These are the kind of games players compete for. It was a chance for the Oilers, as a team, to show that they are on the same level as a high-caliber opponent. They got that opportunity tonight. After 3 straight wins the Oilers hosted the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Black Hawks. It was a chance to build on their win streak, turn the corner on a pathetic season and show this team has what it takes to compete at the highest level – to give fans hope that this team has what it takes to compete with the big boys! This is why you play the game! Instead the Oilers showed why they are a 29th place team and are not in the same class as the Blackhawks.
The Oilers completely stunk out the joint. They were outhustled, outworked and out competed from the opening faceoff. The Blackhawks got a 2-0 lead and toyed with the Oilers the rest of the night. This game was the ultimate litmus test. The team failed and it is back to the drawing board: for the players, for the coaches and for management. For the Oilers it was an abject failure. For the fans it was abject disappointment. We were once again shown how far this team is from competing at the level of a championship team.
Rexall Place was a morgue. Oiler fans are sophisticated and intelligent. Anyone watching tonights game could see from the opening face-off that the Oilers were not ready to compete. The result was never in doubt. So the fans sat on their hands waiting for something…anything … to happen. They got their chance to cheer when Devan Dubnyk was given the mercy hook and Ilya Bryzgalov came in after the 4th Chicago goal. Some may have thought the fans were cheering because Dubnyk was pulled, or that Dubnyk was to blame. I don’t think so. I cheered because it was Bryzgalov’s first game and frankly there was nothing else to cheer about.
Chalk this up for another hard lesson for the Oilers. Fans can be excused for wondering how many lessons this team needs before it learns to compete every night!