As the days roll into weeks and the losses pile up for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s pretty clear to just about anyone who follows this team that the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Playoffs are a pipe dream. Their 22-24-3 record puts them a clear 10 points back of the Colorado Avalanche, yes you read that correctly, and the last Wild Card spot in the NHL’s Western Conference. Let’s face it… it’s over. Pack it up, boys.
Just don’t tell that to Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. He doesn’t want to hear it. "We're going to make the playoffs," Talbot said to Sportsnet's Mark Spector yesterday afternoon.
“We’re going to play like our lives are on the line every single night,” promised Talbot. “Until eight teams have an ‘X’ beside their name we’re not out of it. That’s how we have to approach it.”
Even if the Oilers somehow manage to put together a Cinderella type run in the last half of the season, it’ll take a minor miracle for them to make the playoffs. Not only are they 10 points back, but they’ll need to leap frog the Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks just to get into the picture. That’s a tough task.
One thing’s for sure though, if they’re going to make a push they’ll need Talbot to be better. The 30-year-old netminder was a revelation for the Oilers last season, putting up a remarkable 42-22-8 record to go along with his 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage. This season, the Caledonia, Ontario native has battled through injuries and inconsistency. As a result he has a 18-17-2 record and a 3.14 GAA and .901 save percentage in just 39 games. Not good enough. Not even CLOSE to good enough.
But the thing is, Talbot’s not alone. Up and down the lineup you’ll find examples of players who, like Talbot, have struggled to regain the form that they had last season. The Oilers may not have a playoff appearance in them at this point, but a playoff push would sure go a long way toward proving that this team isn’t just a one-hit wonder.