24 wins. The Oilers achieved them in 60 games this year, after taking 78 games to win that many last year. As bleak as things have seemed at times this season, when the Oil win one more game they'll have matched their win output from all of last year. They have 22 more games to win 27, which would tie their total from the entire 2009-10 season.
The Oilers have earned a positive review after dismantling the Flames and shutting out the league's most potent offense from Philadelphia, so the rest of this article will be devoted to something that has become popularized on Twitter: Oilerspositives. ... But not sarcastic ones.
- Jordan Eberle scored his 60th point of the season on Thursday, and he's now on pace for 84 total. The last Oiler to have 80 or more points was Doug Weight back in 2000-01 when he put up 90. That's also the last time the Oilers had a player who scored at a point-per-game pace or better. Taylor Hall is on pace for 65 points as well, and the last time the Oilers had two players score 60+ points was back in 2005-06. That year they had four players who surpassed sixty points, including Hemsky (77), Horcoff (73), Stoll (68), and Smyth (66).
- Ales Hemsky has six points in 10 games in February. Not huge numbers by his standards, but there are signs everywhere that his game is coming around. Hemsky has shown considerable chemistry with Taylor Hall over the last couple of games. When Ryan Smyth was traded, a gaping hole was left on Hemsky's left wing that the Oilers never really managed to fill. After trying to fit Erik Cole in that slot, and failing to acquire Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley, the Oilers finally found their man at the draft in Hall. Now that the Oilers have their sniper to compliment Hemsky on a line, they would be extremely unwise to trade #83. Happily, there are reports all over Twitter that the Oilers may finally be making a real push to re-sign Hemsky. That would give them two very dynamic scoring lines going forward. Hall and Hemsky could form one tandem, with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle on the other.
- Ryan Whitney has put up 8 points in his last 11 games since January 31st. That's more like the Whitney that the Oilers and their fans are used to, and were expecting at the start of the season. That's a 60 point pace over a full 82 game season. 60 points aren't necessarily demanded of Whitney, but to see him start to make an impact on the scoresheet is a major positive.
- Losing part of the pre-season and the first few games of the year can take a lot away from a player. In his first 13 games, Sam Gagner had 2 points. Since then, however, he's put up 14-24-38 in 40 games and been very nearly a point-per-game player. Of course one cannot discount the fact that Gagner wasn't producing at the beginning of the year, but since November 22nd he's been on pace for 29-49-78 over an 82 game schedule.
- How about that Jeff Petry fella? Since the beginning of January he's got 1-11-12 in 23 games and he's really been coming into his own both offensively and defensively. Say what you will about plus/minus, but Petry - who has played 20+ minutes in every game this month - has been a plus-1 in February. You have to go all the way back to December 31st to find a game that Petry participated in and didn't play a minimum of 20 minutes. He's becoming a go-to guy for the Oil.
- The Oilers are a .500 team since Nugent-Hopkins went down again with injury at 3-3-1. How will they be when he returns?
- Including one shootout goal, Taylor Hall now has seven game winners on the season. Even if you're a purist and don't count the shootout, that means that Hall has scored one quarter of the goals that resulted in Oilers wins in 2011-12.
Oil Acumen turns one year old today (ain't it cute!?). 12 months, 157 posts and nearly 28,000 page views later, I'd like to thank all the people who have helped this blog to grow. There have been lots (and none have gone unnoticed), but particular thanks are owed to Wanye from OilersNation, Derek Zona and the Copper and Blue, Raine from Oilogosphere.com, and most importantly to every single person who has ever read this blog. I sincerely hope that it's been as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write, and I look forward to continuing to give you my best. Hopefully the next year(s) will see even better things to come.