Oilers’ Early Season Success Should Lead to Division Title Bid

The start of a season is just as critical as any other point. The Edmonton Oilers know just as well as anyone that you can’t secure your season in the first games of your season, but you can definitely take yourself out of it. The splits between seasons when the Oilers made the playoffs and when they missed is very noticeable. After each of the first five, 10, and 15 games of the season, overall, they are very positive. This shows the results from each Oilers season since 2005-06.

With how the seasons always turned out in the dark years of the 10-year playoff drought, good starts may have changed the outcome, and the teams could have gained momentum or even a few extra points that would’ve seen them sneak into a bottom playoff spot. The start of a season can also determine the direction of management, specifically coaches’ jobs that will be in jeopardy (“Edmonton Oilers have been through their share of coaches under Daryl Katz ownership”, Edmonton Sun, Nov. 20, 2018). A couple of points can also change the mindset of general managers around the trade deadline, as they will be calculating their chances, and one point can make a world of difference.

Analyzing the Oilers’ Past 16 Starts

Totals Start of Season Records

  • First 5: 39-37-4
  • First 10: 74-70-16
  • First 15: 109-112-19

Years Oilers made playoffs

  • First 5: 13-6-0
  • First 10: 21-16-3
  • First 15: 35-22-3

Years Oilers missed playoffs

  • First 5 Games: 26-31-4
  • First 10 Games: 53-54-13
  • First 15 Games: 74-90-16

The Oilers are a very average team when it comes to the beginning of the season, heavily affected by the 12 out of 16 seasons where they didn’t qualify for the postseason. But the starts were always positive when the team ended up playing in the playoffs at the season’s end.

2005-06 Season, Stanley Cup Finalists

The Oilers had a very streaky start to the season that saw them have the most success in years. They started the season off on a three-game win streak, followed by a seven-game losing streak. It took some time, but after losing seven in a row, the team won five straight games, recording 17 points in the first 15 games.

Chris Pronger Edmonton Oilers
Chris Pronger, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The season ended with their team finishing with a record of 41-28-13, good for 95 points, and eighth place in the West. This was the start of their run that took them to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 3-2-0
  • First 10 Games: 3-6-1
  • First 15 Games: 8-6-1

2006-07 Season, Missed Playoffs

This was the start of a long run of missing the playoffs and acquiring draft picks. It was a big drop-off from the previous season in points, as the Oilers finished the season with 71 points, 24 less than 2005-06. The playoff cut-off was 96 points, one more than when the Oilers qualified. Their downfall wasn’t the start of the season, where they had as many points as games. It was the last month of the season, where they had a 12-game losing streak followed two games later by a six-game losing streak, a stretch that saw them get three of a possible 38 points.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 3-2-0
  • First 10 Games: 6-4-0
  • First 15 Games: 7-7-1

2007-08 Season, Missed Playoffs

The start of the season was very poor and was the difference-maker in the Oilers season when it comes down to it. They finished ninth place in the West, three points out of the playoffs. Two seasons before, they made it into that eighth spot and knocked off the first-place Detroit Red Wings, a team that was at the top again in 2007-08.

This season saw their worst record in the first five games and first 15. What killed them was multiple four-game losing streaks in the first 16 games of the season, and they were fighting an uphill battle right from the start. The Oilers did end the season with a record of 41-35-6, but not easily. It required multiple winning streaks throughout the season and a strong finish.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 2-3-0
  • First 10 Games: 4-6-0
  • First 15 Games: 5-10-0

2008-09 Season, Missed Playoffs

These are right in the middle years where the Oilers couldn’t make the playoffs and weren’t bad enough to get good first-round picks. They started this season promising very early but quickly had that erased. They were 4-0 to start the season but lost five games in a row directly following that. This ended up being their longest losing streak of the season, and they finished the year six points back of a playoff spot with 85 points.

Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers (Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

It was the Oilers’ best start in the first five games, and they had the same record as the year they went to the Cup Final.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 4-1-0
  • First 10 Games: 5-4-1
  • First 15 Games: 8-6-1

2009-10 Season, Last in the NHL

The start of the season wasn’t the undoing of the Oilers this season, but it definitely could have been better. They had some bad losing streaks in a year where they were nowhere close to playoff contention. They finished dead last in the league by 12 points. Their losing streak during the season included four games, seven games, 13 games, and two of five games. They got off to a nice start, but good teams are able to hold that throughout the season.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 3-1-1
  • First 10 Games: 6-3-1
  • First 15 Games: 7-7-1

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2010-11 Season, Last in the NHL

This season the Oilers had a horrible start, losing six consecutive games twice in the first 18 games of the season. The pace continued throughout the year, as they finished in last place in the NHL again, this time winning two fewer games than the previous year. They started off the season with a two-game winning streak, but that wasn’t too impressive since their opponents both missed the playoffs as well.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 2-3-0
  • First 10 Games: 3-5-2
  • First 15 Games: 4-8-3

2011-12 Season, Missed Playoffs

Despite a six-game winning streak in the first 12 games of the season and a start of 8-2-2, they fell off soon after that, finishing second-last in the league. This was an outlier year that saw a very good start dwindle away rather than starting off average or below average and trailing off over the season. The Oilers had no significant losing streaks but were unable to put any win streaks together all year long.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 2-2-1
  • First 10 Games: 6-2-2
  • First 15 Games: 9-4-2

2012-13 Season, Missed Playoffs

This season started with a lot of close games, winning and losing three games each past regulation. This could change the momentum in a team’s season. It didn’t help out the Oilers that they only won consecutive games once in the first 25 games of the season and three games in a row for the first time in game 34 of the season.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 3-2-0
  • First 10 Games: 4-3-3
  • First 15 Games: 6-6-3

2013-14 Season, Missed Playoffs

This season was lost in the very early goings, as the Oilers sported a negative record from game one of the season and on. The Oilers had nothing going to start this season, losing five consecutive games three times in the first 21 games. It worked out in their favour, finally drafting an integral piece to their future in Leon Draisaitl after finishing third to last.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 1-3-1
  • First 10 Games: 3-6-1
  • First 15 Games: 3-10-2

2014-15 Season, Missed Playoffs

Another very streaky start to a season. The Oilers started 2014-15 by losing five games in a row before coming right back with a four-game winning streak, only to fall completely out of it after that. After the up and down start, they lost four games straight, 11 consecutive, and nine consecutive by game 36 of the season. They also had a losing streak of seven games later in the year, but nothing could have turned around that season after the start.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 0-4-1
  • First 10 Games: 4-5-1
  • First 15 Games: 6-8-1

2015-16 Season, Missed Playoffs

Once again, the Oilers started off their season on a losing streak, and again they came back with a short winning streak to almost get their record back to even. But the inability to string wins together, mixed with the long injury to newly acquired star rookie Connor McDavid, they weren’t able to turn their season around.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 1-4-0
  • First 10 Games: 3-7-0
  • First 15 Games: 5-10-0

2016-17 Season, Lost in Round 2

The Oilers finally snapped their record-tying 10-year playoff drought with a season that saw them finish with over 100 points and two points back of first in their division. They had a very strong start, winning seven of the first eight games before cooling off a bit. That start fueled the rest of their season and helped them into the playoffs.

Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Record

  • First 5 Games: 4-1-0
  • First 10 Games: 7-2-1
  • First 15 Games: 9-5-1

2017-18 Season, Missed Playoffs

A down season followed after a bad start. They lost four consecutive after an opening night win and couldn’t string together wins until back-to-back overtime victories in their 14th and 15th games. They weren’t anywhere close to returning to the playoffs, as they finished the season with 78 points while the postseason required 95, generally how much it takes to get in.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 1-4-0
  • First 10 Games: 3-6-1
  • First 15 Games: 6-8-1

2018-19 Season, Missed Playoffs

Another start that saw the Oilers with a negative win/loss record, which resulted in the firing of Todd McLellan, the coach of the team that broke the one-year playoff drought. They just weren’t ever able to get anything going this season after the start they had. Though their first five, 10, and 15 games were respectable, it started to go downhill shortly after.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 3-2-0
  • First 10 Games: 6-3-1
  • First 15 Games: 8-6-1

2019-20 Season, Lost in Qualifier

The Oilers made a return to the playoffs after a hot start. It was their best five-game start since prior to their Stanley Cup Final appearance, going a perfect 5-0 and winning seven of the first eight. The last time the Oilers started this well, they also made the playoffs. To this point, it was the most wins recorded in the first 15 games since the start of this list with 10.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 5-0-0
  • First 10 Games: 7-2-1
  • First 15 Games: 10-4-1

2020-21 Season, Lost Round 1

The very start of the season wasn’t ideal, but the Oilers corrected it by turning it around by game 15 of the season. By game 29 of the season, they recorded winning streaks of five, four, and three twice. This was a shortened season that saw the Oilers play each team at least nine times during the season.

Record

  • First 5 Games: 2-3-0
  • First 10 Games: 4-6-0
  • First 15 Games: 8-7-0

The Oilers only won four or more in the first five games of the season three times, two of them resulting in years where they finished second place in their division. They only finished second place or higher in their division one other time, that being last season. They not only have a chance to finish high in their division, but they could also be serious Stanley Cup contenders.

The Oilers started this season 2-0-0 with a full team effort and are looking to come out of the first five, 10, and 15 games of the season with a positive record so they have something to build on. Early success will predicate the direction the team is headed this season, as all four times the Oilers made it to the postseason, they had a positive win/loss record at the 15-game mark. The deeper it gets into the season, the more you get to face a variety of teams and play a more even home or away schedule.

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After the Oilers have already knocked off their two closest rivals to start the season in the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, they take on two of the weaker teams in the NHL (Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes). They then battle against a Vegas Golden Knights team that’s missing Max Pacioretty. The only real challenge for the Oilers at the start of their schedule comes around game 13 when the competition picks up for a bit.

The Oilers are a good team themselves, and they’ve shown it. With the talent up front and the depth acquired, they look to continue to roll and get off to the best start in well over a decade.


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