Yogi Berra once said baseball is 90% positive, the other half mental. Over the years that quote has evolved to sports is 90% mental and 10% physical. Ok, it is a tired cliché but there is a lot of truth in it. This Oilers season almost every mistake due to bad goaltending and horrendous defence was going in and the bounces were not going their way.
As a player, losses can weigh on your mind, you start to grip the stick tighter, every mistake is magnified, you start to feel sorry for yourself.
A win, even an ugly win, can turn things in a positive direction. The Oilers were out shot 36-21; their power play was atrocious, personified by a full 2-minute power play where the Oilers could not even get into the Senators zone. They were out muscled and manhandled all over the ice. Worst of all they lost Taylor Hall in the process. Sounds ugly with no positive besides the 2 points.
Hold on though, it wasn’t all negative. Nail Yakupov had his first point, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who has struggled since running on obvious adrenalin his first game had 3 points and looked dangerous all night. Dubnyk was very good, building on an excellent effort against the Islanders. He had no chance on the fluky Neil goal and was tracking the puck well instead of guessing. The Senators did have a lot of shots but most were from the outside. The Oilers did a good job of covering the slot and boxing out players in front of the net.
There is still a lot of work to do before the Oilers are celebrating wins on a frequent basis but the Oilers have something to build on, something to hang their hat on. A win is a win and sometimes it can turn the tide.
Obviously, Hall’s injury status could put a huge crimp in that positive vibe but as a team you have to start somewhere and a win, no matter how ugly was huge to the Oilers psyche.
Confident teams tend to get the bounces; they stop looking over their shoulder waiting for something bad to happen. Plays become easier to make. Wins are important no matter how they come. It is up to the Oilers to build on it.