SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers miss opportunities

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

If the playoff race doesn't work out for the Edmonton Oilers and, after the last two weeks a growing number of fans fear it won't, this is the stretch of games they'll look back at and curse.

Six games into a seven-game run against teams below them in the standings (Montreal being the lone exception), the Oilers have just one measly win to show for it.

They could have used these patsies to sew up a playoff spot, instead, they're hanging by a thread.

The only reason they're not in 10th is that four of their five losses came in overtime, but this team needs to learn how to win, and quick.

"It only takes one game sometimes, one bounce sometimes to really turn a game around," said defenceman Sheldon Souray. "We all know how once momentum goes your way, bounces go your way, things go your way and the hockey gods smile on you a little more.

"We haven't been able to find that since the first four games of the year when we got some points maybe we shouldn't have. We were finding ways to win games."

Souray can think of too many nights this year when wins were there for the taking and Edmonton just didn't grab on hard enough.

"If we would have done that three more times this year ..." he said. "There's probably 15 times we should have taken control of games, but if we'd have done it three more times we'd be in a lot better position than we are today.

"But there's still quite a bit of hockey left. We haven't played up to our expectations and that's the frustrating part for the fans, the media, our coaches or ourselves, but we're still right there."

There are plenty of players here who've won big games in the past, both last year down the stretch and in the 2006 Cup run, so there's no reason they can't bear down and do it again.

"It's a position we're obviously comfortable with," said Shawn Horcoff.

"If there's anything we can grab onto it's the fact that we've been here before.We should be pretty calm in here when it comes to games like that."

Smid out for today

Still bothered by the lingering effects of a concussion 10 days ago, Ladislav Smid missed practice yesterday and won't go tonight against St. Louis. He played the next two games after getting elbowed against the Leafs on March 7, but took another big hit against Atlanta on March 12 and hasn't felt right since.

"I don't think it's going to be that long term," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "But the fact he missed a few practices ... these things take a life of their own.

"It's tough to anticipate how long it's going to take. But we definitely miss him."


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