As the Oilers embark on their longest road trip of the 2023-24 campaign, we look at five questions that need to be answered over the next six games.
They often say perception is reality, and this seems apt considering the just completed six-game homestand for the Oilers. On the one hand they had an overall record of 4-2-0, which is good – on the other hand, they lost the last two games and the doubts from earlier in the season have returned.
Heading into the six-game homestand — the longest of the season for the Oilers – we asked five questions. Three were definitely positive responses, one was mostly a yes, and while the other was a no, it wasn’t actually a negative.
In any event, we’re going to do a similar exercise for the Oilers’ road trip, which begins on Tuesday night in New York. Here are five questions which need answering during the next two weeks:
1) Is this just a blip or something more serious?
It’s always been fascinating how the result of a game can impact people so much. A win puts a team and fans alike in a euphoric mood, while a loss can feel like the end of the world to some.
If it’s an NFL season, these emotions make more sense, with only 17 games during a regular season, thus increasing the impact of every win or loss on a team’s playoff chances. When it comes to the NHL however, in theory it’s not quite the same impact, with 82 regular season games to play.
And yet, because of how the Oilers’ season has gone to date, you can appreciate why each game has already taken on an added importance. All because of starting the 2023-24 campaign with the fourth-worst record in team history through 13 games.
At one stage the team was even tied with the Sharks for the fewest points. As such, it’s been an uphill battle ever since, with the Oilers desperately scrambling to get back into playoff contention.
In this respect, as the 3-9-1 start had people despondent, it was the exact opposite feeling during the eight-game winning streak, tied for the second-longest in Oilers history. Suddenly the team was within one point of a precious playoff spot in the Western Conference.
However, all feeling that the team was back to their best, was just as suddenly dispelled with the past two games. Not helping was the manner of the two losses, 7-4 to the Lightning and 5-1 to the Panthers.
The good news is that the Oilers only sit five points out of a playoff spot as of Monday morning, and with games in hand on most of the teams above them. However, it remains to be seen if they can bounce back right away, of if the two losses signify something more serious.