SUN Hockey Pool

Speedy Hawks circle Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Good thing the Edmonton Oilers don't have to talk about that humiliating 10-2 home ice loss to Buffalo anymore.

Now, about that humiliating 9-2 home ice loss to Chicago ...

The guys over at The Department of Bad Timing must be laughing their heads off right now at the beauty they scheduled between the emotionally frazzled Oilers and a team that's already speed-bagged them 9-2 and shut them out 3-0.

The Oilers need Chicago like Michael Phelps needs a trip to Jamaica. Given the first two meetings, in which the Hawks registered 74 shots, it's entirely possible the Oil will get smoked again this evening.

"I try to remember nothing from it, try to forget it," defenceman Tom Gilbert said of a drubbing which nobody ever dreamed would be downgraded to only the second worst defeat of Edmonton's season.

"They're a good team, we obviously know that, we've played two bad games against them this year."

Which makes this one, just seven days after the double-digit debacle against Buffalo, and two days after most of them left their hands and hearts in the dressing room against Nashville, all the more worrisome. It's no time for another stinker.

"You can't focus on the pressure, you just have to go out there and play your game," said Gilbert, adding the Oilers have a healthy respect for an opponent that can beat them at their own game.

"They're a team you can't make too many mistakes against, they have a bunch of weapons and they play a good system game. It's tough to make mistakes against them because any one of their players can capitalize on it."

And did. The Buffalo beat down could be chalked up, in large part, to bad goaltending. But the Chicago losses were an entirely different animal. The Hawks had too much speed and too much skill for Edmonton to handle. They've been way better both times.

How appetizing is it, while your uniforms still reek from a 10-2 loss, to play somebody who's already beaten you 9-2.

"I don't think you can look at the last game and think, 'Oh, they beat us 9-2, we can't let it happen again,' " said sophomore centre Sam Gagner, whose ankle might be well enough to let him draw in tonight.

"When those games happen you try and put them behind you as quickly as possible. We've had some success against them in the past as well. This year they've had our number a little bit, but we want a bounce back game after the last one.

"I think we have to approach it the way we've approached every other game."

Well, maybe not EVERY other game. More like every OTHER game, because they've rarely been able to deliver the goods two nights in a row.

Only three times this season have they won three or more in a row. Only three times this season have they lost three in a row. The rest of the time it's win one lose one, win two, lose two.

"It's tough to explain,"Erik Cole said of the inconsistency. "I don't know if we get a little too complacent, a couple of victories here and there gets us a little too comfortable with how we're playing. It's a tough league to play in - you have to be prepared every night."

One thing is for sure: with Team Schizophrenia, it's never boring.

Who knows what they'll do tonight. A game like the one they threw at Minnesota? Or one like they threw up against Nashville?

"We don't want to be going back and forth all season and have it come down to the last 10 games of the season and you're battling for a playoff spot," said Gilbert. "It's frustrating. We just have to find our consistency. Each guy just has to focus on his own game."


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