Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Sunday Census: Where will the Edmonton Oilers finish in the division?

With the Edmonton Oilers banking points left and right, the team has shot up the divisional standings quite quickly. While this meteoric rise has been thanks to the Oilers strong play, it has also been helped by the rest of the Pacific Division stumbling through the early weeks of 2023. As of the morning of February 11, no Pacific Division team has won more than five of their past ten games.

With circumstances changing drastically we took to the polls to see how Oil Country is feeling about these recent trends. Are the Oilers for real? Will any other Pacific Division teams sort themselves out? In a line, when the regular season is all said and done, where will the Oilers finish in the Pacific Division?

We asked, you answered. Let’s take a look!

Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @oilrigEDM. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!

First in the Pacific Division

With over 50% of all votes, a majority of Oilers fans have seen enough to be believers. With their strong performance down the stretch last season, the Oilers entered this season as the favourite to win the division. Despite the middling start to the season, the Oilers have regained the confidence of our voting public.

While the Western Conference houses some really strong teams, the conference-leading Dallas Stars and defending champion Colorado Avalanche included, the Oilers might well be the toast of the West as a whole. Since coach Woodcroft took over a year ago, the Oilers have the fourth best record in the league, including the best record in the Western Conference.

Oilers should expect home ice in the first round

The second most popular option in our poll, one-third of voters think the Oilers will fall just short of the division crown. This vote might say less about opinions on the Oilers than it does about the rest of the division—essentially betting that one of the Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle Kraken, or Los Angeles Kings manage to come back into their own.

The Knights have a growing list of concerns, with Mark Stone injured and Jack Eichel struggling. The goaltending is unheralded, but the Knights should not be underestimated, as one of their hallmark aggressive transactions could turn the tides.

The Kraken have done well in their sophomore season, an upstart group with an incredible depth at forward and a blueline that has come together much nicer than last season. The test will be if they can maintain their results down the stretch, when intensity ratchets up.

The Kings are one of the more interesting teams to watch around the NHL. A combination of youth and experience, both aspects to a level unmatched by most around the league, the Kings have everything they need to be a factor this spring.

Only a small fraction believes the Oilers will finish third

While banking on one of the Pacific Division rivals to catch lightning in a bottle might seem reasonable for our voters, the idea that two of those teams will outduel the Oilers is not popular at all.

Perhaps some of these voters are thinking that the Calgary Flames will be able to heat up down the stretch. The Oilers’ rivals had a great deal of turnover this offseason, and continuity through a lineup is an under-discussed aspect in hockey. Given how much Jacob Markstrom was overworked last season, it isn’t all that surprising that his play has been a bit worse, as Oilers fans will remember Cam Talbot suffering a similar fate in the 2017–18 season. The Flames do have some scoring talent that seems ready to burst up from the AHL, the spark that might ignite the lineup as a whole.

The Oilers should not find themselves below wild card

Just under one in ten voters remain unconvinced on the Oilers viability. Are they seeing something that we aren’t? Worried about some impending unfortunate circumstance? Perhaps they have just drank a bit too much of the proverbial hater-ade?

Two months ago, somewhere between mid to late December, this option would have been much more popular than it is now, meaning that a likely reason for voters to pick this option is they haven’t checked in on the positive developments since then. The Oilers have begun to dominate the flow of play, and individual contributions have made large differences, in particular the return of Evander Kane, the rediscovery of Jack Campbell’s game, the rising of Philip Broberg’s NHL readiness, and the effectiveness of Vincent Desharnais as a critically necessary role player.

With the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks all firmly in various stages of rebuilding or retooling, it is virtually impossible the Oilers will find themselves lower than fifth in the division, or firmly in the wild card race in general. The Oilers will play a great deal of games against both the Ducks and Sharks down the stretch of the season, which should keep them from falling out of the playoff race in a worst case scenario.

Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire

Gregory Babinski

twitter: @axiomsofice

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