When they add up the points in the standings at the end of the season to decide the playoff pecking order in the Western Conference, nobody who cheers for the Edmonton Oilers is going to ask how, just how many.
So it went in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place as the Oilers made it four straight victories for the first time since October of last season and are now in the midst of a bonafide playoff push with 13 games to go.
Fans can thank Miikka Kiprusoff, who crapped the bed mightily before getting the hook, as the Flames, now doing a death march into the desert with GM Jay Feaster kicking and screaming after Jay Bouwmeester was dealt to the St. Louis Blues before the game, for that.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Kiprusoff, who said last week he wouldn’t report to a new team if the Flames traded him between now and Wednesday’s deadline, is begging to be dealt now, joining Jarome Iginla and Bouwmeester as those granted parole out of Cowtown, but I digress . . .
How the Oilers win matters not one iota at this point because playing well and losing isn’t going to give fans the buzz they’ve been waiting for during six years out of the playoffs. Wins, warts and all, are all that matter if the Oilers are going to stretch the drama to the wire. They’ll need another in the rematch against the Flames in Calgary Wednesday.
. . . I had my say regarding the trade deadline and what GM Steve Tambellini should and shouldn’t do, so I won’t go through all of that again. Suffice to say, I’m still of the mind Tambellini and Kevin Lowe shouldn’t make any deals between now and Wednesday that puts the short term, a playoff push, ahead of the long-term build they’ve put fans through.
Last week on Jason Gregor’s show I said I could see Ryan Whitney and either Nikolai Khabibulin or Ryan Jones traded by the deadline. They could be (and are) characterized by many fans as spare parts that could land something useful – a pick or a prospect — for down the road without signaling a "we give up" should the team mount the push we’re seeing now. Whitney remains the best bet, but I’d rate Jones a long shot to move now.
. . . Even with these four straight wins and another in Calgary to make it five, I’m not confident the cards are going to fall Edmonton’s way – the last five games of the season look awful tough to me. That said, if the Oilers can hang in until those final five games, I don’t think too many fans are going to scream about this team stalling in its progression toward returning to contention. The make-up of the team? Still some questions there.
. . . Tambellini gave Sportsnet host Gene Principe a whole bunch of nothing Monday night when he asked how trade deadline was shaping up – there’s a shocker – but what we do know is there has been interest in Whitney by the Boston Bruins. Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED also hinted a few days back that a couple of teams have interest in Jones.
THIS AND THAT . . .
. . . I’d love to say it was an April Fool’s gag Monday when I tweeted just after 4 p.m. or so that the Ladislav Smid deal was done and I was waiting on the hearing the financial details, but I wasn’t. Embarrassing, even if I’m not on the beat for any of the MSM outlets any more.
I spent all day at my auto glass shop catching up after the long weekend and I didn’t go near the internet or a radio all day. When I did get home and saw an e-mail from the Oilers on the Smid deal with a time of 3:50 p.m., I assumed it has just happened.
Gregor, who did an item on the details of the new contract a mere seven hours or so earlier, sent me a WTF? text. I laughed out loud. The only consolation was The Globe and Mail was even slower on the draw than I was – which wouldn’t have saved me an "Oh, fuc* moment and a chewing out by the sports editor in my good, old salaried days at the dailies.
. . . Rookie Justin Schultz seems to have found a second wind after struggling through a bit of a lull on the heels of a hot start . . . I haven’t seen Nail Yakupov look better than he did against the Flames. . . Jones seems to be finding his stride and his knack around the net after a slow start in the wake of his eye injury during the lockout.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.