June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini announces Nail Yakupov (not pictured) to the Oilers in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Are These Oilers Better Than Last Year's Oilers?

Selling things is tough sometimes. Selling your car? That could be tough. Selling a house? Tougher. Selling an idea is probably the toughest of them all. The idea in question is ‘the rebuild’ (God, I look forward to a day that we don’t utter that word), and the idea that this team is improving each year.

When you come off a five game win streak, everything is rosy. Birds singing, dogs and cats living together, everything is wonderful. Lose the next three games, and you’re back on the ground. Now, the Oilers have to go at least 7-2 over their last 9 to have a shot at the second season. Things change in a hurry.

You’ll often hear about “patience” during the rebuild, and how this year’s team is “better” than last year’s team.  I get kind of worked up when I hear that nonsense, because really, they’re not.  There are more pretty pieces to look at on this year’s team (Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov) compared to last year’s team, but at the end of the day, the Oilers shouldn’t compare to a tricked out Barbie Power Wheels.  Having six years (going on seven) out of the second season, you’d think they would’ve figured out how to put the pieces together, or at least come close.  So far, they’re not there.

SHORT STORY

I had a short conversation with Glenn on Twitter yesterday.  Glenn’s an Oilers fan like us, he wants to win.  Glenn asked me if I thought the Oilers had a chance at beating the Ducks last night.  I told him if the Oilers could keep the Ducks to 30 shots or less, they’d have a sporting chance.  Glenn laughed and said “When’s the last time that happened?”

Pretty much that.  So here are some numbers.  Surely I’m missing something?

Numbers through 39 games

THIS YEAR’S OILERS – 16-16-7 (39 points)

LAST YEAR’S OILERS – 16-20-3 (35 points)

Four OTL is the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team.  Surprisingly, when I made mention of this on Twitter, people were quick to note that the 2011-12 Oilers played Eastern Conference teams last year.  The Oilers were 5-5 through 39 games.

GOALS SCORED

THIS YEAR’S OILERS – 101 (2.59 GPG)

LAST YEAR’S OILERS- 104 (2.67 GPG)

Last year’s Oilers by a nose.  Edmonton had some woeful 5v5 earlier in the year, which certainly contributed to this year’s number.

GOALS ALLOWED 

THIS YEAR’S OILERS – 108 (2.77 GPG)

LAST YEAR’S OILERS – 111 (2.85 GPG)

This year’s Oilers by a nose.  Nikolai Khabibulin had a hot start to last year’s season, and Devan Dubnyk has been carrying the water for a significant portion of this season.  Both numbers are pretty close.

BUT THIS TEAM WON FIVE IN A ROW THEY’RE OBVIOUSLY BETTER THAN LAST YEAR’S TEAM

Even the 2009-10 Oilers (the ones that went the entire month of January 2010 without a win) had a five game winning streak.  Can you imagine if this year’s Oilers didn’t win five in a row?  How good would they stack up then?   If the Oilers didn’t score eight goals against Calgary the other night, they’d be under 100 goals by quite a bit.  How has this team improved?

Goaltending’s gotten better.  This year’s Oilers have a very good chance at being the Oilers team that allows the most shots per game out of all the non playoff teams since 2007.  Has anything else gotten better?  If so, it’s not showing up yet.

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