The Edmonton Oilers will be skating after their first 4-0 start since 2008 tonight in New Jersey. It would be only the fourth time in franchise history they started 4-0. And the importance of a four-game win streak shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you can get one in the first four games of the season.
I looked at all 31 teams’ win streaks of four+ games last season and this is what I found.
To make it easy to read, 1×4 equals a four-game win streak, 1×5 equals five, and 2×4 equals two four-game winning streaks, and so on.
Tampa Bay 128 points: 1×4, 2×7, 1×8 and 1×10. An amazing 36 of their wins came during five winning streaks. Not surprisingly, they dominated the regular season. They only lost two games in a row twice all year, but then shockingly were swept four straight by Columbus in the playoffs. NHL playoff hockey can be ruthless and utterly unpredictable.
Boston 107 points: 2×4, 1×5, 1×6 and 1×7
Calgary 107 points: 1×4, 2×5, 1×7.
Washington 104 points: 2×4 and 2×7. They did have a seven game losing streak as well, which was a bit odd for a playoff team.
New York Islanders 103 points: 2×5 and 1×6. Only lost three games in a row once.
San Jose 101 points: 1×5, 2×6 and 1×7. Like Washington, they too lost seven in a row, but they also made it to the Conference Finals with the worst goaltending numbers of any playoff team.
Toronto 100 points: 2×4 and 2×5.
Nashville 100 points: 2×5. For their other 72 games they were just two wins over .500 winning 37 of 72 games. But those two streaks made them a 100-point team.
Pittsburgh 100 points : 1×4 and 1×8
Winnipeg 99 points: 2×4 and 1×5
Carolina 99 points: 1×4 and 2×5
St. Louis 99 points: 1×4 and 1×11. Their incredible run in January/February got them back in the race and carried them to their first Stanley Cup.
Columbus 98 points: 2×4 and 2×5
Dallas 93 points: 2×4 and 1×5
Vegas 93 points: 1×4, 1×5, 1×6 and 1×7. They had numerous three game losing streaks, and one five gamer, but their six and seven game heaters got them in the postseason.
Colorado: 90 points: 2×4 and 1×6.
Montreal 96 points: 1×4. They missed the playoffs by two points in the tough eastern conference. Their inability to have two streaks of four games cost them.
Arizona 86 points: 1×4, 1×5 and 1×6. The only team in the league with three winning streaks of 4+ games to not make the playoffs, because they had four losing streaks of 4+ games.
Florida 86 points: 1×5
Chicago 84 points: 1×6, but they had two eight-game losing streaks.
Minnesota 83 points: 2×5, but also had three five-game losing streaks.
Philadelphia 82 points: 1×8, however, they had also had an eight-game losing streak and two other five gamers. Too many valleys, not enough peaks.
Vancouver 81 points: Didn’t have a four-game winning streak.
Anaheim 80 points: Didn’t have a four-game winning streak.
Edmonton 79 points: 2×4, but they had 1×4, 2×5 and 2×6 losing streaks.
New York Rangers 78 points: 1×4
Buffalo 76 points: 1×10. They won ten in a row in November, but had 1×5, 1×7 and 1×8 losing streaks. The ultimate hot and cold team.
Detroit 74 points: 1×4 and 1×6, but had too many losing streaks of 2×4, 1×6, 1×7 and 1×8.
New Jersey 72 points. They won their first four games of the season, but only one three-in-a-row one other time. They had losing streaks of 3×8, 1×6 and 1×7.
Los Angeles 71 points: 1×4
Ottawa 64 points: They didn’t win four in a row. Had three lengthy losing streaks of 7+ games.
Four game win streaks matter, and while they don’t guarantee you make the playoffs — hello Arizona — only a few of them can be the difference in getting in. Go on a few heaters and you only have to be two games over .500 the rest of the way, like Nashville, to get in.
A win tonight doesn’t mean the Oilers are making the playoffs, far from it, but it means they have 78 games to pick up two more four-game winning streaks, and then their odds of making the playoffs increase significantly. Winning streaks are difficult, because there are very few “easy” games in the NHL.
The bad teams can have a hot goalie, or get a few bounces and suddenly they skate away with a victory that very few expected. Toss in the 3×3 OT and the unpredictability of the shootout and wins become even more difficult for teams projected to be battling for the wildcard spots.
Maybe the Oilers will surprise many and contend for a division title, but most pundits, media and fans had the Oilers battling for a wildcard spot or missing the playoffs. Two points tonight against a struggling New Jersey team — they’ve been outscored 15-2 in their last seven periods and eleven seconds — could be a bigger boost earlier in the season than we think.
The Oilers didn’t skate this morning, but we could see a few changes in the bottom six. They could activate Josh Archibald, and if that is the case they will either put someone on non-roster waivers, or they could put Chiasson on IR retroactive to last Thursday. I would start Koskinen after how he played on Tuesday.
Dave Tippett didn’t have a media availability today, so we won’t know the official lineup until 3 p.m. MST. We will update then.
The Devils have been brutal since they had a 4-0 lead over Winnipeg through the first 39 minutes of their opening game. They allowed a goal with eleven seconds remaining in the second, then another early in the third and Corey Schnieder had to leave the game with cramping. @McKenzie Blackwood came in for the final 17:19 of the third period and allowed two goals on nine shots. Then the Jets won in a shootout.
Blackwood started the next night in Buffalo and got shelled as the Sabres won 7-2. The Devils had three days off, then played in Philly last night and lost 4-0. So they have been outscored 15-2 over their final 145:11 of game time. Their PK has really struggled, allowing five goals on ten chances this year, while their PP has no goals in nine opportunities. The Oilers must take advantage of a team struggling on special teams.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win their first four games for the first time since October, 2008, and skate away with a 5-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid has 12 assists in seven games against the Devils, but they are the only NHL team he hasn’t scored a goal against. He picks up two points including his first career goal against the Devils.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Matt Benning scores his first goal of the season. It is his third goals in seven career games against the Devils.
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