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Around The Pacific: The Oilers are sliding into oblivion

This is a weekly feature in which I’ll look at the performances and narratives of the teams in the Pacific Division. 

The pack of the Pacific Division, meaning the six teams in playoff contention, are separated by just six points. I want to consider the Edmonton Oilers one of those teams, but the gap is widening.

1st: Los Angeles Kings

12-7-2 (26 points) / +14 goal differential / 49.6 CF% (16th) / 101.2 PDO (10th)

For the first time all season, the Los Angeles Kings have hit a lull. Last week, they lost three of four games, getting dropped by the Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, and Vegas Golden Knights. The only win they had was against the Florida Panthers, which is sort of a theme in this article.

The goaltending has continued to be excellent, but the offence has dried up a little bit. In their last six games, five of which were losses, the Kings have scored more than two goals just once. And that was against Florida, so does it even count?

2nd: Vegas Golden Knights

12-6-1 (25 points) / +10 goal differential / 48.9 CF% (21st) / 101.6 PDO (7th) 

For the first time in franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights lost a game to a Western Conference opponent. They got pounded 8-2 by the Edmonton Oilers and it seemed to signal that the two teams were about to switch places. But that hasn’t happened. Vegas rebounded by beating Vancouver and Los Angeles and are still second in the division.

It makes no sense, but here we are. The Golden Knights activated Malcom Subban from the injured reserve and Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t far behind him. They somehow managed to navigate rolling with a fourth string goalie on top of already being bad. This really is turning into quite the story.

To put it in perspective, the Golden Knights only need two more wins to match the total wins the Atlanta Thrashers had in their first season back in 1999-00.

3rd: Calgary Flames

11-8-0 (22 points) / -4 goal differential / 51.9 CF% (7th) / 100.1 PDO (18th) 

It was a rollercoaster of a week in Calgary. The team downed the Western Conference leading St. Louis Blues with a commanding 7-4 win and then proceeded to get pounded by the mediocre Detroit Red Wings by a score of 8-4. They finished things off with a gutsy come from behind win against the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime to ultimately go 2-1 on the week.

On the bright side, the Flames are scoring goals. In their last four games, they’re averaging 4.75 goals-per-game, which is huge for a team that was relying largely on one line for most of the season. But on the not-so-bright side, both the blueline and goaltending has been suspect the past few games.

4th: Anaheim Ducks

9-7-3 (21 points) / +1 goal differential / 47.6 CF% (25th) / 101.6 PDO (8th) 

Another week, another how the hell are the Ducks still above water question. Anaheim had a perfect week, beating the Boston Bruins 4-2 and then edging the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Sunday. Despite not having Ryan Kesler or Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks keep winning. Their .923 team save percentage certainly helps, but it’s pretty remarkable that a team that features Derek Grant in its top five scorers is doing as well as it is.

5th: Vancouver Canucks

9-8-3 (21 points) / -6 goal differential / 49.4 CF% (18th) / 101.2 PDO (11th) 

The Vancouver Canucks continue to stick around. Save for a four-game winning streak and three-game losing streak in October, the Canucks really haven’t gotten either too high or low. They win one, lose one, win two, and so on, and currently boast a thoroughly solid 9-8-3 record. Last week, they beat the L.A. Kings, who lead the Pacific Division, got dropped by the Vegas Golden Knights, and managed to squeeze out a point against the St. Louis Blues.

An interesting thing to follow in Vancouver is the team’s goaltending situation. Jacob Markstrom has been solid, owning a .910 save percentage through his 15 games, but Anders Nilsson has been really good. Nilsson, who figured to be Markstrom’s backup after a good season in Buffalo, owns a .929 save percentage in six games. He’ll start to get more opportunities if this keeps up.

6th: San Jose Sharks

10-8-0 (20 points) / +4 goal differential / 52.6 CF% (4th) / 97.6 PDO (26th) 

When I looked last week, it appeared the Sharks were on the rise. They had won six of seven games and were quickly climbing the division ladder. But last week, they only played two games and they dropped both of them. They were shut out by the Florida Panthers and they got dropped 3-1 by the Boston Bruins. Neither of those teams are good.

The worry for the Sharks is scoring. They’re currently dead last in the league with 31 goals for. Logan Couture has 10 goals, but nobody else is producing.

7th: Edmonton Oilers

7-11-2 (16 points) / -14 goal differential / 55.2 CF% (2nd) / 97.2 PDO (29th) 

Have they broken out of it yet? Nope. The Oilers gave a bit of tease last week when they hammered the Vegas Golden Knights 8-2, but then we remembered that they’re an expansion team using a fourth-string goalie. Edmonton went on to lose to the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars to go 1-2 on the week.

The Oilers now sit as close to the basement-dwelling Coyotes as they do to a playoff spot. Generally, if you’re out of it before American Thanksgiving, you don’t get back into it by playoff time. The clock is ticking for the Oilers.

8th: Arizona Coyotes

4-15-3 (11 points) / -31 goal differential / 47.6 CF% (26th) / 97.2 PDO (28th) 

The Coyotes had their first regulation win of the season last week. It took them 21 games. That’s an NHL record. They’re still terrible.

  • lee

    One thing about the tire fire that is the Oilers , is that this is a solid draft unlike last year. If the Oilers are out of it by late December it’s time to re/tool and have a real plan in stead of hoping for the best which is what PC seems to be best at, and losing every trade.
    Next year this team could be weaker than it is now if PC trades RNH for pretty much nothing , PC might want to call up Joe in Colorado and ask how to get a great return on a Center.
    When you look at what PC got for Eberle, Hall and Segiun the total return for those 3 is disturbing.

    • Me

      Because that strategy’s worked so well for them in the past?

      The Oil has more first-overall draft picks than any other team lately (by a huge margin) and can’t seem to pull it together. They fluked into a generational talent in McJesus.

      But what they REALLY need is another high draft pick to push the team over the top?

      You know how they say the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results? Oil fan base, meet psych ward.

  • fumanchu1968

    One of my best friends is an Oiler fan and the poor guy was almost crying yesterday when his Eskimos lost to Calgary in the CFL Western finals. He is getting kicked in both balls at the same time LMAO

    Me: Hey bro sorry about that game, hope you’re not too pissed. Him: I’m too upset to talk. LOL LOL LOL

    • oilcanboyd

      Skimos got better by better coaching.

      Word on SN is who will fire their coach first: Edmonton or Montreal….I wrote a month ago if it would be Edmontom or Calgary. GG has so far save his ass, or rather Smith and Johnny has saved it for him….

    • Justthateasy

      Yep I heard the tears were knee-deep on Jasper Avenue.
      Jason Maas says he does not regret making that decision.
      Well I’m going to pluck on that one. I say he had a brain fart and had it in his head that it was a six-point differential. It was six points until the stamps got a point on a missed field goal. The scoreboard actually had the wrong score a couple of times during the game. I cannot believe anybody can make a call like that because had they missed that third-down, the Stamps would have been on their own 10-yard line and a much easier chance to get the ball back then after they kicked off.
      If it was me I’d rather admit I had a brain fart than I made a stupid bonehead decision.
      Hahahahahahaha peskies.

  • fumanchu1968

    If the Oilers miss the playoffs this year I will call it karma. If you purposely tank each season to shamefully win lottery draft picks then your karma is going to whip around and kick you in the arse. May they suffer another 10 years of darkness.

  • Fan the Flames

    Edmontons move to be a big physical team has resulted in a reduction in speed . They are a pretty average team with the exception of McDavid and Draisaidal . Talbot has returned to normal and the defence is exposed at times. The problem now is what to do about building around the two best players with some other bad contracts in a salary cap league. They need to shed some salary but outside of RNH it looks futile. Right now they look like sellers with a return to the draft lottery.

    • Kanucked

      I agree with your point. This move to size happened at the same time the league was getting faster.

      If a team with McDavid and Draistal finishes out of the playoffs, there needs to be a serious rethink in Edmonton.

  • mikel

    This team is a joke and deserves to be the place they are in….there is still time – just like there was still time for the jays…and we saw how well that turned out.

    • Carl the tooth

      Reminds me a bit of Darryl Sutter hampering the Flames with long Term . High Salaries and no trade clauses . Pretty had to give away phaneuf at 7 mill just to rid the contract .we got Stajan out of it ,but then gave him too much term as well .

  • Derzie

    If I had to predict the final order, I’d look at the goal differential. Also, Vegas is proof positive that a good coach with a team of ready-to-adapt players can work wonders.

  • Alberta Ice

    Those hefty long term and expensive contracts for McDavid and Draisaitl are now looking very disturbing. Not only does it create Cap Space Hell for the Oilers down the road, it sends ridiculous payouts down the road to other fledgling players on other teams. Good luck Toronto. Your turn is coming with all your fledglings. And good luck to all other teams too as they deal with this new salary precedent.

    • HAL MacInnis

      Those two contracts are so ridiculously stupid. I can’t imagine a player agent even bringing those up without an “I’m just pulling your leg!” immediately after. The only precedent that was set is how un-truculent Chiarelli is when it comes to negotiating salaries. I guess Bettman will have to bail out the Oilers by arbitrarily raising the cap limit just enough to make up for overpaying those guys.

    • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

      The McDavey contract is fine. It’s the Drai contract that was an overpay. He’s worth about 6mil right now. Should have offered bridge contract. Chia dropped the ball.

      • OilersGM

        I love Draisaitl but his contract should’ve been compared to Tarasenko, Scheifele, MacKinnon, Gaudreau, Monahan and shouldn’t have been any more than that. But Chiarelli’s loyalty cost him his job in Boston and should cost him his job here. Russell 4×4 for at best fifth D in cap era when you already overpaid Lucic and others should defiantly cost you your job so organizational water-carrier like Spector don’t blame McDavid for the personal on the ice.
        How about mainstream media grow some you know what and ask tough questions to the GM to why he didn’t add depth to the blue line and RW in an offseason full of opportunity’s with the expansion draft and not base on hope and stop blaming our superstar.

    • OTOF2

      It doesn’t set a president to anyone with a brain. It was a huge overpay by an idiot. Others are smarter and wont be so dumb. Pastrnaak is example. As good or better than Drai and 2 million cheaper.

  • 51Geezer

    I’m delighted with the Oilers’ ineptitude and like to attribute it to karmic payback for deliberately losing with the hope of manipulating the draft order.
    Of course karma might bite me in the ass and give the Oilers #1 overall in the June draft!

  • Holly Wood

    The Oilers are definitely enter a salary cap nightmare, I suggest that the players union proposes a clause in their collective agreement that no player can receive more than 10% of the salary cap. As it stands now if you over pay at the top end there’s nothing left to build a team with. It will hit other teams along the way but the Oilers are likely the best example

    • Alberta Ice

      Great idea Holly Wood. Let’s also propose if you win the Draft Lottery, you can’t be a winner for the next 5 years. (What stupidity the Lotto is. The last place team gets the highest odds of winning at something like 15% WHICH MATHEMATICALLY MEANS you got an 85% chance of losing the 1st round pick. Good luck if you come in last; you will have a greater chance of having another team win it.)

  • Burnabybob

    I sure feel badly for Lucic. He turned his nose up at the Canucks and signed with the Oilers, thinking they were a sure winner.

    Ah well, at least the winters in Edmonton are nice.

  • Green Bastard

    It wasn’t that long ago when oil fans were bragging, “Zack Kassian is a beast”. For a couple shifts in a couple playoff games he was beastly. Now he’s just back to beastly ineffective.

  • Jack Manning

    At what point are people going to admit that the Knights are not bad. Perron and Neal are legitimate first liners. Alex Tuch is an impressive rookie. William Karlsson and Smith each have as many points as Bo Horvat. Their Defense, while not stacked with high-end talent, has been keeping the puck out of the net. They may not be the best team in the league, but they certainly aren’t bad.

    • HOCKEY83

      Neal, Perron, Marchessault, Karlsson as well as their entire defensive corps are free agents next year. Let’s see what Vegas is willing to pay to keep them all.

  • Roberto

    In a lot of ways, this serves the Oilers right for waiting until the team has a bit of success to resign Howson and Sign Keegan Lowe. I mentioned at the time it was an insult as an Oiler fan and a well know Oiler media person took exception and attempted to insult me personally as a response. Maybe they should have been trying to improve the team rather than hiring their friends. This organization is an embarrassment. An embarrassment that doesn’t deserve McDavid. Now if only flames/Canucks/Leafs/Habs/Jets fans weren’t so intolerable I could cheer for a different team. Let the DOD continue.

  • Rama Lama

    Did we ever leave oblivion ? I was in a coma last year…….but I think our problems have been solved we got Mike Camelleri ……..next stop Lord Stanley!

  • Oilerfromthestart

    If anyone has a DeLorean and Uranium for sale I can fix this mess. Just need to get it up to speed to go back to the half a year of Todd Nelson and convince McT to sign him for another 2 years. He started to figure out the strengths of our players and probably could have gotten the most out of them. He woulda figured out Schultz was a 3rd pairing PP Dan. That Yak was gonna get 25 goals in 2017 and was a better cheap RW option than…. Wait what options do we currently have? This combined with Nurse, Drai, Klef gaining the much needed experience that gets them to their current game and winning the golden ticket would have us much further ahead of where we are now. Sure Chia got us Talbot but there was a plethora of goalies available(Reimer, Smith, Fleury, Ward, Darling and more). I don’t not like Larson or even Strome but c’mon….how can he still have a job after losing these trades so badly. Not saying Nelson would had us in the playoffs during McDavid first year as he did indeed get injured, but we would be closer to a perinial playoff team than we are now…..and that is without any additions like Demers, or any other vets we coulda signed to fix our leadership, our d and bottom 6.