When the Edmonton Oilers enter play Tuesday night in Montreal against the historic Canadiens, they’ll be doing so as the last place team in the Western Conference. Entering with a dismal 2-6-1 record, the Oilers are again the bottom feeders in the west, at least for the time being.
But it’s still early in the season right? Yes, that much may be true, but according to a great piece from Elliotte Friedman of CBC Hockey Night in Canada, history proves that the Oilers may be in tough to make the playoffs this year given their basement dweller position.
The highly respected journalist and hockey analyst dissected the fact that when November 1st rolls around, more often than not, the playoff teams have been determined. But before anyone starts ripping me or Friedman for this, read on.
Friedman points out that from the 2005-06 season through the 2011-12 season (last year not included due to the lockout shortened schedule) only three teams, that were more than four points out of a playoff spot on November 1st managed to come back and make the postseason.
The HNIC personality also points out that since the shootout was introduced, only one team came back to make the playoffs when trailing in the standings by more than four points when the calendar flipped to November. This one will sting Oilers’ fans. Yes, it was the dreaded Calgary Flames.
The season was 2006-07 and the Flames entered the second month of the season 7 points out of eighth place. According to Friedman, the Flames went an impressive 40-22-9 the rest of the way and qualified for the right to play for Lord Stanley.
Back to today’s Oilers who are currently six points back of the Nashville Predators who occupy the eighth spot. With five more games remaining this month, including Tuesday’s contest, it’s more than reasonable to think the Oilers can narrow that gap and climb the standings and reel in the possibility that the playoffs are more than just a pipe dream. They’ve shown they can play better hockey and Devan Dubnyk has had two solid outings in a row, providing hope that maybe, just maybe he’ll return to last year’s form and help carry this club to a few more wins.
But if these Oilers showcase more poor play or lackluster efforts over the next five games you can likely make it eight years in a row with no playoffs and among other things validate Friedman’s impressive statistics.
It’s difficult to argue with history and it has a funny way of rearing it’s ugly head and repeating itself. Then again, in this case, perhaps a repeat of what the Flames were able to pull off almost seven years ago is the one piece of history that Oilers fans can cling to and hope that it does come back around again. Only this time in northern Alberta.
With a potential ten points up for grabs between now and the end of the month, it may be premature to introduce Friedman’s logic and how it correlates to the Oilers’ chances of making it to the dance this year. Then again, it reaffirms the notion that this team can’t afford to fall any further behind the so called “play-off” leaders or else the mountain they’ll have to climb just became that much steeper; with the argument being relative that perhaps that mountain can’t be climbed at all in regards to making the play-offs.
You can say it’s too early to be discussing the playoffs and the Oilers chances of making it. But history doesn’t lie and how Edmonton finishes this month could be the make or break portion of the schedule on whether they make the postseason next spring.