OK, maybe Sports Illustrated had the Oilers on a paved road to glory this season, promoting them to third overall in their pre-season power rankings, but few who’ve watched this team wander the desert since 2007 expected a quick and dramatic turnaround.
The potential, and many of the parts, needed to be a good team are in place, but any notion that Oilers II, The Next Generation, would need an extra dressing room to contain all of their awesomeness is being shoved aside by an age-old truth — skill alone is never enough.
“It’s the best league in the world, and the best teams in the league work for everything they get, that’s why they’re successful,” said centre Sam Gagner, reflecting on Saturday’s 4-3 loss at the Saddledome, in which an older Flames team with considerably less high-end talent made it look easy.
“We’re a work in progress. I don’t think it’s going to come right away.