How do you lose 5-2 to the floundering Ottawa Senators, a team that came off a fifth straight loss the night before on the coast, when you are a top of the tables team playing at home with two days of rest?
How does a sinking, at times stinking, draft lottery team now have a six-game winning streak in Edmonton?
I mean, come on.
Just when you start to toast this Oilers team for their growing character, developing culture and commitment to each other, they lose by three.
When the horn sounded in Vancouver Sunday evening and the Edmonton Oilers won their 17th game of the season, I fired out the following tweet:
“One of the most impressive things about this Edmonton Oilers team so far this season is how they refuse to get on a losing streak. Two losses maximum. Had to win in Vancouver to avoid three losses in a row and did it with more than a few guys out of the lineup.”
I didn’t realize at the time that only the Oilers and New York Islanders had restricted themselves to suffering no more than two losses in a row this season.
In discussing the subject at his post-practice media conference when the Oilers returned to work Tuesday, head coach Dave Tippett gave credit to the players for their determination to avoid the losing streaks that totally sewered the previous two seasons.
But then he said a curious thing.
“I’d rather have really good efforts after we won one.”
Fast forward to Wednesday evening.
Forget the two loss maximum policy, it’s time to focus on Edmonton’s failure to win more than two in a row.
Or in this case one in a row.
After a 7-1 start to the season including winning the first five out of the starting gate, Tippett’s Oilers haven’t managed to win more than two in a row either.
Take their start away from them and they’ve basically been a win one or two, lose one or two, nothing-special sort of team — not the team that maybe being first in the Pacific Division, second in the Western Conference and sixth overall that the standings said they were going into games last night.
It wasn’t like the Oilers didn’t show up for this one. They were all over Ottawa from the git-go.
Connor McDavid skated through the entire Senators team to draw the first penalty and then seemed to skate through the entire House of Commons on the power play only to combine with Leon Draisaitl to hit two goal posts — three posts in the period.
On the 10th shot of the period, Jujhar Khaira finally burst the bubble to make it 1-0 at 14:09. The shots were at 10-1 at that point.
All was well.
Khara, however, took a hooking penalty early in the second period that provided a power play that resulted in a goal by Artem Anismov.
Eleven seconds later Connor Brown scored a super softie on Mikko Koskinen through the five hole. And at mid period Edmonton native Tyler Ennis pulled the trigger to give Ottawa a total turnaround 3-1 lead.
It was three goals on eight shots in the second period on Koskinen and inspired Tippett to give the six-foot-seven Finn the hook in favour of Mike Smith.
While Oscar Klefbom scored on a power play for the Oilers before the end of the second period, only 90 seconds into the third a shot Ennis wide of the net bounced off the end boards right out front where Anthony Duclair fired home a free one. Smith made a couple of spectacular saves but in the end, the Oilers gave the game away.
So they refuse to lose more than two in a row, but can they win more than two in a row?
Todd McLellan’s cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings are in next and then a steady stream of Eastern Conference opposition will visit Rogers Place prior to Christmas — Carolina, Buffalo, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Montreal.
The Oilers came into the game with a 9-2 record versus the Eastern Conference, the second best record in the NHL.
If these Oilers players came to Rogers Place with the same determination after a win that they’ve shown on the road after two losses, they could achieve some separation heading toward the Christmas break.
This is the time and place for the Oilers to put together another winning streak. And it should have started against the Senators.
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