Home sweet home

RogersPlace

In 65 days the Edmonton Oilers will play their first game in their new arena. The place will be magnificent, and while you will enjoy the comfortable new seats, spacious concourses, new food and the utterly massive scoreboard, the players will have to focus on ensuring they rack up some wins in their new home, and the schedule maker has put extra pressure on the Oilers to win at home in October.

The Oilers have a very odd schedule this season regarding home and away games.

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In March and April they play 13 of 18 games at home, while they start the season with six of their nine October games at home. They bookend the season with 19 home games and eight on the road, meaning between November-February they’ll play only 22 of their 55 games at home.

The Oilers have been awful on the road the past three seasons, winning only 34 of 123 games outside of Edmonton. In order to avoid missing the playoffs for an unprecedented 11th consecutive season, they must ensure they get off to a strong start in October.

Very few teams can afford a slow start in October and expect to make the playoffs, but the Oilers’ schedule makes it even more imperative they show up early in the season.

And October has not been kind to them recently.

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2013: 3-8-2 (five home games)

2014: 4-5-1 (seven home games)

2015: 4-8-0 (six home games)

They’ve been a ghastly 11-22-3 the past three seasons when the calendar turned to November. You know what happened the rest of the way. The Oilers finished 28th, 28th and 29th in the standings.

The Oilers  simply can’t afford another slow start, and they must take advantage of a heavy home schedule in October. The Oilers were 19-20-2 at home last year, the most home victories since they won 23 in 2007/2008, so that is a positive, but it is far from a guarantee of success this season.

The players will be extremely excited to play in their new rink, and everyone in and out of the organization is hoping the new rink represents a new era of Oilers hockey. The building will be rocking for the first few games. The excitement will be the highest we’ve seen in a decade, and the Oilers will need to use that to their advantage.

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Todd McLellan will get last line change in two-thirds of the October games. He and the players proved last year that when he gets the matchups he wants, their chance of success increases immensely. You would hope that continues this season.

NEW RINK SMELL

Sniff

Only five teams have had brand new rinks since 2003. I went back and looked how they played in their first few games at home.

The Coyotes moved to Glendale in 2003. Oddly enough they played their first 13 home games at America West Arena in Phoenix, going 6-5-2, before they moved to Glendale for their final 29 home games. They lost their first game in the new rink 3-1 to Nashville and were a dreadful 5-14-9 in Glendale. They finished 26th overall in the NHL with 68 points. 

The NJ Devils opened their new rink in 2007/2008. They started the season with nine road games, before their fans welcomed them home. They lost 4-1 to Ottawa in their home opener, but finished the season 25-14-2 at home and were sixth overall in the NHL with 99 points. It was their 11th consecutive playoff berth, so they were truly at the opposite end of the spectrum as the Oilers are now.

Pittsburgh had their season opener and home opener in the new Consol Energy Centre on October 7th, 2010. The Pens lost 3-2 to Philadelphia that night, but they were a dominant 25-14-2 at home in their new rink.

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The Jets returned to Winnipeg and the new MTS Centre in 2011. The MTS centre was deafening when the Jets returned on October 9th, 2011, but they lost 5-1 to Montreal. The Jets loved playing at home though, and finished the season 23-13-5, but a shoddy road record of 14-22-5 had them finish 22nd overall.

Last season the Islanders moved to Brooklyn. They lost their home and season opener 3-2 in OT to Chicago, but had a solid home record of 25-11-5 in Brooklyn.

The last five teams all lost their first game in their new building. The last team to win their first game in a new building was the Dallas Stars on October 5th, 2001, when they defeated Nashville 4-1.

The Oilers will welcome the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, October 12th to the grand opening of Roger’s Place, and they’d love nothing more than to send their provincial rivals back to Calgary with a loss. A win on opening night isn’t a must, but if the Oilers want to be in a playoff hunt on March 1st, they need a strong October.

Playing 33 of 55 games between November and February on the road means the Oilers must come out of the gates ready to play. They aren’t good enough to overcome a slow start.

PARTING SHOTS…

Shots

  • The  NHL’s new “bye week” begins this season. The NHLPA recieved this while the NHL got 3-on-3 at the All-Star games. The Oilers, like all teams, get some time off at the AS break, January 27th to 30th for the Oilers, and their five day “bye week” occurs February 6th-10th. The Oilers will play an afternoon game in Montreal on Sunday, February 5th, fly home that night and won’t return to the ice until Saturday, February 11th when they host Chicago.
  • I’m curious to see how teams react to the extra break. In theory it should make for better hockey, because the players are more rested.

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        • Hockeyfan

          i realize it is acceptable and almost a tradition to lose in Edmonton. There is always more pride in trying to win and winning against your biggest foe. Oiler fans have forgotten how to have pride in their team which is sad. it was a big win, the Flames made the Oil look like a junior team that night and showed complete dominance in all facets. Oh well, as long as Oil fans are happy losing to gain higher draft position.

      • Ndustry

        Didn’t we play the Canucks, like a 6-3 win. Maybe I live in another dimension, but the 6-3 win over Van was almost like an alumni game. Maybe 7-3 woulda topped it off right. But that might have been the last time I see Taylor Hall score in a live game. Anyway they closed it in style in my time, and with a win,.. No less!

    • freelancer

      Total games for October are as followed. Calgary twice, Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Washington, Vancouver, and Ottawa. One of the Calgary games, Winnipeg, and Vancouver are away games with the rest at home.

      There is a very good opportunity for Edmonton to start the season strong against what should be some weaker teams. To be optimistic for a moment a 5-3-1 record could be a plausible outcome.

    • Ready to Win

      Something I think could make a big difference this October is how many players a team has in the World Cup; the World Cup players should be in much better form on opening night than everyone else.

      The Oilers have 5 players. Their October opponents have:

      Calgary – 5
      Calgary – 5
      Buffalo – 3
      Carolina – 1
      St. Louis – 7
      Winnipeg – 6
      Washington – 8
      Vancouver – 5
      Ottawa – 1
      Toronto – 5
      NYR – 5
      NYI – 5

      Considering there are several teams with 8 players and two with 12, that’s a pretty nice schedule.

    • gongshow

      So, based upon past history of arena openers, we can expect to open Rogers with a loss? Let’s hope that the 16/17 Oil break both this tradition and also that of poor Octobers in general. New season, new building, new personnel. New result?

    • tileguy

      A parting shot to you Jason.

      You said “The place will be magnificent, and while you will enjoy the comfortable new seats, spacious concourses, new food and the utterly massive scoreboard”

      I think you meant to say “the elite will enjoy”
      Somehow you should of worded that differently, I bet there is no more than a hundred people reading this blog that will get to enjoy the comfortable new seats.

      • Jason Gregor

        I didn’t actually. I’m not elite, far from it, and I have season seats. I know many people who buy mini packs, or have season seats or split them and they are from far millionaires. It comes down to options on where they spend their money.

        One of my buddies choose to get tickets and drive the same car for ten years. He felt he got more out of splitting season seats than driving a new car.

        Yes, it can be expensive, but many average people gladly go to games and I suspect much more than 100 Nation readers will be inside the new rink this year.

        • Serious Gord

          The not so little secret is that many seasons ticket holders either break even or make money on them. Often partly tax free.

          And the new arena will only increase that.

            • Serious Gord

              IMO it is why the seasons ticket holders were getting restless these past few years – the team sucked and they were having difficulty reselling their tickets for a profit – not so much that they were die hard oil fans.

              And make no mistake – many were sold on keeping their tickets these past few years because of the enticement of a new arena.

            • Zarny

              I think that is a bit cynical. I only know a few season ticket holders who sell their tickets; but they are all die hard fans.

              They bleed oil and while they weren’t thrilled with difficulties reselling tickets they didn’t buy season tickets to make a profit. Reselling tickets is simply a means to see the team they love at a more affordable price.

            • Serious Gord

              Cynical perhaps. I know several who sell about half and go to the other half and make money. Or at least they used to make money. Not so much now.

              And There are a lot of ST holders who aren’t people but corporations. And the perk isn’t as valuable was it once was.

      • I bet you’re wrong. There’s way more season seat holders hanging around here than meets the eye.

        And enough of this “woe is me I’m not elite” stuff. If you can’t afford the tickets get some more education, a part time job, learn a new skill or apply for a better job. There’s nothing holding you back from changing your life except you.

        • Moe Sizzlack

          Eazy bud!

          Education & experience don’t mean JACK in this Alberta economy rite now.!

          It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know!

          I know power engineers who can’t find jobs, yet high school drop outs are all fully employed working because they know someone in the Company.

          Something tells me you are where you are today, do to nepotism. (Daddy, Uncle or in-laws)

          • I am Batman

            Is there a need to bash people on a hockey forum on something not hockey related?

            Both of you have valid points. I was laid off in May (from Oil and Gas) and it took me 3 months to find a new job that I love in a VERY different industry. I am highly educated (MBA from Stanford) and in neither of my jobs did I know anybody within the company.

            What I am saying is that I still got laid off (being well educated) and there is still also something I can do other than knowing somebody (I got a job in an industry where I have never ever set foot before and where I do not know anybody at all). And I consider myself grateful and blessed.

            Let’s just get along or argue on Hockey related issues only, otherwise stupidity knows no boundaries.

            Is EBERLE gone yet?

          • Gravis82

            The more you know about stuff the more valuable you are to people who need what you know. Just make sure to pick the right stuff to know about in the place you want to live and you’ll make all the money you will ever need to live a modest life.

            No one makes that choice for you however. So good luck to all. To the victor go the spoils.

            This applies in Canada more than underprivileged nations, and I will also recognise that there are definitely underprivileged sub-populations here as well that need more help to get started. However, the public education system by and large provides opportunities for all, granted that we are able to overcome challenges of life as well as choose the right vocation that can provide a steady income.

            Even post secondary, if you are lucky enough to meet education requirements, is available to all who are qualified through student loan funding. While expensive, with the right career choice paying off that student loan should be doable.

      • fran huckzky

        I am an average Joe who can’t afford season tickets but I make sure to go to 4 or 5 games every season. If you can afford to spend time commenting on ON, maybe you need to use that time to lay a few more tile.

      • Dwayne Roloson 35

        Well that’s because there are 2 tiers of fans. Duh!

        There are fans who pay to go to the games and then there the tier 2 fans who watch it at home and can’t have an opinion on anything.

        -Kevin “6 rings” Lowe

      • BlueHairedApe

        I think I’ll make it to a couple of the Oilers games but I also plan on going to quite a few Oil Kings games. A lot cheaper and the quality of entertainment is right up there. In recent years I’ve found it’s a great alternative instead of blowing up the bank account to go watch the Oilers lose. I can do that at home thanks. Maybe this year will finally be different.

      • Oilerchild77

        It’s not “should of” it’s “should have.” And yeah, I know that’s nitpicking, but if you’re going to try and sway the article’s author, you need to at least get your grammar right.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I recall reading Grezkys biography and he talked about having a bye week for the players. Felt it would be good for all involved.

      My only concern is that if the NHL makes this a permanent thing but pushes hard for an Olympic retreat the players might be more inclined to say yes.

      And yes, I’m one of those who wants continued Olympic participation.

    • VvV

      Worst thing about the schedule is the lack of weekend home games (Friday, Saturday) . October:none. November: none. December: 3. January:2. February:1, March:3,April: 1. A few of those months aren’t bad but prior to December 17th there is only 1 fri/sat night game, Dec 3rd.

      • Jason Gregor

        Oilers are at home on Friday, November 11th.

        They do end up with nine Saturday home games, just none in Oct and November.

        In December they are home on Saturday the 3rd, 17th and 31st.

        • justDOit

          Do we know who is going to be coaching during training camp this year?

          McLellan and Woodcroft will be occupied with the world cup for most of it, no?


          Can’t afford a slow start… can’t afford a slow start… can’t afford a season ticket… can’t afford a tiled garage floor…

    • Two Points: A) The Oilers have a ‘strange’ schedule..it is always a strange schedule for Edmonton. At least they will start at home instead on the road for 9 straight….B) ONE Day I will pack up my bags from Eufaula Oklahoma and spend a week in Edmonton and attend some games in the New Barn. Can. Not. Wait. for that day to happen. Until then, I have this site and my NHL Centre Ice! Go Oilers…

    • Serious Gord

      Jan 12 is the day to mark on the calendar.

      Devils visiting the OIL

      By then we likely will have a pretty good idea how the trade worked out. Could be a good night to have tickets.

      • tileguy

        Bobby Nick’s Grill will have a permanent home on the west side of the main concourse at Rogers Place and the burgers will also be offered at concessions throughout the building. (eb)

        Hmmmmmmm

    • 3wideinturn4

      Part of the reason that the Oilers are on the road so early in the season is the Canadian finals rodeo. Just when the team is beginning to get comfortable they have to make a 6 game swing into the east.Hope the OMG figures this out with the PBR.

    • Britts94

      I think that it would be outstanding if during the “bye week” the NHL hosted its equivalent of the MLB Winter Meetings where all the GM’s come down to one central NA location. The timing would be perfect because it’s scheduled three-ish weeks before the trade deadline, inevitably leading to discussion amongst teams, and it can also be the time where new rules and stuff are introduced or voted on (say, from the previous year.) This sort of thing has worked out quite well for the MLB, creating a whole week that feels like deadline day. I think it’s a massive opportunity for the NHL to create some buzz heading into the trade-deadline/ playoff push part of the season.

    • In many stadiums there’s a more corporate feel in the lower bowls, it’s far less rowdy and people tend to sip their beers while lounging to watch the game.

      Contrast that to the upper bowls where people are jumping up and down, yelling at the top of their lungs, either cheering on players or chirping opponents.

      That phenomenon likely occurs due to the price difference.

      I wonder what the expanded lower bowl means. I’m guessing they’re all exorbitant prices so I wonder if the new building will end up being quieter.

      Or, if the prices in the upper parts of the lower bowl are reasonable, I wonder if the rowdy folk will rub off on the rest of the crowd (as a 1/4 rowdy guy myself, I know it rubs off on people in the lower bowl and they get more passionate as well).

      The acoustics are a factor, no doubt, but these other factors interest me as well.