It’s October and Edmonton’s already playing ‘must-wins’

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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.