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The Progress Report: Playing For Pride

by Travis Knee / Edmonton Oilers
Although everyone would prefer to see the Oilers playing meaningful games with playoff implications at this point in the season, sometimes we must settle for another form of motivation. For Edmonton, that now comes in their role as spoilers.

The Oilers will play out the remaining string of games with an eye towards next season while also knowing that they can have direct impact over other teams’ playoff positioning.

While maybe not as glorified as being in the thick of the 2011-2012 playoff race, there are a number of important things Oilers’ management can take out of the remaining 12 games. As they inch towards another offseason that will most assuredly bring more change to the lineup, this is an opportunity for players to compete for positions and roster spots moving forward.
For the Oilers' young guns, this is a chance to hone their skills.

“You want to see guys who continue to compete, work hard, play for the pride of wearing this jersey,” explained head coach Tom Renney.

Almost everywhere the Oilers turn over the next few weeks, there will be another opponent desperate for points as they try to secure a spot in the close playoff races. This past week it started on Monday with a 3-2 loss to San Jose, and continues with games’ Friday night against Calgary and Sunday versus Phoenix.

Tonight’s game should be an easy one for the players to get up for as their Alberta rivals come into Rexall Place with tons on line. It is a chance for everyone in the Oilers lineup to forget about the season that has been and play for the very reason every hockey player starts playing, pride.

“The guys in this locker room love being an Edmonton Oiler and we are professionals, we want to win every time we step out there,” explained captain Shawn Horcoff.
Veterans like Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth must lead by example.

As Oilers’ management looks to carve out the pieces to an eventual championship team, funny enough it starts with moments like this. The gives them the ability to see what players will step up and play to the level they are paid to do and for respect for the logo on their chest. This information will go a long way in bringing respect and a winning attitude back to ‘Oil Country’.

“We have an opportunity to work on the little things and build positive momentum for next season,” stated Taylor Hall.

The fact is, no team wants to be forced into the role of spoiler, but every year certain teams are faced with that reality. Edmonton has a chance to play this role to perfection this season and hopefully, for Oilers fans, make it the last time for many years to come.

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