Oil Kings keeping emotion in check

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Steve Pleau is trying to keep things in perspective.

The Edmonton Oil Kings head coach is not getting overly excited about his team's 3-1-0-1 start to the WHL season. He knows there is still a lot of work to do and a lot of hockey to be played.

But a 5-0 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers is impressive nonetheless, and the Oil Kings will attempt to build on that tonight when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors.

"There are always things you can improve," Pleau said. "I thought our forecheck was a little bit leaky at times, we did give up 31 shots and I thought Junger (Torrie Jung) had to make some big saves at some key times. I think we can shore that up a little bit and make sure we don't give up any odd-man rushes. Moose Jaw is a fast team with some good forwards that like to thrive off of the rush, so we have to be conscious of that."

The Oil Kings' win lifted them into second place in the WHL Central Division standings. They blew a close contest open with a four-goal second period.

"I think what we're doing is cashing in on our opportunities," Pleau said. "I think in the last couple of years we generate some good chances, we just didn't have the skill at times to bury those chances. In these last few games when we've gotten opportunities, it's been in the back of the net."

Currently, the team is being led by Brent Raedeke, who scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season in Wednesday's win over the Tigers. The Oil Kings forward has tallied in each of the team's first five games of the year.

"He's shooting the puck and that's the key for him," Pleau said. "He's got a great release, when he moves his feet, he creates turnover and he's dangerous.

"He picks up other guys as well. He plays with (Tomas) Vincour, who's been excellent to this point, he's playing with (TJ) Foster who had a four-game point streak going before last night. It raises other guys' games and that's what you need."

The Oil Kings head into tonight's contest on a three-game winning streak.

After falling at home in the season opener to Calgary, the club went on to collect five of a possible six points on a three-game road trip.

Following tonight's contest, they'll head to Medicine Hat for a rematch against the Tigers on Sunday.

"I think it's still early," Pleau said. "I think we've had some fortunate bounces. I think we've played hard, but I think we still have some things to work on and it's going to be a good test this weekend.

"I think Moose Jaw is playing pretty well and going into the Hat, going into that atmosphere, after we gave it to them pretty good here, they'll be ready to play. I think that will tell a lot about us."

Pleau believes it'll take 15 to 20 games before he can get a good read on his hockey club. To this point, outstanding goaltending and penalty killing have been leading the way.

"Once you've been through some adverse situations, you've had some injuries, you've had some guys come back, I think then you can see what you're made of," said Pleau. "We are developing an identity, which I like. I think our forwards are very good, we have depth there, we're good down low in the offensive zone and we do some very good things ... defensively."


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