Could Five Wins Be Followed By Five Losses?: Oilers Lose Badly to St Louis.

The Oilers won five in a row on the road. No one can take that away from them. That feat, was likely a great thing for their confidence. What's happening now shows that confidence for the Edmonton Oilers can quickly shatter.

The Oilers have turned five straight wins into four straight losses and it could get worse before it gets better.

In what can only be described as a lashing, the Oilers showed again that they can't sustain more than 20-40 min. of high energy, skilled all-around hockey against not only good competition, but similar dwellers in the west, as the Blues slapped a 7-2 loss on the Oilers.

The Oilers had one period in the first where things seemed ok. They held off for a while in the second, but as they always seems to do, things quickly fell apart and whatever confidence Edmonton might have gained with five straight road wins, meant nothing compared to the sheer fear they show in many of their recent losses.

It's like the Oilers feel bad news is coming before it does and react accordingly. Why try when the outcome is inevitable? I say that hoping it's not true, and I certainly don't think that way. From what I can tell, Pat Quinn doesn't seem to think that way. But, it's evident a lot of Oiler players might think that way.

Of course, with the chance that Edmonton could lose five in a row after winning five, fans will jump back on the tear apart the team mentality and quickly jump back to praising Ales Hemsky, who is obviously missed, but was the last name on the list of those players not needed while the Oilers were hot.

Well, the Oilers are currently anything but hot and the reality is, this team and its missing pieces simply isn't good enough to compete with many, if not most of the other 29 teams in the NHL. Even with a healthy roster, they struggle against most of the western conference. The Oilers knew this before the injuries. They knew it before the season started, and they knew it before the last two seasons started.

They just refused to admit it.

At what point will management say, "well, we're too close to the bottom to mistakenly think this team will be competitive. Let's see what we can get for picks at this coming draft and start to build that way."?

I hate to see the Oilers lose, but something has to trigger management away from the previous approaches that have left this team with major holes, overpaid and under-performing talent, who can't seem to find chemistry with each other.

The Heatley's, Hossa's and Jagr's of the world are not coming here, and the sooner the people in control of this franchise realize it, the better the future of the Edmonton Oilers will be.

To most, there are obvious elements or centre-pieces if you will on this team that should be considered the core of the Oilers moving forwards. That said, the list is small, and none of them would be considered NHL superstars. Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, Brule, Stortini and Smid are the players I'd keep. I'd consider moving them too if the return were right, but let's suggest right now fair value doesn't exist.

Everyone else should be examined and options considered to improve this team 2-4 years from now. Immediately, that means Comrie, O'Sullivan, Pisani, Moreau, Staois, Souray, Strudwick, Nilsson and others are brought up any time a trade is possible.

Players on the bubble are guys like Visnovsky (who I really like), Horcoff, and Tom Gilbert. If a trade exists that either rids you of salary effectively and gets you high picks in return take it. Even better, if moving them is part of a deal that includes a better, more proven star than those three, consider it as well.

Successful teams, and those at or near the top of their respective divisions like New Jersey, Colorado, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Pittsburg, sit there looking down at everyone else for one reason, and one reason only. They were poor enough teams for 2-3 years, or drafted well enough in the first round that they roster those players who are the main contributors to their teams success.

Only San Jose seems to have defied the odds by making a couple successful trades, thus making them attractive to players around the NHL. San Jose is the new Detroit in that if you want to win, you give the Sharks a good glance. The only difference being the Sharks haven't won in the playoffs for everyone to consider them the "team to play for".

For the Oilers, Edmonton has a few keepers on their way to the NHL. Wouldn't it be nice if they could pick up one if not two bonafide soon to be superstars from the draft to play along side these keepers? Since it won't be through free agency, the draft is the only place left.

Unless the next Eric Lindros is about to be drafted, the draft would mean no issue over convincing a free agent to play in Edmonton, no issue in overpaying to attract or keep top talent, and finally no reason for this and next season to keep fans blindly believing that this team will do anything but scrape into a playoff spot (if they can do that) and get booted immediately.

Oiler fans are dying for wins. Not 82, but just enough to see this team in the playoffs. To me, that is the wrong way to go.

I say forget it this year, and forget next year. Decide, keep and develop your core, dump your assets at the next two trade deadlines, and hope you draft high. Get a couple good draft years in a row, with what I believe to be a couple good draft years for the Oilers in the past two years and then you'll see a winning tradition back in Edmonton.

In the meantime, fill your team with spare parts from free agency. There seem to be plenty of deals available about 1-2 weeks into July. Take advantage of it.


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The 8th or 7th Day of Oilers Christmas: The Definition of Patience

Busy weekends means I miss a couple opportunities to write. However, being a couple days behind on the 12 Days of Oilers Christmas is not much of an issue since I want the same things for Day 8 as I do Day 7.

On the 8th and 7th Days of Christmas, the Oilers gave to me, a prayer at either 8th or 7th in the western conference.

Most of us knew going into this season, that should the Oilers make the playoffs, they'd be barely scraping in. There wasn't much reason to look past the 8th and final playoff spot for Edmonton since the holes in the roster were glaring.

Thanks to such a weak team and major injuries to key components of the Oilers lineup, Edmonton now sits at 14th in the West and one game under .500. With only 47 games left, Edmonton would need to go something like 30-17 in their remaining games to have a legitimate shot.

Based on the injuries and play over the first 36 games, not likely is a term that comes to mind.

On the Oilers after show following Edmonton's loss to Washington, Dan Tencer was asked what he'd like to see with this team and his answer was patience. In fact, he called that the only logical response.

Tencer followed with explaining that the only way teams build a contending team is from within and through the draft and that Oiler fans should look to turn this ship around that way. Bob Stauffer followed up by suggesting the reason Edmonton's failed to do so despite missing the playoffs for consecutive seasons, is that "when the Oilers have been bad, they just haven't been bad enough to get a top five pick".

He's right, only Jason Bonsignore was drafted in the top five by Edmonton. Not exactly a stud.

So If my request for Christmas on the 8th and 7th days represents an 8th or 7th playoff spot, what would the Oilers need to do?

First, if they actually believe and agree with Tencer that building through the draft is smart, stop pretending to contend every summer and look to make the playoffs next year, not this one.

Understand that this team is a few steps away from fixing it's problems. Trading for Heatley gets you 50 goals, but it doesn't improve your team overall. Signing Nikolai Khabibulin gets you a proven goaltender, but one that maybe only steals you 5 games a year and as we've seen has injuries and age problems that come along with it.

I'm not suggesting tanking or not competing as a team night in and night out, but futile attempts to move up a few spots in the conference when you're not only a few spots away from the playoffs, moves you up only enough to not be a lottery pick.

In the end, you miss the playoffs, but you are also just good enough that the draft drops off.

Tell the fans, you expect to build through the draft, but will compete every night. Don't sign one or two medicore free agents and tell the fans you are a playoff team.

Take your lumps, get the draft pick that will help and maybe, your team in the meantime surprises and does well without adding overpriced pieces that do nothing for the real future of this team.


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