I've noticed a bit of a trend this year, which is a nice change from the last year. With the exception of the Calgary games at the beginning of the year, the Oilers have been beating the teams that they expect to finish below them. It seems to me that the Oilers have a history of putting in their best efforts against the top teams, but there is some sort of letdown against the lesser teams. This year, when faced with a lesser team, they have actually shown up and beaten them (Buffalo, Columbus, Montreal, Chicago), and there have been some good showings against strong teams as well. This indicates to me that maybe the leadership of the team, whether players, coaches, or both, have found a way to motivate the Oilers other than being the underdog. Perhaps this year won't have so many points squandered to basement-dwellers.
That's true - I kind of noticed that at the end of the road trip but then forgot about it again. We all know there were many squandered opportunities for points last year against the lesser teams that we let slip. I think the team's psyche might finally be starting to 'harden' a bit, keeping in mind it's such a young team overall. Those let-downs with the lead hopefully will be fewer and far-betweener (?), but the Oilers have also showed they can battle back when down by a goal or two (or three). Oates may provide a steadying influence as well, which should only help.
I've noticed a bit of a trend this year, which is a nice change from the last year. ... Perhaps this year won't have so many points squandered to basement-dwellers.
That was exactly the point I made last night after Hemmer accused me of "being drunk and talking normal" on the Game Day Thread. But you Allan have crystalized that idea into a strategy which hopefully the 'Oil' will follow tenaciously.
Yeah Allan, I was thinking exactly that after they beat Chicago. One of the things the Oilers of old used to do, and these guys have been doing, is beating the really good teams they had no business beating (Montreal and the Islanders then, Colorado and Detroit now) but losing to the teams they should walk all over (Hartford then, Calgary now). I've heard it said over and over again, and I think it's true - one of the signs of a very good or, dare I say it, a great team, is that they win consistently. They almost ALWAYS beat the weak teams, can handle the good teams more often than not, and hold their own against other very good/great teams.
The last few years, the guys have had trouble beating the bottom-feeders of the league, but have almost always been up for the big teams. This year, it appears that they're finally up for the bottom-feeders too. I haven't seen a lot of games they've phoned in, and although they've lost some they should have won, I don't think they lose those regularly.
The new stability in the organisation should help this further, ie, Oates signing, Staios' new contract, and I think by now they're resigned to playing without Comrie.