EDMONTON OILERS SCHEDULE: FIRST 9 GAMES KEY FOR SUCCESSFUL SEASON | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


This coming season the Edmonton Oilers will play six of their first nine games at home. Rogers Place will welcome Calgary, Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis, Washington and Ottawa before Edmonton heads out on a five-game road trip to take on five teams in seven days.  A bad nine games shouldn't mean writing off an entire season, but if the Oilers hope to have a winning season, these first nine games are going to be critical.

In these same nine games, the Oilers will get their first real look at Jesse Puljujarvi. He has a ten game window before burning a year off his entry-level deal and the last thing Edmonton wants to do is make a mistake by rushing him into the NHL. If he's NHL ready, it will likely be in this nine-game skid that Edmonton decides his fate.

A History of Poor Starts

In the last five years, Edmonton hasn't fared well when trying to get the season off to a good start. In 2015-16, the Oilers went 3-6-0. The previous year, (2014-15) they went 4-4-1 after going 0-4-1 in their first five games. In 2013-14 they started 2-6-1 and got as bad as 4-15-2 in their first 21 games. In the shortened lockout year (2012-13), Edmonton did ok going 4-3-2 in their first nine and we have to go back to the 2011-12 season to find the Oilers above .500 in their first nine games. That season they went 5-2-2.

The Oilers need to avoid repeating history and if Edmonton can maintain a winning record in their first nine games this season —  let's assume they win one game on the road and four of six games at home — they'll be 5-4-0. It's not a great start, but far better than what Edmonton's been used to. Soo too, because the next 10 of their 15 games in November are on the road, a good start means a little flexibility.

On the Road Again

Travelling for five games in a single week will likely take a toll on the Oilers. An optimistic guess would be that Edmonton wins at most, three of those five road games. They'll be in for a rough night against the Red Wings in the second half of a back-to-back (which also happens to be a matinee game) and they face the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the final road game of that trip. If all goes right, the Oilers might be lucky to be 8-6-0 which should be looked upon as a great start to the year.

That said, this record considers the most optimal scenario. The Oilers have been a terrible road team the past three seasons and it shouldn't surprise anyone if they lose four of five. This makes those first nine games all the more critical because if Edmonton can't manage a .500 record at home, they'll be 5-9-0 and playing catch-up.

Like seasons before it, the Edmonton Oilers are hoping this is the season things start to move in a positive direction. The only way to do that is not to get behind early and be forced to figure out how to make ground in the standings. The opening nine games of the 2016-17 campaign are critical for Edmonton. I can't think to describe it in any other way.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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