Last year, when Edmonton started the season with a 9-3-2 record, the question was "Are The Oilers For Real?"

If the Oilers had defeated the Colorado Avalanche Saturday and put five points in the standings in three games on the road in a span of 87 hours to go 5-2-1 out of the gate, it would have been back.

Instead the Oilers are 4-3-1 and coming home to play the back-to-back President's Trophy champion Vancouver Canucks Monday with the world's greatest back-up goalie, Roberto Luongo. They could be a .500 club in short order. And .500 teams don't make the playoffs in 82-game schedules or 48-game schedules.

While the entire hockey world believes the Oilers are on their way to the top, the question is whether the six-years of missing the playoffs will come to an end.

That said, the timing is right to make the case that the 4-3-1 Oilers are for real.

Better hockey team

They're a better hockey team right now — at the one-sixth mark of this lockout-shortened season — than they were last year at the one-sixth mark over 82 games.

Last year Nikolai Khabibulin's goals against average was a league-leading 0.98 at this approximate point of the season. His save percentage, at .963, was .001 off the league lead.