It's usually pretty early when people in Edmonton look at the Oilers and say "It's going to be a long season."

And it's happening already.

Only this time, they mean it in a good way — like, for the first time in seven years, the season might not be over when the regular schedule ends.

Playoffs? Playoffs!

If only former Colts coach Jim Mora could see what's going on here.

"There have been games in the last two years where, even if we played a really good game, we were still going to lose," said winger Taylor Hall. "We lost some games that we weren't even close to winning, but you don't really see that this year. I think those days are over.

"We're not hoping that we're going to play well or hoping the other team is going to make some mistakes, it's really all about us.

"We know that if we play our game we're going to have a really good chance to win. That's what excites us and gets us going, realizing we can beat a lot of teams."

There is always optimism, and the Oilers have been off to good starts before, but there's a real sense that this year might be different.

It's not just that they've beaten some good teams in Vancouver and Los Angeles. It's how they're winning. Comebacks on the road, last-second goals, overcoming obscenely bad officiating.

"I think we're really starting to develop a winning attitude," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "Where nothing but winning is acceptable."

Stumbles and opponents that would have folded the last six Oilers teams only seem to make this one try harder.

"Yes it is early and yes, we went through it last year, got off to a great start, but there's something different," said Ryan Smyth, who's been around enough bad Oilers teams to know a good one when he sees it. "I've been through a lot with the organization, the ups and downs, I see a lot more positive this time around."

Same goes for another long-serving veteran, Ladislav Smid. He says this team is unlike any other he's played on.

"For me personally, the attitude and the atmosphere and the confidence is different. There are more expectations for ourselves," he said. "We have high expectations for ourselves. We really want to make the playoffs. We know we have to take it step by step, nobody is going to give it to us, but we really want to make a statement, be really hard to play against."