GDB 35.0: Playoffs well within reach for the Edmonton Oilers (7pm MT, SN1)

Photo credit:John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
5 months ago
Amid a season of highs and lows for the Edmonton Oilers, the team enters the New Year riding high off a five-game winning streak.
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The streak has seen them beat the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, capping off a three-game eastern road swing, the first game of which the Oilers lost to the New York Islanders. And after a brief break for the holidays, the club embarked on a three-game trip through Southern California.
There, the Oilers dismantled the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, sandwiching one of their most important wins of the year, beating the LA Kings 3-2 in the shootout.
The string of recent success puts the Oilers in an all-too-familiar spot.
By Jan. 1 in the 2022-23 season, the Oilers had a 20-16-2 record and a .553 points percentage. Through the remainder of the regular season, they went an astounding 30-7-7, with a .761 points percentage — the second-best record over that stretch, finishing second in the Pacific.
On Jan. 1 in the 2021-22 season, the Oilers had an 18-12-1 record and a .597 points percentage. They went 31-15-5 down the stretch, with a .657 points percentage, finishing second in the Pacific.
Now, at the beginning of the 2024 calendar year, the Oilers sit with an 18-15-1 record and a .544 points percentage that’s placed them three points out of a playoff spot and a mere eight back of tying the Kings for the third spot in the Pacific.
To get to the sweet spot of a .650 points percentage, which would give them 107 standings points, the average of the Oilers’ two prior seasons, they would need to accumulate 70 standings points in their final 48 games of the season — a .729 points percentage.
And if they want to just get to the playoff cut line from the two prior seasons, the Oilers would need to accumulate 59 standings points, or in simpler terms, have a .615 points percentage the rest of the way.
For those counting at home, the Oilers have now gone 15-6 under Kris Knoblauch, giving them an impressive .714 points percentage — the second-best number since the coaching change, trailing only the surging Winnipeg Jets, who have a .762 points percentage. Both teams are well above the third-placed Colorado Avalance, with a .688 points percentage.




RNH– McDavid – Hyman
McLeod– Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Ryan – Janmark
Erne – Hamblin – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
The Oilers are sticking with this lineup tonight, and for good reason. Here’s how each line has fared together this year:
F1183:3718 – 75.88 – 2.297274.1865.5669.43102.6
F248:199 – 211.18 – 2.4881.8261.5362.3865.62116.7
F332:071 – 11.87 – 1.875042.3443.447.0699.4
F421:271 – 02.8 – 010029.5243.1847.83112.5
D1476:2324 – 193 – 2.3855.8151.250.0551.01102.5
D2488:0827 – 213.32 – 2.5856.2565.7562.8664.6997.4
D3316:42012 – 132.27 – 2.464858.9551.9856.7698.2
It’s easy to see where the strengths and weaknesses lie for this team. The second, third and fourth lines are all staring at small sample sizes here, but the Draisaitl line could be legit. The underlying numbers, considering their strong expected goal rates, are very, very strong, but the goal-scoring numbers will likely regress over time. An 11.82 GF/60 is sure fun, but it isn’t sustainable.
Sam Gagner and Dylan Holloway are expected back for Saturday’s game against Ottawa, so there will be some tweaking to that bottom-six group.


Tippett – Couturier – Konecny
Foerster – Frost – Atkinson
Farabee – Poehling – Brink
Deslauriers – Laughton – Hathaway
York – Sanheim
Seeler – Walker
Zamula – Ristolainen
Philadelphia is having a strong start to their season, currently sitting third in the Metro, but by slim margins. John Torotrella has them playing good hockey, but they’ve been up and down all season. Entering tonight they’re 1-2-2 in their last five, having been outscored 18-16. While they’re eighth in goals against, they’re also 22nd in goals for.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Philadelphia continues to struggle to score, and the Oilers continue to produce offence in a 5-1 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers’ second line stays hot, accounting for two of those goals.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME-DAY PREDICTION: There are 298 forwards in the NHL who have as much ice time as Connor Brown has this year. His ratio of 5.39 expected goals to zero actual goals is ranked 11th among those forwards, and all those ahead of him have at least one goal this season. He gets the monkey off the back and finds twine tonight.

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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