So, what’s left between now and April 13 anyway?
That’s the date!
That’s the day this entire season has been all about, the date the NHL has decided the Edmonton Oilers will find out if they’ll have the first pick or the second pick in the draft.
But the question is what’s left between now and then?
Back from the Olympics and the Brier (with a brief stop-over for the trade deadline and my 40th wedding anniversary) I’ve gone almost six weeks of mercifully not having to watch this hockey club.
But the gig is up.
There are six Oilers home games left to cover.
So score me up, here.
I understand I already missed ‘Fan Appreciation Night.’
Has any team in NHL history ever held one earlier?
You’d think they’d make Fan Appreciation Night every night the rest of the way. Or at least have a Devan Dubnyk Guaranteed Win Night.
There’s that, I guess. Will Dubnyk win a game? After watching him go 0-8-2 with a 4.16 goals against average and a .868 save percentage behind the Great Giveaway Gang of 2009-2010, you wouldn’t want to miss that.
There’s the compelling season-long battle between Shawn Horcoff and Patrick O’Sullivan to end up with the worst plus-minus in the league — O’Sullivan is currently “leading” that category at minus 32 (in 847th place) to Horcoff’s minus 29 (in 846th place).
There’s the Battle of Alberta in the faceoff circle where the Flames sit 29th at 47.4 and the Oilers 30th at 46.8.
There’s also the riveting matter of figuring out which team ends up last 5-on-5. The Oilers are tied with Columbus at 0.75 goals per game in that category.
Can they remain last in both goals for and goals against?
Another one, which hasn’t managed to get much notice but is an indictment of the highest (lowest?) order is the outshot percentage. The Oilers’ are .217, safely ahead of Atlanta and Carolina, who have at least managed to outshoot the opposition one third (.333) of the time.
I missed the Oilers’ mathematical elimination from a playoff position. Did that occasion pass without notice?
Any day now there will be the official clinching of last place in the conference. At least I didn’t miss that. As it sits now, the magic number for that is three. Any combination of Edmonton losses and Columbus wins totalling three and that’ll be taken care of.
And then of course, will be the countdown to the highlight of the regular season — the actual official finishing of 30th in the 30-team league. As that sits right now, any combination of losses by Edmonton and wins by the Toronto Maple Leafs totalling eight will give the Oilers dead last in the league for the first time in their history and a chance to pick first.
Which brings us to back to April 13 and the lottery.
If the standings remain the same, Edmonton has a 48.2% chance of winning the first pick, Boston (with Toronto’s pick) 18.8%, Carolina 14.2%, N.Y. Islanders 10.7% and Florida Panthers 8.1%.
The lottery has to be far more exciting and entertaining than an actual Oilers game.
And it’s getting close enough now I suppose we should start to hype it.
It involves 14 balls, you know. One for each team out of the playoffs.
The balls with numbers 1-14 are placed in a lottery machine in a conference room at the NHL offices in New York.
There will be appropriate witnesses and even a brief telecasting of the moment if not an entire gala show like FIFA’s World Cup draw.
Four of the 14 balls are drawn, forming a series of numbers. It’s entirely possible considering that the Oilers are involved that six or seven of them will end up spilling out on on the floor.
Anyway, a probability chart created by Bortz & Company divides the possible combinations among the 14 participating clubs.
There are 1,001 numerical combinations possible with one combination eliminated to make the odds fair. If the eliminated combination is drawn, the drawing is immediately re-done. Wouldn’t it be exciting if this was the one year between now and the 3010-3011 season that it happened?
Anyway, the four digit series that results from the balls being drawn are then compared to the probability chart to determine the team to which that combination has been assigned.
But whoa! Settle down. Relax. Twelve games to go, six at home, before we get to that palpitating action.