How long until the Oilers season is officially a writeoff?
'They need to do what Calgary did last year and win everything for a straight month,' says Jonathan Willis
What's wrong with the Edmonton Oilers?
That question is being asked around water coolers all over the city, and league wide.
The talk got louder after Tuesday night's 8-3 thumping at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.
Rock bottom? Oil country better hope so.
It's the second time in a week the Oilers have been steamrolled by the Blues, one of the league's best.
Oilers eager to prove they're not quitters
"It's embarrassing to be beaten like that and have people say that you quit," Oilers veteran Mark Letestu said Wednesday before hitting the ice in Detroit for game 22 on the schedule, the 500th of his career.
"When a shot's taken at your character it hurts a little more. I think guys are eager to prove that's not who we are."
So far this NHL season, the Oilers are 7-12-2, dangerously close to the bottom of the league and almost out of the playoff picture.
Only the Arizona Coyotes (13) and the Buffalo Sabres (14) have fewer points than the Oilers.
Can Edmonton really be done for the year?
"It's a deep hole," said Jonathan Willis, who writes about the Oilers on The Athletic.com. "I haven't said that the season's definitely lost but I've said repeatedly that it's close. I think right now to get back to a 90-point pace, the Oilers would need to win eight straight games."
According to Willis, former Oilers statistics consultant Tyler Dellow crunched some numbers recently and found that 35 of 36 teams that have found themselves in the Oilers position or worse since the 2005-06 season have gone on to miss the playoffs.
Last year, the Flames got off to 5-10-1 start but somehow beat the odds and made the playoffs.
"Basically they need to do what Calgary did last year and win everything for a straight month," Willis said. "It's doable but very, very difficult."
With the Oilers coming off a 103-point campaign last year and two rounds in the playoffs, ESPN.com had the team at 9-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup this season.
The Stanley Cup talk has been all-but forgotten now.
To try and pinpoint Edmonton's troubles this year is difficult. But Willis has a theory.
"A lot of things went right for the Oilers last season," said Willis. "The Oilers had some guys last season that overachieved and some guys who underachieved. And a lot of times when a good player underachieves, they bounce back, and it offsets any regression by guys who overachieved.
"Well, Edmonton moved out all the guys who underachieved, they got rid of them. They only kept the overachievers, and so that makes it really easy for a team to fall off, when a lot went right and you can't necessarily expect all of those guys to perform at the same level a second year in a row."
Fans can only hope some of last year's overachievers start finding their form again, starting tonight.
Otherwise, the decade of darkness 2.0 may become the new standard for the year.