The fat lady ain't singin' yet

Robin Brownlee
March 29 2008 11:35PM

(Can you SEE the intensity?) NOT done. Not yet. Written off more times than three-martini lunches at strip joints by crooked accountants, the Edmonton Oilers flipped off their doubters again tonight with a 2–1 win over the Calgary Flames. Languishing in 14th place and 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference 35 days ago, the Oilers awake today tied for the eighth and final post-season berth with the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. Against the odds and after losing a 5–4 shootout heart-breaker in Denver on Friday, the Oilers continued their post-season push on Dustin Penner's 23rd goal of the season and 31 saves by Dwayne Roloson. It ain't over. "From that point a few weeks ago, we've had no die in our game," said assistant coach Charlie Huddy. "We've gone out and we've battled. We've made some mistakes that have ended up in the net and cost us some games, but credit to all the guys. They've dug in and nobody's quit." With two games remaining—a rematch with the Flames at Rexall Place Tuesday and their regular season finale Thursday in Vancouver—the Oilers are 40-34-6 for 86 points. That represents a 13-4-1 roll since Feb. 23, when they were supposed to be stiff and toe-tagged. They still need help because the Predators and Canucks have two games in hand, but Penner's goal 10:48 into the third period and Roloson's ballsy rebound from a tough night in the Mile High City gives the Oilers something to play for in front of the faithful Tuesday. "It's tough to explain," said Steve Staios, asked about the cockroach-like resilience the Oilers have shown. "Everybody's been positive. We've got good energy. We've been able to shake off losses."

Garon done?

It looks like Mathieu Garon's regular season is over. Garon, out with a sprained ankle since March 13, skated for the second time in Calgary Saturday morning, but reported little progress. "It's pretty much the same," said Garon, who took a cortisone shot in the ankle before the Oilers opened their three-game road trip. "It's not any better." With just the two games remaining, it's highly unlikely Garon will play again—unless the Oilers make the playoffs. AND... Joni Pitkanen suffered another groin injury late in the first period and did not return, leaving the Oilers with five defencemen for the balance of the game. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Bill Huard
March 30 2008, 12:15AM
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The Oilers are in a three-way tie for 8th place but are in sole possession right now because they're leading in the first tiebreaker: wins.

It smacks of lunacy -- and they'll need help on Sun and Tues and then they'll need to beat Cgy -- but the Oilers could clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win in Van.

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#2 RobinB
March 30 2008, 12:20AM
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BillH: Not so fast, Billy Boy. The first tie-breaker isn't wins, as most people think, it's points percentage --the Oilers are technically 10th. Here's how it works (from NHL.com)

If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order: 1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage). 2. The greater number of games won. 3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing. 4. The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season.

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#3 theoil
March 30 2008, 12:40AM
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The fact that the final home game of the year can still have meaning is an unbelievable statement about the fight in this team.

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#4 stef
March 30 2008, 11:00AM
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I'm with Bill, that first tie-breaker doesn't mean anything. You only need a tie -breaker on the last day of the season and then everyone's played the same number of games. So, it's #2 that means something.

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#5 RobinB
March 30 2008, 11:14AM
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Stef: You can be with Bill all you want, but it doesn't make his assertion that "right now" the Oilers are in sole-possession of eighth place correct.

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#6 Tommy
March 30 2008, 12:09PM
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Any new news on Joni? Shouldn't be surprised another guy gets hurt but...

And yes, the Oil is 10th, but a win by Detroit and Calgary would go a long way on that regard today.

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#7 Wanye Gretz
March 30 2008, 05:55PM
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The fact the Oil can lay claim to a tie for anything other than "screwed" is a testament to their drive. I can't believe im saying this but "Please St. Louis beat Nashville twice"

why is it always up to Nashville?

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#8 mark keogh
March 31 2008, 07:04AM
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I'm a native of Ireland and just discovered your site when re-directed from Canada.com. I've never put on a pair of skates or hit a puck but was hooked on the NHL and Oilers the first time I saw them (the days of the murphy, graves, gelinas kid line). You guys are so lucky to have a team and regular tv access to the NHL. I rely on the NASN tv channel with games starting at my local time of midnight (for east coast games)or 3am for games in edmonton but I did manage to see the calgary game. That late calgalry puck of the posts makes it look like desting is with the oilers. Like previous comments if the oilers do make the playoffs nobody will look forward to playing them. I think there's a good chance of them making it because the pressure is on nashville or vancouver to win games that they are expected to win, who knows how those teams will perform on the night but here's hoping they choke.

Once again, love the site and all the comments. Will visit as much as possible.

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