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Monday Musings: Oilersnation’s patience will be tested

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Oilers fans: Do you own a stress ball? If not, maybe send Santa Claus a note that you need one. It will help you.
Stress balls are pliable toys designed for squeezing and manipulation. People squeeze them in their hands and manipulate them using their fingers to relieve stress, muscle tension or to exercise hand muscles. They can provide a simple and convenient way to alleviate momentary stress and tension through tactile distraction.
You might want to buy two in case you wear out the first one over the next 50 days.
The Edmonton Oilers have a relatively light schedule with only 17 games over the next 50 days up until February 1st. Ken Holland and Jeff Jackson have 50 days to sort out their goalie situation. Ideally, it would be sooner, but a light schedule will allow them more time to solve their goaltending dilemma. They need a goalie to complement Stuart Skinner. A second goalie they can trust to give them quality starts down the stretch.
Skinner has started 20 of the first 28 games. He likely will start four of the remaining six this month, which will have him starting 24 of the first 34 games, which would put him on pace to start 58 games. The Oilers would rather he have around 52-55 starts. Edmonton only plays 11 games in January. They have every Sunday and Monday off. It is a really light schedule and not a very difficult one based on quality of competition. Of those 11 games, only Toronto is currently in the top-ten in league standings.
The Oilers have Philadelphia and Ottawa at home, then they are on the road in Chicago, Detroit and Montreal. Then home to Toronto and Seattle. They have one road game in Calgary, then home to Columbus, Chicago and Nashville. Nashville and Philadelphia, along with Toronto, are currently in a playoff position.
A light schedule without many difficult opponents gives Holland and Jackson the benefit of time. But it will be inexcusable if they don’t solve their goaltending situation in February. I mentioned 50 days because it takes them to the end of January. Their first game in February isn’t until the 6th, so you could argue they have 55 days, but if I’m adding another goalie, I’d want him here before the 6th so he can get comfortable in practice before the Oilers begin a stretch where they play 37 games in the final 73 days of the season.
They play 12 games from Feb 6th to the end of the month.
They play 15 games in March, and they have 10 games in the first 18 days of April.
Let’s assume Skinner will play eight of the 11 games in February. He’d be at 32 starts through 45 games. At most you’d want him starting 23 of the final 37 games, but likely close to 21, which would leave 16 starts for his partner.
They have eight sets of back-to-back games, which is an easy eight projected starts. Finding another eight isn’t difficult when you look at their schedule, however, without a quality option the risk of overplaying Skinner becomes higher and if the Oilers want to go deep in the playoffs, giving Skinner more than 55 regular season starts shouldn’t be an option.
Jack Campbell was put on waivers November 7th and reassigned to Bakersfield on November 8th. He has played 10 AHL games and posted an .888Sv% and 3.46 GAA. He struggled in his first three starts, then stopped 102 of 108 shots over his next three games and there was a glimmer of hope, but that faded quickly as he’s allowed 14 goals on 114 shots for an .877Sv% in his last four starts. He was pulled on Saturday after allowing four goals on 21 shots. Campbell isn’t a viable option at this point and trading him is an online chat-room pipe dream — unless you feel it is worth giving up two first quality assets (maybe more) to move him.
The problem with moving Campbell is the Oilers will have to add assets to make the deal. Even if they retain salary, they will need to make it worthwhile for a team to take the three remaining years on his deal. Ideally, the Oilers would use those assets, top prospects or a first round pick, to acquire players who can help them go on a long playoff run. Moving Campbell takes vital trade pieces out of their arsenal, and that’s why a trade hasn’t happened. It is easy to say “trade Campbell,” but much harder to do it, especially if you want assets to acquire players who will actually help you win games.
Edmonton doesn’t have to rush in and make a desperate trade right now — they will need to over the next 50 days, but they don’t have to rush to make a move and it would be foolish to do so. The playoff picture will become a bit clearer in mid-January. There might be another goalie available on the market then, who isn’t available today. Mattias Ekholm wasn’t available last December or January, but he became available at the trade deadline.
Instead of waking up every day waiting to see if the Oilers acquired a goalie, you’d be better off purchasing a stress ball. It will help you more. The goalie position won’t be fixed quickly.

CLIMB UP THE STANDINGS…

Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
When Kris Knoblauch was hired the Oilers were in 15th place in the west and eight points out of the playoffs. Five weeks later the Oilers are in 13th spot and five points out, but they have two, three and four games in hand on teams ranked 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th. The Oilers are 8-2 in their last ten, and 10-5 overall under Knoblauch, but climbing up the standings takes time. Another benefit of your stress ball.
Losses will happen. Edmonton was only outplayed in one of their last 10 games, and that occurred Saturday v. Florida. The Oilers don’t need to go 8-2 every ten games, and even going 10-5 every 15 is unnecessary. If they maintained a 10-5 pace over their final 54 games, they’d be 36-18 and finish with 99 points. Today, eighth-place Arizona is on pace to finish with 87 points.
I wrote a month ago that 91 points would be enough to get in this year. On November 18th, Arizona and St. Louis were on pace to finish eighth with 87 points.  One month later nothing has changed, except Edmonton is closer to a playoff spot. I see the Oilers needing at least 64 points in their remaining 57 games — not a crazy pace or a very difficult ask and a record close to 30-21-4 will get them to 91 points. Go 30-19-6 and they will finish with 93 points.
They need to average 12 points every 10-game stretch. They can go 6-4 or 5-3-2, or have one stretch of 7-3 and another of 5-5. Of course, it would be great if the Oilers went on another lengthy winning streak, but if every loss sends your blood pressure sky high, you might want to invest in a stress ball.
There will be many games where you need one, especially until they secure their goaltending situation.

MONTH OF GIVING…

We have five days remaining. You can read about all the great packages up from auction this week here.Thanks to all you helped fill the Pyramid of Giving on Friday. Thanks to Booster Juice matching the pyramid we raised $15,770 for The Christmas Bureau.
DAY 12: A furnace with thermostat and indoor air quality package from A-1 Heating. 
  • Air Ease A962E Two-stage furnace.
  • Aprilaire 500/600 whole home humidifier.
  • Choose of Google nest or Ecobee Thermostat.
  • Merv 11 Filter package.
  • All materials, equipment, labour and permits included.
  • 12 year factory-backed parts and labour warranty.
  • Removal and disposal of your old furnace.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support Operation Friendship Seniors Society.

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