Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Pacific Push and Mr. Consistent
10 months ago
The Oilers are still within spitting distance of first place thanks to some strong play over the last week and some breaks on the out-of-town scoreboard.
Seven days ago, my Oilersnation Everyday co-host Liam Horrobin called the upcoming week of games “exam week.” They were staring down three games against the two teams that were right in front of them in the standings and another game against a scrappy Arizona team that has been very hard to beat on home ice.
It was a big test, so sticking with that theme, what grade would you give the Oilers?
With a record of 3-0-1 in that span, it’s hard to say anything other than ‘A’ right? A full-on sweep would have been nice, but grabbing seven of a possible eight points is unreal.
Now, the top spot in the Pacific is very much within reach. They sit one point up on the Kings and they’re two back of the Golden Knights, although each team has a game in hand. With just six games remaining, it will be tough for the Oilers to gain that ground, especially if Vegas wins their game in hand. However, some things are working in their favour.
The first is the strength of schedule. Vegas plays twice vs the Wild and twice vs the Kraken. They also play Nashville and Dallas, and they have a head-to-head game against the Kings. As long as that game doesn’t go to overtime, that is a great chance for the Oilers to gain points on one of those two teams.
The Oilers also have some pretty weak spots on their schedule. They get both Anaheim and San Jose twice in their final six games. Now, I know Oilers fans have some PTSD when it comes to having to face weak opponents, but there’s no reason to be worried. The Oiler’s record vs teams that haven’t been in the playoff picture this year is 13-4-2 (I trusted Liam to judge which teams qualified for this).
They’ve been good at handling their business against the teams that they should be beating. If they win those games, they’ll finish with 105 points.
For Vegas to match that, they’d need to go at least 3-4-0.
For Los Angeles to watch that, they’d need to go at least 4-2-1.
The other thing that works in the Oiler’s favour is the tiebreaker. The first thing that determines a tie is regulation wins and the Oilers currently have six more than Vegas and seven more than Los Angeles. They don’t need to jump these teams in the standings, they just need to tie them so even those records above wouldn’t do the job for them and again, that’s if the Oilers only go 4-2-0 down the stretch.
The division is not out of reach folks.
Mar 3, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
At the beginning of the season, I said that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was due to see his offensive production jump up a little simply because his personal shooting percentage and his on-ice shooting percentage were due to rise at some point.
Still, this has been a wild run, and nobody, even the President of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club: Baggedmilk, saw this coming. Players rarely have career years almost a decade after they debut, but this has been a lot of fun to watch. He’s just such an easy player to root for.
There have been points this season where I’ve wondered to myself when this heater will come to an end but it just hasn’t ended and looking back at the season, it’s remarkable how consistent he’s been. Here’s his production broken up into ten game spans.
- Games 1-10: 5 goals and 7 assists
- Games 11-20: 4 goals and 5 assists
- Games 21-30: 5 goals and 8 assists
- Games 31-40: 5 goals and 9 assists
- Games 41-50: 3 goals and 9 assists
- Games 51-60: 6 goals and 6 assists
- Games 61-70: 3 goals and 9 assists
- Games 71-76*: 4 goals and 8 assists
There was only one ten-game stretch where he was under a point per game. What a run. ‘The Nuge’ has been fantastic and I don’t think he’ll slow down.
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