Some good news for Oilers?

Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk dives to cover up a loose puck during a game against the Flames at...

Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk dives to cover up a loose puck during a game against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 10, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:25 AM ET

CALGARY - The good news is that the next scheduled loss for the Edmonton Oilers to the Calgary Flames isn’t for 42 days.

Due to the world junior tournament being held in Calgary and Edmonton, the Oilers are not scheduled to gift points to the Flames on either Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve.

The other good news is that thanks to a win Friday night over the Colorado Avalanche, the Oilers’ roller-coaster ride hasn’t totally turned into the drop of doom, with only five wins in their last 16 games after last night’s 3-0 loss here.

It just feels that way.

When the Oilers went into this back-to-back set against Colorado and Calgary, they knew if they lost both games, it was, ‘Look out below!’

Coming into consecutive games to end a five-game stretch against teams below them in the standings would suddenly have a different view.

Lose both and the Avalanche and Flames would leap-frog them, leaving only Anaheim and Columbus below Edmonton in the Western Conference standings.

Thus endeth the good news.

There was no news here last night. It was the same old story.

The Flames won their eighth straight game against the Oilers since that marvelous opener last year when Jordan Eberle scored, in his first NHL game, the goal that stood up all year as the most amazing in the league.

But that one game, which Edmonton fans saw as a glimpse into the future, turned out to be an anomaly.

The Flames have now won 17 of the last 19 Battles of Alberta.

“I think we’re closer to beating them than we believe we are,” said Edmonton head coach Tom Renney after watching St. Albert’s Jarome Iginla snipe a pair of goals for the Flames to move within five of the 500 in his Hall of Fame career.

“I think we have the potential to beat every team in the league. We’re capable of that,” added Renney.

The coach said it’s not what it’s been.

“There isn’t a mental lock.”

When a Calgary media man mentioned that the Oilers have drawn fresh Flames for the second game of back-to-back games in all three meetings so far this year, Renney replied: “Thanks for mentioning that. Three games in a row, they’ve had us in the back end of back-to-back games.”

The Oilers also had teams coming off games the night before in Calgary and haven’t taken the same advantage.

Captain Shawn Horcoff said the 17 losses in 19 games is a statistic he has no time to contemplate.

“I just worry about this year,” he said. “And this year we’re @#$%ing capable of doing it.

“Tonight we got pinned in our zone. We spent too much time on the defensive side of the puck.”

Today Calgary may be celebrating moving within a point of the Oilers with the win. But the fact is both teams are out of a playoff position and about to leave their buildings for extended periods thanks to the world juniors.

For the Oilers, this was the first of 10 out of 12 on the road while the international show comes to town.

Calgary will be away for 11 of their next 13.

At least the Flames are hitting the road after going 5-1-1 in their last seven games.

The NHL recently agreed on a realignment that will have the Oilers in an eight-team grouping with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones — but that’s next year.

This year, they remain in the Northwest Division. And if you can only win four of 12 games in your own division — as is the case to this point — it’s hard to project any prospects for the playoffs.

But Horcoff doesn’t want to hear about that stuff.

“Right now, we’re a point ahead of the Flames and we’re in contention for a playoff spot. We haven’t played great of late, but we’re still ahead of them,” said the captain.

“It’s Game 30 and we’re still in the mix. We have a lot of games coming up on the road, but we’re still in the mix and the goal has to be just to hang in there and stay in the mix until the world juniors is over and we have a lot of games to play in Edmonton.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones


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