The Edmonton Oilers have dropped three in a row in the last week, losing to the Islanders and Canadiens in regulation and to Pittsburgh in a shootout. Furthermore, the Oilers’ record in their last 10 games (4-5-1) is not helping their cause in securing a playoff spot. Is it time to hit the panic button?
The NHL’s Pacific Division has had an extreme makeover since February 15th. The Flames have won 10 straight and currently find themselves in 2nd place in the Pacific. Furthermore, Calgary is riding a red-hot point streak, collecting points in each of their last 12 games (11-0-1).
- Brian Elliott has ramped up his play, going 10-0-0 with a sparkling GAA (1.70) and Sv% (.943) over that span. This is the goaltender Calgary traded for this past summer.
- Johnny Gaudreau seems to have found his scoring touch once again, scoring 14 PTS (4G, 10A) in his last 12 games. Number 13 scored a magnificent goal last night against the Penguins as well.
Anaheim has been able to play above .500 hockey, going 6-4-0 in their last 10. However, John Gibson is currently out of the lineup with a Day-to-Day lower body injury. Backup Jonathan Bernier is expected to carry the load for the short-term.
- Bernier has filled in nicely in his 7 games since February 22nd. Anaheim’s back-up has gone 5-2-0 with a .933 Sv% and 2.14 GAA. Anaheim should not have a problem in net while Gibson takes the time to recover. Note: Jonas Enroth was called up after Gibson’s injury.
- Ryan Getzlaf (11 Points) and Rickard Rakell (8 Points) have led the way for the Ducks in scoring during their last 8 games. However, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have only scored 14 and 13 goals, respectively, this season. If Anaheim wants to secure their position in the standings, Getzlaf and Perry have to be more consistent.
Oil Country currently holds the first Wild Card spot, just ahead of St. Louis by a margin of two points. The Blues are riding a 5-game winning streak and look to catch up to the Oilers by the weekend. STL has three games (ANA on Wed, SJS on Thurs & ARI on Sat) remaining this week.
- Jake Allen has been tremendous since February 1st. The Canadian goaltender has gone 9-5-0 with a fantastic .941 Sv% and 1.80 GAA.
- Vladimir Taransenko, in the same time frame, has recorded 10 goals in the 18 games played, putting his goal total to 32 on the season. Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby lead the league in goals with 35, putting “Tara” just 3 back of Rocket Richard contention.
The Los Angeles Kings find themselves on the outside, looking in. Currently, they are five points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West (seven points behind the Oilers). The Kings suffered a crushing blow yesterday night, losing 3-1 to the aforementioned Blues at the Staples Center.
- LA is slated to play in Edmonton three more times before the regular season’s conclusion. Two of them will be played in Rogers Place, which doesn’t bode well for the Kings. They are currently 14-16-5 on the road this season; a number that needs to improve should they want to earn a post-season berth.
- These games are considered “must-wins” for both clubs. “4-point games” have become ever-so-crucial in the final stages of the season; they can really “make-or-break” a hockey team’s playoff hopes.
Is it time to push the panic button in Edmonton? Not quite!
The Oilers are just learning how to become a winning hockey team. One word: patience.
I know, I know. We Oiler fans have been more-than-patient with our struggling hockey team for over a decade. We’ve continued to fill our arena with passionate and loyal fans, game-after-game and year-after-year. So, why a little bit more patience?
It’s simple: we’re still seven points ahead of the team trying to chase us down, so we’ve created a little breathing room for ourselves. Let’s look at that breathing room as a reward for our hard efforts so far this season. A losing hockey team doesn’t turn into a contender overnight; there will be a few hiccups along the way. And that’s what we’re going through right now: a hiccup!
Beginning with the amazing luck we had, landing some guy named Connor McDavid in April 2015, we’ve seen significant changes.
Oilers Entertainment Group saw a new boss in town in Bob Nicholson. Significant additions to the organization came shortly after in Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. Over time, we saw the small moves return big dividends (see Patrick Maroon). We’ve seen the make-up of this team change completely with additions of Milan Lucic and Adam Larsson. Things are coming together and the organization has seen light for the first time in 11 years.
The players are just learning how to win at the NHL-level. Players like Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle are understanding the importance of the “little things” during gameplay. Even for the players and management that have found success elsewhere, they are learning to win as the Edmonton Oilers.
Having suffered through the last 10 years, I understand why our threshold for panic is so low. It’s easy to doubt the team that hasn’t seen postseason action since I was in Grade 8.
But I urge you, don’t press that button just yet! We’ve worked for that seven-point separation. We should be happy with such a gap!
Believe in what is happening and understand there will be a few hiccups. We’re going to be okay!