Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An Exercise in Self-Deception

Contrary to what the Oilers website may have to say about the matter, the Los Angeles Kings did not kill the Oilers' playoff hopes.

The Oilers themselves did.

In a game in which the Oilers were fighting just to keep their very narrow playoff hopes alive, the Oilers did the precise opposite of what Craig MacTavish had told them to do. Instead of coming out flying, they came out ill-prepared and gave up the goal that effectively ended their season before the game was even four minutes old.

As they have all season, the Oilers killed their own playoff hopes.

They killed their playoff hopes all season long when they followed numerous winning streaks with losing streaks that were often the same number of games in duration, if not longer.

They killed their playoff hopes when they responded to the knowledge that their fate vis a vis the playoffs was very much in their own hands by posting a three-game losing streak, and losing (to date) seven of their last ten games.

They killed their playoff hopes when they failed to learn how to win the ever-crucial one-goal game.

They killed their playoff hopes with their atrocious penalty killing, and when their key offensive players -- among them Shawn Horcoff, Robert Nilsson and Dustin Penner -- failed to pull their own weight.

This in a year when the Oilers were expected to contend to possibly win their division.

The sense that something is missing at the core of this Oilers hockey team can no longer be overlooked. Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe will have some serious questions to be answered this off-season.

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