While the NHL was holding 11 contests on Saturday, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers saw their championship hopes come crashing down. If there’s any NHL club that could learn from what has happened in recent seasons in Green Bay, it’s the Edmonton Oilers.
As the NFL playoffs raged on, the Oilers earned a win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday for their first victory since December 18. Of course, correcting the short-term struggles that have plagued this team is important, but finding a way to win in the long term in order to claim a championship is the ultimate goal.
It’s a goal that the Oilers have underachieved in pursuit of, largely because of a top-heavy team that falls flat in the face of teams that are deeper and more well-rounded. Edmonton has qualified for the postseason three times in the Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl era, winning one series. In their last two playoff appearances, they have won a total of one game.
If I’m in Edmonton, I’m looking at the Packers as a prime example of what can happen when a team lacks depth behind its stars. It is by no means a perfect comparison, but there are similarities that the Oilers should recognize.
The Oilers should learn from the Packers.
Green Bay fell in the NFL’s Divisional Round of the playoffs on Saturday, marking the third straight season that the Packers, as the number one seed in their conference, failed to advance to the Super Bowl. That alone points to one key difference between the Packers and Oilers: Green Bay has won its division, while Edmonton has not.
With established regular season success on the side of the Packers and not the Oilers, it would be expected that Green Bay’s playoff expectations are higher. However, with the stars in Edmonton, championships are the goal, and that’s where this comparison is relevant.
While both have entered the last couple of seasons as championship favorites, they seem to have a ceiling, and that is a result of being too reliant upon only a few players. Both the Packers and the Oilers boast an MVP on their rosters (Edmonton has two) and three to four players that play at a high level in support of them.
Meanwhile, both teams are hampered by ineptitude in other facets of the game. The Packers struggled all season on special teams, and it cost them in their playoff loss, while the Oilers struggle defensively, as only five clubs surrender more goals per game than Edmonton this season.
Again, this is not a flawless comparison, but the general idea is that both teams rely on a few key players to overcome deficiencies on the roster. Where the Oilers need to take note is that it hasn’t worked for either group.
Green Bay is obviously not the only other example out there, but as a team that has most recently been upset and that has not satisfied its expectations in over a decade, it’s a good parallel to the Oilers, who have not found any playoff success under their current superstars.
The reality of professional sports is that talent alone is not enough to win. The Packers have once again been reminded of that, and the Oilers would do well to recognize it and make sure that they don’t fall victim to that same flaw once again.