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Can the Oilers Break 80 Points?

The oddsmakers have spoken: the opening over/under line for the Oilers' total points in 2014-2015 is set at 80.5.

Christian Petersen

How much better are the Oilers? It's a question Ryan Batty asked here back in July after the team's off-season acquisitions had been made. Looking specifically at the improvements between the pipes, he concluded that the team could expect to allow 30-40 fewer goals this coming season.

If we take Edmonton's total GA last season of 267 and subtract those 30-40 goals, we get 227-237 GA through 82 games. That's 2.77 GA/G or 2.89 GA/G, depending which total you're using. I'll continue to use both throughout this post.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Willis ran a very thorough series throughout the summer projecting goals for every Oilers player on the projected 2014-2015 roster. He arrived at 192 non-empty-net goals from the forwards and 34 from the defence for a total of 226 non-empty-net goals in all. Add in the NHL average 7 empty net goals from last season and you've got a projected 233 GF over 82 games. That gives us an average of 2.84 GF/G.

If we compare that number to Batty's predictions we get average goal differentials of 0.07 G/G or -0.05 G/G. Believe it or not, looking at the teams with comparable goal differentials from last season, either of those numbers would leave the Oilers in pretty good shape.

The Flyers had a goal differential of 0.07 G/G and they finished with 94 points. The Red Wings managed -0.05 G/G and still picked up 93; the Capitals pulled off the same and still finished with 90 points on the season.

If we're looking at a worst-case-scenario situation based solely on last year's outcomes, then we'd probably look to the Devils who had an average goal differential of 0.02 and still finished with 88 points.

Derek responded to Batty's post back in August and noted that even if the Oilers matched their best season-over-season improvement during the rebuild-era in 2014-2015, it would still only get them 79 points—13th in the West last season.

Based on the average goal differentials calculated from Batty's and Willis' projections, might it be reasonable to expect the Oilers to finish in the 10th-8th place range in their conference? It should be noted that Dallas, the 8th place team in the West last season, had an average goal differential of 0.1 G/G—slightly better than the Oilers' projection. Phoenix sat in 9th and they managed -0.17 G/G—slightly worse.

We asked all of you CNB faithful to guess where the Oilers would finish in 2014-2015 and you placed them in 9th place in the West, which would have been 89-90 points in 2013-2014.

So we'll ask you again: