Thirty-seven straight power plays without scoring!
Now, I’ll be honest here. I don’t much like writing “What’s wrong with the power play?” columns. How many times in one career is a Canadian columnist likely to write that one?
Especially in Edmonton?
But this one is different!
This one has sizzle. This one has flair.
This one, like a lot of the things you are witnessing during what has become known (thanks to Don Metz’s excellent documentary series) as the Oil Change, doesn’t need a Bruce Boudreau adjective between every word.
It needs to be savoured. It needs to be cherished. It needs to be celebrated.
You have to have the right attitude about what you’re watching here.
Normally, the populace would be irate, the fans would be incensed and there would be venom pouring from the pages of your sports sections.
But, viewed correctly in the big picture of what’s happening here, it’s more like the 1969 New York Mets.
If Casey Stengel were only still alive.
Or Marvelous Marv Throneberry.
The sports statistical magicians at the Elias Sports Bureau, who have been getting a lot of calls from your correspondent lately, revealed the complete compete picture the Oilers are painting here.
“Going back to the Oilers’ first year in 1979-1980, the Oilers have never gone 13 games without a power play goal before,” said John Lamombarda of Elias after completing the statistical search by request Monday following the Oilers going zero-for-five Sunday night in Anaheim.
Edmonton hasn’t scored a power play goal since before Christmas. The last one was scored by Taylor Hall Dec. 23 in Los Angeles on goaltender Jonathon Quick.
They’ve had a clean sheet ever since.
Ales Hemsky returned to the lineup Dec. 28. Hmmmm.
To achieve this pinnacle of poor power play performance the Oilers had a 5-on-3 at the end of the Ducks game, pulled the goalie and then watched Saku Koivu break his stick and, incredibly, go back to the bench to get a new one, effectively creating a 6-skaters-on-two situation.
Unbelievably, there was no shot on goal.
The Elias people were absolutely no help at all in determining if that was the first 6-on-2 in all of hockey history that’s happened.
Amazin’. Absolutely amazin’.
But, really, they ain’t done nuthin’ yet unless they can get through tonight’s tilt at Rexall Place against the Minnesota Wild without continuing to avoid tickling the twine with one, two, three or four more players on the ice than the other guys.
“The Islanders went 12 games without a power play goal earlier this year,” Lamombarda pointed out.
“Before the Islanders, the New Jersey Devils went 13 games without a power play in 2002-2003.
“Dating back to 1979-80 when the Oilers joined the NHL, only one team went more games than that without scoring on the power play. “The Toronto Maple Leafs went 14 games without a power play in December of 1997-98.”
Perfect. The Oilers have a three-game homestand.
The Elias Sports Bureau is unable to provide the all-time record dating back to the Original Six, but Lamombarda suggests it would likely be from back then because of lower scoring and fewer power plays back in the days of old-time hockey.
That’s also the case with the other fulfillment of futility in progress here.
The Oilers being zero for their last 37 opportunities on the power play is impossible to track back.
“The 1997-98 Maple Leafs didn’t score a power play goal in the entire month of December,” reports Lamombarda.
“They were 0-51.”
Maybe tonight’s crowd can start a countdown.
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