Wasn’t it just, like, two games ago that the playoff bandwagon was upside down and on fire in the ditch after the Edmonton Oilers lost their third straight game in a 4-1 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place? Sure it was. The line-up to get back on forms to the left today after a 7-1 win over Dallas Tuesday and last night’s 7-4 victory over the Boston Bruins.
When I commented via Twitter Sunday in the wake of the loss to the Habs that the Oilers were playing themselves into a far tougher playoff match-up with their three-game mini-skid, the reaction was pretty swift from some corners. Apparently, the feeling by some of you was that I was understating in the extreme after the Oilers dropped to 35-24-9 for 79 points.
@Robin_Brownlee forget tough matchup, Robin, they're playing themselves out altogether. Their schedule ain't easy…
— Bmutha (@BmuthaSupreme) March 13, 2017
@Robin_Brownlee how do you think that make the playoffs. Look at the schedule. They can't beat king and ducks. They were lucky once
— DiamondLuckyLucy (@gsaapp) March 13, 2017
@Robin_Brownlee they are playing themselves out of the playoffs I don't understand all the people who still think they make it.
— Seamus O'Reilly (@OReilly14) March 13, 2017
Those are just three of the more reasoned responses. Others had my mute and block buttons smoking, but that’s OK. It’s far better to have an uber-passionate fan base, like the long-suffering faithful here, than collective shoulder shrugs of indifference. If that sets in, you’re finished. That said, it makes for a helluva roller-coaster ride and fills up the swear jar.
BACK ON TRACK
Here we are two wins later with the Oilers now 37-24-9 for 83 points with 12 games to play, eight points clear of the ninth-place Los Angeles Kings, and the bandwagon is filling up again after being hauled out of the rhubarb and given a fresh coat of paint. Back on the road to a playoff spot after 10 years out. Room is scarce.
Yes, the Oilers have three games remaining against the Kings (they also have three games against the Vancouver Canucks), and that’s not insignificant, but with these wins against the Stars and the Bruins in the books, is there really anybody today who thinks the Oilers are actually going to cough up an eight-point lead and miss the post-season?
Even after a decade of futility and being kicked in the pills on rare occasions when there was any faint hope of success, there can’t be many of you left after these back-to-back wins who remain jaded enough to think failure is just around the corner, can there? If the Oilers can pick up a dozen points in their final 12 games, how many do the Kings have to get to catch them?
One more time, it’s not a question of if the Oilers will make the playoffs, but how high they’ll finish. I’m looking up at Anaheim, a point ahead of the Oilers, not back at the Kings, who are a distant speck in the rear-view mirror. Look ahead, enjoy the view and see if conductor Wanye will let you back aboard the bandwagon. Enjoy the ride. It’s been a long, long time coming.
LIGHTING IT UP
Scoring 14 goals in back-to-back games as the Oilers did in these wins over Dallas and Boston is a gaudy total in any era. You have to go all the way back to the 1988-89 season since the Oilers lit it up better than they just did against the Stars and the Bruins – scoring 18 goals.
The Oilers clobbered the New York Rangers 10-4 on Dec. 4, 1988 and followed that up with an 8-3 waxing of the Quebec Nordiques on Dec. 7. Unsurprisingly, 18 goals back-to-back isn’t a franchise record. That mark is 21 goals, established during the 1983-84 season by way of a 9-6 win over the Calgary Flames and a 12-8 waxing of the Minnesota North Stars.
The 1983-84 edition of the Oilers scored 446 goals, a season in which they had 47 goals in a span of six games. During that goal-scoring frenzy the Oilers beat Washington 11-3 and 7-4, Pittsburgh 7-3, Winnipeg 8-5, Quebec 7-4 and Detroit 7-3. The 14 goals against the Stars and Bruins is tied for the seventh-highest total in back-to-back outings.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- Patrick Maroon, who notched a hat-trick against the Bruins in the previous meeting of the teams, got the Oilers off to a quick start with two more in the opening six minutes on the way to a 3-1 lead, and that was big.
“We had a really good start, and we talked about that,” Maroon said. “The guys came here and they played hard. The first 20 minutes were really strong for us . . . I don’t know what it is about the Bruins. I find ways to score against them. It’s good news for me, I guess, when I play the Bruins.”
- I’m not a big fan of Benoit Pouliot in general, but I’m a fan of how he’s been playing since he got back in the line-up and how he’s playing with David Desharnais and Zack Kassian. Pouliot has goals in back-to-back games now and he can be a factor down the stretch and in the playoffs with the way he’s playing. He’s got 54 NHL playoff games on his resume.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.