Oilers: Western Conference struggles could continue in 2015-16
By Rob Soria
With last night's 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Edmonton Oilers have now dropped a staggering 32 of 36 games against Western Conference opponents. While the team's play has improved under the guidance of Todd Nelson, if Craig MacTavish does not make some major changes to his roster prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign, expecting much in the way of improvement when it comes to the win column would be rather unrealistic.
Edmonton - February 22, 2015 - After dropping a 2-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, the Edmonton Oilers have now gone a miserable 4-23-9 against the Western Conference. While the nine loser points they have earned gives them seventeen points on the year, the fact they have won four of their thirty-six contests is downright staggering.
Be it with Dallas Eakins or Todd Nelson behind the bench, this group is simply incapable of winning games against the west. To put it into perspective, every singles team in the Eastern Conference has more wins than the Oilers do against West. Even the Buffalo Sabres, who lead Edmonton by six points in the race for thirtieth and earning the best shot at grabbing Connor McDavid, have five wins to their credit.
Just let that sink in for minute. For as much as some like to go on about how the Oilers would be in such better shape if they played out East, how about we focus on something that actually has something to do with reality? Wondering aloud as to how this team would fair in a different conference is all well and good but it is as pointless an exercise as one could per take in.
Heck if we are going to be talking nonsense, how many games could they win with Carey Price or Pekka Rinne in goal and if Sidney Crosby and Drew Doughty were in their lineup? That is right, sitting around and contemplating where the Oilers would finish in either the Atlantic or Metropolitan Division is as dumb a talking point as wondering how good this team would be with some of the better players in the game wearing Oilers silks. None of it matters and it is frankly a pointless endeavour.
As of this moment, the Arizona Coyotes have the second fewest wins against their so-called Western Conference rivals. Anyone want to take a stab at what that number might be? Not surprisingly, it is nowhere near Edmonton’s almost laughable. On the strength of going a perfect 5-0 record against the Oilers that currently sits at twelve…three times as many as the Orange and Blue. Again, sit back and let that sink in for a minute.
While everyone wants to focus on the collective groups improved work ethic since Eakins’ departure and the possibility of signing a guy like Derek Roy to a deal for next season, understand that making such a move will guarantee this group remains where it currently sits for the 2015-16 season…at or near the bottom of the standings. It may not want to be fans want to hear but it is the reality of the situation.
Coming into this season, the Edmonton needed to add two forwards into their top six. Regardless of how well the long-time Buffalo Sabre and Nail Yakupov have looked over the last twenty or so games, that has not changed. In order to have any hope of competing with teams out west, Craig MacTavish is going to have to go out and find himself a second line centre, a top six winger, a starting goaltender and depending on how things ultimately play out with Jeff Petry, two or possibly three defenceman.
There is no question this team is playing better under Todd Nelson during what has essentially been garbage time. The improvements are obvious but so are the overall group’s limitations. Unless that changes, fans should be expecting nothing more than a pile of losses when it comes to games the Oilers play against Western Conference opponents in 2015-16.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at email@example.com