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NHL Schedule Analysis: Get Those Oilers Now

Brian Rutherford

A freelance writer of all things but mostly sports, music and politics, Brian Rutherford was raised on Long Island, NY and currently resides in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. His favorite teams are the New York Rangers, Texas Rangers, New York Giants and New York Knicks. "So the difference I think, boils down to this: you can either impose yourself on reality and then write about it, or you can impose yourself on reality by writing it." -Hunter S. Thompson "The Proud Highway"

There's exactly two weeks left in October, five teams playing four times this week and four teams will play eight times or more in the final 14 days of the month.

GP = Games to play this week
B2B = Back-to-back games this week
RGM = Additional games remaining this month

Team Trends

New Jersey (2-1) has a short two-game week, and then next week is a mere three games in total. They'll end up with four straight on the road, starting in Pittsburgh next Saturday. Will Martin Brodeur retire before the end of the season?

Heading into home Sunday's matchup against St. Louis, Anaheim (2-1) has games on back-to-back nights. Ducks left wing, 38-year-old Jason Blake, will be out for approximately three months with severe (cut by a skate) tendon damage in his left forearm.

Calgary starts their six-game home-stand, which extends into November.

Could I have been more wrong about the (0-4-1) Columbus team? I never said it would spark from the start, as this team will take some chemistry. The Blue Jackets head home to take on Dallas again on Tuesday. Perhaps they can adjust after Saturday's 4-2 loss in Texas.

Dallas' record (4-1) is fairly perplexing, as the Stars' discipline (97 PIM in five games) has been out of sync, to put it gently. Nicklas Grossman made his season debut last Thursday with Trevor Daley. Was anyone else looking to Dallas for some early AHL call-ups? Perhaps not. Jamie Benn's (1 G, 3 A) big brother, defenseman Jordie Benn, has nearly the same offensive output (goal, assist) from an AHL blue line. Then again, Jordie leads the AHL Texas Stars team with a -6 after last Saturday's 10-1 loss to Oklahoma City.

The New York Islanders (3-1-0) will lean on Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov (win this past Saturday) because, you guessed it, Rick DiPietro (concussion) is out again. Is it terrible I don't worry about this hockey player's concussion?

More concussive news is spreading in St. Louis (1-2), where forwards Andy McDonald and David Perron are not medically cleared to play. T.J. Hensick is leading the Peoria Rivermen in points.

All I can say, forget Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hat trick against Roberto Luongo) fever, I just should have drafted more Oilers. This team may show signs massive progress THIS season.

Nashville spends three games on the road before three at home next week. The Flyers (3-0-1) will play five of the remaining seven October games at the Wells Fargo Center.

The New York Rangers (0-1-2) are in the midst of a seven-game road trip to start the 2011-12 campaign. Derek Stepan played well with his new linemates, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards this past Saturday. After starting the season with two games on the road, the Senators are home for seven of their 10 remaining October games.

Tampa Bay (1-2-2) will host three home games, including an inter-state match-up with Florida to begin the week.

Vancouver's (1-2-1) goalie situation is heating up. Though Cory Schneider lost to Detroit 2-0, his performance has outweighed the always, slow-starting Roberto Luongo. Even after the Nugent-Hopkins hat trick against the Canucks, I'd call this goalie situation warm.

The Penguins (3-1-2) have endured six games in 10 days to start the season. Sidney Crosby has been practicing at full speed and James Neal (5 G, 1 A) is already paying dividends to those of you who pulled the trigger too soon!

Outside of the winless Jackets and Jets, Detroit and Washington remaining undefeated, the rest of the NHL is balanced. Saturday night produced a one goal ending differential in 11 of the 15 games played. It's still early, don't start changing gears.

Burning up the AHL

F - Brayden Schenn - four goals, two assists, 4 PIM in three games.
F - Carter Ashton - four goals, three assists in four games
F - Chris Bourque - four goals, four assists in four games.
G - Leland Irvin - 67 saves of 71 shots, 3-0 (1.33 GAA).
D - Mark Barberio - goal and five assists (4 PIM) in four games.