The month of November is officially here after Halloween came and went last night. And for the Edmonton Oilers they have to be grateful that the first month of the season is behind them. After all, it was a rocky start that has the club in last place in the Western Conference with a record of 3-9-2 and ten points out of a playoff spot as the second month begins.
After looking at the Oilers schedule this month, one things is clear. If this team is going to turn their fortunes around, this is the month to do it in. Seven of the Oilers’ twelve games are against teams that currently have a record at .500 or worse. Just five games, as it stands today would be against teams that are in the top eight of their respective conferences, meaning the opposition this month is just what the Oilers need.
Perhaps the best part of the November schedule? Two games against the Florida Panthers who are relish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, one game against the surprisingly awful Philadelphia Flyers and two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets who are hovering around the .500 mark at 5-6-2 entering tonight.
That’s five games against Eastern Conference clubs that are below .500 and two of them have been as bad as the Oilers so far this year. If the Oilers can’t win those games then this team may be as bad as everyone is making them out to be.
The downside to the schedule is the game against the high flying San Jose Sharks, a team that can make Edmonton look silly on any given night. The Oil also get the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks twice this month, and while most clubs would be leery of facing the Hawks, the Oilers have been able to hold serve against them in recent games (going back to last year). That’s not to say that if the lifeless Oilers show up agains the Hawks that it won’t be over before the first intermission, but they seem to get up for playing Chicago.
Throw in a game against the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, the Detroit Red Wings this Saturday and a battle of Alberta with the Calgary Flames and there will be some tough battles for this Oilers club. But if they can win a few of them early and get some confidence then who’s to say they can’t compete with the Sharks and Hawks.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup this month is on Wednesday, November 13 when the Dallas Stars make their first trip to Edmonton. That game will mark the first time former captain Shawn Horcoff makes his return to Rexall Place to face the Oilers, the only team he had known before being traded to Dallas.
So as the Oilers hopefully get healthy this month and the wins start to show up, perhaps the faith will be restored this month. There are games that this team can and should win and it will start with a four-game road trip next week that sees Edmonton travel to Florida while the NFR invade Rexall.
They boys in copper and blue have dug themselves an early hole this season and everyone knows they have the talent on this roster to compete. This month, the schedule will allow them to dig out of that hole but only if they decide to show up on a regular basis, put forth a consistent effort and solidify their defensive play.
The schedule is in their favor, now the rest is up to them.