Oilers fit right in with West’s woeful playoff hopefuls
You look at three wins in the past nine games and wonder how it’s possible the Edmonton Oilers are not dead and buried yet.
Then you look at the Western Conference wild-card chase, also known as the Central Pacific Zombie Walk, and it all makes sense.
It’s hard to tell if this race is dramatic or just sad. There are five teams (maybe six after Edmonton let Arizona into the party Saturday) separated by a few points, looking for two playoff spots.
A high-stakes, multi-team logjam like that normally would make for some brilliant theatre, but it doesn’t quite have the same impact when everyone involved is practically begging somebody else to take it.
The “race” between Colorado, Minnesota, Anaheim, Vancouver, Edmonton and maybe Arizona has been described as a turtle derby, which is inaccurate and insulting to turtles.
As we all know from the story, turtles are slow and steady and occasionally will win the race.
This is no turtle derby. This looks like five drunks trying to stumble their way out of a house of mirrors at the carnival.
When the smoke cleared after a full slate of games Saturday, the challengers looked like this:
Colorado: one win in their past 10 games; Anaheim: winless in their past 10 games; Edmonton: three wins in their past 12 games; Minnesota: five wins in their past 13 games; Vancouver: five wins (two against Edmonton) in their past 11 games. This is basically a slower version of OJ’s low-speed chase down the San Diego Freeway. But two playoff spots are still right there for the taking. All anybody has to do is take one.
“That’s going to be the focus for us, that we are right in the fight, we’re not out of it at all,” defenceman Darnell Nurse said. “There have been ups and downs, but at this point of the season all the cards are in our hands. We have the ability to make it a great season or one that we look back on with a lot of ifs.”
This bottleneck probably won’t last forever. A team or two from the Drab Five is going to get hot, and that will be it. Now would be a good time to pick up the pace.
If they had figured it out already, they would be free and clear. Instead, it’s been underachievement, inconsistency and frustration.
They needed a prayer with eight seconds left to get Florida to overtime, and with the lessons learned from that close call, lost 3-2 at home to what was left of the Coyotes two days later.
Everyone knows the Oilers roster isn’t as strong as it needs to be, but plenty of average teams have found success by working harder than opponents with superior skill. Edmonton, aside from rare glimpses during a couple of hot streaks, hasn’t shown itself to be one of those teams yet.