clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Last Ten Years Of Oilers Hockey, How Bad Was It?

New, comments

Digging into the numbers to figure out just how bad the last ten years of Oilers hockey has been.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The last ten years of Oilers hockey were not very good. in fact they were downright bad. From the high of Game 7, even though the Oilers lost that game, to ten straight seasons that ended with the Oilers on the outside looking in at the playoffs is quite a fall. Six of the last seven seasons have seen the Oilers finish in the bottom three, this despite the team having selected first overall in the draft on four occasions; a fifth first overall pick could be added to the mix this year. There is no way to put a positive spin on the last ten seasons of Oilers hockey, it sucked, plain and simple.

I know that the Oilers have been a bad team. You know it too. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the NHL knows it. But for me there is a difference between knowing and knowing. I'm an engineer and I love numbers, and that means that I need to see something to put these seasons into context, that way I can really know just how bad the Oilers have been. And yes, I appreciate that this is likely a sign that there is something very wrong with me, but let's not forget that you're reading this too, so it might be worth considering your mental state as well.

There are three different ways that I want to break down the numbers: first comparing the Oilers of the last ten years to the league that they played in, then to the franchise's 43 year history, and then finally to the league's history. To keep things from getting too long, and too depressing I'm going to split this into three separate posts, starting first with a look at the NHL over the last ten seasons.

Over 786 games the Oilers compiled a 298-398-90 record. That works out to an 82-game average of 71.6 points, in a league where the other 29 teams averaged 92.4. Not surprisingly then, the Oilers had the fewest wins and fewest points in the NHL over the last ten seasons, as well as the lowest win percentage, the lowest points percentage, the worst goal differential, and the worst shot differential. The table below is sorted by points, but can be reordered by clicking on the headers; I find the shot differential to be particularly impressive.

Tm GP W L OL PTS W% PTS% GF GA G+/- SF SA S+/-
PIT 786 464 246 76 1004 0.590 0.639 2445 2097 348 24271 23083 1188
SJS 786 457 242 87 1001 0.581 0.637 2319 1992 327 25160 21990 3170
DET 786 441 237 108 990 0.561 0.630 2336 2077 259 25452 21846 3606
ANA 786 438 259 89 965 0.557 0.614 2249 2099 150 23258 23115 143
CHI 786 435 259 92 962 0.553 0.612 2367 2101 266 24684 22343 2341
WSH 786 431 257 98 960 0.548 0.611 2391 2188 203 23825 23797 28
BOS 786 428 264 94 950 0.545 0.604 2271 2031 240 24474 24031 443
VAN 786 428 272 86 942 0.545 0.599 2220 2050 170 23374 23402 -28
NYR 786 430 275 81 941 0.547 0.599 2182 1950 232 24159 22704 1455
STL 786 416 277 93 925 0.529 0.588 2176 2054 122 22792 21892 900
NSH 786 413 278 95 921 0.525 0.586 2183 2107 76 22938 23104 -166
MTL 786 407 289 90 904 0.518 0.575 2207 2138 69 23192 24189 -997
DAL 786 405 292 89 899 0.515 0.572 2266 2230 36 22997 22919 78
NJD 786 404 294 88 896 0.514 0.570 1964 1977 -13 22042 21634 408
MIN 786 397 301 88 882 0.505 0.561 2055 2054 1 21952 23142 -1190
OTT 786 387 303 96 870 0.492 0.553 2258 2265 -7 24064 24471 -407
PHI 786 382 298 106 870 0.486 0.553 2283 2282 1 23831 23975 -144
LAK 786 386 304 96 868 0.491 0.552 2103 2071 32 23722 21976 1746
CGY 786 383 314 89 855 0.487 0.544 2206 2251 -45 22452 23041 -589
TBL 786 377 320 89 843 0.480 0.536 2262 2365 -103 22907 23177 -270
COL 786 380 333 73 833 0.483 0.530 2182 2307 -125 23044 24209 -1165
BUF 786 360 332 94 814 0.458 0.518 2155 2271 -116 22972 24953 -1981
CAR 786 356 330 100 812 0.453 0.517 2132 2308 -176 24400 23655 745
WPG 786 357 335 94 808 0.454 0.514 2201 2398 -197 23091 24540 -1449
ARI 786 357 337 92 806 0.454 0.513 2030 2278 -248 23175 24539 -1364
FLA 786 343 326 117 803 0.436 0.511 2056 2279 -223 23672 24809 -1137
NYI 786 349 337 100 798 0.444 0.508 2145 2397 -252 23776 24250 -474
CBJ 786 346 349 91 783 0.440 0.498 2059 2313 -254 22789 23625 -836
TOR 786 335 349 102 772 0.426 0.491 2187 2501 -314 23645 24465 -820
EDM 786 298 398 90 686 0.379 0.436 2012 2471 -459 21557 24791 -3234

In the points column the Oilers trail the 29th place Maple Leafs by 86 points, a total large enough that if the Oilers could all but one of their last ten seasons and still be in last place overall. Basically the Oilers got lapped over the last decade. Looked at another way, the difference between the 30 place Oilers and the 29th place Maples Leafs is larger than the gap between the Leafs and the 19th place Calgary Flames. The Oilers are basically playing in a different league than everyone else. And the goal and shot differentials tell a similar story.

The goals are bad but theshot differential is simply amazing. With a shot differential of -3234, a full season pace of -337, the Oilers deserve some sort of medal. The Buffalo Sabres are the next worst team on the list and they're 1253 shots better than the Oilers. Put another way, the Oilers shot differential over the last decade has been 63% worse than that of the Sabres. 63% worse than the Sabres. One more time, 63% worse than the Sabres. If you need to take a minute to let that sink in, I'll understand, it's a shocking total. Really, If ever there was an argument for the NHL adopting relegation, the Oilers are that argument.

And perhaps the best (or maybe it's the worst, I can't tell anymore) part is that things have been bad basically from the opening night of the 2006/07 season. The graph below shows the team's cumulative goal and shot differential over the last ten years, and the lines just go down, down, down. Sure, in a couple places things seem to level out for a few games, or even tick up slightly, but then it's downhill again. This graph would be funny if it wasn't so sad, or if it was the Flames instead of the Oilers.

In a couple days I'll compare these ten seasons to the franchise's history, and that will probably be worse.