On Friday, we took a look at a few reasons why the Oilers couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs. Today, the other side of the coin.
When you go ten years without making the playoffs, any incremental improvement is lauded. You’ll remember the lockout shortened season when the Oilers won 19 games, Nail Yakupov had 17 goals, and the club was in the playoff conversation til near the end? Yeah, you remember the season they traded for Jerred Smithson. Who could forget? Then the club fired Ralph Krueger? I’m getting ahead of myself again.
Anyways, the Oilers finished within a goal of getting into the third round of the playoffs. That’s not bad at all. That’s a lake to someone who hasn’t had a drop of water in some time.
What’s the best reason that the Oilers did so well this year?
Some possible solutions.
Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL right now. He’s only 20 years old, and he just compiled a 100 point season (30-70-100) in his first complete year in the league. The man slices, he dices, he juliennes fries. His 100 points is eleven more than second place finishers Sidney Crosby (89 points in 75 games) and Patrick Kane (89 in 82). Anyone who plays with McDavid can expect a near-immediate boost (unless you’re Milan Lucic). McDavid finished with nine points in thirteen playoff games (5-4-9).
With the exception of Devan Dubnyk, Cam Talbot is the first goaltender since Dwayne Roloson to come in and hold up the tent. Good God, were you here for all of that? The whole ‘we signed Ilya Bryzgalov and everything’s gonna be good now, you guys’ period? Yeah, that was a slice. Talbot has brought stability to the goaltender position, and I’m kind of glad it happened when Connor McDavid is here. Talbot’s all-situations SV% was .919 in 2016-17. Let’s put that alongside some other seasons of Oiler goaltending.
- Talbot 16-17: .919
- Gustavsson 16-17: .878
- Talbot 15-16: .917
- Nilsson 15-16: .901
- Scrivens 14-15: .890
- Dubnyk: 13-14: .894
- Dubnyk 12-13: .920
- Dubnyk 11-12: .914
- Khabibulin 10-11: .890
- Deslauriers 09-10: .901 (honestly, was surprised it was this high)
- Roloson 08-09: .915
- Garon 07-08: .913
Someone should’ve gotten fired the moment that Khabibulin was signed to a 4 year 35+ deal. My God.
AN IMPROVED DEFENCE
Now that we’ve got the especially controversial topic of goaltending out of the way, let’s talk blue line. The Oilers paid a hefty price when acquiring Adam Larsson, and even though it was an utterly expensive piece, he fit quite nicely into the top four. There’s been much discussion about the efficacy of Kris Russell, who was a late signing for one year. I will say this, the guy blocks shots like it’s his job. Oscar Klefbom is your top power play guy, and I don’t think anyone who identifies as a fan of this team will argue against the successful season that Andrej Sekera had with the club. Goals against for this club was 8th in the league, a sharp uptick from 25th the year prior.
Tyler Pitlick and Darnell Nurse missed substantial time this season. Fortunately for the Oilers, that’s where the real terrible injuries stopped. A healthy Connor McDavid, a healthy Cam Talbot, and an unrealistic bout of good health kept the Oilers afloat.
There are many factors that contributed to the Oilers’ first playoff berth in ten years. It’s a playoff berth that took the club to the end of the second round, and short of anything further, I couldn’t be any happier. Good. Drafting in the mid-20s sounds nice for a change.
What’s the biggest reason the Oilers had success in 2016-17?
What’s the biggest reason for Edmonton’s success in 2016-17?
This poll is closed
Improved blue line
Something else (leave comment)