Does the schedule impact a team’s ability to make the playoffs? Likely not very much, but if you finished in the second wildcard spot, one point ahead of the ninth place team, maybe one game where you faced a tired opponent did make the difference. We know fatigue can be a factor, but it won’t guarantee you victory.
Ultimately, you need good players, and they need to play well most nights if you want to make the playoffs, but the schedule might be the difference for a game or two.
So let’s breakdown the Oilers schedule.
Here are the basics.
October: 14 games. Six at home and eight on the road.
November: 14 games. Six at home and eight on the road.
December: 14 games. Nine at home and five on the road.
January: Nine games. Four at home and five on the road. Bye week and All-Star game.
February: 14 games. Six at home and eight on the road.
March: 16 games. Ten at home and six on the road.
April: One game. In Calgary.
Road Trip breakdowns:
I looked at each road trip and calculated the flight distance using Travel Math.
October: Three road trips.
First trip. They are going to NYI, NJ and NYR on October 8th, 10th and 12th. Usually, they fly to Newark, and then bus to each game. Then they stop in Chicago on the way home for a game on October 14th. Total distance in air on this trip is approximately 6,722 KM.
Second trip. A quick two-game to Winnipeg and Minnesota on October 20th and 22nd. Total distance is 3,600 KM.
Third trip starts in Detroit on the 29th, in Columbus on the 30th and in Pittsburgh for a matinee game on November 2nd. Total distance is 5,974 KM.
In October they travel close to 16,296 KM.
Ten of their 14 games are against teams who missed the playoffs last season. I don’t believe the Oilers are good enough to try to climb up the standings after a slow October. They need a respectful start. Minimum 14 points.
November: Two trips.
In Anaheim on the 10th and San Jose on the 12th. Total distance is 4,669.
In San Jose on the 19th, LA the 21st, Vegas the 23rd, Arizona the 24th and Colorado on the 27th. This is the first of two five-game road trips. Total distance is 5,794KM
In November they travel 10,463 KM. Eight of their 14 games are against 2019 playoff teams.
December: Four road trips, but three of them are only one game each.
December 1st in Vancouver. Total distance is 1,646 KM.
The 12th in Minnesota. Total distance is 3,520 KM
The 16th in Dallas and the 18th in St. Louis. Total distance is 5,961 KM
December 23rd in Vancouver. Total distance is 1,646 KM.
Despite only five road games they travel 12,773 due to three one-game road trips. Not ideal, but eight of their 14 games are against non-playoff teams.
January: One five-game road trip.
January 2nd in Buffalo, in Boston on the 4th, Toronto on the 6th, Montreal on the 9th and Calgary on the 11th. Total distance is 7,948 KM.
They play at home on the 14th and 18th, then have their bye week right up until the all-star break and don’t play again until the 29th and 31st at home v. Calgary and St.Louis.
Six of their nine games are against playoff teams.
February: Three trips.
In Calgary on the 1st and Arizona on the 3rd. Total distance 4,479 KM.
In Tampa Bay on the 13th, Florida on the 15th and Carolina on the 16th. Total distance is 8,602 KM.
In Los Angeles on the 23rd, Anaheim on the 25th and Vegas on the 26th. I am assuming they fly into Anaheim, bus to LA, then bus back to Anaheim and fly to Vegas. Total flight distance of 4,516 KM.
The back-to-back in Florida and Carolina is tough due to the 1,118 KM flight. Eight of 14 games are against playoff teams and six times they face divisional rivals. Their total travel distance in February is 17,597 KM.
March: Two trips.
In Nashville on the 2nd, Dallas on the 3rd and Chicago on the 5th. Total distance of 7,432 KM.
In Philadelphia on the 15th, Washington the 16th and Ottawa on the 18th. Total distance 7,003 KM.
They travel 14,435 KM and have ten homes games on top of the six road games. The Oilers business side is hoping their team is in the hunt in March, otherwise the ten home games might be painful.
April: One trip
To Calgary on April 4th. It is their only game in April. Total distance of 554 KM.
The good news for the Oilers is if they make the playoffs they will be rested. Playoffs always start on the Wednesday after the regular season, which will be April 8th, so they will only have one game in the final week.
They travel a total of 80,066 KM according to Travel Math. October and February are the most taxing months, travel wise.
BACK TO BACKS…
They have nine sets of back-to-back games. Six are on the road, one is at home and two are home and away.
They are in Detroit and Columbus on October 29th and 30th.
In Vegas and Arizona on November 23rd and 24th.
Home to Vancouver on November 30th and in Vancouver on December 1st.
Home to Pittsburgh and Montreal on December 20th and 21st.
Home to St.Louis on January 31st and in Calgary on February 1st.
In Florida and Carolina on February 15th and 16th. (Both late afternoon starts, 4 p.m EST)
In Anaheim and Vegas on February 25th and 26th.
In Nashville and Dallas on March 2nd and 3rd.
In Philadelphia and Washington on March 15th and 16th. Philly is a 1 p.m. EST start.
Nine sets of back-to-back games is the lowest in the Pacific Division. LA has 14, while Vegas, Anaheim, Arizona and San Jose have 11 and Calgary and Vancouver have ten.
The Oilers play 15 games where their opponent plays the night before. When you have a slight advantage you need to use it in your favour.
October 10th in New Jersey. Devils are in Philadelphia the night before.
October 16th home to the Flyers. Flyers are in Calgary on the 15th.
October 18th home to Red Wings, who are in Calgary on the 17th.
November 6th home to the Blues, who are in Vancouver the previous night.
November 8th at home to Devils. NJ is in Calgary the night before.
November 24th in Arizona. The Coyotes are in LA on the 23rd, while the Oilers are in Vegas.
December 1st in Vancouver. Both teams play each other in Edmonton on November 30th.
December 4th home to Ottawa, and the Sens are in Vancouver on the 3rd.
December 8th at home to Sabres, who are in Vancouver on the 7th.
January 29th home to the Flames, who host St.Louis on the 29th in Calgary.
February 23rd in LA, while the Kings host Colorado on the 22nd.
March 9th home to Vegas, who are in Calgary on the 8th.
March 13th home to Islanders, who are in Calgary the night before.
March 15th in Philadelphia. The Flyers host Minnesota on the afternoon of the 14th.
March 29th home to Ducks. They are in Vancouver on the 28th.
Obviously, they must improve their penalty kill, decrease their goals against and their depth scoring has to be (and should be) better than the record-breaking anemic production they received last season if the Oilers want to be in the playoff conversation. But, the schedule will be a small factor in where the Oilers finish in the standings.
I realize the St.Louis Blues made the greatest comeback in NHL history last year, going from last place on January 1st to winning the Stanley Cup six months later, but the Oilers aren’t the Blues.
Many will mention the Oilers need a good start. Sure, that would be nice, but they were 6-3-1 in their first ten games last season.
Then they proceeded to go 3-7 in their next ten.
Then they fired off a solid stretch of 7-2-1.
Through 30 games the Oilers were 16-12-2. They were 15th in the NHL and eighth in the west on December 10th. They were in the playoff hunt.
Over their next ten games they were 3-6-1.
Then they went 4-6 in their next ten games.
At the 50-game mark, they were 23-24-3. They had slipped to 22nd in the NHL, and were tied with the Blues for 12th in the west.
In the next ten, they were 2-5-3.
Then they went 6-3-1 up to game 70.
Now they were 23rd in the NHL and 12th in the west with 69 points.
They finished 4-6-2 in their final 12 games and finished 25th in the NHL and 14th in the west with 79 points.
Starting out well is nice, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t maintain it or improve.
Of course a good start is better than digging a hole early in the season, and I’d argue the Oilers, and their fans, could use a positive start to the season to gain some positive vibes.
Seven of their first eight games are against teams who didn’t make the playoffs last season. We will see if they can take advantage, not only of a good start, but of a fairly favourable schedule when you consider they only have nine back-to-back games and have 14 occasions where they play a team who is playing their second game in as many nights. They also face Vancouver once where both teams are in the second half of a BTB.
Can the Oilers amass 93 points, which is the number I think it will take to make the playoffs?
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