Oilers Gaining Ground Quickly in the Pacific Division

Photo credit:Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are rolling. They’re riding a six-game winning streak and since Remembrance Day they are tied with the most wins in the NHL at 17 with Colorado and Winnipeg despite playing four fewer games than the Avalanche and three fewer than Winnipeg. The Oilers are 17-6 since November 11th. They’ve outscored their opponents 95-62, their PP is 26% and their PK is 85.7. They lead the NHL with 4.13 goals/game and rank seventh in GA/game at 2.70. They are playing great in every facet of the game, and by the end of the month I expect the Oilers will officially be in a playoff spot (they already are based on P%) and will have a very good chance to be within striking distance of second or third spot in the Pacific Division.
On November 10th Edmonton was 20 points behind Vegas (with three games in hand), 16 points back of Vancouver and 14 back of LA (with one game in hand on both), and they trailed St. Louis by eight points for the second wildcard spot. The Blues, Coyotes and Kraken had 13 points while the Oilers had a measly five points after 12 games.
Since then, they’ve closed the gap considerably. They are 10 points back of Vegas (with four games in hand), they are 12 back of Vancouver (three games in hand), seven back of LA for third in the Pacific and they are two points out of the second Wildcard position with four games in hand on Seattle.
Edmonton has erased a brutal start by playing up to their potential offensively, defensively and in goal. As well as they’ve played, they need to remain dominant this month to put themselves in a good spot when their schedule gets difficult starting February 6th. The Oilers play 37 games in the final 73 days of the season, but before then they only play 10 games the rest of this month, and they only face one team with a higher P%, Toronto. I see no reason they won’t wake up in a playoff spot on January 28th, and I’m very interested to see how close they are to the LA, Vegas and Vancouver.
Here’s a look at the Oilers’ schedule, as well as the teams they are chasing in the Pacific and battling against for the Wildcard spots.
*Road games are in red.*
The Oilers play the fewest games, 10, and only face two teams currently in playoff spots.
Calgary plays two playoff teams, Seattle faces three, Vancouver plays four, St. Louis plays six, Nashville, LA and Arizona battle seven while Vegas plays eight.
Edmonton won’t gain any games played this month, but looking at their strength of schedule it is very plausible they will gain ground on Vegas and other teams in the standings. And they will need to, because when February begins Edmonton has the most condensed schedule among these teams.
The NHL resumes play after the All-Star break on February 5th, but none of the west teams play until February 6th, and from then to the end of the regular season, April 18th, Edmonton plays the most games.
Edmonton will play 37 games.
LA and Arizona have 34 games.
Vancouver, St. Louis and Calgary will play 33 times.
Seattle and Vegas have 32 games, while Nashville will play 31.
The Oilers will play seven sets of back-to-back games, including three times over their final eight games. Last season the Oilers played 21 games in the final 44 days (March 1st to April 13th) and went 18-2-1. They were 14-1 in their final 15 games, and historically Connor McDavid produces more points in March and April, so that is a positive. This season they will play 25 games in the final 49 days (March 1st to April 18th). The schedule, at least frequency-wise, is more difficult, and they play Colorado three times along with Dallas, Toronto, LA, Winnipeg, Vegas, Vancouver and Boston.
The Oilers are playing great right now, and two months ago some claimed they wouldn’t make the playoffs. That knee-jerk overreaction has been muted, as the Oilers are a good team that had a bad 12 games. Even with their horrible start, the Oilers compiled the sixth-best P% in the 2023 calendar year at .667P%, trailing LA (.673), Vegas (.675), Colorado (.696), New York Rangers (.713) and Boston (.772).
Recently the Oilers are the hottest team in the NHL with a record of 13-3, and lead the NHL with 4.25 GF/GP and rank fifth in GA/GP at 2.38.
January is set up very well for the Oilers, and if they take advantage of their schedule then the push for the playoffs will be about home ice advantage more than just securing a wildcard berth.


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