Complete Guide to the Edmonton Oilers Playoff Push
The Edmonton Oilers' playoff chances took a severe blow thanks to five straight losses, punctuated with a 4-1 defeat to their provincial rivals from Calgary.
Though the Oilers are only six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, the team is slumping at the worst possible time and unfortunately will need to not only win most (if not all) of the rest of its games, but get some help from other teams as well.
With seven games remaining, here is the complete guide to the Edmonton Oilers' playoff push.
The Oilers Must Win All Remaining Games
The Oilers' playoff hopes took a big hit with a loss to the Calgary Flames on April 13.
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Unfortunately for the Oilers, the team's playoff aspirations are rapidly fading.
Since handing the Calgary Flames an 8-2 loss on April 3, Edmonton has lost five straight games—including a rematch loss to the Flames.
If the Oilers are to even have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs this season, the team will have to win all of its remaining seven games.
This will be no easy task considering that the Oilers have two games left against the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks have already clinched a playoff spot, but the Wild are competing for playoff position and will be looking for a win against a Western Conference rival.
The Oilers will also have to close out the season against the Vancouver Canucks on April 27, and while the team should know whether or not it will be making the playoffs, the game is still sure to have significant meaning.
The Stars Will Have to Step Up
The Oilers need Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to contribute offensively during this playoff push.
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Since exploding for eight goals against the Calgary Flames on April 3, the Oilers have only managed to score four goals in the last five games while surrendering 17 goals against.
The Oilers' top line of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have failed to register a single point over the last five games, and unfortunately for the team, if this line isn't registering points, the Oilers likely aren't winning.
Not only is the top line struggling, but Sam Gagner—who has enjoyed a breakout season this year—is also struggling to find the consistency that he enjoyed during the first two months of the shortened season.
Edmonton has little to hope of making a serious push for the playoffs if its stars aren't contributing on the scoresheet, with six out of seven games remaining against current playoff-bound teams, the Oilers' stars will have to work for their points.
Devan Dubnyk Has to Be the Difference
If Devan Dubnyk can get on a roll, the Oilers could ride his performance to a playoff position.
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Devan Dubnyk has been the losing goaltender in three games during the Oilers' five-game skid, and though his numbers have been relatively decent, the team needs Dubnyk to raise his level of play to help it push toward the playoffs.
At times this season, Dubnyk has been the deciding factor for the team and has held the Oilers in close games. For his efforts, Dubnyk features a .922 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.52.
Solid numbers considering the Oilers surrender the second-most shots against in the NHL, averaging 33 shots against per game this season.
With such a young team in front of him, Dubnyk has to provide stability in the Oilers' goal if the team is to keep its faint playoff hopes alive.
Now Is the Time to Establish Identity
Will the Oilers give up on the season if they are eliminated from playoff contention?
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The Edmonton Oilers are lucky to have such a talented group of forwards, but beyond their high-end skilled players, the Oilers lack substance.
While the skill players will be the ones providing the spark, it is the role players and the supporting cast that will shape the team's identity.
The Oilers have a few players, such as Ladislav Smid and Mike Brown, who provide that physical presence to the team, but the Oilers lack a blend of diversity to their attack.
Edmonton will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this season after struggling down the stretch, but these next seven games could go a long way in helping to establish the team's identity.
The remaining games will establish whether or not the Oilers have that desire and the drive to compete night in and night out.
If the Oilers are eliminated from playoff contention midway through this final push toward the end of the season, it will be interesting to see if the team essentially quits, or players continue to play out the season with maximum effort.