Normally when a team goes 6-3-1 in their last ten games there is not a lot of negativity on the team or in the fan base. It means the team is playing well. Momentum is building and the team is going in a positive direction. This is not the case for the Edmonton Oilers. Lately they have participated in a dance. One step, or win forward, and a pitiful loss that puts them two steps back.
Perhaps if the team wasn’t in 15th place in the west and 28th place in the National Hockey League than we could be encouraged by that 10 game stretch. Perhaps if they hadn’t lost to their rivals from Alberta in a very winnable game after humbling the Colorado Avalanche 8-2 two nights previous. Perhaps the fans would feel different today.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, they need a real win streak. A 6 to 7 game streak without a single, solitary loss, not a single blemish. They put themselves in this position. Their goal of not losing 2 in a row, while admirable, seems to have started this dance. The Oilers delight their faithful with a complete game, and then put in a performance that shows why they are in the place they are today.
The Calgary Flames were under-manned. They had played the night before against the Colorado Avalanche and lost. They were ripe for the picking. Instead the Oilers let the Flames lull them to sleep. They didn’t skate, didn’t fore check and didn’t send any traffic in Ramo’s direction making his 1st star performance much easier.
Still the Oilers looked to steal a game that they didn’t play particularly well. Taylor Hall scored the game-tying goal with 10.1 seconds on the clock to put the Edmonton faithful into a frenzy. The Oilers got to overtime. They had the momentum! Surely they were going to come out victorious!
Then it happened. Something Oiler fans have seen far to often this season – the puck came to Justin Schultz behind the net on a 4-on-4. It was an opportunity to start the rush with speed, make a quick pass with time and space. There is no one around as Calgary was on a line-change. There was no Flame within 15 feet. Instead he just got rid of the puck, wraps it around the boards. A lazy hockey play from a player that just wanted to get rid of the puck – a gift to the Flames who scored seconds later.
Now if this was a one-off, a brain-cramp that happens once in a while you could laugh it off. No. This kind of lackadaisical, nonchalant, laissez-faire play has been the hallmark all season. It needs to stop!
The Oilers need to care enough to put forth complete 60-minute performances every game. They are not going to win all of them, but Edmonton Oiler fans are sophisticated and smart. If they see that the team give a total effort and lose, they can forgive that. The problem is that the Oilers have not put in a 5 game stretch this season where you could truly say that they were totally committed to winning – thus the two-step dance. Until they do, they will continue to take one-step forward and two steps back and the playoffs will always seem like a far away dream.