If the Oilers want any hope of making the playoffs this season they need to beat more teams. Shocking, I know. Looking back last season though it’s pretty easy to see where they had the most trouble. Edmonton played each team in the East twice, and of those series they were unable to get points from just two teams, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Let’s compare that to their own division in which they played Calgary, Vancouver, and Arizona 5 times and Anaheim 4 times and didn't manage a single win. A single win. For a long time last season, the only reason Arizona was ahead of the Oilers were because of the wins they had against Edmonton. The rest of the West didn't treat them much better. They couldn't win a game against Winnipeg, Nashville, or St. Louis.
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The Pacific wasn't a complete write off. They did manage 2 wins a piece against the Sharks and Kings but if this team wants to improve in the standings, that must start in their own division first. If we go by last year’s numbers, the Oilers would have needed another 35 points to have a chance to make the playoffs. Between the four teams above that they went winless against, there were 34 points they let slip away. Of course it isn't reasonable to expect them to win every one of those games but we need to see them at the very least start to split these series. With the new playoff format, four, maybe sometimes only three teams can make it from the Pacific. This year, the Oilers should look at the 5 games they play against each of their division rivals as a 5 game playoff series. If they want to move on they need to win at least 3 games against each.
Luckily the Oilers have brought in not only a veteran coach, but one whose teams have played very well against the Pacific. Todd McLellan’s Sharks, though they didn’t make the playoffs matched up favorably against the Pacific, notching 34 points of a possible 60, compared to the 12 that Edmonton had. A few stats worth mentioning in regards to the 2014-2015 Sharks. Looking purely at the final totals, they outshot every team in the Pacific with the exception of the Kings. Their PP% was above 20% for every team with the exception of Calgary, with Calgary also being the only team to outscore them. Over most of McLellan’s tenure in San Jose, the Sharks have played extremely well against the West and more specifically, their own division.
It should be mentioned that yes, I understand the Sharks and the Oilers are two very different teams with different strengths and weaknesses. Ironically enough the Oilers actually had a better record against the East than the Sharks, scoring 33 points to San Jose’s 30. Having said that, McLellan’s experience and success against the West should not go unnoticed. He may not have the same players, but the systems that he will be bringing to Edmonton; the powerplay being a huge one, will go a long way to making this team more competitive within its own division.
Thanks for reading.
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