By now everyone knows the cold hard facts about this year’s version of the Edmonton Oilers – they’re pretty bad. The teams 55 points are good for fewest in the NHL. With only three weeks left in the NHLs regular season and more players injured than healthy right now, the team is a near certainty to finish somewhere among the bottom three with fellow cellar dwellers the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators.
Considering how bad the Oilers have been this season it is certainly easily to pile on and to be negative. The only problem with that is in the end you don’t feel a whole lot better, just more depressed. Yesterday Lisa looked at the first NHL goals scored by Oilers this season. That there are eight of those first career goals goes a long way to explaining why the Oilers are where they are. The article really tried to put a positive spin on an otherwise ugly season and I enjoyed it a lot.
Unfortunately those good times can’t last forever, and today I’ve got to look at some of the all-time franchise lows that this year’s Oilers have directly in their sights because knowing you’re bad just isn’t the same without some context.
Before we get started a couple of notes. First, where applicable, the strike shortened 1994/95 season has been scaled up, or in the case of individual stats ignored all together. Second, the Edmonton Oilers franchise started playing in 1972 not 1979. The Oilers seem to like to imagine these seasons didn’t happen but they absolutely did and so I’ve included the seven WHA seasons in this analysis.
Wins and Points – I think it goes without saying that a team at the bottom of the NHL standing isn’t very like to have a big number in the wins column or a high points total. The Oilers this season have 23 wins and 55 points; how that compares to other seasons can be seen in the table below.
For the Oilers to avoid setting new franchise lows it could all come down to a couple of games against the Avalanche. If the Oilers can win just two games that will be enough to tie the 1993/94 team for fewest wins but playing two fewer games would give this year’s club the edge in terms of winning percentage. Two wins would also tie the points mark set by the 1975/76 club and would move this year’s club past the 1992/93 team for points percentage.
Goals – If a team isn’t winning what are the odds that they’re scoring a lot of goals? 22 goals separate the Oilers of 2010/11 from the 2006/07 version. With 11 games left to play I would normally consider 22 goals a given, but with the number of injuries and the skill level of those injured this could be closer than it should be.
Special Teams – I doubt there has been a single area of the Oilers that has been discussed, dissected, and analyzed more this season than the special teams. And now of that has helped at all. The power play is 30th and the penalty kill is 28th. In need of five power play goals to catch the 1974/75 club this seasons Oilers will almost certainly set a new low for power play goals and could easily set the mark for power play percentage as well.
And of course the penalty kill percentage is in the franchise low neighbourhood too. If you’re feeling depressed and need a silver lining then consider this, the Oilers would have to give up 4 power play goals against per game for the rest of the season to tie the franchise record 106 power play goals against set in 1992/93.
Team lead in goals - Taylor Hall leads the Oilers with 22 goals. Thanks to a high ankle sprain he won’t be adding to that total this season. Unless Ryan Jones score seven more goals this season Hall’s 22 will set a new low for the team lead in goals. Look at the seasons for the 23 goal season that were tied for the low previously. Do you notice anything in common?
Team lead in assists - Like Hall with goal lead, Hemsky has this category locked up as well and his season ending shoulder injury means he too won’t be adding to his total. With 28 assists this will be the first time an Oiler hasn’t recorded at least 30 assists in a season. Did you know Wayne Gretzky recorded more than 28 assists in the playoffs three times.
Team lead in points - There is a three way tie for this one with Hall, Hemsky, and Sam Gagner. And wouldn’t you know it Gagner is done for the season too. Shocking I know. Seven points from Jordan Eberle would give his the team lead but it still wouldn’t get him anywhere close to the previous low in this category.
Sorry folks, I don’t want to be negative but history - even when bad - is history so we might as well know what we’re watching.
All of these stats are courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.