P-P-Playoffs?

The Edmonton Oilers' start and excitement surrounding the Hall-Hopkins-Eberle line has fans, commenters and message board posters talking about a playoffs appearance in 2012.  It would be the Oilers first since 2006, when they made the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Oilers have started the season with a 3-2-2 record, totaling 8 points in 7 games, or 1.14 points per game.  That's good for 6th in the Western Conference.  Those 1.14 points per game put Edmonton on (a very early) pace for 94 points this season.

Over the last 6 seasons, the 8th place team in the Western Conference has finished with an average of 94 points.  Teams that were in the playoff race in the final week of March but failed to make the post-season have averaged 89 points.  For the Oilers to make the playoffs, they'll need to maintain this points per game pace of 1.14. For them to stay in the playoff race, they'll need to average 1.08 points per game, or a per 82 rate of 81 points - not entirely out of the question if Devan Dubnyk can play average hockey and Tom Renney keeps working hard on the line matching and zonestarts.

How does this start compare to other Edmonton starts since the lockout?  Below is a table containing the Oilers' standings information on October 23rd in each of the post-lockout seasons.

Year GP W L OTL PTS P/G P/82 Place Final
2005-06 9 3 5 1 7 0.78 64 10th 8th
2006-07 8 6 2 0 12 1.50 123 5th 12th
2007-08 9 3 6 0 6 0.67 55 13th 9th
2008-09 6 4 2 0 8 1.33 109 4th 11th
2009-10 9 6 2 1 13 1.44 118 3rd 15th
2010-11 6 2 4 0 4 0.67 55 15th 15th
2011-12 7 3 2 2 8 1.14 94 6th ??

2011-12 is the Oilers 4th-hottest start since the lockout.  The three teams with hotter starts not only missed the playoffs, but they finished no higher than 11th.  The lesson?  Like Corey Potter, Nikolai Khabibulin, and the Oilers' shots against totals, it's best to hold off on early pronouncements after only 7 games.

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