SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers need to maintain edge

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Based on experience, I feel qualified to make serious predictions about the way the Edmonton Oilers will play their next few games.

I'm not projecting whether they'll win or not, just how hard they'll work - starting today.

There will be an honest effort today against the Nashville Predators because the stench of a 10-2 humiliation by the Buffalo Sabres has not gone away.

No Edmonton comfort level.

On Tuesday, they'll show up again for the full 60 minutes against the Chicago Blackhawks, who posted a 9-2 whipping on their last visit to Rexall Palace.

No Edmonton comfort level.

My guess is that the team will fall into another 60-minute paid vacation in St. Louis on Thursday, then work hard again on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

You know why?

Because they'll be at their comfort level against the mediocre Blues and deathly afraid of being embarrassed all over again by the Red Wings.

For this Oilers team, and for almost every local squad in the last several years, it's all about self-satisfaction.

Many of them, especially the veterans, treat a certain number of regular-season games with absolute contempt.

Unless they've created a hot-seat for themselves, they play as if the speedometer is stuck on cruise - then, when criticized as they were last week, they wake up.

As a fan, you can't be criticized for your false expectations.

You watch these guys scrap and skate and play smart in a valuable winning performance against Minnesota and you start to believe they'll turn in similar efforts night after night.

They might be capable of it if their bloated comfort level - yes, that term again - didn't get in the way so often.

CREDIT WHERE DUE

Camrose saluted one of its most respected citizens on Thursday.

Retired Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA LeRoy Johnson heard more than three hours of praise from speakers who covered Alberta's sports, business and political spectrum.

There were many suggestions that he should find time to rebuild the Viking Cup tournament, long known as one of our country's most-respected junior hockey events.

NHL prospects from Europe often got their first exposure to North America in Camrose. Scouts and officials from the NHL and the continent's best university and college programs showed up by the hundreds every year.

Many citizens, even in Camrose, are convinced the Viking Cup and other tournaments like it are gone forever because schedules are so tight and costs so high.

I hope not.

BEST WISHES, GENTS

Sick or well, Billy Moores has always been funny and warm to spend time with and extremely good at what he did, starting as a player with the old Oil Kings and going on through a long coaching career with the Alberta Golden Bears before hooking up with the Oilers as an assistant.

Similar things can be said, and should be by many of us in this dodge, about longtime sports broadcast personality Tim Dancy.

Get well, guys. Then stay well.

AND NOW ...

Just checking: if you get big pleasure as you watch hockey players fight, is it also important to watch boxers trying to skate?


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