a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 6 November 2016

11/06/16 Odds & Ends: Are The Oilers For Real & Can They Make It?

Are you a believer? Here are a few thoughts on the hot start for the Oilers.

1) The Oilers didn't win their ninth game of the 2015-16 season until December 2nd in game 26. The year before that it took them until January 6th in game number 40! In the 2011-12 season, the Oilers started 9-3-2 by November 8th and proceeded to collapse, winning just 23 of 68 games the rest of the way.

2) In that 2011-12 season, the Oilers allowed 406 shots in those first 14 games (29 per game on average), but allowed just 20 goals against (a 0.950 Sv%). The team ended up -376 in shot attempts on the year. So far, the Oilers have allowed 400 shots on goal (30.8 per game) and allowed 31 goals (0.922 Sv%). Right now they're -29 in shot attempts.

3) What do all those numbers mean? There's certainly room for a collapse in the style of 2011-12, but things are a little better than that year. And let's be honest, they're winning almost 70% of the time right now. That'd be around 56 wins over a full year, which is the same amount that Washington had last season as the best team in the league.

4) It's difficult to gauge how many wins a team needs to make the playoffs. Last year, Minnesota took the last spot with just 38 wins and 87 points, but the year before that it took the Flames 45 wins and 97 points to lock up the final playoff spot in the West. Let's split the difference and say it may take in the neighborhood of 41 wins and 92 points to make the dance (41-31-10).

5) The Oilers would need to go 32-29-8 in their final 69 games to reach that mark. Doable? Maybe. That's a winning percentage of just 46%, which is a fair dip from where they are now.

6) What the Oilers really need to avoid is a stretch like last year when they went 7-16-5 from December 26th to February 26th. Winning 25% of the time for a third of the season would sink any hopes of playoff contention.

7) Speaking of playoff contention, 78 points got you tenth place in the West last season. The Oilers would need just 59 more points to get there. That'd be a record of, say, 25-35-9. I think it's fair to assume that the Oilers will be in the mix down the stretch, barring complete catastrophe.

8) The Oilers had just 31 wins last season, and they have gone seven seasons without cracking 35 wins (2008-09 was the last time with 38). Given that, if the Oilers manage to win 26 more times this year (37% of the time), it will represent a considerable milestone. That's more a measure of their long run of futility than an endorsement of their improvement, but hey, one step at a time.

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