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Western Conference Update: Change not Coming in Edmonton

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But it looks like it is in the desert!

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche
Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Matt Benning (83) and Colorado Avalanche left wing Matt Calvert (11) fight in third period at the Pepsi Center. 
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking News: The Anaheim Ducks still suck. So do the Edmonton Oilers. And sadly also the Colorado Avalanche again. But as these three teams trend down, there is one that is starting to move up in the world. Okay there’s two.

Week 16

The Good

Arizona Coyotes

Okay, the Yotes aren’t competing for The Cup just yet, but they’ve had a good month for their standards, and I thought that was worth showing some love to. They’re very close to the playoffs for the first time since that Conference Final appearance back in 2012.

Despite the controversial loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the Coyotes had been having a good month on the road. They went 4-2-0 against six of the seven Canadian teams on the road, and a respectable 2-1-2 at home in January. Sure, none of these numbers are extraordinary by any means, but for a team working to pull themselves up from perpetual mediocrity, this is a good sign.

Last season, the Yotes went on a similar hot spell in the second half of the year. The fact that that wasn’t a one-off is a good sign. As of right now, the Yotes are 11th in the conference, ahead of both the Oilers and Blues, one point back of Anaheim, and two points back of the three-way tie for both Wild Card spots in the West. That’s very close. If the Yotes can put together a second straight hot back half of the season, John Chayka will finally get to say: “Playoffs, baby!”

The Bad

Anaheim Ducks

“Come up with a new bit, Lad!” I know, I’m sorry, but the Ducks can’t stop finding ways to lose. Wednesday night, the Ducks lost 5-1 to the St. Louis Blues, dropping the team to 21-21-9 in 51 games on the season and into a -33 goal differential. A metric like that is meant for the bottom-five teams in the league right now. As of right now, the ducks are 20th in the league, but they’re falling fast They were #1 in the Pacific at one point this season!

This team is falling apart at the seams. If you want more info on how bad the Ducks are, may I refer you to last week’s article.

The Also Bad

Colorado Avalanche

Yeah, so the Avs have lost two in a row, three in four, four in six, six of eight, and seven of 10 this month. That’s a lot of numbers, but no matter how you slice it, it’s bad. As I’m writing this article, the Vancouver Canucks are leading the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. If that score holds in the future this article is being written for, the Avs will find themselves outside of a playoff spot and behind the Vancouver freaking Canucks in the standings.

Luckily for the Avs, the players get a nice week and a half off before coming back to town and playing those very same Canucks. Nothing in the standings will have changed from now till then so it will be a fight for a playoff spot that night. A must-win game to restart a spiraling season, you might say.

The Ugly

Edmonton Oilers

First bit of news: The St. Louis Blues — who have been in the basement of the NHL all season — have passed the Oilers for 12th place in the West. And it’s going to be that way for over a week. It must be torture for Oilers fans. The team sucks, and the people running the team (above Peter Chiarelli’s position) have shown no inclination to change how they want to run a team. Skill, stats, and new ideas be damned.

President — and former GM of the Oilers from a few (but not too many) rebuilds ago — Bob Nicholson gave a 17-minute press conference about the firing of now former-GM Chiarelli and where the team wants to go moving forward. I fell asleep between fits of heartless laughter at the tone-deaf state of the man who has been the PRESIDENT of the franchise. If you think there will be change in Edmonton, watch this video and see if you come out of it with the same thought. That city really is — and I’m quoting Bobby Nicks here — “toxic.”