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Oilers Loss Provides Important Data Point For Grand Unified Theory Of Sports

The San Jose Sharks celebrate with goalie Mackenzie Blackwood in front of a giant banner reading SHARKS WIN.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

People think that the better team normally wins games. This is broadly correct, but it's incomplete. It fails to account for the true fundamental theory of sports: Over a long enough timeframe, the scoreboard bends toward the funniest outcome.

I'll admit: After the Flyers lost to the Sharks, giving San Jose its first win of the season, I was upset. I'd taken for granted that Edmonton would be the one to break the Sharks' stream because I subscribed so strongly to that fundamental theory. But as the day approached, I felt uneasy about both ethics and methodology. If we keep in mind that Connor McDavid and Oilers fans are allegedly real people who feel real emotions, would it be punching down to say that the Oilers losing is funny after all of the suffering they've borne? In the hypothetical world where the Oilers lost, would they become too tragic to laugh at? Would I con myself into becoming emotionally invested in the Oilers and start feeling their pain? What if someone just, like, started crying?

Worst of all was the possibility that the Oilers would win. On paper, the Oilers are better than the Sharks—much, much better. Maybe skill would win out in this small sample size. Hell, Leon Draisaitl has nearly as many points as the Sharks have goals. Connor McDavid exists, even if he's probably still hurt. They ostensibly have some other players. Jack Campbell's still broken, but at least he's broken in the AHL now. Changes are changes, and sometimes you just need to shake the box a little bit, even if it's filled with glassware. Maybe this game wouldn't be funny at all.

Never fear, Edmonton is here! The Oilers allowed three goals on 18 shots, scored twice on 41 shots, and lost. Sure, the Flyers robbed us of Edmonton being the Sharks' first win, but instead we are able to say this: The Oilers are 2-9-1 on the season, with the exact same number of points (five) as the San Jose Sharks. Draisaitl is pissed. Nobody cried, as far as I'm aware. The theory remains sound.

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