The old saw about two points banked in October being as important as two banked in April is very true and for Oiler fans the first month's schedule is daunting. Twelve out of fifteen on the road could put this team in a hole, shatter confidence, push them a step back after they took a step forward last spring. A dozen points or more out of those twelve road games will be a sufficient start. A start like last season may mean no playoffs, again, and the end of MacT's tenure in Edmonton. Expectations are that high.
The beginning of the season is always magnified. The Oilers disastrous power play run in the first month of the season last year would have been as ugly in January but likely not as obvious. A guy who undergoes eight games without a goal in October feels the pressure more then a guy who hits a lull in December. A team can rebound from a slow start (see Washington last season or San Jose after the Thornton trade) but slow starts lose coaches their jobs and can kill seasons dead.
Now the season has just started but a few interesting things have happened already.
By all accounts Sidney Crosby was pushed around a lot by the Ottawa Senators (huh?) when they were on their European vacation. One guy, what's his name, Jason Smith, apparently was at the heart of the issue (do you think the Sens could have used a guy like the Gator all these years they were falling short against the Leafs?) and already there is talk that the Pens are lacking guys who will go and get the puck when the other team has it. Combine their losses with the injuries to Whitney and Gonchar and the Pens may be in serious trouble.
Watched the Leafs game Thursday and it was a totally different team. They are going to lose a lot of games this year but for one night at least you could see what an injection of youthful enthusiasm can do for a team. Youth will lose you a lot of games but if you're going nowhere its really the only way to go. Toronto was faster then they have been in memory, they crashed the net with enthusiasm and hit everybody that they could. With guys like Tucker and McCabe following entitled punks like Tie Domi out of the Toronto scene one thinks that this team may finally have figured something out. Now about trading away all of those draft picks ....
Colorado's goaltending sucked hugely on Thursday night. There were a few teams who had shoddy goaltending the last couple of nights but I'd bet on Vokoun bouncing back before I would lay any money on Peter Budaj. Its going to kill the Avs, I'm telling you. And this idea that they're going to run out and pick themselves up a saviour? Who is this who is going to ride to their rescue?
And of course, your Calgary Flames. Getting waxed by a division rival who is supposed to not be able to score is not the best way to start the season. Panic has not set in and a nice game tonight will alleviate Flamers' worries but for now anyways there is some concern out there. The one thing I will give the Flames' fans is that even after that debacle there was measured response. It was far more reasoned then the response Oilers' fans had to losing a preseason game - farm out Gagner and Cogliano and Nilsson (one commenter only but holy shit the stupidity of it was mindboggling), trade the vets, cats and dogs living together and so on.
Meanwhile Canuck fans plan the parade. ;)