This won’t be a long one but the Oilers Twitterverse has been a pretty big shit show this morning. Not that it usually isn’t but I think since the team is actually winning and playing as they are, everyone is doing their best to find something to bitch about.
Today’s topic is:
When the Oilers finally regress, how much of a regression will it be?
To get the stats out of the way, the Oilers’ PDO (add team shooting and save %) is 104.7 which is actually quite high. It suggests the Oilers are on a bit of a lucky streak to start the year. Bruce McCurdy said in a recent Cult of Hockey podcast that he prefers his teams to have a higher PDO than a lower one. I reckon if the team is winning on a consistent basis, who cares where the PDO sits?
The way I see it, the hockey gods are having their way within the Pacific Division right now. What I mean is that there’s a great possibility that the combination of some random happenings (below) AND the Oilers playing very well and staying healthy could find the Oilers in the post-season and some good teams on the golf course.
Below is a list of those happenings I speak of:
- The Los Angeles Kings goaltending health.
- A Randy Carlyle led Anaheim Ducks team going with a young keeper in Gibson and Jonathan Bernier
- An Arizona Coyotes team who thought they could go with as much youth as they are.
- A Calgary Flames team with as many question marks in net as perhaps on defense.
- The Vancouver Canucks being… Well, the Vancouver Canucks… They’re a one line team right now and their defense is in shambles.
The only team that I have zero qualms with is the San Jose Sharks. They’re sorted to go the distance again this year barring any unforeseen injuries.
So I look at the five teams who I mentioned above and I can see Edmonton jumping Arizona, Calgary, and Vancouver without much of an issue. I think a few will say Calgary has a chance but, in my opinion, the new coach and trying to sort out how to deploy that defense of his as well as hoping Brian Elliott can be consistently good every night will be a problem for the Flames. Hope… Drives a fanbase wild.
Now, heading into California, we’ve got LA and Anaheim with some early season hangups.
The Ducks for whatever reason decided bringing Randy Carlyle back to coach and trading starting netminder Frederik Andersen were good ideas… Now Andersen isn’t doing well in Toronto but that was expected because he’s no Carey Price. He’s a good keeper when he’s got a capable team in front of him. Perfect for Anaheim. I don’t believe Gibson is ready for the starting role and Bernier is a tire fire. IF Anaheim can’t get their season under control, there’s a very good chance the Oilers pass them.
The Kings success has a lot to do with playing a great possession game but they’re getting on in hockey years and they’re getting slower every year. Not only that but they rely heavily on their goaltending when their age and lack of foot speed is exposed. Luckily for them, in the past, they’ve had Jonathan Quick to save their butts. Not having him or a capable backup, since Jeff Zatkoff is out injured too, could have catastrophic consequences. Not only that but they’re not going to be able to go out and steal a goalie at this time of year, so some GM is going to get a good deal (Islanders?) if they decide to make a trade with LA.
So I don’t see the forthcoming regression being as bad as a lot of fans seem to think it will be but I think the Oilers playoff chances do hinge a bit on the luck (or continued lack thereof) of their Pacific Division rivals. If things continue to sour for those other teams, I think the Oilers will make the playoffs with ease.
To add to that, Bob McKenzie recently stated on his podcast that he reads early season trends as follows:
- Pay no attention to anything that happens in the first two weeks of the regular season because it very well could be a mirage.
- After three weeks, take note of what’s happened.
- And after the fourth week, book it!
After Wednesday’s game in Toronto, we should be taking note of what the Oilers are doing according to McKenzie and on November 10th, after the Oilers game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, we should have a VERY clear idea as to what we have.
After that Pens game that Oilers will have played 14 games. If they are 11-2-0, things are looking saucy. But if they are sitting at 7-7, then there’s clearly some major problems still residing within the team. I can’t see them dropping 6 games in a row at this point, though. Maybe a fair prediction would be something close to 10-4-0 if we take into account how well they are playing and the opposition coming up. I could see them dropping games to the Penguins, Rangers, and Red Wings but then again I thought St.Louis and Washington would give them more trouble than they did…
But we should be keeping an eye on the rest of the Pacific Division during this timeframe as well to see if their back luck continues.
Now Lowetide likes to go 20 games. I’m not sure if that’s a personal preference or perhaps that number appeases the fancy stats gods. Anyway, if we did that, it would take us to Nov.22 versus the Blackhawks.
So… We wait.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.