Tikk in '87 - photo courtesy O-Pee-Chee

Is This The Year Where Everyone Stays Healthy?

I like to get these sort of ‘Dare to Dream’ thoughts out of my head by the time August is over.  Here’s one of them.

Ask most any Oiler fan what they’d like to see the team accomplish in the upcoming season, and you’ll hear a smattering of answers.  A recurring one will be “playoffs”.

And you know what?  Go ahead and root for the playoffs.  No, I’m not under the influence of any mind altering drugs at the moment.  I sure can’t guarantee the Oilers will make the playoffs, but how close can they get if everyone has a healthy season?

The short answer is:  closer than last season.

How close?

Are the Oilers a playoff team?  They might be.

They might be if everything (and I mean everything) goes off without a hitch this year.  Dubnyk’s got to get the lion’s share of the games, and win 65% of them.  (65% of 50 is 32-33 games.)   The youth movement must make great strides in year two.  Defence has to pull some superhuman feats from under their skates.

And most importantly, everyone must stay healthy.  Everyone.

While it’d be a tough sell to say that the Oilers were late contenders into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the last two years, the man-games lost to injury certainly didn’t do them any favours.  Let’s take a look.

  • One of my favourite Oilers is Ales Hemsky.  It’s also a fact that he’s one of the most often injured Oilers.  Ales Hemsky was cruising along at his usual pace, but an ankle injury ended his season way too early.  Hemsky finished 2010-11 with 42 points in 47 games, or .893 points per game.  Saying that Hemsky was definitely going to score at that 90% pace for the remainder of the season might be a little bit self serving (although he’s done better than that since the lockout), would it be too self serving to put that number at about .75 points per game?  .75 points in 35 remaining games figures out to 27 or 28 additional points on his 42, giving Hemsky a 70 point season.

Is 70 points from Ales Hemsky going to make the Oilers a playoff team?  Not likely, no.  But that’s just one example.

  • Ryan Whitney was having a fine year before his season was cut short by an ankle injury.  In 35 games, Whitney has 27 points, good for .77 points per game.  Let’s tune that down to a more conservative .6 PPG, and you’re still looking at a 55 point season for Ryan Whitney.  Would an additional 28 points make the Oilers a playoff team?  Probably not.  But who else?
  • Captain Shawn Horcoff missed significant time in 2010-11 with an MCL injury, and as a result appeared in only 47 games.  Horc had just 27 points.  A healthy Horcoff likely would’ve put up at least forty points.  Would 13 extra points have gotten the Oilers to the promised land?  Probably not.  Anyone else?
  • Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner all missed more than ten games each.  Kick in five points extra for each of those guys.  It adds up over the season.

With these six characters, we’re looking at a loss of at least 90 points on the season.  Enough for the playoffs?  Maybe not.  It surely would’ve helped in getting the Oilers out of the basement. Would an extra goal help every game?  Maybe not in the blowouts, but in the 2-1, 3-2 style of game, you bet it would.

You can debate whether or not this year’s Oilers are a playoff calibre team.  If they’re losing nearly 100 points a year to injury, that debate’s over before it begins.

It’s your turn:  What needs to happen for the Oilers to make the playoffs in 2011-12?

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Tags: Ales Hemsky Jordan Eberle Ryan Whitney Sam Gagner Shawn Horcoff Taylor Hall

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