When the going gets tough ...

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

They've set out to forge a new identity -- one that might possibly drag them back into the playoff race.

The Edmonton Oilers still need to put together a string of victories to get back into post-season contention, but they're quickly running out of games in which to do it.

Led by their captain, Ethan Moreau, the Oilers believe the best way to win is by beating their opponents into submission.

"We have to take the approach that we had against Calgary up against most teams," said Moreau.

"We have to be tough to play against. Teams don't like when you play that style of game. If we can do it against Calgary then we can do it against anybody, because Calgary is one of the toughest teams in the league."

In two games against the Flames last week, the Oilers distributed more hits than the Beatles in their heyday.

The Battle of Alberta lived up to its billing, with 15 fighting majors in the two meetings.

In the opener, the Oilers manhandled the Flames in a 5-0 win. In the second game, they didn't get anything going offensively in a 4-1 loss.

"We had our opportunities through odd-man rushes but we didn't even get shots through on those rushes," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Cogs (Andrew Cogliano) hit the post on one, but other than that, we really didn't execute very well. We were gearing up for the physical part of it, but we didn't execute the puck-moving part of it.

"They (the Flames) were coming hard, I'll give them that. They came hard, on their forecheck, but really it was our inability to break that puck out on the forecheck that proved our undoing."

Tonight against the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers want to bring that same physical intensity they generated against Calgary, Chicago and the San Jose Sharks.

"We haven't had a lot of success against them recently and we need a win," MacTavish said.

"Minnesota is pretty firmly entrenched in a playoff position and we're on the outside looking in, so we have to go out and win this hockey game.

"We have to continue the physical play, there's no doubt about that. That's been a real staple of our play in our building and we have to carry that through, we have to come out banging."

The Oilers have only been able to beat the Wild once in five previous meetings this year. But they've never been able to take the game to them physically, not having an answer for enforcer Derek Boogaard.

But with Boogaard and his bad back out of the lineup and with more sandpaper on their own roster, the Oilers have that opportunity tonight.

"We have to challenge ourselves to be physical every night," Moreau said. "That's the way we're going to have success, you can't take nights off. If you do, being a physical player, then you leave the game in the balance.

"They're a good team, they're pretty solid up and down their lineup. They work hard, they have a pretty good structured game.

"In the past their special teams have been very good. They've changed their identity a little bit. A lot is said of their defensive game, but they do skate, they do open it up."


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