I have spent years being an opinionated Oilers fan. I grew up with the underachieving Oilers teams of the mid-90's. I watched the team miss the playoffs year after year, and when they did make it to the playoffs, it seemed like they were perpetually matched up to the Dallas Stars and the one man wrecking machine known as Mike Modano.
Through out the years, there is one thing that the Oilers have always been good at..... that being showing glimpses of greatness. I remember like it was yesterday the game 7 Todd Marchant breakaway goal that led Edmonton past Dallas in the first round of the 96/97 playoffs. There was the 5 year span between 97-02 where Edmonton was getting into the playoffs. Playoffs to a fan is like the start of a brand new season...anything can happen, and every year I would sell myself on the thought that this was the year when my Oilers would cause some damage.... thanks for ruining my dreams Dallas. Then of course who can forget the 05/06 cup run.... there is still a bitter taste in my mouth from that rollercoaster ride.
Thats what the Oilers have been for me, up and down, up and down, and it seems like this year, their play has been very consistant with that of the Mindbender at West Ed.
A few weeks back I was at the Oilers/Rangers game. I don't think I have ever left a game feeling as low as I did that game. There was no emotion, no passion.....no physical play. As I was watching last night's game against the division leading Avalanche (whom I still don't think are for real), I senced a similar type of game to the Oilers/Rangers. Sure, the Oil outshot the Av's in the first, but were down at the end of 20. The crowd wasn't in it, the defence looked tired and were pushed around, and Deslauriers was rusty at best. Most of the second period was the same....frustrating.
But then that rollercoaster went on a big ol' loop.
I think there were two things that really changed the outcome of last nights game. Firstly, it was an act of genius to make Gilbert sit the pine for most of the second period. He looked so soft and out of it....I think sitting him not only woke up Gilbert, but it sent a message to the rest of the team that Quinn demands tough, hard nosed players. Secondly, the borderline elbow headshot hit on Moreau. Stortini, thank you for jumping in and making a statement. It seemed like from that moment on, despite being shorthanded and down two men, there was a fire that was lit.
Edmonton could be unstopable if they could find a way to consistantly remain lit.
Some things I also noticed from last night. Despite the aweful start Deslauriers had, in the end, he made the saves when he needed to, he hung in there and showed he could battle. Brule needs more ice time, and I loved that hit on Stasny. Penner....what can I say? No points, but he was still dominant and I think I can smell 35+ goals from him, and Visnovsky was our best d-man. Souray looked a bit out of it last night. He didn't seem smooth or comfortable at either end of the ice, but just to have him back means the world for our defence.
Looking forward, we still need to address our face-off problems. Outside of a trade or two, I dont forsee this getting any better. I also think the Oil really miss Stone and Jacques. When they get back, I think we will see more of the 6-2 team that started the year rather than the inconsistant team we have right now. Like I said, rollercoaster.