EDMONTON, AB - It's been a different start to the season for the Edmonton Oilers.
Along with beginning the year in Europe and already having played 10 games on the road, the Oilers have also yet to play a divisional opponent this season.
That won't be the case for much longer.
The Oilers next game against the Calgary Flames will kickstart a stretch of seven divisional battles over the next eight games - a challenge the players are looking forward to.
"It's huge. It's basically a four-point swing in the standings every time you play divisional team," said Oilers defenceman Matt Benning following Thursday's practice. "We've had a little bit of rest since last game. We're ready for it."
Video: OILERS TODAY | Divisional Stretch 11.15.18
"The Battle of Alberta definitely gets you wound up and gets you going," explained Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Any time you play a rival, the fans get excited about it and the players get excited about it. Both teams are improving and pushing for a playoff spot (this season).
"I know it's very early in the year but these games become vitally important as they add up throughout the season. Our group will be excited."
For the players, it's not too early to start watching the standings closely, as the U.S Thanksgiving weekend has always served as the first unofficial checkpoint for teams and their respective playoff chances.
"The league is tighter than it's ever been," said forward Zack Kassian. "Even if it's late November, these are important games for our hockey club."
The Oilers will face off against the Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights (twice), San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings (twice) in the next seven of eight games. The Dallas Stars match is the only non-divisional game during that stretch.
Edmonton is currently fourth in the Pacific Division with a 9-8-1 record.
Video: RAW | Todd McLellan 11.15.18