Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/24/13
You know it’s a tough trip when it starts with losing a bunch of games and ends with losing a bunch of players. With the defeats piling up around them and with Jesse Joensuu Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth flying home early with injuries the Oilers were starting to think the only way their six-game eastern swing could get any worse was if the NHL tacked on a neutral-site game in Afghanistan at the last minute. Bettman does love the sandy non-traditional markets after all. Fortunately for them it ended better than it started. With 120 dogged and desperate minutes in Ottawa and Montreal they managed to duck a pair of bullets that would have turned the trip the month and maybe even the season into a total disaster. “It’s one of those things you’ve got your fingers crossed and you’re hopeful it’s going to bring your team together if you can get some wins” head coach Dallas Eakins said of his pre-trip expectations. “Obviously it didn’t start very good but I’m encouraged that it ended well. Right when we would be at our lowest point physically with all the wear and tear and injuries you’d think the last two games would have been the worst ones. They ended up being the best.” Now they’re home for one game before going back out for six of their next eight on the road. The next trip takes them to the Pacific Ocean the one after that takes them back to the Atlantic again. Welcome to Edmonton Dallas. “When I worked for Toronto you’d see the teams out west always whining about the schedule and I’d always be like ‘Shut up just play quit your whining’” said Eakins. “But it’s tough being out west.” Going home would have been even tougher had they lost those last two. Not that a 2-3-1 trip is anything to cheer about but when you started out 0-3-1 it’s cause for a pretty massive gulp of relief. “This was kind of similar to our really long trip last year when we lost a bunch and things just didn’t seem right” said Devan Dubnyk referring to a nine-gamer that hit rock bottom with back-to-back shutout losses in Nashville and Detroit in the sixth and seventh games before they won the eighth and ninth to finish 3-4-2. “You put a couple of wins together at the end and all of a sudden you salvage the road trip and you’re OK going forward. “This was really important for us to do that to get those two wins. We would have liked seven points on the trip but it was a good finish for us.” Down 2-0 on the sixth game of the 12-day trip and minus Hall Smyth and Joensuu the Oilers looked done but got up off the canvas to beat Montreal. People can argue over what lit the fuse Lars Eller in the morning Dallas Eakins at the first intermission or the stark realization that their season was already in serious danger but there’s no debate over the importance of those two points. “During a losing streak when it feels like the world is going to come to an end you never know when or why that bounce is going to come” said Dubnyk.
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