point behind the Wild and they have one game in hand and a not-so-difficult schedule. The Wild, of course, are in tough because of how challenging their schedule is in the final few weeks of the year.

Edmonton looks to have the easiest schedule of the group. Four of their remaining 13 games come against teams with a sub-.500 points percentage and they only have two games against teams in the top-10 in the league’s standings. The key here will be how the team plays during a tough three-game stretch this weekend. They have a must-win game against the Coyotes in Arizona and then tough games against Vegas and St. Louis. If they can get through that with a win in Arizona and a win in either Vegas or Srt. Louis, they’re set up quite nicely for their soft finish to the year.

Realistically, I figure the Oilers need to go 10-3 in their final 13 games to have a chance. There’s no room for error in the Arizona and Colorado head-to-head games and the team needs to also win their easy games against L.A., Anaheim, Ottawa, and New Jersey in order to give themselves some breathing room in tough games against Vegas, Calgary, and San Jose.

  • Deezy

    20 of a possible 26 points definitely gives us a chance. After that terrible stretch from mid-December to mid-February, I’ll take the faint playoff hopes scenario in mid-March considering all that’s happened this season.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Dem nutz be jacked. (or something the kids would say)
      Seriously, that looked horrible. The multiple attempts of getting to his skates and returning to his knees after was hard to watch.

  • I’d only be focused on one team, and that’s the team we play next. If you look at the race and the odds it’s easy to lose hope and get overwhelmed, just focus on the next opponent one point at a time. The only team that’ll do us favours is ourselves. The motto on here is “Hope Will Never Die”, lets keep it going as long as possible.

  • wiseguy

    I think it’s tough to use difficulty of opponents. Travel and away games? Sure. But closer to the end of the season, many top teams will be resting their stars, starting their backup, or just not as interested in engaging physically against a desperate opponent. For example, our last 2 games against the flames and sharks, I expect to see the backup goalie and guys like gaudreau, Karlsson, couture etc to not be playing.
    The sub .500 teams tend to be more motivated as they have guys playing for jobs next year.

  • Axe

    Good article and yes I agree definitely better to be in a playoff push than reading up on draft picks.. They have a chance especially with a lot of teams playing each other down the stretch… Hopefully San Jose will be more than four points up on cgy by the time April hits.. Might make those two games we have against both teams meaningless for them… And yeah if we can recapture some of that success we had against Vegas last year that would be awesome… Just have to keep taking it one game at a time!

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    There are no “easy games” this time of year. Even Ottawa has something to play for: not giving COL the best odds at the number 1 pick in the draft next year.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers need to play one game at a time and go from there, looking at the schedule and thinking thesxe guys will be easy doesnt mean a thing, the Oilers lost to teams that they should have a had a good shot at beating and have lost to teams that have played the night before, so I wouldnt read too much into the schedule, it doesnt take much for teams to want to go out with a couple wins against their opponents for the season ends and for pride, so game by game and wouldnt take much for any of the teams ahead of the Oil to get a roll going and eliminate the Oilers mathematically

  • toprightcorner

    The lower points when the other teams play eachother will be the difference. If the OT games in those matchups are minimal, then the have a chance if they play well. Ifore than half go to OT, then even 20 pts in the next 13 games likely won’t be enough

  • OilerFaithful.Always

    I think based On the opposing teams scheduled if we can get 18 of the possible 26 points we can squeeze in with 87 possibly. We have the easier schedule of the teams we are chasing so call me crazy but I say 87 gets it done

  • KootenayDan

    Even if they made the playoffs it is highly unlikely they would advance very far they simply are not deep or good enough. I hope they just worry about their play one game at a time and look ahead to be a better team next season. In the meanwhile we at least get some entertaining games to watch.

  • everton fc

    Flames fan here. Pulling for the Oilers, like I did when I lived in Sherwood Park, during the Cup run vs. the ‘Canes. Would be a miracle if Hitchcock pulls this off!