63
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

All Aboard (Again)!

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  


    • @Hallsy4

      That’s a crazy stat. Ya he should be playing, the cup might be coming to Edmonton this year with Slepy!! One player, even a third or 4th liner, can make a huge difference in games. Huge. His goal yesterday might have won the game, as the B’s had momentum. I always liked Slepy but wasn’t as big on him as some until I saw this stat. Dress him, sign him, and savor the mall.

  • JudgeDredd

    It really is a roller coaster, but I’ve never got off. I keep arguing with a friend that they will make the playoffs and he keeps saying ” it’s the Oilers, I won’t believe it until it’s official”. No game is easy but we play the Canucks 3 times and Avalanche twice so those are winnable games. We play the Kings 3 times, win two and that’s huge. We play the Ducks twice, win both and we can finish ahead of them i think, Hell we play the Sharks twice too and could catch them if we win those!!!!! damn this is exciting!!!!

    • OriginalPouzar

      Don’t even need to win all three against the Kings. Think about it, win one of those 3 in regulation and the Kings only gain two points if they win the other two in regulation. With the Kings being 8 points back, they essentially can’t lose any of those three games in regulation if they want a shot at passing us. Combine that with the Oilers actually being a good team, its not going to happen.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Yeah that was pretty funny. Even during our brief 3 game skid where we went 4-5-1 in 10, LA had only narrowed the gap by 3 points in 10 games.

    My favorite comments were the “fans” calling the oilers pathetic and saying how we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs…we were in 7th place with a 7 point cushion. That’s the definition of deserving to be in the playoffs.

  • El Guapo

    And great article, Robin. Loved the closing remarks in the first section. After being the laughing stock of the league for the last ten years, watching the Oilers in the middle of a playoff race has been fantastic. You forget what it was like to live and die with the team every game, watching the out of town scoreboard like a hawk. I’m loving every minute of it, even during the blips like the Montreal game.

  • Morgo_82

    To those who are STILL complaining about the Oilers “sucking” or that they’re going to miss the playoffs or any other ridiculous crap you can come up with. Please do the following:
    1) Turn the game off
    2) Delete Social Media accounts
    3) Shut up entirely
    4) Cheer for a different team or stop watching hockey altogether
    5) Drink more (or less) depending what you’re doing right now, might make you happier
    6) If 5 doesn’t work, maybe consult a psychiatrist

    You’re bringing the rest of us down with your constant negative sh!t.

    Regards,

  • Dr. Drai

    The last time the boys went down to California they came back with four huge points and a tonne of swagger. I feel the same thing coming down the pipe! The game down in the Duck Pond on the 22nd will be as close a you can come to playoff intensity, during the regular season. It will be an accurate measuring stick, and a chance to see how the Oilers handle increased physical play and pressure on the road, against a deep, mean, veteran squad. I think we will be proud of the effort the Oil put forth, from here till the post season.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Dear Connor, I feel like I can call you Connor because you and me are so alike. I’d like to meet you one day, it would be great to have a skate. I know I can’t skate as fast as you but I think you’d be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you skate fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have no been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. I hope you write back this time, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be top shelf.

  • K-Sizzle

    Love how all the Peter Chiarelli judgers/haters have gone into hiding now that things are going well. In this very small sample size, the Desharnais signing looks brilliant.

  • @Hallsy4

    RB what say you on the possibility of Ebs, Nuge or both being moved out in the summer in a trade? They are rolling good right now and I couldn’t be happier going into playoffs, but I’ve seen enough of Ebs to know who he is as a player. Hopefully Ebs has a good final stretch, helps the Oil win some games and series, and ups his value in the process. I believe he should be dismissed accordingly in the summer.

  • Hemmercules

    I had a momentary lapse in faith after that Montreal game but snapped out of the next day, I know the boys can do it. Those two quick ones late in the game really hurt after playing pretty well against the cup champs.

    Feels good to finally see some late season excitement after standing by this team through all those terrible years. The team is playing for each other and having fun doing it. What a difference a year makes.

    Stickhandler, if you are out there somewhere, please keep making your pre game blowout predictions against the Oilers, they score a touchdown overtime you do!

  • Natejax97

    Winning fixes everything!!! Seriously though, did you guys see where most of our goals were scored from, the blue paint!!! Got some grit! Got some skill! Got some confidence! Got some Canucks next!!!!

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Pouliot really has impressed lately. What did he have, 6 steals last night? Shots at the net again. On his knees fighting off a stick to score. Actual backchecking. Pretty nice for him to get out of his slump at the right time of the year.

  • K-Sizzle

    Peter Chiarelli has done nothing but move this team forward when the other GM’s failed miserably. Everyone makes mistakes, or oversights. But in the words of a wise man, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

    • Rock11

      Whoa, whoa, whoa there big guy. Don’t start talking about shot attempts on this website or you might find yourself catching verbal flak from the cheapseats.

  • @Hallsy4

    So glad the EberNucic line is finally going, and 3rd line looks great going into playoffs. I just saw the highlights, but it looked like Ebs left his man (Brad “the rat man” MArchand I believe) wide open backdoor on one of the goals. I’m fairly certain that Chia has seen enough, and this years playoffs will be the last time EBS wears the Oiler Silks. I like Ebs, but that just seems to happen all too often. I will not miss him when he’s gone, and I don’t think Dadbot will either. A goal prevented is as good as one scored, brother.

    • McPucker

      Ebs looked bad on that goal. He has looked better lately. I’m hoping that just a habit thing he’s working on breaking – leaving the zone too early; focusing on the puck instead of his check.
      He has been more physically involved the past few games. Would like to see him carrying the puck to the net more.

      • Honestly me too, as soon as he hits the ice and you hear the announcer calling his name, you know we will lose puck possession almost immediately. I don’t expect him to forecheck, backcheck, make a hit , take a hit to make a play, keep possession or do anything that most players find important to their game. I do expect him to score , but if you cant light it up with McDavid, I don’t have a lot of hope for him. Hopefully they expose him to Vegas, but I doubt McPhee would want on overpriced 15 goal scorer who brings nothing else to the table . In short he is a p*ssy, always has been and always will be. The sooner he is gone whether through expansion or trade, the better off the team will be.

    • Watched the game with a Flames Fan, Ebs always leaves his man because he is afraid to take a hit to make a play. I am sure Chia has seen enough too. Anybody waiting for “sniper” Eberle to light it up in the playoffs, prepare to be disappointed. A couple of solid hits and he will disappear. Why would it be any different than the last six years?

  • moosewacker

    They mentioned on the game broadcast how Desharnais and Pouliot played well together in Montreal and were friends off the ice. Desharnais has looked good and Chia’s move really seems to have got Pouliot going ! Almost a 2 for 1 swap

  • Heschultzhescores

    If there is one thing we should have learned by now, it’s not that we don’t have the talent, we just need the confidence in that talent, even when it’s falters from time-to-time. See Benoit Pouliot…See Devin Dubnyk, See Justin Schultz, See Sam Gagner. The point is, we have the guys we need to win, we just need to give them the confidence to do so. Every sport, and everything in life is mostly mental. Slumps happen, let’s believe in our guys to help them get through, instead of berating them after a bad game.

  • nuge2drai

    Terrible article. You come off as a know it all.

    Considering you did not pick the oilers to make the playoffs – im suprised your jumping on the wagon so early.

    Ps. This site platform sucks.

  • Ty Guy

    i just cant help it….until the playoffs start and they are in, they are not in. the back of my mind keeps telling me “celebrate this” but memory also says “if a team can sh!t the bed in the final 15 games…..”

  • smiliegirl15

    Games like the Montreal game on Sunday makes me wonder if they’ll ever figure out how to play 60 minutes of hockey, even more minutes of trying to win hockey rather than just trying to get by. Last six minutes of the game is not the time to have a colossal meltdown.
    Games like the last two and the Pittsburg game, have me believing they have enough in the tank to take to any team in the league. Going to both Kings and Ducks games so hoping for more exciting play like Pitts and last night.

  • toprightcorner

    Thank you for exposing these “so-called” Oiler fans. Anyone who was worried after the MTL game about making the playoffs should be ashamed of their selves. That mediocre level of fandom belong to those who cheer for the Flames.

    In any of the previous 10 years, fans would be confident in thinking the Oilers could still make the playoffs only 8 pts back with 16 game to go and now they think with an 8 pt lead a playoff berth will surely be lost. Fans like you are an embarrassment to this city.

  • dolenator

    Done with the east and a pile of games against a division our team was built to play in and has posted a strong record against. Very high expectations for these final games

  • toprightcorner

    Thank you Ruben, I love a good “rhubarb” quote. That is an old saying, much older than my 43 years of life, but I instilled that in my 19 year old daughter and she uses it all the time and laughs at the confused looks on her friends faces.