The Edmonton Oilers haven’t done much lately that will give their fans any kind of confidence. They’ve lost sight of the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division, perhaps for good this season, and Edmonton has fallen behind the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks as well. Although they looked like divisional contenders for much of the season, it could be that this is a Wild Card team at season’s end as the Oilers look to end a major playoff drought.
On Sunday the Oilers suffered another setback. They had a third-period lead at home against the Montreal Canadiens before Edmonton gave up four goals in the last half of the final frame to lose 4-1. The result sees them drop to just 4-5-1 in their last ten games as they look forward to hosting the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
When it comes to the playoff picture, Edmonton currently sit as the first Wild Card. If the playoffs started today, then the Oilers would face the San Jose Sharks in a series that San Jose would host. However, you’d think that the situation is certainly one that Edmonton and their fans will want to avoid.
Edmonton’s playoff complexion would get much better if they slipped up to third place in the Pacific again. They would still be facing a road series in the first round, but at least they would avoid the Sharks. Either Anaheim or Calgary would be a much better match-up, especially Calgary, a team that Edmonton beat four times this year in four meetings.
The best situation that Edmonton can realistically hope for is to finish 2nd in the Pacific. That would see them host the first round of the playoffs and it would be possible to host thereafter as well, with the right results in other series. Catching San Jose is the stone-cold best scenario. However, there is now a ten-point deficit to make up with no games at hand.
On the flip side of the positive scenarios, there are the negative ones: Edmonton could still lose ground. The Oilers are in a battle with the St. Louis Blues in the standings as well. The Blues hold the 2nd Wild Card, and that’s an ominous place to be. It could be that whoever sneaks into the last post-season spot has to go to either Minnesota or Chicago for a first-round series. With Devan Dubnyk in Minnesota and with all of Chicago’s experience, facing them first off needs to be avoided at all costs.
The doomsday scenario for Edmonton right now is still alive: they could miss the playoffs altogether. However, the Winnipeg Jets have really fallen out of contention lately. They are 13 points behind Edmonton, and the Oilers don’t have much to fear from them. But the Los Angeles Kings are 7 points back of Edmonton, and they are a team that could surpass the Oilers still.
If Edmonton falls behind both St. Louis and Los Angeles, then don’t be surprised if all hell breaks lose in the Alberta capital. The Oilers’ fan base has been deprived of playoff hockey since game seven of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. I’ve said it before; last year was supposed to be the year everything changed. People accepted the missed playoffs because of the 2015 Connor McDavid injury, but if Edmonton misses the playoffs this season then the fans will be looking for blood, metaphorically speaking.