The Sked Ahead: Oilers will be tested during difficult month of March
By Cam Lewis20 days ago
Welcome to March!
After a season-changing month of January, the Edmonton Oilers hit a bit of a lull coming out of the All-Star break. They were presented with a fairly soft schedule in February and they left quite a few points on the board, going 4-3-4 with multiple losses coming to non-playoff teams.
Next up, the Oilers will face a challenging month of March, as the schedule kicks off with games against contending teams and finishes with important head-to-heads with Pacific Division rivals. They’ll play 15 games over the course of 30 nights and only three of those games come against basement teams.
- A game at home against the Leafs and a home-and-home with the Jets.
The month kicks off as the Oilers host the new-look Toronto Maple Leafs, who have added Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, Erik Gustafsson, and Luke Schenn recently. After that, the Oilers host the Jets on Friday and then they’ll head to Winnipeg for a rematch on Saturday. Friday, of course, is also the trade deadline.
The Leafs are rolling into town on a three-game winning streak while the Jets have dropped six of their last seven games.
- Three road games against the Sabres, Bruins, and Leafs.
Following that Saturday game in Winnipeg, the Oilers will jump on the bus and head to Buffalo to play the Sabres, a team right in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have a couple of days off after the Buffalo game and then they’ll play the Bruins and the Leafs.
This is a tough swing for the Oilers, with a motivated Buffalo squad as the soft matchup before the two contenders.
- Two games at home against the Senators and Stars.
The Oilers will have a couple of days off following the game in Toronto before they host the Senators, a team they beat handily back in February. The Sens aren’t currently in a playoff position but there’s been talk that they could add ahead of the trade deadline.
They’ll then host the Stars a couple of nights later. The Stars pumped the Oilers in Edmonton back in November but the Oilers beat them in Dallas in December. Like the Jets, the Stars have been cold as of late, as they’ve dropped six of seven, but we’ll see how they look after the trade deadline.
- A road game in Seattle and three home games against the Sharks, Coyotes, and Golden Knights.
The schedule starts to get Pacific Division-heavy in the latter part of the month. The Oilers will head to Seattle to face the Kraken for the fourth and final time during the regular season and then they’ll host the Sharks, Coyotes, and Golden Knights in Edmonton.
This is a critical stretch for the Oilers. The two head-to-heads with Seattle and Vegas are four-point games for seeding and they need to capitalize and pick up four points against the basement-dwelling Sharks and Coyotes.
- A back-to-back in Arizona and Vegas and then back home to play the Kings.
The Oilers will see the Coyotes and Golden Knights again as they play a back-to-back on the road in Arizona and Vegas. After that, they’ll head home for another four-point game against the L.A. Kings.
- What does it all mean?
My hope for the Oilers in February was that they’d plow through the non-playoff teams they were facing and win eight of 11 games. They won only four but managed to recoup some points because four of the seven losses came after regulation.
Going cold in February means the Oilers don’t have quite as much room for error now as things get more difficult in March, especially when it comes to four-point games against Vegas, Seattle, and Los Angeles. If the Oilers want to come out of March at the top of the division, winning at least 10 of the month’s 15 games is the goal.
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