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Principe's Blog: All-Star Break-ing it Down

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers headed into the All-Star break having collected 3 of a possible 4 points in a pair of shootout decisions to the Sharks & Canucks last week (Photo by Getty Images).

Ottawa, Mexico, maybe Vegas and other parts known and unknown is where the Edmonton Oilers spent the All-Star break. Away for a few days of R&R or, in the case of the injured, namely Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a different 'R' as in 'Rehab' for his injured shoulder. He isn't the only one, but he is the one everyone seems to be waiting for when it comes to a return. He and others will set up an interesting final 33 games to the season for Edmonton and when the 2011-12 season is over where this edition of the team finishes in the standings and in points.

Where they sit now is 29th, but they also sat there before their last two games prior to the break. Only difference was before San Jose and Vancouver, the Oilers were a team on the way down, but after getting three out of a possible four points from a really good team and a great team, Edmonton looks a little more like a team on the way up. They looked a little more like the club that blasted out of the gate at 8-2-2 and had thoughts of playoffs dancing through the hearts and heads of all that support them.

As I've heard a handful of Oilers say in the last 10 days the post-season now appears to be a longshot. We'll use 95 points as our basis. Edmonton has 41 points and an available 66 left on the table. If they won every game (just humor me here for a second), the maximum points they could get is 107. Six regulation losses or any combination of 12 points lost and the Oilers would be at 95. Further delving into my limited math skills and Edmonton's record would have to be something like 25-4-4 in order to have a legitimate chance at the post-season. If you think 90 points will do it, then 23-6-3. If you expect 85 will be enough, then 20-9-4 would get them there.

Unlikely as it is Edmonton has other numbers to look at in order to show improvement if not a playoff spot. If they play .500 hockey in the last 33 games they'll total 74 points. If you consider they haven't been without all three of their top forwards (Hall, Eberle and RNH) and without their top 2 D-men (Whitney and Gilbert), that could be looked upon as at least a moderate success. If they went, for example, something like 17-11-5 and finished the season at 80 points. I would term that a big success with an 18 point jump in the standings from the 62 points they had last year. It would also put them about halfway to their goal of points needed in a year from now to make the post-season.

There is a lot to still play for this year if you are the Edmonton Oilers. Respect, points, development, jobs and awards (Calder Trophy) are just a few that have been put in no particular order. I'm going to tell you I think Edmonton will finish very close to 80 points this year. Give or take a few how many points do you think the Oilers will end up with this season? I await your responses.
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