Following the Oilers 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, their third-straight victory, the club could look at the standings and see they were three points out of a playoff spot.
Exactly one year ago, the Oilers were 15 points out. It shows that this team has a chance to continue to play meaningful games as they progress.
“That’s great. I think it’s really important for us just to stay in the race,” said Taylor Hall. “As we start getting bodies back and as we keep improving as a team, we just want to stay in it and make sure that by the end of the year, there’s some important games in the mix there. You never know what can happen if you stay within four or five points. You get on a roll, you get a hot goalie or a line that really gets going at the end of the year, it can be dangerous.”
The head coach isn’t watching the standings now, however, as it is still early and there’s work to be done.
“I’m not going there,” said Todd McLellan. “The schedule, the standings, the wins, the points, will all shake out when it’s said and done. I want our guys to know we’re slowly improving and we’re evaluating based on progress. We’re not going into the newspaper or stat sheet and pointing anything out as far as that goes. We’d like to keep this homestand going. We’re going to face two very good teams coming up.”
Much of the focus in the Oilers locker room was on the next game, not the playoff race.
“Winning is why we play hockey. It’s fun,” said Jordan Eberle. “It’s nice to be on a bit of a streak here. The way I look at it, as most of us do, is this is one game. We can be happy about our effort and move forward. We’ve got a good team coming in Wednesday. We’ve got to be ready for that. That’s our mindset.”
Regardless of where their focus is, the team has won three straight and has managed points in five of their last six.
“Everyone is excited, excited to go play for each other,” said Darnell Nurse. “We go out there and we’re making plays for each other at big times… It’s a great feeling. With that said, it’s only December. For us, it’s continuing to get better on a daily basis with the way we want to play. It’s definitely very positive when you string together wins like this.”