For the final time in 2017, the Oilers are taking the ice tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. It’s been a generation since they’ve won a New Year’s Eve game, but you never know what might happen tonight.
Last game against Chicago was….not great. If it hadn’t been for some late 3rd period heroics, the Oilers would have walked away from Thursday’s game with no points. Instead, they eked out a point which maybe isn’t going to be enough.
See, the Oilers have dug themselves a bit of a hole this season, and they might not be able to dig out. Based on their current pace, the Oilers are on track to hit 80 points this season, far off the mark for a playoff spot.
Assuming the cutoff for the playoffs is about 95 points, the Oilers have to earn 58 points in their remaining 44 games in order to have sniff. That means they have to play at a 108 point pace (without giving up Bettman points to conference rivals) to get there.
It’s a tall order and I’m not sure it can be filled.
Keys to the Game
- Just win, baby. There’s not a lot more to be said, because if they don’t win that gap gets a little bit bigger and by the All-Star break, the Oilers could absolutely be on the outside looking in.
- Don’t take any penalties because the penalty kill is, quite literally, killing the season.
- Lots of traffic in front of the net and lots of pucks on Talbot. The Oilers still look lost in their own end, so the Jets might as well exploit that weakness.
- Make the Oilers take penalties because they couldn’t kill one if it was caught in a trap at their feet.
Players to Watch
- Connor. He’s good.
- Drake Caggiula is an interesting case, as Todd McLellan seems to value his contributions even where there are none. I don’t know that you can watch him because he’s often invisible.
- Blake Wheeler has had himself a decent December, so him maybe?
- Patrik Laine is a treat to watch, especially when he gets open and unleashes that shot of his. The Oilers could sure use someone with a shot like that in their lineup.
This team is better than its record, but maybe not much. Here’s hoping they get their stuff together and win a few games in regulation. They can’t give up Bettman points to anyone contending for a Western playoff spot and they NEED to start winning some games outright. They haven’t put together too many complete efforts yet this season, and it’s getting dangerously close to the point of no return.
If they don’t start an actual turnaround soon, they’ll have wasted the ELC of the best player in a generation and that is inexcusable. Connor deserves better, and so do we.