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Edmonton Oilers Skyrocket From 15th To 12th in West in One Night

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Robert Nilsson #12 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during the game against the Calgary Flames on September 23, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images
Jim ParsonsContributor IDecember 4, 2009

The sky is falling in Edmonton, or at least that's what fans, writers, and popular opinion around the city seems to suggest.

That is, until the Oilers laid a beating on last year's Stanley Cup finalist Detroit Red Wings.

Edmonton was simply a better team, out-shooting the Red Wings in every period, out-working the Red Wings' players, especially their goaltenders. This looked like a Detroit team currently sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in. But, this did not look like an Oiler team at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

So what gives?

How can a team full of injuries, lacking superstars, and full of AHL players beat a team with elite talent like that of the Detroit Red Wings?

"Crust."

It's been a long time since the Oilers can say they produced the kind of "crust" Pat Quinn said this team would have. With the return of Ryan Stone, JF Jacques, and the emergence of Ryan Potulny and Gilbert Brule, the Oilers finally seemed to come out with the attitude that, to win this game, they'd have to do the things Detroit wasn't willing to do.

For Edmonton to be successful in spite of the hurdles facing them, that attitude will not only have to continue, it will have to become its montra.

Players like Robert Nilsson, who returned to the lineup after missing significant time with a concussion, will have to play with more than the skill with which he was gifted. He'll need to use that skill—which he did, scoring one of the prettiest goals so far this NHL season—and find a second gear in terms of overall teamwork and effort, and bring it to the rink every night. He did that against Detroit, and it showed.

Patrick O'Sullivan will have to continue to get lucky bounces to get him off of the snake-bitten path. Even lousy goals can boost a players confidence and overall output. Thursday's game showed just how much that can be true. He showed effort which was virtually invisible over the past five-or-six games.

Others will need to continue to step up as well, because despite how little it would take to go from 15th to 12th—and then from, say, 12th to 8th—with a 5-1, or 6-2 run, the Oilers, with lacking games at hand, could see the opposite happen if they stand-pat and others develop streaks of their own.

 

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