SUN Hockey Pool

Love, Canuck-style

TERRYJONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

You gotta love a Canadian hockey city.

For the last three days around here, it's been open season on the Edmonton Oilers for losing their first game back from the all-star break with a 30-year franchise record for futility - the most lopsided loss ever.

If the 10-2 defeat had happened in more than half the cities in the NHL, it would have resulted in maybe a paragraph or two on the eighth sports page and next to no mention on TV or radio or even the Internet.

The Oilers went into the break having won five of their previous six games.

Irrelevant.

The town put the boots to the team.

Having their character questioned, the Oilers provided the perfect response by chasing Niklas Backstrom after he gave up the first three goals to suffer his first loss after going 10-0 career against Edmonton.

And now what do the fans do?

IMPRESSIVE

Craig MacTavish's team scored an impressive 3-1 win against a team they have more trouble beating than just about anybody else in the league.

The fans who want MacTavish fired after every loss, usually claim he fails to get teams up for games. They were damn sure up for that one.

"It was a rough one," said MacTavish of the ride the tough-love town gave the team.

"We went into that game feeling pretty good about ourselves and came down pretty hard. It was a big game for us, no question. That 10-2 game came down around our head pretty good."

And check out the standings this morning.

The Oilers are in fifth place!

They've won six of their last eight!

And this win, considering who it was against, was much more meaningful than the lopsided loss to Buffalo, no matter by what score.

You thought Edmonton had a lot of injuries last year. What about last night? About 16,893 people broke legs jumping back on the bandwagon.

Dwayne Roloson, who gave up three ghastly goals early in the 10-2 loss, made three marvelous saves early.

"Roli! Roli! Roli!," they cheered the first star of the game all the way back to the dressing room.

I've always believed if every player on a team made one clean hit in the first half of a first period, they'd win most hockey games. But when Steve Staios put his shoulder into Stephane Veilleux and then, helmetless against the visor-clad Cal Clutterbuck, won the response fight, it was worth an entire lineup of hits.

The hit had a very similar effect to the one by Steve MacIntyre against Dustin Boyd to turn around a game against Calgary early in the season.

"Steve really set the tone," said captain Ethan Moreau who scored the winner.

"That said everything about our game.

"We were pissed off. We wanted to produce a little more energy and get the fans involved."

Other than chanting "We want 10" for the other team, he meant.

Ales Hemsky scored his fifth goal in the last four games and the fact he bounced back from being slammed head-first into the boards by Nick Schultz after having missed 10 games with a concussion, was inspirational.

While there was at least one Oiler who didn't answer the challenge to respond to the 10-2 embarrassment, the ones not named Dustin Penner for the most part answered it big time.

SOME SLICES

Those players could go out for pizza after the game last night instead of having it delivered like during the last three days.

"Edmonton can be a place where you want to curl up and hide. But I've played here long enough to know it can also be the best place to be," said Moreau.

Andrew Cogliano has only played here for a season and a half. But like the rest of the kids, he got an education.

"We got a lot of grief. It's a pressure place to play. You have to answer how you're playing and what you're doing. And that's a good thing."

And so, should somebody now start planning the parade?

Or should we remember that every time the fans get excited the Oilers get eviscerated? Hang in there with a hung jury at least until they play that noon game against Nashville tomorrow.


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