Don't write Oilers off yet

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

They've been here before.

Feeling good about themselves, on a winning streak, building momentum on their way up the standings.

Yet the Edmonton Oilers have failed to take advantage of the situation in the past and have always come crashing back to earth.

Tonight (7 p.m.) with the St. Louis Blues in town they get another opportunity to spread the love.

"For us, everyone has been ahead of us pretty much all year, so I don't think we're really in a situation that we can be overconfident," said Oilers forward Marty Reasoner. "Obviously they're struggling a little bit, but they're a good team and they're not that far behind us. We know it's another big game for us and we want to continue to play well and string some wins together."

The Oilers head into tonight's contest on a two-game winning streak, having won six of their last seven games. They're two games over .500 for the first time since the first week of the season and are embarking on a three-game road trip following tonight's contest.

HISTORY NOT KIND

The last time they were in a similar situation, they we hammered 5-1 by the Nashville Predators. The time before they were riding a four-game winning streak with the Los Angeles Kings - the worst team in the league - in town. They lost before going on to lose three of their next four games.

"The focus isn't really like that, the focus is playing our game," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios. "I know that's easier said than done, but if we can keep that focus and can get into that rhythm of just that team preparation of building confidence and good energy, then we're going to continue to win hockey games.

"We feel like they (Blues) are a good team. They're well-coached, with structure and we're going to have to do the same in our game plan if we want to win."

The Blues are currently on their longest road trip of the season - a nine-game stretch lasting nearly three weeks. They also played in Calgary last night where they went in having lost eight of their last nine games.

It would seem they were ripe for the picking.

"You can't underestimate any team in this league," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "Obviously, this game is real important to make our way up in the playoff race. It'll be nice to get a bigger gap against St. Louis and we need every point we can get."

Having seemingly played without the pressure of a tight playoff race may be one of the reasons for the Oilers recent success.

They were essentially written off after three consecutive losses late in February and with four key players out for the season.

NOT WILLING TO CONCEDE

Yet they've been unwilling to concede the season and are just a short winning streak from getting themselves back in the mix.

"We're just trying to play the game for what it is and going out and playing hard and trying to play well," Gilbert said. "I think that's when we play better. In the Nashville game I think that we put a little too much emphasis on the fact that this was like a playoff game and this was like our playoffs. I think there was a lot of pressure on that individual game and maybe we were a little bit uptight and we didn't play loose."

Prior to last night's NHL schedule, the Oilers were seven points back of the final playoff spot and two points back of three teams ahead of them in the standings.

With only 13 games to go they're still a longshot to make the playoffs, yet it appears, unlike last season, that they plan on battling until the end.

"We dug ourselves a hole early and it sucks chasing and it's tough to chase," Gilbert said. "But we have no control (over) other games. All we can do is what we can control. We're trying to keep this streak going and see how long it lasts and see if it can get us that eighth spot in the playoffs."


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