In the fall of 2006 my then fiance and I looked through the Oilers schedule to try and find a two week stretch when we could book a trip to Mexico to get married, while also limiting the number of Oilers home games that I would have to miss. In the end we settled on a trip from February 14 through the 27, which meant we would miss just one home game, a game against the Phoenix Coyotes the night we got back.
But then, without even consulting me, the Oilers announced that they would be retiring Mark Messier's jersey the night of the one game I was missing. Wedding or not, that wasn't something that I could miss, so the trip had to adjusted slightly (at a fairly significant cost as I recall) so that we'd be back for that game. Of course the Oilers lost that night. And then lost their next game as well. And the nine that came after that, before finally getting back in the win column. In the end the Oilers limped to the finish line with just two wins in their final 20 games in what was the team's first Death March.
Nearly eight years later the Oilers once again find themselves in the midst of a 20 game stretch where they've recorded just two wins. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess. And with that in mind I thought it'd be fun (maybe fun is the wrong word) to see how this 20 game run compares to that first Death March and the other runs of failure that have sadly become trademarks of the Oilers' infinite rebuild.
I started first with wins. Once you get past the sheer comedy of how infrequently the Oilers win more games than the lose you can clearly see the 2007 Death March that the current Oilers are tied with on the left, and the streak in 2009/10 that lead to the official start of the rebuild nearer the middle. In that 20 game stretch around Christmas 2009, the Oilers actually won just one game. An accomplishment that the current team can equal with a loss tomorrow night against the Coyotes.
Thanks to Mr. Bettman though, the game isn't just wins and losses anymore, the loser point can help make a bad team look a little better. And in the case of the Oilers, it does just that. In fact, the team coming away with just ten points in 20 games isn't even all that uncommon. That probably doesn't make you feel a lot better about the current team though.
And lastly I thought I'd take a look at goal differential. Again this level of play isn't entirely uncommon for recent Oilers teams; in fact, it's a far more common occurrence than the team breaking even over 20 games. Compared to the some of the other lengthy runs of failure this isn't even all that bad. And if you ever wanted a great example of putting lipstick on a pig, there it is.
I've said repeatedly that I don't think the Oilers are as bad as their record this season, and the chart above chart makes me think the same thing, they're clearly bad, but similar stretches of play have yielded far better results in the past. Better or not though, the results are exactly the same.