Edmonton Oilers 4 Must-Watch Games in 2022-23

We’re just over a month away from the start of the regular season. For the Edmonton Oilers and Oil Country, there’s a lot to be excited about. The team finished as one of the final four teams in last season’s playoffs and is transitioning into legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

Among other things, they have a big addition with Jack Campbell between the pipes, and they’ll have Evander Kane and head coach Jay Woodcroft for a full season. Also, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are in the prime of their careers with unfinished business in the playoffs after finishing first and second place in scoring. But first, they’ll have to play 82 regular season games to get to the postseason. Below are the top four games to tune into.

October 15, 2022, vs. Calgary Flames

Albertans certainly have this date circled on their calendar. Last spring, we saw the Oilers and the Calgary Flames renew their battle in the playoffs for the first time since 1991. The Flames drew first blood in Game 1, but the Oilers clawed back and won four straight. In the process, Edmonton moved ahead 5-1 all-time in playoff series wins against their provincial adversaries.

As a hockey fan, you appreciated the competitiveness, the drama (did Blake Coleman kick the puck in?), and outright skill between the two teams last playoffs. But when Johnny Gaudreau decided to leave for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Matthew Tkachuk let the Flames know his intentions of leaving the following season, the Battle of Alberta was in jeopardy after such an exciting series that brought the entire province to life. But then a blockbuster trade happened — Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar became Flames, and Nazem Kadri inked a lucrative deal. The Battle of Alberta was back on.

However, gone are the days of Mike Smith versus Cam Talbot or Tkachuk versus Zack Kassian. Now, fans — and new fans that hopped aboard during the Oilers’ playoff run — will experience new battles, most notably between Kane and Kadri. And remember, it was Kane who injured Kadri in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final when he was a member of the Colorado Avalanche.  

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers Jacob Markstrom Calgary Flames
Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames makes a save against Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the NHL may have dropped the ball by only scheduling three games between the two clubs throughout the regular season. Yet, the Battle of Alberta is often said to be one of the biggest rivalries in sports, and hockey fans are fortunate to be treated to it so early in the season on Oct. 15, on a Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada.  

November 16, 2022, vs. Los Angeles Kings

The first-round series between Edmonton and the Los Angeles Kings last spring was exciting, and it was closer than maybe it should’ve been. The Kings were without key players, Drew Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson, yet they were a resilient bunch and pushed Edmonton to their limits. In the end, it took all seven games to decide the winner, but it was Edmonton that moved on to face Calgary in the second round.

The series was a chippy affair. Darnell Nurse was suspended for Game 6 when he head-butted Philip Danault, but another headline that arose from the series was the injury to Draisaitl. Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson pulled down Draisaitl from behind in Game 6, and it was clear after that moment that the former Hart Trophy winner struggled with an injury that affected his mobility on the ice. The German superstar later spoke of the injury on the “32 Thoughts” podcast, saying:

“Obviously it was a high ankle sprain. I think everyone knew that. The second I would catch it in a game, just a toe would get stuck or I twisted in a direction where normally it does nothing, the pain would just shoot right up my body and take all my energy out. It was definitely painful, very painful.”

You could see the pain on Draisaitl’s face whenever he tweaked his ankle the wrong way. At the same time, it was truly remarkable the way he changed his game to still be a dominant player as the playoffs went on, as his 32 points in 16 games would suggest. On that note, you’d have to imagine that each time the pain shot up the centerman’s leg, he remembered the exact moment the injury occurred and the player (Anderson) who did it to him. Circle this date on your calendar, folks. I’m very curious to see if there will be retribution for Draisaitl’s injury. We’ll find out on Nov. 16.

January 7, 2023, vs. Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche finished first in points in the Western Conference last season and went on a tear in the postseason. They went 16-4, including two series sweeps against the Nashville Predators and the Oilers, and went on to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final to capture their first Stanley Cup since 2001. Subsequently, the Avalanche are now the new measuring stick when it comes to success in the NHL.

When Edmonton and Colorado meet on Jan. 7, it will be game No. 41 of the season for the Oilers, the halfway point in the regular season. This will be a good test to see how their roster stacks up against the defending Stanley Cup champs. Perhaps general manager (GM) Ken Holland notices an adjustment that needs to be made, and because Colorado is the team that stands in the way in the playoffs, he’ll have ample time to make a move before the trade deadline. Moreover, I’d anticipate the Oilers’ dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl will be highly motivated to bring their “A” game for this matchup, as I’m sure the memories of being swept on home ice still linger.

The Oilers finished in the final four last season, and many feel they’ve reached Stanley Cup contender status. At the same time, the Avalanche lost their second-line center in Kadri and their Cup-winning goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, who were both instrumental in their Cup win. Time will tell if the departure of those two key players will affect Colorado’s winning ways. Nonetheless, there won’t be a shortage of star power when Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon take on the Oilers at Rogers Place on Jan. 7.

March 1, 2023, vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

This matchup between the Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs is normally set up to be McDavid versus Auston Matthews, but on this date (barring any injuries), this budding rivalry will have a little twist. It will be the first time the newly acquired goaltender, Campbell, will take on his former team.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers signed the netminder to a 5-year deal on the opening day of free agency. He had a successful first season as a starter when he went 31-9-6 and posted a 2.64 goals-against-average (GAA) and.914 save percentage (SV%) with the Maple Leafs last season. For whatever reason, Toronto was hesitant to invest in the goaltender long-term, and the Oilers scooped him up. Will the bet pay off? The Oilers have five years to find out.  

Related: 3 Best Moves Oilers Made During 2022 Offseason

On March 1, Toronto and their dedicated fans dressed in blue and white will invade Rogers Place. With former Maple Leafs such as Campbell, Zach Hyman, Tyson Barrie, and Cody Ceci suiting up against their former team, this one should be a spirited affair. Also, if you add in mega names like Draisaitl, Kane, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares, this is a star-studded match that you can’t miss.

The Oilers are finally in a position to win it all. They have forward depth, experienced defensemen, promising prospects and two of the biggest superstars in the NHL. The Oilers’ season gets started when they kick things off on Oct. 12 against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place.

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