NHL schedule makers are tasked with fitting 1,271 games into a six month window and as a result, each team will be put in situations where they — or their opponent — will be at a disadvantage due to playing on very little rest or no rest at all.
Here, we’ll take a look at the Edmonton Oilers schedule, month by month, and get a glimpse of what they’re up against in 2018-19.
The charts should be fairly intuitive, but I’ll quickly explain them anyway. Green cells are simply a count of days rest and red cells highlight situations where the Oilers, or the team they’re facing off against, will be playing tired. For example, “2/2” means a team will play their second game in as many days i.e. back-to-back games.
The Edmonton Oilers open the regular season against the New Jersey Devils at a neutral arena—Scandinavium—in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Oilers won’t see the ice at Rogers Place in Edmonton until the 18th of October.
Of the twelve games in the first month of the season, seven will be played against some of the league’s most dangerous teams, nine if you believe the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils should be spoken in the same breath as the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capital, Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators.
It’s somewhat of a murderers row and objectively, the Oil will be lucky to escape the month of October with a winning record.
The Battle of Alberta doesn’t kick off until November 17th and it’s the first time that the Oilers will meet a team from their own division. However, it won’t take long for the Oil to familiarize themselves with their Pacific division rivals as six of the seven games that follow the tilt in Calgary come against the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Needless to say, the second half of November is an opportunistic time for the Oilers and depending on how October plays out, the importance of these games could be magnified.
Starting on the 3rd, the Oil will play a baker’s dozen in the month of December. They’ll play at least every other night until the 18th, when they’ll finally get some rest in the midst of a five-game homestand. This will be the first time the Oilers play five straight at home, but it won’t be the last.
On January 25th, the NHL will hold its annual All-Star Game in San Jose, and aside from the festivities in California, there will be no games played between the 23rd and the 28th.
Consequently, the Oilers will play 11 games in 21 days. The Oilers will not, however, resume play on the 28th as the team’s bye week runs from the 27th to the 31st.
Edmonton’s season will pick back up in Philadelphia, and it’s likely that everyone except Connor McDavid will have had ten days off between the All-Star Game and the team’s bye week. The team will have to make up for it, though, playing 14 games in 27 days in the short month of February.
The Oilers longest road trip of the season, five games, starts at the end of February and bleeds into March. Not to worry though Oilers fans, you’ll get to see your team up close and personal for the majority of the month.
Nine out of fourteen games will be played at home and the month will end with the second five-game homestand of the season.
Four games in six days to close out the campaign, three of which are against Pacific Division opponents.
The final game of the season sees the Flames with a slight rest advantage but they’ve clearly received the short end of the stick in the Battle of Alberta this season.
In two of the four games, Edmonton will have at least a days rest while Calgary will be playing their second game in as many days. If nothing else, Oilers fans can take solace in the fact that they have a favourable schedule against the Flames this season.
The Oilers play a total of 11 back-to-back games this season. Away from home, they’ll play eight — four of which the opponent will be rested—and only three on home ice, all against rested road teams.
As far as their opponents go, there are 15 occasions where teams will visit Rogers Place after playing the day before and the Oil will be rested for 13 of them. There are only five such occasions on the road, and the Oilers will only be fresh for one of those games.
You can follow me on Twitter @BetAndyBet, where I’ll be posting similar schedule breakdowns for all 31 teams in the coming days. -Andy MacNeil