Oilers can make history in St. Louis

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- It's ironic when a team that gets kicked out of its building by a curling tournament can make the most significant sweep of the entire week.

When the Oilers left on this road trip 10 days ago, a lot of people predicted they’d have a pretty good shot at getting five.

Only most of them meant five as in getting a top five lottery pick. Sitting 15th in the West with four wins in their last 18 games, they were one bad trip away from sewering their season for good.

Four wins later, the focus has shifted from being done like dinner to running the table.

“It's exciting,” said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau. “I don't remember the last time we ever did that.”

That's because they haven't. No Oilers team, not with Gretzky or Messier or Kevin Lowe has ever gone 5-0 on a five game road trip.

Instead of being history, this group can make it.

“Realistically we kind of had to do this to get back in the picture,” said Moreau. “This trip, if it went the other way could kind of define our season and we didn‘t want that to happen. It’s a credit to the guys in the room to recognize that and collectively pick up their individual games to the point that we’re feeling pretty confident that we can win.”

They started this journey on the 10-point must system: They must get as many of the 10 available points as possible or they might never get up off the canvas. With eight of eight so far after wins in Detroit, Dallas, Florida and Tampa Bay, all that stands between in front of a perfect road trip are the St. Louis Blues.

“At the start of the trip we weren’t really thinking about it, but now that it’s here we’re going to really go for it,” said Ryan Stone, one of the catalysts of Edmonton’s turnaround. “It’s huge, we were kind of going on a slide there, we had to turn it around. It was the right time to get on the road, get away from everything and get some wins.”

The Oilers have been a little fortunate with their timing on this swing, catching Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay in slumps, but you don’t qualify road wins no matter what the circumstances, and it’ll take a lot more fortuity to make up for all the misfortune that’s been heaped on them this year.

“We were hoping to get into Detroit and find a way to win that hockey game,” said Quinn, who was looking for one win, not five, when the trip began. “As it builds you’re expectations change a little. Three weeks ago we were giving up points with seconds to go...”

Now they’ve only given up seven goals in the last four games. Even Robert Nilsson, with four points and plus five on the trip, is making a difference.

“We played pretty bad before this road trip, so we really need this,” said Nilsson. “We’re playing a good game now. We definitely don’t make as many turnovers as we did before. It’s so much easier for your defence to be comfortable out there.”

Offensively, eight different players have scored their 11 goals.

“All good teams have to have that,” said Quinn. “You don’t coast in this league any more or have two lines not going, or even two guys not going, and expect to win. We’ve had four real good performances from our guys and hopefully we’ll continue to get that.”

Getting it Friday in St. Louis could make for a timely little piece of history.

“You don’t want to let anything slide when you get to this point because you put in so much effort that you don’t want anything to ruin it,” said Moreau. “You want at the very least to have a really solid effort.”


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