Oil Kings suffer power outage

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

The Edmonton Oil Kings desperately need some help from their penalty killers.

Sure, their PK is third-best in the WHL -- but they can't score short-handed.

Then again, neither can the Oil Kings' power play, let alone five-on-five.

Any kind of goal would have been welcomed in a 4-0 shutout of the Oil Kings at the hands of the Saskatoon Blades yesterday afternoon at Rexall Place.

"We're relentless and working hard on the penalty kill, but once we get a power play, we think we can just half-effort it," said centre Brent Raedeke, who gets ice time on both special teams.

None of the Blades goals came on their three power plays, while little of anything came from Edmonton's half-dozen PPs.

"It's the total opposite, where you need to work harder than on the penalty kill if you want to score on the power play. And we're not doing that."

The Kings' power play has improved from earlier in the season. Now it sucks in the offensive zone where it previously sucked even to get there.

TOO FANCY

Now they're stuck between tentative and too-fancy.

"We're just not competing," said the unhappy Raedeke. "When we get the puck in their zone, defencemen are beating us to the puck, outnumbering us on the puck and getting it out.

"We're just not using our heads, I don't think."

An early third-period PP in particular could have given the Kings some hope.

"We're coming up the ice better, we support the puck a little bit better," said head coach Steve Pleau of the PP. "We've just got to keep working.

"There's just no click there, right now. We just need to find the right mixture, find some chemistry there ... get some positivity and start clicking."

The lack of power play of course wasn't the only accountable reason for yesterday's shutout.

Lorne Molloken's Blades don't rely on the one superstar or one star-studded line. They roll out waves of six-foot-plus, 200-pound-plus 18- and 19-year-olds.

And they came in full-steam pumped after thumping the Calgary Hitmen 5-1 the night before in an early-season showdown of first-place squads.

If Torrie Jung hadn't flashed leather in the first, it could have been 4-0 way earlier.

"I think starting the game with a spark is huge for any team and we need to really come out and step our own preparation up," said veteran Drew Nichol.

"When a team rolls in here, they're playing at Rexall Place and they're excited, it's an NHL building. And I think it's important for our organization that we come to the rink every night ready from the drop of the puck."

'UNACCEPTABLE'

It's another point in Raedeke's displeasure.

"That should never happen. We should always be prepared. That's unacceptable.

"We weren't prepared, we weren't focused. Got to give them credit, though, coming off a big win in Calgary. They're pretty solid on the back end. We just couldn't create anything deep in their zone and get enough shots."

The Kings did have some tight-in shots.

And two of the Blades goal found the net off cross-crease feeds that went the other way as Jung went with the puck.

"We weren't getting in the offensive zone like we wanted to," said Pleau. "When we did, we were OK. Then they broke out pretty quick."

It might not have helped that the Kings won 5-2 in Saskatoon last week, one of only two losses for the 7-2 Blades.

"They're a different team than when we played them in their building," said Pleau.

"They did the same things against Calgary. They're a good team right now."

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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