It certainly wasn't too long ago when the Edmonton Oilers were drawing comparrisons to the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams had a quiver of first and second round draft picks that promised young players with speed, grit, and finish.... players to build a team around. The future for these two teams indeed looked bright. Chicago went deep into the playoffs last year, Edmonton missed them. Chicago has started the season 14-5-2 and is 2nd in the Western Conference, while Edmonton is 9-11-3and currently sits 12th in the Western conference. Chicago is ranked 5th overal in team +/-, Edmonton is 25th. Chicago is better in almost every stastisitical category this year, and tonights game Chicago continued it's roll as being the better team with a convincing 5-2 win.
Really, right from the opening drop of the faceoff, this game was all but over. Chicago was faster. They passed the puck on the tape. They went to the net. They capitalized on their scoring chances. At times Chicago seemed as though they were on a long extended powerplay, and any chance they got they shot at the net and drove for rebounds. Their powerplay was simple, but dominant. Their players looked confident, strong, and hungry for the puck. I guess winning breeds confidence.
So how can a team so unsure of themselves, like the Edmonton Oilers, expect to make the playoffs in a hockey mad city in the toughest division in hockey? Beats me.
But what I do know is that there are still some similarities between Chicago and Edmonton. Both teams have defencemen who are able to move the puck and quaterback the powerplay. Both teams each have a forward who could be considered one of the top power forwards in the league. Both teams have a mix of experienced players and young talented forwards. Both teams have an abundance of speed. With all the talent on both teams put aside, Chicago has something that Edmonton really needs to copy.... that being Chicago's winning attitude.
I am sure that at some point in the careers of the young Chicago studs like Kane, Toewes, Seabrook, Keith, Versteeg, Sharp, and Byfuglien, that they had to make a decision to either be known as a young team rebuilding, or a young team that wanted to do more,...who believed that they could do more, rebuild and win at the same time. The transition that Chicago has made in the last three years has been remarkable, going from a near basement club with less than average attendence and no television contract. Now, they are one of the hardest teams to play against with numerous players getting consideration for various teams to participate in the upcoming olympics. There is an attitude in Chicago, an attitude of winning, and that is what Edmonton needs.
As Coach Pat Quinn commented on in his post-game press conference, Edmonton did not get outskilled, they were out "IQ"ed. The mental game is not there. Edmonton does not have the winning attitide, and like most Oiler fans at this time, I am in fear that this year could be long and frustrating as we watch the playoffs pass us by while the cup could present itself to the city of Chicago and a team with the skill and attitude.
Edmonton, believe in yourselves, you are not outskilled. You need to want to win.