Tom Renney says he is hopeful his Edmonton Oilers can find a way to squeeze eight points from the team’s upcoming six-game road trip and stay within hailing distance of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Whether Renney actually believes that is another matter.
The way I see it, the Oilers have a better chance of being a lottery team when they return from a trip that takes them to Minnesota, Long Island, Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis and Dallas than they do of staying within seven points of eighth place, which is where they sat as they jumped a jet this afternoon.
At 15-17-3 for 33 points and having lost five straight games on the road, the Oilers, with a depleted defense and void of secondary scoring in support of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, don’t have a hope of hitting the 41-game mark within single digits of eighth, but what is Renney supposed to say?
Hell no, we won’t go?
TRYING TO STAY CLOSE
"We knew we’d be chasing," Renney told reporters after the team skated in Leduc Tuesday. "We want to stay with the pack. The bottom line is that is we can get eight points on this trip, that’s tremendous. That’s just outstanding for our team.
"I hope we’ve got that in us. I believe we do. Sometimes, we get in our own way. As I said even last year, sometimes we should put our own roster up on the board as the opponent. Never mind the other team. We get in our own way a little bit, but if we’re seven out coming back, we’ll have played some pretty good hockey, to be honest with you."
Pretty good hockey? I’ll say. If the Oilers can coax eight points out of this swing with Ryan Whitney hobbled, Laddy Smid and Tom Gilbert wearing down and almost every forward not named Hall, Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle yet to get refunds on the wooden hands they received as gifts well before Christmas, they’ll have played out of this world.
"It’s all about confidence right now and determination and gutting it out, you know? Really applying yourself with all you’ve got," Renney said.
"If you look at the last two teams playing last year, there were guys in the bench getting shot up and taped up. We’re not anywhere near that. We have to understand what it takes to win."
I see the Oilers getting five points at best on this trip, and if Renney’s team doesn’t get four of those on the first two stops, Minnesota and Long Island, even that will be a stretch.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.