The Edmonton Oilers have had the misfortune in recent seasons of playing in one of the toughest divisions in the National Hockey League (NHL). It is the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and it is loaded with tough, capable teams.
The Los Angeles Kings are in this division. They won the Stanley Cup in the 2013-2014 Season and finished first in the division last year. Teams on the rise, such as the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames, also are located in the Pacific Division.
Their squads made it to the postseason in April, 2015 and both appear to be even stronger as the new season draws near.
It means that the road ahead for the Edmonton Oilers may be “rocky.” This young squad will have to play thirty games against divisional opponents beginning in October. The Oilers will compete with the Kings five times at home and on the road. They’ll play the same number of games against the Flames, the Canucks and the other teams in the division.
And it won’t be easy. While the team from Canada’s “oil country” is on the rise, the teams in their division, at least some of them, present a difficult challenge.
Road trips frequently are a major factor in how well any NHL team performs over a full season. The Oilers first challenging trip is scheduled to take place in the second month of the new season. That is November. In truth, Edmonton is facing a five game, week-long journey to such destinations as Washington, D.C., Detroit, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Canada’s capital city, Toronto.
There will be a second road trip in November that will take the team to Chicago, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Arizona.
Edmonton will continue spending time on the road in December, February and March. Each month presents them with another four game road trip and seven days of almost constant travel.
Fortunately, the young and improving Oilers will travel only short distances in January and will stay home in April.
While the overall schedule is more player-friendly than what is being faced by other teams, the road ahead may still be “a bit too rough.” Too many good teams on the schedule may add up to lots of losses and a much-too-early winter vacation. Of course, injuries could damage other teams and give the squad from western Canada a better chance at winning games that appear to be “out of reach” right now.
In the fast-moving and ever-changing world of professional ice hockey surprises are common and the extraordinary often becomes “the norm.”The Edmonton Oilers, a team looking up at better teams in the Pacific Division can “slay the giants” and have a very successful season.
Courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers