January 25 2010 09:19AM
“It is possible to fail in many ways... while to succeed is possible only in one way.”
The legendary Greek philosopher, Aristotle, uttered these words well before hockey was played, but today they seem fitting in Oilerville.
A few months ago many felt the Dive for Five was the only way the Oilers could begin the long trek back to the top of the NHL standings. But not even the most optimistic Oiler fan felt the Copper and Blue could give themselves a 48.1% chance to get the first overall pick in 2010.
Well all of you doubting Thomases, this morning the Oilers sit in 30th place and they are 32 games away from having the best chance of being the first team to step up to the microphone on June 25th in Los Angeles.
Before you get too excited let’s look at the hurdles they face between before June.
They can’t keep losing every game. It just won’t happen, especially when you consider that their last two games have been two of their best in the past month. Losing streaks normally come to an end when a team loses a few games that they deserved to win.
Toronto is only six points behind the Oilers, and the Oilers have three games in hand on the centre of the universe. Only Chicago has a longer Stanley Cup drought than the Leafs’ 42-year stretch, so very few teams are better at being losers than the Leafs.
The Oilers have only gained three points on the Leafs in the past ten games, and they didn’t even win a game. How bad will the Oilers have to be if they want to fend of the hard-diving Leafs?
Carolina is playing better, but Jim Rutherford is an expert at overseeing his team fluctuate from contender to pretender season-to-season, so the Oilers can’t underestimate the Canes’ ability to lose games.
The good news for the Oilers is that 17 of the Leafs’ final 29 games are at home. They are 9-10-5 at home, compared to their horrendous 8-16-5 road record. The Oilers have 18 road games remaining and with only seven wins in 21 road games the THIRST for FIRST is realistic.
Sam Gagner might derail the train to #1 if he keeps playing like he has in the past ten games. He has four goals and nine points in the last ten games and it looks like he’s found his offensive game again.
Gagner had ten points in the first ten games this season, but only had eleven in the next 30 before getting hot again. Ideally for Oiler fans Gagner will keep playing well and gain more confidence, but the Oilers will keep losing.
The Oilers will need more than the first overall pick to turn their fortunes around, so young players like Gagner, Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano need to keep improving if fans expect to see the playoffs before 2015.
Who would you keep?
With Mike Comrie set to return to the lineup this week I wonder who the Oilers will bring back next season out of Robert Nilsson, Patrick O’Sullivan or Comrie.
If you could only bring one player back who would you keep?
O’Sullivan at $2.9 million, Nilsson at $2 million or Comrie at $1.5 million?
Souray gives his list
Sheldon Souray has given the Oilers a list of teams he’d be willing to go to. I will say this about the situation. I spoke with Souray about the family angle and moving closer to his kids. He said that Edmonton was great because his children get to see their grandma, aunts and cousins when they come to Edmonton and no other city can match that.
He said he understand the situation and would be happy to stay in Edmonton, but also that a move could make sense for both sides. I think this is more of a hockey decision than a family one for Souray. His kids live in Las Vegas, and yes LA and San Jose are closer, but there is no extended family there.
Souray is not a dumb guy. He sees the landscape of this team, and considering he has a no movement clause until July 2nd (remember last year we learned that July 1st isn’t the actual day) why wouldn’t he submit a list?
I still say the Kings are the front runner and I know they are on the list. San Jose and Anaheim would be some other obvious destinations. And don’t rule out an Eastern based team. When you consider that you have to be at the airport two hours earlier, then clear customs for his kids to come to Canada, would the entire trip be much longer if they had to fly out east to see him? Probably very close.