Oilers have learned the hard lessons

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

For too many years they've started like the tortoise and finished like the hare - only to miss the post-season by a couple of those precious points they frittered away in the early going.

So if anyone knows the value of stockpiling wins in October, it's the Edmonton Oilers.

"We've learned the hard way that when you're down, even if you're only down six points, it could take you a month to get those six points back," said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau.

"You could win eight out of 10 games and not gain any ground on a team because of all the overtime (loss) points."

So they seem to be making a point of making points, piling up wins like squirrels getting ready for winter.

"You never want to be in that situation where you're always fighting back, trying to get points late in the year," said Fernando Pisani, after the Oilers improved to 4-0 with back-to-back wins over Calgary.

"I think we're learning our lesson in these games. We don't want to be in a situation where we're blowing games.

"Then in the latter half of the season it's not like we can coast in, but we won't have to worry about trying to battle for that last spot."

Across the province, the Flames, already five points back of the Oilers, know they have to change their direction in a hurry, lest they be forced into the same frightening game of catch up that Edmonton knows so well.

"A bad start can really hurt a team's chances of making the playoffs," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "The points are difficult to come by any time of the year, but especially when you're going down the stretch and you have teams that are playing one another and tying games.

"Every year it just seems that teams are getting points no matter what at the end of the season. It's extremely difficult to come back at that time."


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