The Edmonton Oilers will play host to the New Jersey Devils tonight at Rexall and while it is just the third game of the season for the hometown boys, the pressure is mounting to turn in a complete sixty-minute effort and get in the win column. Not to mention the undesirable six-game road trip that is looming. Which begs the question, is tonight’s game a must win for the Oilers?
After botching the first two games against Winnipeg and Vancouver, the Oilers have plenty of work to do if they want to win tonight and it’s obvious. Aside from their atrocious play in their own end and some suspect goaltending, the Oilers have to start competing the second the puck is dropped and not waiting for half the period to tick away.
Head coach Dallas Eakins has already stated that he’s frustrated with the lack of compete from the entire roster during every shift. Welcome to Edmonton Dallas. Your predecessors couldn’t find that magic to make this team compete to the levels required to be successful and essentially that’s why you were brought in. Let’s hope it’s there tonight.
As mentioned, the club will have one more game at home against the Montreal Canadiens before heading out on a six-game, east coast road swing that will see the Oilers away from Rexall for a total of eleven days. Stops in Toronto, Washington, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Ottawa and then finally Montreal are enough to make any fan nauseous, let alone a club that could potentially be under .500 when they embark on the journey.
Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, those six games will not be easy. The Maple Leafs are playing unreal hockey right now and the Capitals and Penguins are among the league’s elite. The Islanders, Senators and Habs are from a pushover, especially as the trip wears on and fatigue sets in.
The Habs are in Edmonton this Thursday, the last of the home games before the long journey out east. But this is a Canadiens team that will compete and with Carey Price in goal, they are playing some good hockey at the present time and are anything but a guaranteed two points.
Suddenly tonight’s game with the Devils, whom many are picking to be on the outside of the playoff picture in the east, has a feel of desperation to it.
Once the Oilers get their first win it will send a sense of calmness throughout the room. Players will loosen the grip on their stick and they won’t be afraid to make mistakaes; rather they’ll play a loose game and get back to the style we all know and have come to expect from our Oilers.
Having a record of 1-2 versus 0-3 heading into the tilt with the Canadiens not only gives them a shot at .500 before the road trip, but it will help settle the nerves of this suddenly fragile bunch.
With all that said, is tonight’s game a must-win for the Edmonton Oilers? Take part in our daily poll and let your opinion count.