Dec. 2, 2010: Oilers 5, Toronto 0
“The Edmonton Oilers are feeling a lot better about their season,” wrote the Associated Press in the first sentence of its game recap.
Nov. 19, 2011: Oilers 9, Blackhawks 2
“The Edmonton Oilers didn’t just break their four-game losing streak, they smashed it to pieces.” — AP
Apr. 27, 2013: Oilers 7, Canucks 2
“In their season finale, the Edmonton Oilers offered up some hope for next season.” — AP
Dec. 5, 2013: Oilers 8, Avalanche 2
“It would be difficult to find a team much harder to figure out than the Edmonton Oilers.” — AP
No kidding. Because those are just a few of the blowouts the rebuilding Oilers have enjoyed the past few seasons. Remember just a few weeks ago when they beat Columbus, 7-0?
And with each big win came a hopeful glimpse of the future. Of a team stacked with offensive weapons, just like those old Oilers teams of the 1980s that won four Stanley Cups in five seasons.
Except even with three first overall picks in the lineup, it hasn’t turned out that way. Not even close, really. Forget competing for Stanley Cups, the Oilers haven’t even made the playoffs since the rebuild started — a rebuild that’s provided their roster with three first overall picks. And barring a miraculous turnaround, they won’t make the playoffs this season either.
Still, there’s hope. After starting out 4-15-2, Edmonton is 6-3-0 in its last nine, with winnable home games versus Calgary and Carolina coming up.
“Over the last few weeks, our group has taken a step in mental toughness,” head coach Dallas Eakins said last night after his team’s destruction of the Avs.
We’ll see if, this time, the optimism is warranted.