(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan)
After a disappointing and demoralizing loss against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday, it would be easy for the Edmonton Oilers to feel bad for themselves, falling under .500 at 10-11-3 overall.
Pat Quinn and Tom Renney had the team's leaders meet and have a honest, no-holds-barred chat this weekend on what the team culture is and how to get everybody on the same page in terms of systems play.
With Oilers mainstays Denis Grebeshkov, Fernando Pisani, Ryan Stone, Mike Comrie, and now starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin still out with injuries, the Oilers needed big games from their established leaders and from their secondary scoring lines.
Most of all they needed a big game from backup netminder Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.
Backed up by Springfield Falcon Devan Dubnyk, it was Deslauriers' own destiny to carve with the opportunity to lead the team in front of him.
And respond the team did in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Coyotes Monday.
Deslauriers earned the shutout in fine fashion after allowing one more goal than in the game before it through each of his previous five starts, turning away 36 shots and getting scoring from Ethan Moreau, Sheldon Souray, Ales Hemsky, and Shawn Horcoff—an exclamation mark of a response from the team's leaders.
Also having big bounce-back games were Lubomir Visnovsky, Ladislav Smid, and Steve Staios. Ryan Potulny, Liam Reddox, and Dustin Penner were solid as always. What's more, after actually playing relatively well in the loss against Chicago, Tom Gilbert continued to look better since Quinn benched him for the final two periods against Colorado last week.
Though one may feel bad for Torrie Jung and Devan Dubnyk, the way Deslauriers is playing right now, they might not get a chance to see their first NHL action.
Perhaps Steve Tambellini's faith that a healthy Oilers squad will compete for a solid playoff spot may still turn out to be a reality.
We just have to make sure that this is not a one-game phenomenon but rather a common trend for the remaining 54 games.
The Oilers will need to continue to bring their A-game against the Los Angeles Kings (13-9-2) on Wednesday night.