SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers taking offence

Edmonton Oilers' Dwayne Roloson looks down after allowing the game winner by the Minnesota Wild to...

Edmonton Oilers' Dwayne Roloson looks down after allowing the game winner by the Minnesota Wild to go in on Tuesday, March 28, 2006. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

It's understandable that fans have become fixated on the quality of goaltending, or lack of same, for the Edmonton Oilers this season.

Given how many points have been lost because the Oilers have come up one save short too often - many suggest Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Minnesota at Rexall Place was another example - all eyes have been on the stoppers, including Dwayne Roloson, who was beaten three times on 16 shots against the Wild.

But were the Oilers one save away from beating the Wild or one more goal away from prevailing? Depends how you look at it.

While Roloson shouldered some of the blame and admitted he wanted at least one of Minnesota's goals back, Tuesday marked the Oilers 15th game since the Olympic break, a stretch in which they've scored more than three goals just once. In that lone instance - a 4-3 win in Colorado last Sunday - the fourth goal was awarded for a shootout win.

Not good enough. Not nearly.

"We've got to get some more offence, some secondary scoring," coach Craig MacTavish said. "Offensively, we're not as efficient as we need to be. You've got to find a way to manufacture some goals five-on-five.

"We scored the two power-play goals (against Minnesota). You look at the box score in the game and everything looks good, with the exception of the score - the most important thing. The bottom line is two goals is seldom enough to win you a hockey game."

The Oilers face the Los Angeles Kings tonight dead-even in goals-scored and goals-against at 223 through 73 games, which puts them middle-of-the-pack in offence - 16th. And, while their special teams have improved markedly, the Oilers have been outscored 138-121 in five-on-five situations.

"We haven't contributed as much as we'd like to," said Jarret Stoll. "We can't be of the mindset where we're going to wait for our power play to get something going."

The Oilers have scored 80 power-play goals, including two against the Wild, and allowed 71. They've scored 13 shorthanded goals - only three teams have more - and allowed just five, tying them for league lead.

"We fell into this dilemma when I was in St. Louis," said Chris Pronger. "We had a pretty good power play. It was almost like we waited for power plays.

"You try to use that as your way to create offence. If you only get one or two a night, you can't rely on that. You have to produce five-on-five."

In the 15 games since the Olympic break, the Oilers have scored just 40 goals. In Roloson's 11 games, they've lit the lamp 29 times.

"We've got to find more ways to be efficient around the net so we're not trying to get a late goal to win a game by one," MacTavish said. "We've been in a lot of one-goal games. It puts a lot of pressure on your goaltending. They can never have an easy night because you're not getting the offence you need to win a game handily. We've got to find a way, quickly, to score more goals five-on-five."


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