Having been outshot in 23 of 29 games so far this season, Edmonton's struggle to hit the net is nothing new. But Sunday's 12-shot tally vs. Vancouver set the season standard for fewest attempts and was only one shy of the franchise record, an accomplishment no Oiler is proud of.
"That's just obviously not acceptable," forward Gilbert Brule said after Monday's practice. "I think we were just trying to make the pretty play sometimes instead of getting pucks to the net, especially in the first 10-15 minutes of the game. All we have to do is when we get inside the blue line is fire the puck on net."
To help rectify the situation, the team held a firepower-focused practice at Rexall Place.
"There wasn't a whole lot of passing or flow drills or anything, it was just a lot of shooting," Taylor Hall explained. "I think that's good for our team because especially against Vancouver and against Tampa Bay we weren't getting a lot of shots on net. It makes it a lot easier for their goalie, a lot easier for their defence, and that's something we have to fix."
The Oilers' compete level was also questioned Sunday evening, and both players and coaches are committed to preventing another uninspired outing.
"You're sitting there at the end of the game in your stall, one of the things you don't want to have on your mind is that you didn't compete hard enough," Hall said. "I think today it was a lighter practice, we'll have some energy for tomorrow and hopefully we can compete a lot harder because if we do, it is there for the taking."
TAKING IT TO TORONTO
Head coach Tom Renney hopes his club learns from the loss and applies those lessons to Tuesday's game vs. Toronto.
"In the last 10 games we've been a pretty good team," he said. "We've had a couple periods where we weren't as good as we needed to be, but hopefully we've been reacquainted enough with what it takes to be a competitive team from that experience to bring it tomorrow night."
Although the Oilers defeated the Leafs 5-0 less than two weeks ago, Renney isn't taking his opponents lightly.
"Toronto works hard. They do lots of good things, they're well put together, I like the way Willie (head coach Ron Wilson) organizes his team and how they play, and we've got to be ready for them," he said.
"There's still lots of hockey, there's lots of points out there, and we all believe -- those of us sort of at the bottom end of the ladder here -- we all believe that we can get enough points to make the playoffs at this point in time and I don't think they should think otherwise."
ACCORDING TO JIM
The Oilers will have to battle without Jim Vandermeer. The 30-year-old defenceman suffered a right ankle injury last night vs. Vancouver and is out indefinitely.
View Oilers Injury Report
"We'll do an MRI this afternoon and go from there," Vandermeer explained. "I think right now it feels okay but if there's any ligament damage or anything, then we'll know. It depends how you treat it. If it's just a bruise you can kind of push it and get back out there right away, then if not, just kind of let it heal up."
The injury was a bit of a fluke, he explained.
"The puck was kind of caught in Whitter's (Ryan Whitney) feet as we going coming back and I saw that I could get the puck so I went to just kind of chip it out, and as I was doing that I saw [a Canuck] was coming down to hit me so I just knew it was either go to kind of reverse hit him or just kind of take the hit.
"Realizing my position kind of drifting back, I just kind of went with the hit, took it good and was still basically standing up. I was sliding back on one foot and just caught an edge, caught a little rut in the ice, and just kind of rolled over on my ankle."
CHEER TEAM DEBUT
|Oilers Cheer Team tryouts
While the Oilers will be without Vandermeer, the club and their fans will get some extra motivation from the Oilers Cheer Team, which will make its debut Tuesday night at Rexall Place. The Cheer Team is composed of 19 dancers who will add to the in-game experience, interact with fans, and assist with in-game promotions.
Read more: Cheer Team debuts Tuesday
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola