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The Progress Report: The Home Stretch

by Travis Knee / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers finally enter the ‘home stretch’ of a difficult season. With effectively one week left in a 2011-2012 season that has been anything but a success, the team will look to end things on a positive note, then turning the attention to what will be a very busy and important off-season.

With the exception of Wednesday’s loss at home to Dallas, Edmonton had been playing some of its better hockey of the season. In the previous two weeks, the Oilers had won five of seven games and collected 12 of 14 possible points. The strong team effort over a significant string of games is something fans had been hoping to see all year. It should also help provide a blueprint of the type of hockey that will need to be played next year if Edmonton hopes to crawl out of the NHL’s basement.
Edmonton's 6-3 over Nashville displayed just what this team is capable of.

The week saw Edmonton once again get a win in the Battle of Alberta, dealing a blow to their Rivals playoff chances. It also saw long-time Oiler Ales Hemsky get his first career hat-trick in a 6-3 win over Nashville. It is these types of moments that give fans hope for a brighter future.

“It was a great moment for sure, I’ve been here a long time and even though the season hasn’t gone as planned, it’s always nice to have a game like that,” explained Hemsky.

With Taylor Hall now put on the shelf for the remainder of the season as he gets ready to have shoulder surgery, and changes sure to come in the off-season, these final few games will act as a form of tryout period for a number of players who hope to be on the main roster next year.

“There is a lot of talent here and at some point real soon, things will come together for this team,” said head coach Tom Renney.
It's been a difficult season for head coach Tom Renney.

As the final five games of this season get started with a visit from the Los Angeles Kings tonight, the Oilers will have two more home games to send their fans off with a good taste in their mouths.

The Oilers have settled into their role of spoilers and with two of their final games coming against a Kings team fighting for their playoff lives, there should be no lack of reasons to get up for these games.

Although nothing can truly soften the sting of another year without playoff hockey, a strong finish combined with a talented young core and the chance at another lottery pick in this year’s draft will simply have to do for now.

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