At the midpoint of the season, the Edmonton Oilers were mediocre at home. They started the season 9-1-0 at Rogers Place, and then December came. For those of you who don’t remember, don’t want to remember, or remember all too well, the Oilers then spiralled down their division, losing 13 of 15 games.
They followed their 9-1-0 home start with a 1-7-0 record at home in the following eight games. The top 10 teams all have more than twice as many wins at home than regulation losses. All NHL teams have to travel to other cities, arenas, and places where they aren’t familiar and play in front of a crowd that’s cheering against them. Good teams know how to take advantage of these factors, and it’s called home-ice advantage for a reason.
The Oilers used to have a better record on the road than they did at home, but that has changed recently. Don’t get me wrong, good teams win on the road as well, but it usually doesn’t come at the expense of their performance in their own building. When the playoffs hit, home-ice advantage is huge, and to win a series, a team needs to be great at home and solid on the road.
Oilers’ Recent Success at Home
Jay Woodcroft has now been the Oilers’ head coach for 22 games, with a respectable 13-7-2 record. Teams often get a boost when a coach is switched mid-season, and that was the case for Edmonton. A new outlook, system, and voice in the room gave some players an opportunity that may not have gotten before.
Woodcroft jumped out to a 5-0-0 record before the Oilers came back down to Earth. They had one of the best losing road trips I’ve ever seen based on their fight and how they were able to stay in games against three of the top teams in the NHL. Their last loss at home was against the Montreal Canadiens on March 5, 5-2, two days after that long and strenuous five-game road trip. I would give the Oilers a bit of a pass here, considering the Canadiens have been completely different under new head coach Martin St. Louis despite their weak roster. But it seems like that loss didn’t sit well with the team.
The Oilers have since gone 6-0-0 at home and have scored four or more goals in each of their past six home games for a total of 32. That’s an average of 5.33 goals for per game, while their play on the other side of the puck has improved despite noticeable struggles from key defencemen in away games. The Oilers have allowed just 15 goals in those six games.
Edmonton’s game at home and on the road is like night and day, having lost five in a row away from Rogers Place.
How Oilers Match Up Against Top Teams at Home
Teams will go on hot and cold streaks, but the very best teams consistently find a way to win at home. Here’s a look at how the Oilers match up to the league’s best on home ice.
Colorado Avalanche: 26-4-3 (55 points)
Florida Panthers: 26-6-0 (52 points)
Carolina Hurricanes: 24-5-4 (52 points)
Toronto Maple Leafs: 24-7-2 (50 points)
Calgary Flames: 21-6-6 (48 points)
New York Rangers: 22-6-3 (47 points)
Minnesota Wild: 23-7-1 (47 points)
All of these teams make it difficult for the opposition to come in and match up against them. A strong home game also builds confidence, which is hard to get but easy to lose.
The Oilers are 20-12-0 (40 points) at home this season, but if you take out that 1-7-0 stretch, they have a 19-5-0 record. Of course, that can be said of any team if you take out their bad stretch. But the Oilers’ record also shows they can be dominant over a period of time at home and build momentum. The Oilers sit 15th in the league in points at home, but 9-1-0 and 6-0-0 stretches suggest they can string together wins and build off previous wins to continue their success for a full season.
Oilers End the Season With Important Home Schedule
With a three-game homestand coming up against the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, and St. Louis Blues, the Oilers will aim to take four points out of it, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they can take all three games after they got run out of the building in Calgary on Saturday.
Edmonton should be able to take out their frustration on the lowly Coyotes, who have lost five in a row and allowed four goals against in four of those games. Then they welcome the Kings in the third matchup of the season series, each team having won a game on the road. The Kings have been mediocre lately, winning five of their past 10 games, but they are one of the best road teams even if they are pretty banged up right now. It’s important to take points off the Kings if the Oilers want home-ice advantage in the first round, let alone secure a playoff berth.
The final game of the homestand is against the Blues, who are in the first wild-card spot. The Oilers would like to take points away from them just to be safe as well.
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After that, the Oilers will go on the road for five of the next six games and will finish the season with five of seven games at home, including key matchups against the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, and the last game of the season vs the Vancouver Canucks.
TSN’s Jason Gregor pointed out that to reach the 95-point mark – the typical cutoff to make the playoffs – the Oilers will have to finish 9-7 after their loss to the Flames, which is very doable. It doesn’t matter how the Oilers get in as long as the best players in the league (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) get a shot at playoff hockey, and it starts with their play at Rogers Place.