The Bottom Line
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
The bottom line in the NHL, any pro sport for that matter, is winning games and getting points. It’s not the only thing because we know smoke-and-mirrors only work for so long if that’s how you’re getting it done, but it’s absolutely the most important thing.
I’ve been guilty of forgetting that a time or two over the last few weeks with the Edmonton Oilers and there’s a pretty good chance you’re in the same boat. Just last night at a point when the Oilers seemed to have no jump against Philadelphia, I tweeted: “Oilers playing at a pace more suitable to a Lazy-Boy recliner and a TV remote than winning a hockey game.” Witty. Despite that, the Oilers went on to double-up the Flyers 4-2.
We’ve had occasion to lament so-so goaltending, blown leads and uneven defensive play since the all-star break. I think part of that is because the March 3 NHL trade deadline approaches. It comes in handy if accentuating the warts we’ve seen bolster arguments we make about what changes GM Ken Holland could or should pull the trigger on. “See, that just proves that Oilers need Erik Karlsson or fill-in-name-here.” You do it. Yes, you do. Me too.
It was obvious last night after watching Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl turn another imperfect effort and a 2-1 deficit into two points with third-period goals that coach Jay Woodcroft felt the need to emphasize the bottom line again.
WHAT HE SAID
Feb 21, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) passes in front of Philadelphia Flyers defensemen Travis Sanheim (6) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers have lost one of their last 16 games in regulation time during a 10-1-5 stretch in which they’ve taken 25 of 32 available points. That’s a .781 points percentage. Given all the moaning and groaning around town, maybe it’s not outrageous to suggest maybe we lost track of what matters most.
“I don’t think it should be lost on anybody, especially in this room, that we’ve lost one game in regulation in 16,” Woodcroft said. “Any time you’re collecting points, that’s the business we’re in. We’re in the business of collecting points.
“We haven’t been perfect over that, what is it that, six seven weeks now? One loss in regulation. We haven’t been perfect over that time, but we’re doing some good things in order to gain points and that’s a credit to our players and their hard work.”
I’ll take Woodcroft’s position every day of the week over the threadbare “we played well but got no points for it” lament that became a staple for the Oilers during the Decade of Darkness. Silver linings don’t count in the standings.
I don’t know if you listened to analyst and Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer during the first intermission after a sloth-like first period, but he said the Oilers looked like a team waiting for something to happen, as in Holland making a move. Was Bob just throwing that out there? I don’t think so. This .781 clip doesn’t mean there’s no need to add a player. I expect that Holland will do exactly that.
“You’ve got to win games without your A-stuff,” said McDavid, who surpassed 800 points and sits at 802 with two goals and an assist. “I think it’s pretty cliché that good teams find a way to win when they don’t have their stuff and I thought that was us tonight . . . we did just enough to get a win. It’s going to take a lot more than that to win coming down the stretch, but give the boys credit.”
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