The Edmonton Oilers are playoff bound for the first time in 11-seasons. The Oilers officially clinched a spot in the postseason with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night over the LA Kings.
“It’s a feel good day. I can say that unequivocally,” explained Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli in an interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now. “I’m proud of them. It’s always hard to clinch a spot.”
The win over the Kings gives the Oilers 42-wins on the season. That’s an 11-win improvement from last year, with six games still to play. Chiarelli says that one of the big reasons the team is winning more this season is the fact that they are more comfortable playing in close games.
“Just learning how to close out a game is a really important trait to have as a team,” explains Chiarelli. “We saw that last night. When I see us close out a game like that, you feel good. That’s how the playoffs are. It wasn’t quite at that level, but it was close.”
When Chiarelli took over as the Oilers GM during the 2015 off-season, he emphasized changing the dynamic of the team. Chiarelli made it clear that he wanted to improve the goaltending, vastly improve the defence, and get bigger up front. He’s done just that and admits it’s nice to see the team take such a big step forward.
“We’ve obviously had some good growth this season,” said Chiarelli. “I had us pegged for 85 points at the start of the season, and it would have put us in the playoff conversation, but we’ve obviously exceeded that. If my estimate was wrong, then so be it. I’m happy with where we are at right now.”
The Oilers will have to wait and see who they will play in the playoffs. The Oilers still have a shot at winning the Pacific Division and that could open up a number of potential first round opponents if they do.
“I have no preference,” said Chiarelli. “I feel that if we’re going the way we can go, then we are going to be a challenge for any of those teams.”
The Oilers held a full team practice on Wednesday. They welcome the San Jose Sharks to town on Thursday night in a huge game for both teams. The Oilers and Sharks are tied for 2nd in the Pacific Division with 93-points. Game time is 7pm. You can hear it live on 630CHED starting with the face-off show at 5:30pm. (bu)