Jones allowed four goals on just 20 shots in the Sharks’ 4 3 overtime loss on the road in Edmonton. Are they really making a playoff push? Wasn’t it just last week that a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs caused the hockey world to consider the major moves GM Peter Chiarelli still needed to pull off for his last place team? Since then, the Oilers have reeled off four straight wins, including a 4 3 overtime victory Wednesday night versus the Sharks, pulling within three points of a playoff spot in the plodding Pacific Division. Okay, basically the entire division is tied for being mediocre behind the Los Angeles Kings, but Edmonton has pulled themselves back into it. But while Oilers fans would love to finally see a return to the playoffs, I’m not even sure that’s a must have at this stage. It’s more important that this team just stay in the race, something they haven’t done in years. It’s one thing to play a long season and then miss out on the playoffs on the final weekend; it’s another to have nothing left to play for by January, each and every season. You could make a good case that as brilliant as Taylor Hall is he scored the overtime winner against the Sharks he has never played a truly meaningful game in the NHL. That has to change, and now it seems like it’s about to. I’m just wholesale jerseys china
happy for Oilers fans that it’s December and they get to look at the standings with excitement rather than dread. We’ll ignore for a minute that the only reason there’s excitement is because the Pacific division is a dog’s breakfast. (Am I using that phrase correctly, Scotty?) When I spent time in Edmonton before the season, Chiarelli and head coach Todd McLellan were hesitant to share concrete goals for this season, other than that they wanted this group to make progress. Finally, we’re seeing it. It would be great for this franchise if they’re still in the playoff hunt when McDavid steps back on the ice, because I’m not sure there were many people who thought that would be the case. Um, yes. So much of the Oilers’ futility in the past decade has been centered around the lack of a franchise netminder. Yes, the defense has been iffy as they stockpiled talented forwards from a neverending supply of top five draft picks, but the goaltending has been a kind of carousel usually found in a Stephen King novel. But Anders Nilsson, the former New York Islanders prospect, has taken the reins at least for the short term and been the goalie of record throughout the recent impressive streak, allowing just eight total goals in that span. Playoffs? Why not? With the Arizona Coyotes sliding (five straight losses), the Canucks knocking off the slumping Rangers for their second straight win, and even the Calgary Flames surging with a three game winning streak, no one can be counted out in the Pacific. This is going to set up some serious wagering when I take Team Snail, er, Team Pacific Division, at the All Star showdown in Nashville. Bring it. Edmonton jumped to No. 20 after the first three of those wins, against the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres. As you guys pointed out, if they keep playing well until McDavid returns, they should be in the battle for a playoff spot. As we all saw during his time in Boston, Chiarelli is not afraid to pull off trades he believes will improve the team. So, yes, this team has the ability to keep itself in playoff contention.