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The Progress Report: Slump Busters

by Travis Knee / Edmonton Oilers
As the NHL trade deadline draws near, the Edmonton Oilers are playing some strong hockey leading into it. The Oilers are coming off back-to-back wins this week against two teams in the thick of the playoff race.

Last night’s win over Philadelphia was a good demonstration of just how effective the Oilers can be when they get a complete team effort. The Flyers came in as the highest scoring team in the NHL and behind strong goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and good team defence, Edmonton was able to shut out the high-flying Philadelphia attack.

“We got contributions from everyone in the lineup tonight, this is what a full team effort feels like,” said associate coach Ralph Krueger.

The win continued some strong play by the Oilers at home against the Flyers. Philadelphia has not won a game at Rexall Place since the 2000-2001 season. The Oilers have been able to win some tight games against the perennially strong Flyers team.
The young stars continue to make strides this season for the Oilers.

The win over Philadelphia was built largely on momentum from the previous win in Calgary on Tuesday night.

For Edmonton, Tuesday’s win meant a little more than just your average 6-1 victory. The Oilers had been in the worst kind of funk when it came to playing their rivals to the south. The Battle of Alberta had swung greatly in the Flames favor over the past few seasons.

The Oilers entered Tuesday’s game having lost the last nine meetings between the two clubs. Going back even further, the Oilers had lost 16 of the last 17 meetings overall. It goes without saying that in a rivalry such as this; those statistics are unacceptable for Oilers' fans.

“We really wanted to come in here and get a win against these guys, it’s been far too long,” stated captain Shawn Horcoff.

Wanting more than just the win, the Oilers attacked the Flames hard and often, beating them by a score that reflected a team desperate for a win over their rival. For fans in Oil country, the hope is now that the streak is broken, things will return to being a little more competitive in the Battle of Alberta.

Having lost five of their previous six games prior to this week, the Oilers use wins such as this to help build positive trends down the stretch.
The win over Calgary is just what the Oilers and their fans needed.

Continued development of young stars such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk will be the focus over the final 22 games of the season. Eberle’s two points last night brought him to 60 points on the season in 56 games. With that he became the first Oiler to hit 60 points in 56 or less games since Doug Weight did it back in 2000-2001. With all of these players looking poised to post career-best seasons, things look to be headed in the right direction.

“It’s been a good year for me so far, but I’m just focused on keeping it going now till the end,” explained Eberle.

Although two wins is nothing to plan a parade around, the reality is, every strong performance from now till the end of the season represents valuable experience. Experience any team built around youth must acquire before they can take that next step towards contender.

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