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Fourteen Games In October

The first month of the season hasn't been kind to the Oilers but I going to be patient for a while.

This is probably not how Eakins envisioned his first month as an NHL head coach.
This is probably not how Eakins envisioned his first month as an NHL head coach.
Christian Petersen

Losing stinks. No if, ands, or buts about it. And for seven plus years the Oilers have done a lot more losing than winning. If you cheer for the Oilers I'm not telling you something you don't already know. For me personally, the losing started to get really old about three years ago and that is why I've written thousands and thousands of words on this site and dedicated even more tweets railing against the concept of the rebuild and the work of Steve Tambellini. I want the Oilers to win. It's unhealthy how badly I want the Oilers to win. Watching the Oilers limp through October to the tune of a 3-9-2 record has been unbelievably painful but, for now at least, I'm not nearly as upset with the losing as I have been in recent years.

The biggest reason for this expectations. In mid September I thought, as did a lot of other fans, that the Oilers were a borderline playoff team. I had concerns about the depth at centre given the timeline for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins return to the lineup, but I really thought that they'd come through October right around the 12 point mark and after that it would be smooth sailing right through to April. Obviously the Oilers fell short of what I expected but considering that they have had a few injuries in their top six to deal with, and spent a big part of the month on the road, I don't think difference between 8 and 12 points is all that substantial.

A big part of hockey is luck, and for the first month the Oilers haven't been very lucky.

It's very easy to jump to conclusions and a quick look at the standings has many people leaping to conclusions. I keep coming back to my early season thought though, there is a reason that I thought - and maybe you did as well - that the Oilers would be in the running for a playoff spot and 14 games worth of hockey, not one of which has been played with the Oilers top six intact, isn't enough to make me think I was 100% wrong about this team. Strange things can happen in 14 games. Sometimes teams and players get hot and sometimes they get cold. Some teams have a run of injuries, other manage to stay healthy. It happens. A big part of hockey is luck, and for the first month the Oilers haven't been very lucky. If the Oilers had gone through October with a 9-3-2 record I would be pretty damn excited but I'd almost certainly be writing a very similar article to this one tell fans to put the parade planning on hold for a couple of games.

This isn't to say that there aren't holes in the roster, there absolutely are, and they will need to be addressed before this team can be considered a contender, but a making a bunch of moves for the sake of making moves isn't what management needs to do right now because the results simply do not match the true skill of this team, given time things will come around and we will see some wins. Between the injuries and the players adjusting to Eakins systems we haven't seen the Oilers yet. We've seen players in Oilers jerseys but we haven't seen the Oilers yet. I'm going to wait to see the real Oilers before getting too concerned about declaring the second rebuild over and moving on to the third iteration.

Without an amazing run of luck the Oilers are not going to make the playoffs this season. It's October 30th and I've pretty much abandoned hope of making the payoffs. That's frustrating. It's not the end of the world though. The hockey gods gave us a brutal first month of the season, and so I'm going to measure this season from the day Taylor Hall returns to the lineup. If from that point the Oilers play .580 hockey (around 95 points over an 82 game season) I'll be pretty happy. I won't be good enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs but it will show that this team is moving in the right direction. It'll tell us what 14 games in October can't.