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Saturday, September 27, 2008


on 27 September 2008

The Oilers have only made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs once since the Lockout, taking Carolina to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. Last year, a non-playoff season, the Oilers narrowly missed the playoffs.

They have been relatively easy to predict against the Playoff Qualifying Curve – the PQC. In losing, once they reach elimination criteria, they maintain that status for the remainder of the season. In their Stanley Cup Final season, they reached the point that they were on track to secure a playoff berth and then constantly flirted over the last half of the season with dropping below the PQC. Oilers fans should therefore be looking for On Goal Analysis (OGA) to be able to say that Edmonton has either solidly clinched a playoff berth, or that they should remain on the edge of their seats until the final regular season buzzer. What made last season conclude by mid-NOVEMBER, and what is on the 2008/9 horizon?

The Oilers ended the last three years with an average rating of –4.67 below the PQC. Of note from the 2007/8 season the Oilers’:
  • Played the first 10 games with a mid-period, four-game losing streak and ended as an overall –1 against the PQC.

  • Were two-for-three in ‘Bonus Hockey’, but only managed one additional win against six losses, eliminating them from playoff contention by 17 NOVEMBER. (Mathematical elimination was not until 55 games later on 20 MARCH.)
As a bottom line, we view the Oilers as a team whose play against the PQC potentially requires scrutiny as late as Game 50 (the end of JANUARY) before a definitive decision about their post-season can be made.

A measure of the Oilers’ performance against the PQC is shown in the graph below. Your gut feeling tells you that Edmonton narrowly missed the playoffs last year. The PQC, however, shows that they actually failed to make the playoffs because of their performance in Games 11 – 20, 31 – 40 and 51 - 60. All together, then ended only three wins short of a playoff berth.

The Oilers’ first 10 games of the season are played 12 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER. Our analysis indicates that in that time frame, Edmonton earns an average PQC rating of 4.5. They have won all home openers and lost all road openers in the last three seasons.

Some additional, critical statistics to keep in mind for the month of OCTOBER are:
  • Edmonton tends to win at only a 40% clip in their first 10 games with the vast majority of those victories coming at home (66.7%), a statistic that will not help them much in their first 10 games.
  • The Oilers lose 69.23% of games in the 7 – 16 OCTOBER time frame.
  • Tuesdays and Sundays are not kind to Edmonton as they have only won a combined 35.87% on those days.
  • And the Oilers play an average of 1.67 ‘Bonus Hockey’ games in their first 10, producing 1/3 of their OCTOBER and NOVEMBER wins in extra periods
During this stretch of play OGA will carefully scrutinize team play and forward your Edmonton OilersGame 10 Report to season subscribers by 2pm CST on 2 NOVEMBER and make it available for order from the On Goal Analysis web site by 2pm on 3 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here…)

Is Edmonton going to experience a 2008/9 season like last year, or will they return to post-season battle? Looking ahead through NOVEMBER, it is very important to note that the Oilers play less than one-in-every-three games at home. Coupled with that schedule is the fact that they have only won an average of 48.8% of road games over the last three seasons. Playing to that average would place the Oilers at a -1.5 below the PQC, a deficit that is not insurmountable.

So if Edmonton’s talent, such as The Kid Line up front, Souray and Visnovsky on the blueline, and Garon and Roloson in net, can play along the PQC on the road through the first 30 games, they will be in good shape to press for a playoff spot in the West. If team history is to be our guide, this season indicates the Oilers are a team to observe for the long haul as mid- to late-JANUARY is usually a critical time for this team. OGA will be there to make the call, and you can be, too.

More to follow. Until tomorrow and the Minnesota Wild Season Preview Report (SPR), this is The Colonel signing off…


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