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Game Thread: Oilers vs Ducks - Closing Out 2015

The Oilers play host to the Ducks on New Year's Eve.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

This is it. Sometime around 10:00 tonight, a little later if the game goes into overtime or a shootout, the Oilers will wrap up their 2015 schedule. Like 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, etc. this wasn't a particularly great year for the Oilers, with the high water mark being, obviously, a fourth draft lottery win in just six seasons, a win that gave the Oilers the opportunity to not only draft Connor McDavid first overall, but also solidified the Oilers as a true draft lottery dynasty. On the ice though things were more than a little disappointing, with the team entering tonight's' game with a 31-42-9 record in 2015.

Tonight the Oilers face off against the Anaheim Ducks, a team in the midst of their most disappointing season in a quite a while that is still a point better than the Oilers in three fewer games played. The Ducks record is misleading though, they're simply not as bad as it would suggest. Anaheim is 10th in GA/60 and during 5-on-5 play are third in CF% and fifth in SF%. The problem is that they just cannot seem to score any goals. The Ducks are dead last in GF/60 and have a team shooting percentage of 6.44% this season; not surprisingly that's the worst in the NHL by a fairly decent margin.

To try to give you an example of just how bad things are for the Ducks, Shawn Horcoff is third on the team in goals scored with six, and that is three times as many goals as Ryan Getzlaf. I love Horcoff but that's not good. If the Ducks are lucky they'll get a few more bounces in the 2016 portion of this season's schedule than they've gotten so far this year, and when that happens they'll start winning a few more games. Normally those wins would be too little to late for a team looking to climb from Oilers territory in the standings to the playoff spot, but as bad as they've been the Ducks are only three points out of a playoff spot so it's entirely possible.

You might be doing some quick math right now and thinking, "Wait, if the Ducks are only three points out of a playoff spot and one point ahead of the Oilers, well then that would mean ... no, that can't be right." But it is right. The Oilers are just four points out of a playoff spot right now while also being the 29th overall team and only two points out of dead last. Yes the Pacific Division is an absolute train wreck and the result are NHL standings that make almost no sense at all.

And because the standings are such a mess, with a lot of luck, better goaltending, and a healthy McDavid, there's a chance that the Oilers could do something in 2016 that they haven't done since 2006, make the playoffs. You haven't been able to say that on New Year's Eve for quite awhile.