The Edmonton Oilers can remove the Minnesota Wild from their playoff review mirror tonight with a victory. A win would put them 10 points ahead of the Wild, and Minnesota would need to go 16-3-3 or 17-5-1 in their final 22 to catch the Oilers, assuming the Oilers are only average and go 10-10-1 after tonight.
The Wild’s best 22-game stretch this season is 12-5-5. Assuming they will get super hot, or the Oilers completely tank down the stretch, is unlikely, and tonight is a glorious opportunity for the Oilers to all but eliminate the Wild from catching them in a wildcard spot.
A loss doesn’t eliminate the Wild from playoff contention, it just makes it extremely difficult they would catch the Oilers. I’m sure the Oilers aren’t looking this deep into it, and I understand why. Their job is to play well and win, while we can crunch some numbers and look at the overall playoff scenario.
Last season on February 21st the Western Conference standings were as follows:
CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION
Nashville 77 in 63 GP. Calgary 81 points in 60 GP.
Winnipeg 76 in 60 GP. San Jose 80 in 61 GP.
St. Louis 69 in 60 GP. Vegas 69 in 62 GP.
Dallas 65 points in 60 GP.
Minnesota 62 in 61 GP.
Colorado 61 in 60 GP.
Arizona 61 in 61 GP.
Chicago 61 in 61 GP.
The finals standings were:
CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION
Nashville 100 points. Calgary 107 points.
Winnipeg 99 points. San Jose 101 points.
St. Louis 99 points. Vegas 93 points.
Dallas 93 points.
Colorado 90 points.
Arizona 86 points.
Chicago 84 points.
Minnesota 83 points
The Blues, who were red hot, only made up seven points on Nashville and Winnipeg, but then went on to win the Cup. Minnesota faltered, while Colorado won two more games than Arizona to grab the final spot.
My point was to illustrate how large a 10-point deficit really is, and while this is far from a must-win game for the Oilers, they could take a big step towards not having to worry about the Wild.
Enjoy it Oilersnation. You’ve sat through some awful death marches down the stretch, and to finally be able to think about the playoffs, and calculate different scenarios, I hope you relish it, nerves and all, because all you have to do is think about the past and there is no way you will trade your nervous energy as a fan heading into tonight’s tilt for the frustration, sadness and anger you had for much of the past decade.
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Benson – Sheahan – Archibald
Gagner – Haas – Chiasson
Khaira – Cave – P. Russell
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Larsson
Lagesson – Benning
No lineup changes except in goal. McDavid skated again today, felt good and will practice with the team tomorrow before they head out to Los Angeles. Dave Tippett said he will be re-evaluated after practice tomorrow and if he is still pain free there is a good chance you could see him return to the lineup on Sunday.
Stalock starts and he has been the better goalie this season for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk hasn’t played as often as he’s used to as he correctly chose to stay home and be with his children as his wife battled some health concerns. She is on the mend, but it is understandable he hasn’t found his groove on ice this season.
Stalock’s played very well in 2020 posting a .924Sv% and 2.08 GAA in 10 starts. The Wild are still a defence-first style team and the Oilers will need to play like they did in the final 40 minutes against the Bruins. Play smart, but be aggressive and attack.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers give their fans a victory on #PositiveFriday skating to a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nurse plays 27+ minutes, makes many solid plays, but his detractors focus more on a few errors.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton is fifth in the NHL in takeaways and they add to that total by creating 10 tonight.
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