It came at the expense of the San Jose Sharks, but the Edmonton Oilers finally picked up a win on Sunday night and finally snapped their 11 game losing streak. The final score was 2-1 and the victory marked their first against a Western Conference opponent all season.
This has been a brutal year for the Oilers, as has been well-documented. The win is as much a moral victory as any, but it’s hard to have hope. Most accounts suggest that the club is set to lose a lot of games this season and looking at their 1-12-4 record against the West it’s hard to disagree.
The Oilers are dead last in the NHL. They’re tied with the Carolina Hurricanes with 19 points, but Edmonton has played 27 games while Carolina’s played 26. Edmonton has a 7-15-5 record overall and they’ve only scored 60 goals. There’s luck on that level at least, as the Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres have produced less overall offence.
But still, it’s been dismal. The best plan going forward is to ride the wave of Sunday night’s win.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” Oilers forward David Perron said. “It’s nice playing that way, like we did in Winnipeg mostly and same here. It’s nice to get the result. It shows everyone in the room that when you do the right stuff on the ice for the most part of the 60 minutes you’ll get rewarded after.”
That right stuff includes the intangibles, like hustle and energy and all that clichéd stuff. But it also includes getting an early jump and getting shots on goal. The Oilers outshot the Sharks 11-2 in the first period. That kind of hot start is a great way to catch a team off guard.
But the Oilers also benefited from having a tired hockey team as their loyal opposition. San Jose was on their third game in four nights and had just wheeled out of defeating the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Taking advantage of a tired foe is part of the game and Edmonton deserves credit for finally finding the use of such an opportunity.
These sorts of silver platter opportunities won’t present themselves all the time, however, and that means that Edmonton’s woes are far from over. While that may seem a fairly obvious statement, it’s one that the Oilers would do well to bear in mind. It’s easy to get discouraged and it’s easy to think things aren’t going well after a series of bad bounces. It’s harder to stay hungry through it all.
So while congratulations are in order for Edmonton’s Sunday night, it’s Monday morning now and the world still looks the same for the Oilers. They still inhabit the basement and they still have a lot of work to do. But the good news is that they have a start, something to build on in their first win since November 9. And when they face the Sharks again on Tuesday, they better be ready.