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GENE'S BLOG: March to the Playoffs

In his latest blog, Gene Principe writes about the Oilers stretch drive during a jam-packed March

by Gene Principe /

Alex Chiasson started his career in Dallas and ended his first National Hockey League team's night on Tuesday. 

A power-play goal with four forwards on the ice. Some "forward thinking" by Head Coach Dave Tippett and it worked. 

"I'm usually the decoy," joked Chiasson after being chosen along with Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to try and finish off Dallas. Mission accomplished. Two games, two nights, two wins.

"We just grinded it out for 60 (minutes) as they (Dallas) kept pushing," explained Nugent-Hopkins. "We didn't deflate as a team. We have to be able to win games like this."

Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game at DAL 03.03.20

It's the time of the season where any way is the right way to win games. Monday and Tuesday were back-to-back examples. 

One night wide open with '80s style scoring. The next night a locked-down, defensive gem with great goaltending by Mikko Koskinen and his 42-save performance. 

"When everyone is seeing things work," said the friendly Finn, "that helps bring people together even more. You start believing we have all the tools here to go a long way." 

The farthest you can go is to the Stanley Cup. Chiasson has been there and had his day with the Cup and a ring to prove it. He's been on a team that knows what it takes. Right now he likes what he sees. 

"I think the biggest thing that I learned in Washington," said the well-spoken winger, "is the momentum changes a lot. It's a playoff atmosphere and there are emotions involved. We have done a good job as a team when we may not be playing our best but let's find a way to get going." 

The OT hero vs. Dallas wasn't done yet. 

"Nothing is said about what the team is building," said Chiasson. "This is where you learn what it takes. It's not an easy game."

Video: Koskinen, Chiasson lead Oilers to overtime victory

Funny because at least for 20 minutes it looked like it in the third period versus Nashville. 

A five-goal final frame as part of not one but two five-point nights from Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Those things happen when the first and second scorers start to take over. 

That happens once or twice a season (see Nov. 14 vs. Colorado when Connor and Leon combined for 11 points). 

Prepare for the best but get ready for the rest. Thursday when Edmonton faces Chicago the Oilers will be down to their final month of the season. From March 5 to April 4 they will play 15 games. It will take them to where they want which is where they were during the 2016-17 playoff run. 

"The confidence level we have is at a whole different level," said RNH, the longest-serving Oiler who played career game 600 against Dallas. 

"There are similarities between that year and this year," said the 20-goal scorer. "We have no quit in our game." 

Hard to predict what kind of game the next one will be against Chicago. They have stars but unlike Monday and Tuesday night's opponents, they aren't in a playoff position. I like the way Josh Archibald put it going into last week's game against Vegas: all games are important but some are really important. 

The Oilers will play more of the latter than the former in Edmonton's March to the playoffs.

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