Oilers come out of awful road trip with the playoffs still in reach.
Don’t get the title wrong, the Oilers played some terrible hockey and only managed to take 8 of 18 points (thanks to wins in the last 2 games). That’s 4 points less than what Derek Zona figured they would need to stay in the hunt in the Western Conference.
But a funny thing happened during that road trip.
The other Western Conference teams struggled as well. Only four teams managed to win 6 or more of their last 10 games. Ten teams lost at least 4 games out of their last 10 in regulation (including the Oilers). Another benefit for the Oilers was the reduction in OT games by their conference rivals. Fewer teams turning losses into points is good when your team isn't picking them up either.
Don’t get me wrong, the road trip hurt the Oilers playoff chances. A 12 point road trip would have seen them sitting with 29 points, which would have been good enough for at least 6th in the conference and ahead of the log jam in the playoff battle as opposed to behind it.
For as bad as the trip was, the Oilers haven’t completely sewered their season yet. Their 16 road games leads the NHL and their 10 home games is the fewest in the NHL, so there might be points they can win back there. Getting Shawn Horcoff back, losing some roster dead weight and some regression in the on-ice shooting % of the kids could see the playoff race become interesting for Oiler fans for the first time in forever.