Rejoice, Edmonton Oilers fans, because the Oilers will finally get to play NHL hockey again starting this Sunday when they travel to Rogers Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks. Much like the majority of the NHL, this will be a beast of a schedule for the Oilers as they will be playing 48 games in 98 days, but if they can get off to a quick start then there is hope that they can make some good things happen this year as they try to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season. Let’s look at a few of the highlights.
January 26 at the Calgary Flames: The Battle of Alberta has fallen on hard times in recent years, being neither as epic nor as meaningful to either team as it once was, what with the Oilers often battling for last place in the league and the Flames continuing to be mediocre and all. Nevertheless, this series always gets the blood boiling for hockey fans in Alberta, and with the Oilers threatening to rise from the ashes this season, there could finally be a reason to call this an actual battle again.
February 16 versus the Colorado Avalanche: The Oilers will match up against the Avalanche four days after welcoming the Dallas Stars to Rexall Place. Why is that important? It is the only time the Oilers will have such a long break between games all season. And while having such a stretch so early in the season is a bit like having a bye week in the NFL at the beginning of the season when your roster is still relatively healthy and injury-free, this extra bit of rest might be crucial because of a series of road games that will begin on…
February 25 at the Chicago Blackhawks: Thanks in large part to the Tim Horton’s Brier (Curling) taking place at Rexall Place from March 2-10, the Oilers will begin a nine-game road trip that won’t end until they play the Avalanche on March 12th. This trip could absolutely make or break Edmonton’s season. With two games against the Blackhawks, and meetings with the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and the Stars, this is where the Oilers are most likely to fall off the rails this season if they are going to do so at all. February 25th could be the start of the end.
March 15th versus the Red Wings: This will be a key game for the Oilers if for no other reason than they will finally be in front of their home crowd again. They could be dying for some relief by this time, or eager to continue playing winning hockey if the nine-game road trip proves to be a successful one. Time will tell.
April 8th at the Anaheim Ducks: Do you think Ducks fans will welcome Justin Schultz warmly after the way he jilted them the past four years before holding the NHL hostage this past summer and shocking many pundits by signing with the Oilers?
April 27th versus the Vancouver Canucks: The last game of the season. Will the Oilers be fighting for anything here? A playoff spot? A chance for an unprecedented fourth straight first overall draft pick and the chance to add elite-defenseman-in-the-making Seth Jones to their back end?
Rejoice, Oilers fans, because the NHL is back. There should be plenty of drama on and off the ice, but regardless of how they finish, the Oilers ought to be be the most exciting team in the league this year, bar-none. Let’s drop the puck already!