The Sked Ahead: March offers the Oilers a prime opportunity to climb up the standings

Cam Lewis
4 months ago
Welcome to March!
After carrying a 16-game winning streak out of January, the Edmonton Oilers cooled off in February when facing a more demanding schedule.
They played 12 games over the course of 23 nights — with six games coming on the road, two different back-to-backs, and only one game against a team nowhere near a playoff spot — and came out with an even six wins and six losses. Winning nine games would have gone a long way in silencing doubters but Edmonton’s ho-hum result in February was a reminder the team still needs to improve ahead of the March 8 trade deadline.
The Oilers come into March with a 35-20-2 record, good for third in the Pacific Division. They’re one point bending the Vegas Golden Knights with three games in hand and they’re two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings with two fewer games played. They’re also 11 points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the Western Conference with five games in hand.
If the Oilers are going to get home-ice advantage in the playoffs come spring, they’re going to need to play better than they did in February. Let’s see what the month of March has in store for the Oilers…
  • A road game against the Seattle Kraken and back home to host the Pittsburgh Penguins. 
The Oilers will kick things off with a weekend back-to-back following their five-game homestand at the end of February. They’ll head to Seattle to play the Kraken on Saturday afternoon and then they’ll be back home to host Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.
The Kraken are tied for 10th in the Western Conference and are a team the Oilers should beat. Facing the Penguins after playing the previous day won’t be easy, but Pittsburgh will also be tired from playing in Calgary the night before.
  • A four-game road trip against the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins. 
After the game on Sunday, the Oilers will hit the road for a four-game trip against Eastern Conference teams. They’ll be in Boston on Tuesday and Columbus on Thursday and then they’ll wrap things up with another weekend back-to-back in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
The Bruins beat the Oilers in overtime in Edmonton a couple of weeks ago, so going into Boston seeking payback will be an interesting test for the team. The Blue Jackets, Sabres, and Penguins are all teams the Oilers should beat. The Penguins also have a back-to-back of their own that weekend, as they’ll be in Boston before hosting the Oilers the following night.
It’s also worth noting that the March 8 trade deadline is right in the middle of this trip, so the Oilers could be adding a reinforcement or two before those weekend games.
  • A four-game homestand against the Washington Capitals, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, and Buffalo Sabres. 
The Oilers will have a stretch that offers them some rest after that road trip. They’ll play four home games over the course of 12 days with three different two-day breaks.
The Capitals, Canadiens, and Sabres are all non-playoff teams that the Oilers should beat, while the Avalanche are the biggest litmus test they’ll see during this homestand. Colorado edged out Edmonton twice in overtime last season while the Oilers picked up one overtime win of their own over the Avs. The two teams will meet three times in March and April this season.
  • A three-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers will hit the road for a three-game trip against Canadian opponents. They’ll start in Toronto, head to Ottawa, and then finish off in Winnipeg.
Outside of the game against the Sens, this trip will feature two tough tests for the Oilers. The Leafs are in a similar spot to Edmonton, in third in their own division with another team right on their heels, and the Jets are in a three-team battle with the Stars and Avs for the top spot in the Central Division.
  • A two-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. 
After that road trip, the Oilers will return home to host two Pacific Division opponents, the Kings and Ducks.
It’ll be the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the Oilers and Kings, with Edmonton seeking to win the season series with their third win over Los Angeles. The Oilers will also be looking to sweep their season series over the Ducks after winning by scores of 8-2, 7-2, and 5-3 earlier in the season.
  • What should we expect from the Oilers in the month of March?
March will be a busy month for the Oilers, as they play 15 games in 29 nights with eight games coming on the road and two different back-to-backs. That said, only five of those games are coming against teams who are serious playoff contenders.
The Bruins, Avalanche, Leafs, Jets, and Kings are the five challenges the Oilers have on their schedule this month, while the other 10 games are ones that they should win. Teams like the Penguins, Capitals, Sabres, and Canadiens aren’t necessarily push-overs, but they might have traded off a few of their players before the Oilers face them.
Winning 12 games should be the goal for the Oilers this month. They need a strong finish to get themselves into the best position possible come playoff time and March offers them a prime opportunity to climb up the standings.

Check out these posts...