The Sked Ahead: Six-game homestand and two three-game trips on tap for Oilers in December
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
Welcome to December!
November was quite the month for the Edmonton Oilers. It started with a four-game losing skid that cost Jay Woodcroft his job, the Kris Knoblauch era began with a three-game winning streak that was followed immediately by a three-game losing streak, and then November ended with four consecutive wins.
When I looked ahead at the schedule following a 2-5-1 October, I suggested that winning nine of fourteen games in November would put them right back in the mix for a playoff spot. They wound up winning seven and losing seven and are now five points out of a playoff spot, which sounds about right.
Let’s look ahead at December’s schedule and what we can expect from the Oilers this month.
- Five days off, and then a six-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers.
Following the team’s win in Winnipeg on Thursday, the Oilers will be off until they host the Carolina Hurricanes next Wednesday. That will be the first of a six-game homestand in which the Oilers will host the Canes, Wild, Devils, Blackhawks, Lightning, and Panthers.
That’s four playoff-calibre teams from the Eastern Conference and two teams behind the Oilers in the standings in the Western Conference. It’s not an easy stretch of teams, per se, but it’s favourable to Edmonton considering they don’t play any back-to-back games. Meanwhile, Minnesota and New Jersey will be coming to town after having played the night before and the Lightning and Panthers will be deep into road trips.
This is an important part of the schedule for the Oilers to capitalize on because things get more difficult later in the month.
- Three games on the road against the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers and then five days off for the Christmas break.
The latter part of December will see the Oilers go on two different three-game road trips, one before the Christmas break and one immediately after. The first trip is to New York and New Jersey, as the Oilers will go up against the Islanders and then they’ll play a back-to-back against the Devils and Rangers.
The Oilers went 1-2-0 on this exact trip last season in late November. They lost to the Devils and Islanders and finished off the trip with a win over the Rangers.
- Three games on the road against the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks.
After that first trip, the Oilers will be off for five days for the Christmas break. They’ll then hit the road to play the San Jose Sharks before playing a back-to-back in Southern California with the Kings and Ducks.
The games against San Jose and Anaheim should be layups for the Oilers, but, as we saw back in early November, even the lowly Sharks aren’t an automatic win. The game against Los Angeles will be Edmonton’s first meeting with the Kings since the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs back in the spring.
- What should we expect from the month of December?
The first half of December offers the Oilers a prime opportunity to continue their winning streak and climb up the standings while the second half presents more of a challenge. Doing well during that six-game homestand would take a lot of pressure off during Edmonton’s two subsequent road trips.
Nine wins in twelve games might be a lofty goal for the Oilers but having a month of December like that would probably have them in a playoff spot when the calendar flips to 2024.
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