Inconsistency killing Kings

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

If they're going to make a move, they have to make it now.

The Edmonton Oil Kings are essentially spending the entire month of December at home, with just one road game on the schedule.

Tonight they'll play their third of seven straight at Rexall Place when they host the Regina Pats.

"We've been inconsistent," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau. "Right from our goaltending through our defence to our forwards.

"I think the last four or five games our specialty teams have been good. Our power play and our penalty kill units are taking a step in the right direction, but five-on-five, our competition level and intensity isn't where it needs to be.

"We need to have it at the top level every night in order to win."

The Oil Kings head into tonight's game having been soundly beaten 5-2 on Tuesday by the Spokane Chiefs - the top team in the Western Hockey League.

The Pats, meanwhile, also lost 5-2, at home, to the Brandon Wheat Kings -- the best team in the Eastern Division.

"The Pats are a good team," said Pleau. They have a lot of offensive firepower, starting on their back end. They can really transition.

"It's no secret that the thing we need to do is try to slow that down through the neutral zone, try to take away that speed and that transition."

The Pats are led offensively by Jordan Eberle, who has 22 goals and 14 assists in 30 games this season. The 17-year-old Regina native is expected to be a top pick in this summer's NHL Entry Draft.

Defensively they're led by Logan Pyett, a seventh-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings. Pyett, 19, has 14 goals and 15 assists in 32 games.

The Oil Kings, meanwhile, are missing their top scorer as Robin Figren is out with a wrist injury. The good news, however, is that Figren's wrist is not broken and he's currently listed as day-to-day.

Figren, 19, has also been named to Team Sweden for the World Junior Hockey Championships taking place later this month and into the new year in the Czech Republic.

"I think for the Oil King family, we're all excited for the opportunity he's going to have," Pleau said. "I think it's a great thing that he's representing us over there."

Figren has missed the last four games and will be a game-time decision tonight. He took the warm-up on Tuesday against the Spokane Chiefs, but figured his wrist was not strong enough to go out and play.

Originally, there was concern Figren's wrist was broken after hurting it against the Calgary Hitmen nearly two weeks ago.

That would have jeopardized his chances of playing with Team Sweden. He was the final cut from last year's team that competed in the world junior tournament.

"It's huge not having him," Pleau said.

"He's a steadying influence, not only on the ice, but in the room. He's one of our leaders and he's a guy that understands what it takes to win, compete and prepare at this level."

If Figren can't go, the Oil Kings are going to need some of their other veterans to step up their play.

"What we need to do is keep our game simple and we need to shoot the puck," said Pleau. "It seems when we start to press, we try and make fancy plays and that's just not our game."


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