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BLOG: Earning confidence

The Oilers are brimming with team confidence after going 9-2-0 in the last 11 games

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - If confidence were a resource capable of being extracted, bottled and sold, teams would be placing orders in bulk. 

That's not the case, however, as Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett believes confidence is earned through strong performances and winning efforts. With an 8-2-0 showing recently - the best National Hockey League record in the last 10 games - the Oilers are brimming with self-belief as they continue to incline up the North Division standings.

Video: PRACTICE | B.C. Bound 02.22.21

"That's an awesome way of looking at it," Nurse said of Tippett's train of thought. 

"The last stretch of games, we've shown that we can win in different ways. Whenever you're able to do that as a group, you believe no matter what situation you're in during a game, you can find your way back or find a way to close the door."

Despite going down 3-6-0 in the opening month of the season and having to make corrections off the cuff, the Oilers have shown resilience by going 9-2-0 since.

"We could have easily just buried ourselves and buried our heads but we stayed even-keeled and kept working," Nurse said of Edmonton's early struggles. "We've had some success over the last little stretch but now we can't get too high on ourselves. We need to come in and work each and every day like we did today and stay on the right side of this."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 02.22.21

In January, the Orange & Blue were scoring 3.63 goals per game and allowing 3.72 against. While the offence remains a constant, Edmonton's defence has improved, bringing the goals-against average down to 3.10. The return of goaltender Mike Smith has helped in that regard but the players also feel they have found their form.

"At the beginning of the year, it was a little run-and-gun, and that's not what we wanted," forward Josh Archibald said Monday. 

"We got back to our systems and started playing the way we know how to and the way we want to play. Guys are starting to form a lot of chemistry. Our power play and penalty kill are doing a lot better and overall at 5-on-5, we're doing a lot better, too. 

"Once you put all those things together, it's a recipe for success."

Video: RAW | Josh Archibald 02.22.21

And the success is coming in varieties. Juggernauts Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are first and second in NHL scoring with 37 and 30 points, respectively. On the back end, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie both rank in the top-five of defencemen scoring with 16 points apiece. The club is also getting support from their bottom-six forwards and showing they can close out games by smothering the opponent defensively. 

All in all, the confidence on display in Oil Country comes down to one thing.

"To get that consistency, you've got to have a lot of players playing well throughout your lineup. We've had that the last little while here," coach Tippett said.

"We know we have some offensive capabilities that have to be there every night. For us to become the team that we want to be and become a playoff team, we have to be a good defending team. You need consistency on both sides of the puck if you're going to be a good team."

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