Sunday, March 30, 2008
A terrific night Friday. Not the result, of course, but the company.
What was interesting was the mood. Even with the last second goal by Sakic everyone was in pretty good spirits. Maybe the low expectations we all had for this team? Sure.
But also because there is a lot to like about this team. A lot. There have been a lot of complaints over the past eighteen months about how this team lost its identity and this was true enough. In my opinion this changed when Phaneuf bumped Cogliano in the first game after Horcoff went down and Moreau went after him. Of course this goes against the grain, to point to a single moment as a turning point in a season, but this event certainly showed that the Oilers were not going to fold like they did last season. Lets just say that Moreau's action was a sign of what was coming. We all recognize Moreau's gregarious leadership qualities but saying that he single handedly turned the team's fortunes by slapping Ugly around is elevating him into the pantheon of the mythical great leaders like Yzerman. ;)Follow that big win with a handful of others and a surly attitude that manifested itself even when they lost (such as the Vancouver game) and suddenly it has become clear that this team is going to play with an elan that has been missing a while.
This past week is a perfect case in point as to why fans might be forgiven for walking around with pretty big smiles on their faces. First they play a home and home against Wild on Jacques Lemaire, a team that has choked the life out of the Oilers the past number of years. Every game against them always ended with questions about Oilers' heart and brains because the Wild just made them look terrible each time they played them.Monday they rolled right over them. Wednesday they went to Minnesota and lost but five goalposts had a part in that. Friday they fell behind the Avs early and came back hard. The Sakic goal was a killer. So what does this team do? They go into Calgary the next night and walk out of there with a win.
The negative - they came out of a possible eight points with only five.
The positive - a few breaks Wednesday and six seconds less on the clock Friday and they go four for four. Eight points out of eight against divisional foes, three of those on the road, against teams that have pretty well handed the Oilers their asses in recent history.
This team is coming along.
A final note on last night's game - paying special attention to Greene and Grebeshkov, who along with Staios and Gilbert had nice games. Both of these kids have come a long way. Greene will never be pretty with the puck but he used his size effectively and the fact that he was out at the end of the game shows MacT's confidence in him. He has come a ways. And there is a lot to like about Denis Denis. Closes on his opponent quickly, uses his body well to eliminate guys along the boards and he is starting to show a lot of confidence with the puck.
A BIG goal doesn't hurt either.
Two games left to go and things still remain unlikely but I could really not give a damn. This is a sweet team and their attitude and play this week, an O fer last season, makes me thing that we will have a lot to cheer for these next few years. Even the growing pains are easier to take when your team plays like this.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:11 AM