Frustrations follow losses, and the Oilers have dropped 10 straight games. Captain Andrew Ference had some heated words about the performance of the team through the stretch and the mistakes being made.
“It shouldn’t be such a chore to come here and pay attention to what you’re supposed to do and work hard and have pride in being in the NHL and putting on a jersey. That should be the easy part,” Ference said. “To come here and have to eke pride out of guys to get out there and pay attention and do details and cover the same details over and over over again, it’s not right. I think it was touched on last game. Like (Ben Scrivens) said, you can’t play like that in the NHL and win. It’s 100% unacceptable.”
The Oilers struck first tonight against the Coyotes, but allowed five-straight goals in the eventual 5-2 loss.
Ference added, “It’s unacceptable. “We’re not a team that is in a position to let our guard down and just go out there and expect it to be easy or expect another team to lie down because we have a penalty or they’re down by a goal. That’s the way we went out and played. Like we’re in some position of excellence where we can just go out there and float around. It’s the same mistakes, it’s not learning from mistakes and it costs us games over and over again.”
Head Coach Dallas Eakins confirmed the frustrations in the room, but declined further comment.
“We’ve seen it along the way, since I’ve been here. It’s been just over a year,” Eakins said. “There is always that going on internally and I will not speak about it out here. I don’t think it’s fair to any player to do that.”
Hockey Canada has announced their list of players invited to Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp, in advance of the World Juniors.
Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse is on the list. Nurse, the seventh overall pick in 2013, has played in 16 games for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this year. He had 16 points (6-10-16), 30 penalty minutes and is +2.
The Hamilton, Ontario native skated for Canada at the 2012 and 2013 U18 World Junior Championships.
The Oilers took yesterday off and used their practice today to refocus ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Coyotes.
“After a trip, it’s always nice to just get home, unwind for a bit and get back at it,” Mark Fayne said.
“It was good having a day yesterday to kind of regroup,” Boyd Gordon added. “We had a good skate today and to get that little bit of extra rest for the game tomorrow. We need to come out ready and have a good 60-minute game.”
After two tough overtime losses on the road, the players were happy to get some rest and a chance to reset before they play again.
“It’s tough, especially with the streak we’re on now,” Fayne said. “We thought we played two strong games and definitely could have won both of them. Right now, you can’t dwell on that. You’ve just got to keep moving forward because there is still a lot of hockey left and I think we have a lot of good hockey left too.”
The Oilers placed winger Jesse Joensuu on waivers this morning for the purpose of assignment. The decision to do so was based on the pressure coming from the minors. Players in Oklahoma City are pushing for a chance in the NHL.
“It’s a hard decision,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “The thing you can never forget is we have players here, but we have a whole bunch of players in Oklahoma City that are improving and getting better. Some of those players now are ready for another look, or their first look. Unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, Jesse gets caught in the crosshairs there. Jesse went on waivers today, it gives him the chance to be picked up by 29 other teams and if he doesn’t get picked up then we’ll decide what to do with him tomorrow, once we see what happens.”
The OKC Barons have won five games in a row, and have earned points in their last seven.
The Oilers probably played one of their best games of the season against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Despite outshooting their opponent 37-25, the Oilers fell in overtime. They played well again against St. Louis that next night, but fell again in overtime.
The Oilers watched two leads disappear in that 4-3 loss to the Blues.The team is hoping to have more consistency with the way they play moving forward.
“We’d like way more consistency,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought we had that game in Nashville. We’ve talked a lot about that game and that’s the game we want to play 5-on-5, with a little more finish. Our power play has to step up in certain games like that. Then going into St. Louis, that’s the challenge in this league to be able to bring that game every night. It’s a difficult thing to do but it’s a necessity. What you run into is you’ve played, you’ve played a hard game the night before, there’s been some guys play some heavy minutes and now you have to do it again against a team that’s been sitting there waiting for you for a few days. You can’t run into the excuse in this league that we’ve played back-to-back and we’re just going to grind out a point. You have to find a way to get both.”
The Oilers were 0-for-4 on the power play against Nashville on Thursday night, in a 1-0 overtime loss to the Predators. They weren’t awarded a power play on Friday night, in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blues. Overall, Edmonton’s man advantage is 28th in the NHL at 12%.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins says the lack of power play success is just a lack of execution. Despite numerous setups and an increase in shot volume, the team hasn’t been able to convert.
“It’s execution,” Eakins said. “I think we’ve tried every setup possible here now. We’ve had every entry possible. Our shot volume is good, compared to the other teams in the league. Our entries are good, compared to the other teams in the league, but we haven’t had the finish. We have to be willing to be ready for that one chance you might get to put the puck in the net. It comes down to execution. Our shot volume, our ability to enter the zone, the different setups are no different than the other teams in the league. But in the end, that power play always comes down to execution and we’ll continue to try to work on it everyday.”
The Oilers are on the ice at the Royal Glenora Club for practice.
The team has not run line rushes yet, but by sock colour the lines are:
Hendricks (leg) not skating
Trades are a part of the business of hockey. Players understand that in the media and amongst fans, trade rumours can circulate involving their name.
David Perron has been a subject of such rumours as of late. The Oilers winger brushes it off and tries to stay focused on one day at a time.
"It's just the way it goes,” Perron said. “One more day in the NHL and we keep going. There's always rumours, and obviously it's been more and more the last little while. I'm just trying to stay focused on this team and stay positive."
The Oilers acquired Perron in a trade with St. Louis on July 10, 2013.
A 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks had the Oilers players frustrated in the locker room, but they aren’t pointing fingers at anyone but themselves.
“It’s on us,” Taylor Hall said. “It’s our fault as players and we’re going to have to make up for that.”
Andrew Ference said, “I think all we ask of each other is to play to the potential of what we know each guy can bring. You set the bar at a certain level and you have to meet it. You have to get up to that level, whether they scored a goal or not. Get over it. That didn’t happen. I think the play dipped after they scored the first goal. It took way too long to recover from that. That’s just every guy having the mental ability to shake it off and get back after business.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added, “It’s all on us. Nobody can control the game except us. We go out there every night and we’re the ones competing out there. It’s all on the players in here and we’ve just got to find a way to motivate ourselves to get back on track and push forward.”
“Everyone has to take ownership,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “You can keep talking about it or you can do it.”