As promised the 2012 Lockout has condensed the 2013 season and put ‘er on FF. Normally as Oilers fans we are entitled to at least several weeks of unreasonable optimism, followed by about a month or so where we are confused and perplexed about the team. Are they underachieving? Is the performance we are seeing legitimate given the talent the team has? Then we turn on each other for a month or two and then finally invent snazzy acronyms for being in last place.
But with the lockout shortened season this annual dance has been compressed and months have become weeks. Weeks have turned into days. Days become seconds. It’s all happening so fast.
THE POWER OF EXPECTATION
We all have one buddy who is the eternal optimist. No matter how bad things may get the guy just has that rosy expectation that things are going to turn out ok. And often as not that is exactly what happens. We have a buddy who is like this particularly when it comes to gambling.
He will walk into a casino and expect to leave up on the night. It’s just in his DNA that on the odd night when his old lady lets him go out sans leash he is going to walk away up a fat stack and then will spend the next few weeks telling us how he has spent the money secretly without the Missus finding out.
Others may sit at the blackjack table with him getting bad hands. "I never win" they will mutter under their breath. "This dealer is crooked. I can’t believe casinos are legal." As the night goes on they will come up with a million different reasons for why it is impossible to win at the tables.
And all the while our buddy will keep his mouth shut, brimming with secret positivity. If he loses a few hands – fine. If the dealer makes 21 off of a 6 and screws the entire table that’s ok too. Even if he has to make a few trips to the ATM in the process he is still completely confident he is walking away at some point up on the night.
And he always does.
EXPECT TO WIN
As it goes with a guy who can’t help but make a few hundy at the casino so goes it with professional athletes. Confidence is a big part of the game and an overriding belief that you are going to win goes a long way to being a winning team.
A team that is now this stocked with talented Super Kids has a major dose of individual confidence. Guys like Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins didn’t dominate through minor and junior hockey ranks by being fatalists. They operate on the base assumption that they are going to win – just like our buddy at the casino.
Organizationally the Oilers have about as much confidence as Lindsay Lohan on Oscar nominations day* We can’t imagine what thoughts rattle around in Steve Tambellini’s head while he assesses the situation for the 6907th game in a row but we can’t think its "now with a couple more pieces added to the puzzle it’s playoff time for Steve!"
Hardly. He has shown us beyond a shadow of a doubt that he lacks the confidence to make any major moves and put himself at the risk of being crucified by fans and media alike for doing the wrong thing. He continues to sit and be fit.
THE TRANSITION TO WINNING
Part of the transition of this club away from the Shitanusly Bad Hockey Era (2007-2012) is removing all of the negative nancies in the room and moving towards the swagger that seeps from the pores of 4, 14, 19, 64 and 93. Think that the Nuge considers himself to be crappy now that he has been cold for a couple weeks? Please. Think King Jordan of Eberle lies awake at night surrounded by naked sleeping supermodels wondering if he will ever score again? As if.
This team is loaded to the rafters with world class talent. The pieces that need to be added – a couple role players here – a couple upgrades on the back end there – are waaaaaay easier to find than the Fab 5 that will be lacing them up for the Oil for the next 15 years.
Expectations cannot be lowered. Period.
Ask teams like Columbus and the Isles what happens when expectations are lowered and the belief in winning is snuffed out. You sit at the bottom of the league and never ever leave. Think Scott Howson came to work every day looking for ways to make big moves to get the team out of the basement? Nope.
Winners win. Losers lose. Excuses in the long run are just that. If you are paid by Kay-Z to play or work for this club and you don’t think you can make the playoffs with every fibre of your being you gotta go. Yesterday.
GAME DAY VS AVS
The Oilers (5-5-3) play the Colorado Avalanche (5-6-1) tonight. A team with high expectations for its season – say the lofty goal of being the 8th best team in the Western Conference – looks to a game like this with an opponent below them in the standings as a night to score some goals and walk away with a win. The Avs are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and there is nothing going on in Colorado that would suggest that the Mighty Oil can’t break out against them tonight.
Dubnyk is starting in the next for the Oil and the lines are as follows courtesy of the Oilers twitter feed:
Leave your game day predictions in the comments below. We predict only one thing: the Oilers win. Seriously.