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Edmonton Oilers clinch playoff spot for fifth straight season

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
29 days ago
Once again, the Edmonton Oilers are playoff-bound.
They secured their fifth consecutive berth into the postseason on Friday night with a 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
With clinching, they become the 20th team in NHL history, and the 12th in the last 30 years, to reach the playoffs after being down 10 points or more in the standings behind the lowest-ranked playoff team. Their 10 point defecit came on U.S. Thanksgiving, when they were well on the outside looking in.
For the Oilers, this season has been unlike many in years past. It started off with a horrid 3-9-1 stretch, which resulted in the club firing head coach Jay Woodcroft and his assistant Dave Manson, who ran the club’s blueline.
They fell on the sword of poor defensive play from the lineup and struggling netminders Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell. Part of that was solved when the Oilers placed Campbell on waivers and subsequently sent him to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
While Campbell eventually found his game there, the Oilers had recalled Calvin Pickard, who has been excellent posting an 11-6 record and .911 save percentage. Stuart Skinner found his way, too, as between the time of the coaching change and ahead of Friday’s game, he posted a 31-9-4 record and a .914 save percentage.
It took time for the club to gel underneath Kris Knoblauch, who took over for Woodcroft, but alongside Paul Coffey and carryover assistants Glen Gulutzan and Mark Stuart, the Oilers eventually found their way. The high point of their regular season came with a franchise record 16-game winning streak that stretched from Dec. 21 through January 27th. It would fall one game short of tying the NHL record, as the Vegas Golden Knights were the ones to snap the streak.
Much like many seasons in the last number of years, it was headlined by the offensive powerhouses known as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisail,who both have scored over 100-points this season. In fact, Draisaitl hit the century mark on Friday night, assisting on Connor McDavid’s first period goal.
McDavid, meanwhile, sits at 97 assists on the season, three shot of becoming just the fourth player in NHL history to notch 100 in a season. With seven games left in the season, he’ll have ample time to do so.
There’s no word yet on who the Oilers will face in the first round of the playoffs, but entering Friday’s games, the most likely outcomes will either be the Golden Knights, or the Kings. hockeyviz.com pegged them as having a 58 percent chance of squaring off against Vegas, and a 32 percent chance of facing Los Angeles in the first round for a third straight season.
Edmonton won’t have much time to celebrate, as Saturday night they head down the QE2 to face off with the playoff-less Calgary Flames.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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