The Edmonton Oilers have gotten off to a less than ideal start this season. Sitting at 1-3 through their first four games, the boys in copper and blue have under performed to many expectations and although it is still early in the season, that excuse won’t last much longer. With an exhausting six-game road trip about to commence on Saturday in Toronto, this team can’t afford to fall too far behind the pace leaders. Which begs the question, is this upcoming road trip pivotal to the Oilers chances in making the playoffs this year?
The short answer is no. While a disappointing road trip might be enough to send Oiler Nation into a bigger tizzy then they’re already in, the playoffs can’t be won or lost in October. But it can certainly make life miserable for a team like Edmonton as they attempt to play catch up the rest of the year.
Then again if they can take a minimum of six of the twelve points out east it has to be considered a success and would put them in a reasonable position to round out October. Who’s to say they can’t win three or four games of the next six?
Of those half a dozen upcoming games, every team the Oilers will play is against one that made the playoffs last season. A lot has changed since then but the power house has remained the same in Pittsburgh and not to mention the fine play the Toronto Maple Leafs are conducting. Needless to say, this is anything but a walk in the park of a road trip.
Should the Oilers continue to stumble over the course of the next two weeks, it doesn’t mean they’re out of the postseason hunt. Looking back at the San Jose Sharks during the 2011-12 season, they had an almost identical schedule to start the season to the Oilers this year.
They went 1-3 through their first four games before heading out on a similar six game road trip. The difference being they then went an impressive 5-1 over their east coast swing and eventually rode into the playoffs that year as the number seven seed.
We’ve seen the Calgary Flames in recent years play so poorly in October only to get hot in the following months and make a push for the postseason. Granted they did fall short but they did come oh so close in 2011 and 2012, which reinforces the need to have a decent start to the season.
Nothing is guaranteed in the game of hockey and especially after three weeks of play. While there may be doom and gloom hovering over the Oilers at the time being, neither a successful or disastrous road trip will make or break their season. It will either put them in a desirable position or possibly one that forces management to make those bold changes we keep hearing about.
Whatever happens over the course of the next six games remains to be seen. Win or lose, whether this team qualifies for the right to play for Lord Stanley will be determined over a full 82-game schedule and not two weeks in October.