SUN Hockey Pool

Young Hawks look like old Oilers

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

If nothing else, the visit by the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night offered some contrast.

It illustrated how far the Edmonton Oilers are from being the team they want to be.

Or you could just read the standings this morning.

Chicago now has twice as many points as Edmonton -- 76 to 38.

It's the Blackhawks model, a collection of high Chicago draft picks rounding out as a team, that the Oilers are hoping to become.

With picks like Taylor Hall -- which with their current 30th place position, the Oilers have a 48.1% chance of winning the lottery to be able to draft first.

But really, the team the Oilers are trying to put together is the same kind of team Edmonton had back in the beginning.

And you couldn't watch that game last night and not be reminded of the Oilers' glory gang.

FUN TO WATCH

These young Hawks haven't won anything yet and there's no Wayne Gretzky there, but it's fun just to watch them pass the puck around even if it's in your home rink against your home team.

And you may have noted that nobody raised their stick in celebration of a goal after Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane combined to score 44 seconds into the game.

And that they backed off from running up the score after jumping ahead 4-0.

If you go back, you'll remember how opposition coaches complained after games against Edmonton that their guys stood around and watched the Oilers play.

And that's what coach Pat Quinn was saying after it was over with a 4-2 score which flattered the home team beyond belief.

That was certainly true with Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff and Fernando Pisani, the so-called checking line that heard the boos as Toews, Kane & Co. toyed with them to the extent there should have been circus music playing in the background.

"That's the best passing team in the league and we're doing that fancy drop (pass) crap," said Quinn.

"We had people staring at the puck, forgetting that somebody might go inside.

"It was like when we played in Chicago. We were like deer in headlights. 'Let's stand here and hope nothing happens.' The score flattered us in that one, too.

"When we got the puck we just gave it back to them. 'Here you go.' That's how it got to be 4-0."

At one point, the Hawks enjoyed a 27-9 advantage in shots on goal.

"We never made them play defence because we didn't play any offence tonight," added Quinn.

"That's a good hockey team. We didn't give them much of a challenge early on and they were just protecting the lead after that."

It looked like the Hawks put in a rule that everybody had to touch the puck at least once before they took a shot. And that only took a few extra seconds.

"They move the puck pretty fast, pretty quick," said Oilers netminder Jeff Deslauriers.

"They know where they all are. They have good execution. They don't like dumping it in. They like to stay with the puck. They are very good at puck possession."

CHEERED

The crowd cheered the first Oiler shot on goal in the defeat that made it 18 losses in their last 19 games (four points of the last 38 available).

More to the point, it was Edmonton's 14th loss in 15 home games. The Oilers have only won two home games since Chicago was last here on Nov. 21 with fans expecting to see Nikolai Khabibulin go against his old team instead of finding out he wouldn't play because of an injured back.

Edmonton has only won two home games since Khabibulin last played in front of Oilers fans.

For the most part, the crowd -- probably because there are so many fans going to the games using other people's tickets -- has been kind.

But when you're setting records for losing skids -- and this was the 11th straight loss for the Oilers -- even if you didn't pay your dollar, somebody is bound to holler here and there.

But hey. Only one game left this month.

And only 13 home games to go.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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