For the Edmonton Oilers, a playoff berth is not just about having the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup, it is also the opportunity to establish some legitimacy and recognition. It would also do wonders for head coach Dave Tippett in his case for the Jack Adams Award.
Playoff Outlook for Dave Tippett and the Edmonton Oilers
Since the magical playoff run in 2006, which saw the Oilers take their season all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the organization had endured a hefty period of prolonged darkness and mediocrity.
Hope was revitalized in 2017 when the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, nearly making it to the Western Conference Final; but ultimately lost to the Anaheim Ducks in a heartbreaking Game Seven.
After that, the team collapsed, thrusting back into obscurity and playoff-less hockey for the next couple of seasons.
Now in 2020, the Oilers have once again injected a great deal of hope into the Edmonton faithful. They have proven a lot in this short season by remaining comfortably in the playoff picture.
Due to unforeseen circumstances with the COVID-19 outbreak, a playoff celebration has been put on hold. But nonetheless, the Oilers remained consistent, which is something they’ve struggled with in the past.
Playoffs are knocking on the doorstep. All that stands in the way is a date with the hungry Chicago Blackhawks. Make of the 24-team play-in round as you will. The bottom line is, the Oilers are playing meaningful hockey.
Surely a long playoff run would put the Oilers back into a relevant conversation of being recognized as a true contender and to be taken seriously.
But while making an impact in playoffs this season is imperative and rightfully the main focus, next season’s response for the Oilers is of equal importance as well.
In the past, the team has over-promised and under-delivered as a result of immense pressure and high expectations.
In 2017, when the Oilers last made the playoffs, the bar was set and expectations sky-rocketed. When the following season came, they came out flat and missed the playoffs. What should have been a true statement year insulating the success of the season prior, wound up being a disappointment.
Time to Shine
The remainder of 2020 and all of next season are statement years for the Oilers.
The results are there. Things are different. This team has a wide range of depth and security in every position and a phenomenal coach in Dave Tippett to lead the charge with his relentless, defence-first game plan.
In a year full of impressive stories, Tippett has a decent shot to win Coach of the Year. He has rallied his troops at opportune times and established a competitive, cohesive culture in the Oilers locker room. The results have shown well on the ice.
Special teams will be a secret weapon to success for the oilers.
Before the season came to an end, the team harboured the best powerplay in the league at 29.5% and 59 powerplay goals. This asset will prove to be a significant advantage over any team they face, especially in playoffs, when many games are decided by one goal.
Many dues have been paid to get to where the Oilers are. Everything needs to come together on a consistent yearly basis now.
An aggressive trade deadline a few months back led by GM Ken Holland proves exactly where the organizations mindset is.
Now is their time to shine, or step aside for the big dogs to take over.