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Oilers hunt for playoffs

The Edmonton Oilers held the final playoff spot in the Western Conference long enough for fans to sing ‘hallelujah’. Finally, all the torture endured from witnessing the Oilers fail over and over again over the past four seasons had ended; the Oilers had made it. But it was only a tease. It was a momentary taste of something sweet, something Oilers fans may never taste again this season.

 

Almost exactly twenty-four hours after defeating the Calgary Flames for the second straight game and gaining the coveted playoff spot, the Oilers were shutout by the Vancouver Canucks; plus, the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks to knock the Oilers back down the standings.

 

It didn’t get any easier for the Oilers a couple nights later when they travelled to Los Angeles for an afternoon game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Los Angeles Kings didn’t waste time exposing the Oilers’ flaws. Only a minute and a half into the opening period, the Oilers failed to clear the zone and Kings forward Mike Richards collected a perfect pass from Jeff Carter and blasted a one-timer over the blocker of Devan Dubnyk to make it 1-0. Save for an early second period power play goal by Magnus Paajarvi, the Oilers failed to generate many decent scoring chances for the rest of the game and the Kings played perfect defense, defeating the Oilers 4-1.

Oilers hunt for playoffs
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter (a.k.a. “the Goal Scorer”) slip behind the Oilers penalty killing troika of (L-R) Corey Potter, Jerred Smithson, and Nick Schultz to score the game winning goal late in the first period.
(Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers played two insipid games against two very good teams and descended the standings to eleventh place with thirty-nine points; 4 points behind the now eighth-placed Detroit Red Wings. Nevertheless, with a record of 16-15-7, the Oilers are still in the mix for a shot at a playoff spot. The team is tied in points with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars and one point behind ninth-placed Phoenix Coyotes. The Oilers have played one less game than the Red Wings, which makes tonight’s game—and the rest of the games this season, for that matter—a must-win.

 

It will take a valiant effort from the Oilers to be victorious tonight against one of the best teams in the NHL right now: the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have been one of the most dangerous teams this season and they sit in second place in the west with a record of 26-8-5. With only ten games remaining on the schedule for the Oilers, Edmonton must be willing to bring their best game to every ice surface for the rest of the regular season. Plain and simple: they cannot afford to lose anymore games and Oilers’ captain Shawn Horcoff acknowledged the supreme importance of tonight’s game and the rest of the season for his team.

 

“We played a couple of pretty good teams and they kind of taught us the level we’re going to need to get to, to be successful,” Horcoff said. “We have to be more intense. We have to increase the level of our game.

 

“We know it’s going to take another little run like the one we just went on, but we just did it. Why can’t we do it again?”

 

At the very least, the Oilers are still in the hunt for the playoffs near the end of the season, which is something that hasn’t happened for a few years. The goal for the Oilers at the beginning of the season was to be in this exact position. But in order to truly satisfy their hungry fans, the Oilers must push even harder for a playoff spot and make it in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evan Davits

Evan Davits

I grew up playing hockey on the roads, outdoor rinks, and ice surfaces of various arenas in Edmonton and around Northern Alberta. Now, I am a father of three and a journalism student at MacEwan University in Edmonton. My words are often brutally honest and critical; however, I have never been the type to shy away from sarcasm and humour.
Evan Davits
Evan Davits

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