“You ask anyone who’s won here in the last few years, it’s really hard, you need everything to go your way,” said Cleary.
“You need all your best players to be their best, your role players to be the best role players, no injuries or timely bounces.
“It’s amazing how everything has to fall in line, but it’s certainly well worth the journey and the work that goes into it.”
GAGS AND COGS
Ever since they came into the NHL together, former linemates and current buddies Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner have always had a lot in common. Now they each own a pair of once-in-a-lifetime NHL feats.
Gagner had the eight-point game on Thursday and Cogliano scored an overtime winner in three straight games a few years back.
“I talked to him when I got up Friday,” said Gagner.
“He was talking about his hat-trick and how I kind of overshadowed it a bit.
“Andrew is a guy I’ve kept in touch with all year. We’ve been watching how each other has been doing. He was pretty happy for me. It’s nice to get a call from him.
Gagner still shakes his head at the three OT winners.
“That was a really exciting thing to be a part of. Since that happened, I don’t think I’ve ever been in three overtime games in a row, let alone the same guy scoring three. It was an incredible run for him.”
NICK OF TIME
This just in: Nick Lidstrom is awesome.
Wings defenceman Ian White always knew that, but he never really understood just how awesome until he got a chance to play with him in Detroit.
“It’s been a thrill so far, for sure,” said White, whose plus-29 rating was second best in the NHL heading into the weekend schedule (Tyler Seguin is first at plus-30).
“He’s one of the greatest of all time. Getting an opportunity to play with him and practice with him, you learn so much.
“You get an extra boost of confidence every time you go out there knowing he’s your partner.”
In a one-year deal and eager to re-establish himself as an important piece of a good team, Cam Barker had big plans for this season.
But having the guts cut out of his year because of an ankle injury wasn’t among them.
“Obviously, being injured, you can’t really prove too much on the ice,” said Barker, who will have to cram his audition into the last eight weeks of the season.
“It’s definitely like that these last 30 games. I want to play my best and put my best foot forward. I want to keep building on what I’ve been doing.”
He began the process even while he was injured, working like a madman to stay in shape and get back on the ice ahead of schedule.
“I feel like I did everything I could when I was injured to get back to this point as quickly as possible so I did have 30 games left rather than, say, 20.
“It was important to me to get back to the team and contribute.
“I wanted to make sure that everything I could control I did the best I could and I feel great. I think it’ll really help me transition back to playing. The more work you put in I figured the less work I’d have to put in when it really came down to it.”
A restricted free agent this summer, Barker likes it here.
“I love Edmonton, it reminds me a lot of Winnipeg the people are extremely friendly, the hockey atmosphere is second to none. I have family in the area, I love coming to the rink every day.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Jordan Eberle’s played in 24 games at Rexall Place and he’s picked up points in 20 of them, including the last 15 in a row.
It’s not eight in one game, but it’s not bad.
“I didn’t know that,” he said of his run. “I think I’ve been fairly consistent. For the most part I’ve played pretty good.
“I’ve had a few awful games, but if you want to be one of the best players in the league, you have to be consistent.”