Yes, it happened. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 and basked in some national limelight.
But all that game did was underscore the talent and potential the Oilers possess. Fans were well aware of that already.
What they want to see is sustained success, something Edmonton hasn’t seen in ages. This team has speed and skill, so why can't it win with any regularity?
The Oilers have floundered under a variety of coaches, from Pat Quinn to Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and now Dallas Eakins. Faces change on the bench, bit the problems remain on the ice.
They haven’t been in postseason play since 2006, when Craig MacTavish led to the Stanley Cup Finals. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Oilers have won just 155 of its 422 games.
Even the New York Islanders have won more games than that. Losing again and again is no easy feat, especially since the Oilers landed an army of skilled players with all those high draft picks.
Now MacTavish is the GM, doing the bidding of beleaguered team president Kevin Lowe. He appears destined for still another high draft pick.
The elite Western Conference teams are light years ahead of the Oilers right now. The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings won the last two Stanley Cups and the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are all playing extremely well.
“We’re not close to being in the same league as those teams,” MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal. “But at the start of the year, I thought, ‘Let’s close the gap on those teams, and then we should be able to be competitive against the other 20 teams in the league.’ I think we’re there now . . . I think we’ve closed the gap a little bit on those really good teams. We’re still a long ways away, but I think in the bottom 15 teams in the league, we’re very competitive.”
Like the Philadelphia Flyers, the Oilers tend to keep things within the family. Like the Flyers, this once-great franchise tends to repeat its mistakes.
The Oilers have no chance of reaching the playoffs this season. And the end of the regular season could get ugly, as the Journal notes. Their final 10 games features three games against the Ducks, two against the Sharks and matchups with the Kings, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche.
There’s always next year, right?