Fall too far behind the pack in the NHL, even early in the season, and it can be very hard to climb back into the race.
That fear is starting to weigh on the 3-7-1 Edmonton Oilers as they look to wrap up the month with road games in Phoenix and Los Angeles, followed by a home contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“That’s for sure the concern,” forward Jordan Eberle told the Edmonton Sun. “We’ve played a lot of road games and we know we have a lot of home games coming up … but we’re four games below .500 right now. The next few games are must-wins.”
Part of the issue is how good the Pacific Division — and really the Western Conference in general — has been. The Oilers are already seven points behind in the race for a playoff spot. If they lose against the Coyotes this afternoon and the Kings on Sunday, then they’ll be nine points behind in the postseason berth race by the end of the weekend.
The Oilers have dealt with some serious injuries already, including ones to forwards Sam Gagner (jaw) and Taylor Hall (knee). At the same time, Edmonton needs to demonstrate that its young team is willing to move past the rebuilding phase and that’s a hard argument to make as long as the Oilers sit in the Western Conference basement.
Derek Roy will continue his pro career overseas, as he has signed a contract with Bern in the Swiss League.
Roy attended training camp on a professional tryout with the Washington Capitals, but he was unable to claim a spot on their roster.
The 32-year-old had some great years in the NHL, but since the 2011-12 season Roy had suited up for six different teams (excluding his PTO with the Caps).
His best season came in 2007-08 when he scored 32 goals and 81 points in 78 games with the Buffalo Sabres.
Roy will leave the NHL with 189 goals and 524 points in 738 career games.
He will join former NHLers Cory Conacher, Andrew Ebbett, Chuck Kobasew, Simon Moser and Sean Bergenheim in Bern.
They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.
The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.
In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.
Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.
The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).
McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.