Every year without fail, the start of the season looks the same for the Edmonton Oilers. Most "hockey experts" choose not to include the Oilers in any of the contending 16 teams that will make the playoffs.
Reasons vary, including a lack of size, skill, superstars or just the lack of being able to size up against the stronger division teams; but there is never a shortage of opinions about just how poor the Oilers will be.
Then on cue, the Oilers traditionally come out to a strong start. A 6-2-1 this season, (now of course 6-4-1 after Sundays loss to the Canucks) and 4-0 last season to start, they make everyone start to second guess themselves.
Of course, like clockwork, it doesn't last, as they tailspin into less than mediocrity, finishing out of the playoff picture and when all is said and done making the "experts" once again feel a sigh of relief that they weren't going crazy.
Along with all that come the up and down Oiler fans, who, as excited as they tend to be when the Oilers come flying out of the gates, notice the sky starts falling when a couple losses start to pile. It's right about now, after losses to Calgary and Vancouver, that Edmontonians start to look upward. Perhaps it's easy to understand why.
The Oilers now take a 6-4-1 record back to Rexall Place to take on the red hot Colorado Avalanche. Not to be outdone, they'll then move on to face the always dangerous Detroit Red Wings, where if things don't change for the Oilers, they could easily finish a .500 hockey club.
Like the Oilers, both the Avs and Red Wings teams are missing notable pieces from a full roster, but the Oilers can't take that for granted thinking their play of late is going to be enough to get them by either team.
In the case of Colorado, no NHL team is hotter. An unbelievable goaltending display from Craig Anderson, and some fire and determination from a group of young Avs rookies, Edmonton's is just hoping something's got to give.
Since the Oilers seem ice cold (by the way these hot and cold references are not intended to describe the flu bug that's hit the Oilers), something will need to change on the Avs side for Edmonton to try to snap a two game losing streak.
Perhaps that something is the degree to which Colorado is a beat up and dwindling Avs team. Or that the Avs are likely hotter than they should be considering their youth and lack of skill while now on the road and in Edmonton where the Oilers have been terrific so far.
Should the Oilers make it past Colorado, they'll need to be much healthier than they are now to face Detroit, who traditionally have Edmonton's number.
It could be a rocky road in Oil Country. If the sky starts falling, around here it doesn't take long before it hits the ground.