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This year, next year

Looking back and looking forward

This week's Oilers update is an anomaly, an outlier and a freak of nature on account of all the good news. The Oilers beat Columbus 3-0. They should; that team is worse than Edmonton. The Oilers beat Calgary 3-1. This is always good news, especially when it hurts Calgary's playoff chances. The Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout to Phoenix. Losing that one also hurts Calgary's playoff chances. The Oilers beat Nashville 6-3. This is good because the Oilers won 6-3.

look on the bright … yadda yadda
This season, despite all the warnings and signs, has been a disappointment. I wasn't expecting playoffs or a miraculous turnaround like Philly in '08 (they went from last place to playoffs right away) but I expected a bit more competitiveness. Stupid me. Things aren't all bad. Here are some of the positives from this season:
• The Oilers have a power play rating in the top three in the league. Last year it was the 27th-rated power play. Before that it was the worst.
• The penalty kill has also improved from the bottom of the barrel to the middle of the pack.
• The talented young forwards are for real. Looks like one more is on the way.
• RNH will be in the conversation for the Calder.
• The goal differential (goals for versus goals against) is hovering around -15. Last season they were outscored 260-191. The team has already scored more than last season with nine games to go.
• Jordan Eberle is keeping company with Henrik Sedin, James Neal and Marian Hossa in the scoring race.
• Ales Hemsky is looking like Ales Hemsky again. And he's signed for two more seasons.
• Jeff “Tom Gilbert insurance” Petry is getting better every game.
• Ben Eager and Eric Belanger are finally playing the kind of hockey they were acquired to play. If they stay and continue playing their kind of game, they'll be welcome role players.
• The Oilers were shut out seven times last season and only four times this season (yeah, lame).
• Calgary should NOT be in the playoffs. Toronto WILL NOT be in the playoffs. Misery loves miserable company.
• Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat. Three d-men in the pipeline with potential.
• @Shorcov (on Twitter) is hilarious. Don't trade him.
• At least draft day will be fun again with another early pick on the go.
• Taylor Hall keeps getting hurt but seems capable of healing quickly and getting back to scoring.
• Tambo is sitting on an offer sheet for Nashville's Shea Weber, ready to be sent to his agent in July. I REPEAT: Tambo is sitting on an offer sheet for Nashville's Shea Weber, ready to be sent to his agent in July. Say it enough, it will come true. DY

Always look forward
With this season being the bitter disappointment it has been, made perhaps more bitter by the high expectations going into the year which were further fuelled by the team's pre-Christmas play, what are some realistic expectations for the 2012-13 season?
• Let's be real for a second here: does anyone think we can actually make the playoffs next year? I'd be happy if we could at least stay in the mix until March or April, and finish 9th or 10th in the West. Does that seem like a low expectation? Look, I've been burnt before. Bad.
• Add a difference-maker defenceman. Is it Shea Weber who's an RFA next year? Is it PK Subban, who seems to be having trouble in Montréal? I don't know, but let's get one.
• Stop with the comparisons. Next year, let's all resolve to stop saying Hall is Messier, to stop saying the Nuge is Gretz, to stop saying Eberle is Kurri. Although, you know what this team could use? A Tikkanen.
• Fix the ice. At the rate the building of this new arena is going, the Oil will likely be in Rexall through 2015, so let's fix the ice. Rexall will remain a competitive arena for things like the World Juniors, for figure skating championships, the Brier, the Tournament of Hearts, etc, etc. It's a good investment to fix that ice.
• The Nuge follows this Calder-worthy season with a sophomore season as good or better than the progression Ebs and Hall have made in their second years. BB

Question for the water cooler, assuming people do that anymore (I suppose Twitter is the new water cooler— but I digress)
Would this year's Oiler lineup benefit more from Pat Quinn as the coach than the team from two seasons ago? Was Quinn here two years too early? DY

Oilers Player of the week
Ales Hemsky: Four goals in two games including his first-ever NHL hat trick. DY
Ales Hemsky: Was anyone else even on the team this week? BB

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