The 2013-14 season will be an exciting time not only for Edmonton Oilers fans but for all fans of the NHL as new divisional alignments forge the opportunity for new rivalries and the continuation of old feuds.
Unfortunately though fans in Edmonton will still only get one chance to see Sydney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With NHL players finally getting the go-ahead to participate in the Sochi Olympics this winter, it makes for some interesting scheduling obstacles. Here is a look at the must see games and analysis of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2013-14 season.
There should be quite a few Winnipeg fans at the Oilers home opener against the Jets this season.
October 1 vs. Winnipeg
This is the first time that Oilers fans will get a chance to see the upstart Winnipeg Jets first hand and there should be quite the Jets contingent in Rexall to support the visiting team.
While this may not be the most exciting game, it could lead to a potential geographical rivalry between the Oilers and the Jets.
November 13 vs. Dallas
This may not be the sexiest game, but Dallas and Edmonton have been bitter rivals for years, extending back to the early 2000s as the Stars almost routinely eliminated Edmonton from the playoffs year after year.
This game will be a must see if not just to see the reaction former captain Shawn Horcoff receives from the Edmonton crowd.
Horcoff was a loyal soldier for the team, but served as a whipping boy ever since signing his large contract following the 2006 season.
While he should receive a warm welcome, a chorus of boos may ring out.
November 16 vs. Calgary
It’s hard to believe that it will take nearly a month and half before the first Battle of Alberta, but by the time these two teams clash the season will be well underway.
The Flames have had the Oilers' number over the past few seasons, but now with Calgary rebuilding, the Oilers will look to reassert their dominance over their provincial rivals.
The Oilers will be in tough against the Californian contingent within the new Pacific Division.
The Pacific Division certainly looks tougher than the old Northwest Division, with Phoenix perhaps being the weakest team in the division. However, the Coyotes have been turning the corner over the past few seasons and have slowly started to become competitive.
Edmonton and Los Angeles have been trade partners over several instances during the past few seasons so it will be interesting to see if the fact that both teams are in the same division will alter this relationship.
Edmonton has a lot to prove this season and should be more competitive than the Flames and Coyotes, but will be hard tested by the contingent of teams from California.
Edmonton will want to go into the Olympic break on a hot streak but will have to get past Boston to do so.
Aside from a six-game Eastern road trip which will see the Oilers play Toronto, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Montreal, Washington and Pittsburgh, the toughest stretch of games for the Oilers will take place in December between December 10 through December 17.
During this stretch the Oilers will play Carolina, Boston, Vancouver, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Though the team will only have to play on consecutive nights once, the quality of opponents and the impeding winter break will make this stretch extremely important.
It will be important for the Oilers to head into the Olympic break on a positive note, but will be hard-pressed to capture points from these five tough opponents.
It will be another struggle for the Oilers to make the playoffs in the Western Conference this season.
The Oilers will once again struggle to make the playoffs in the newly aligned Western Conference, especially with teams like St.Louis and Dallas starting to cement themselves as legitimate playoff teams.
If Craig MacTavish can make a significant addition and the team finally starts to live up to their potential, the Oilers will be lucky to squeak into the eighth spot in the West.
Projected Finish for the Edmonton Oilers: 10th in the Western Conference