The Edmonton Oilers are starting down the stretch sitting in 3rd place in the Scotia North Division. The Winnipeg Jets have leap-frogged over them and are three points up on the Oilers. I wouldn’t say they have let the Winnipeg Jets leap ahead of them because it’s not really their fault they are on an extended break right now. This NHL season’s scheduling is just as messed up as everyone else’s in the world right now.
Extended breaks, postponed and rescheduled games, back-to-backs, etc. It’s a lot to contend with. So let’s have a look at my thoughts on the Oilers heading down the stretch to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Not Catching the Leafs Down the Stretch
The Toronto Maple Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division right now at 60 points. The Oilers have 52 points. While it’s not mathematically out of the question, I don’t think the Oilers will catch the Maple Leafs and win the division. The Leafs have been too strong this season and have bolstered their lineup even more with Nick Foligno and David Rittich. I expect the Oilers to do well down the stretch, but I also expect the Leafs to be almost unbeatable down the stretch.
Not Worried About Habs or Flames
The Montreal Canadiens are just seven points back of the Oilers. They also are missing goaltender Carey Price right now. Jake Allen is a good backup but not good enough to fend off the wolves scratching at the door. They play the Leafs four more times and the Oilers four more times. Those will all be tough games.
The Habs will also be playing the Calgary Flames four more times in the next eleven days. The same Calgary Flames that just beat them 4-1 last night. The same Calgary Flames have now won three in a row and seem to be firing on all cylinders. You can read about my thoughts on the Flames chances in my last article. So the Flames and the Habs will be battling for the last playoff spot in my mind. But the Oilers, already being ahead in the standings, shouldn’t have to contend with either of them.
Ready to Battle the Jets
So if the Oilers aren’t catching the Leafs and shouldn’t have to contend with the Habs or Flames, that leaves a battle for position between them and the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers play the Jets three more times in the next thirteen days. While those games will be important because they are against the team they are battling, the Oilers do have, what should be, a favorable schedule down the stretch.
The Oilers play the Vancouver Canucks five more times. Let’s face it, the Canucks may not be the Buffalo Sabres, but they definitely should be low-hanging fruit to me. The Canucks play has been hit and miss this season, landing a lot more towards the fence’s miss side. Now they have been dealing with a COVID outbreak. They are slowly recovering from that but will be nowhere near 100% for a while.
A lot is going to ride on two factors:
- The stellar goaltending they have been getting from Mike Smith has to continue to be solid. If he falters, back-up Mikko Koskinen can be really good. But he can also be really bad.
- Superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl need to be on and focused. One of the most powerful one-two offensive punches in the game needs to strike early and often preferably.
The Oilers will leap back over the Jets and take 2nd place in the division. They will likely have to face the Leafs to come out of the division in the Playoffs and I am all for that series!
I’m Jason Beisick, and I’ll be covering the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers for the Belly Up Hockey team. You can follow me on Twitter as well for general sports talk and likely some trash talk, and check out my podcast.