The Edmonton Oilers are more than competitive with the upper echelon of the Western Conference. It's the bottom feeders who are dragging them down.
With Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers have just 12 wins in 27 games against conference rivals who, as of today, aren't in a playoff position - San Jose, Minnesota, Phoenix, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis and the Los Angeles Kings, their opposition tonight.
The Oilers have left a lot of points on the table.
"We can't take teams for granted, obviously," said Ryan Smyth. "Players on other teams are fighting for their jobs. It's a matter of desperation for us.
"We have to find it in our locker-room to compete at a high level, especially with teams that are behind us."
Minnesota has done the most damage to the Oilers' post-season hopes with five wins (four of those in Edmonton) in seven games after Tuesday, but the Oilers have just one win in three games against Chicago, Phoenix and St. Louis. They're 2-1-0 against the Kings.
"Last night's (Tuesday) opponent is probably the worst opponent you could have on fan appreciation night," quipped GM Kevin Lowe about his team's lack of success against the Wild.
"There's a new bylaw. The Oilers will never again have fan appreciation night when the Minnesota Wild are in town."
NOT SO SWEET
The Oilers are a modest 16-14-6 at Rexall Place after the loss to the Wild. Only five teams - Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago and Washington - have fewer wins at home. All those clubs are non-playoff teams.
"It's frustrating and it's hard to put your finger on it," said Ethan Moreau. "We've played some good games here and we don't get results. We're just going to have to leave nothing to chance.
"It's hard to dominate teams, but that's what it's going to take. We're going to have to win a game 4-0 or 5-0 and have an effort where, no matter what happens, we're going to get the win. Playing better than the other team and losing isn't acceptable now."
While the Oilers do have six points from overtime losses, the bottom line is they've won just 16 of 36 games at home and taken 38 of a possible 72 points. By comparison, they're 20-11-6 on the road.
"We can't dwell on the past," Smyth said. "If we sit here and say, 'We're not very good at home,' it's going to keep happening over and over again. It's a matter of overcoming a difficult situation."
Lowe took issue with a cameraman from Global TV who was taking shots of him at yesterday's optional practice at Rexall Place.
Lowe confronted the videographer, suggesting the story was on the ice and not in the stands. After a brief argument, Lowe and the cameraman made amends and shook hands.
AROUND THE RINK ... Dwayne Roloson has a 4-4-3 record, a 2.92 GAA and an .888 saves percentage in his 11 straight starts ... Georges Laraque (hip-flexor) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (knee tendinitis) skated yesterday and will be re-assessed today ... Ales Hemsky (back strain) did not skate.