The Sked Ahead: The Oilers should be in a playoff spot by the All-Star break
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
Welcome to January!
The Edmonton Oilers had a very good month of December. They began well-rested with a six-game homestand and saw a winning streak that started in November reach eight games. After dropping three consecutive games in the middle of the month, the Oilers finished December with five road wins in a row, highlighted by victories over contending teams like the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings.
Winning nine of twelve games in December has the Oilers at 18-15-1 on the season, three points back of the Arizona Coyotes for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with one game in hand. With a soft month of January on the horizon, the Oilers should be in a playoff spot by the All-Star break if they take care of business.
Let’s look ahead at January’s schedule and what we can expect from the Oilers this month…
- Two home games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators.
After sweeping their three-game California road trip to finish December, the Oilers are back home for a couple of games against Eastern Conference opponents. They’ll host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and they’ll be off for a few days before playing the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The Flyers have a surprising 19-12-5 record and beat the Oilers back in October while the Sens are 3-3-0 since head coach D.J. Smith was fired and replaced by Jacques Martin. Given Philly is at the end of a trip and Ottawa is a non-contender, the expectation here is two wins for Edmonton.
- Three road games against the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and Montreal Canadiens.
The Oilers will then hit the road for three games across five nights. The trip will start in Chicago against the Blackhawks and then the Oilers will face the Red Wings in Detroit and the Canadiens in Montreal. The Hawks are the only true basement-dweller here but these are three games that the Oilers should win.
- Two home games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Seattle Kraken, and then a road game against the Calgary Flames.
Following that three-game trip, the Oilers will play their remaining six games in January in Alberta. They’ll host the Toronto Maple Leafs and Seattle Kraken and then they’ll head to Calgary to face the Flames.
This is the most difficult part of the month for the Oilers. The Leafs are a playoff team, the Kraken have underachieved this year but are starting to find their groove, and the Battle of Alberta in enemy territory is never an easy situation. Coming out of these three games with two wins would be a success.
- Three home games against the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angeles Kings.
Finally, the Oilers will head back home for three more games before the All-Star break. They’ll host two basement teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks, and then they’ll play the Nashville Predators, a team the Oilers are chasing in the standings.
These are three games that Edmonton should win. The Nashville game could be especially important, as the Preds are currently four points ahead of the Oilers and this is the last of three head-to-head meetings between the two teams this season.
- What should we expect from the Oilers in the month of January?
Just like last month, the goal for the Oilers in January should be nine wins. Doing so will almost certainly have the Oilers in a playoff spot by the All-Star break.
It isn’t easy to play eleven games and win nine times, but Edmonton has about as favourable of a schedule this month as a team could ask for. They have each Sunday and Monday off, they don’t play any back-to-backs, there’s only one road trip, and more than half of the teams they’ll face aren’t playoff contenders.
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