Dog-gone skate

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Having used up their day off the night before in a 6-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, the Edmonton Oilers were back on the ice at Jobing.com Arena yesterday morning instead of sleeping in before flying home.

With back-to-back 6-2 losses to the Anaheim Ducks and Coyotes in the books, coach Craig MacTavish decided a brisk skate was time better spent than taking the morning off, and there weren't many dissenters after the Oilers worst effort of the season.

"Absolutely," captain Jason Smith said. "Obviously, we aren't happy with the way the last two games went, but we've got an opportunity (tonight) at home to right the ship and get things back on track.

"There's things we need to improve on and it's going to make a difference in our game. We're making some errors, whether it's turnovers or mental mistakes that have cost us. We're giving up too many opportunities around our net."

BLAME GAME

While goaltenders Dwayne Roloson and Jussi Markkanen shouldered much of the blame in the two defeats, there's plenty to go around.

Playing from behind both nights despite offensive chances early, the Oilers looked rattled and showed little composure. They committed too many turnovers and made too many bad choices defensively, compounding sub-par outings by Roloson and Markkanen.

"We got down in both games and we became impatient," MacTavish said. "When you get impatient you come out of your system play. That's the strength of your game, the team game and system play.

"We've got to be more patient. I'm not worried about the shots. It's the quality. Even if we give up more shots from less dangerous areas, that's preferable than less shots in high quality areas."

With a three-game win streak having turned into a troubling two-game slip, that's not a trend the Oilers have the luxury of in the always tight Western Conference and not the type of hockey they can win with.

SPANKING

Play the same way against Alexander Ovechkin tonight when the Washington Capitals come calling, and the Oilers spanking at the hands of the dismal Coyotes will seem like a love tap on the bottom.

"We worked on a lot of things we needed to," said Shawn Horcoff, who had new linemates in Raffi Torres and Patrick Thoresen.

"If there's one thing we've proven this year, it's that we're not playing our systems to a T. We can beat the best in the league and be the best in the league, but we can be the worst in the league.

"Obviously, this road trip wasn't the way we would have liked it, but maybe it was a good lesson for us."

AROUND THE RINK ... Jarret Stoll tweaked his back and left practice early yesterday, but he expects to be ready to play tonight ... the Oilers have recalled Toby Petersen from the AHL and he'll be available to play tonight if Stoll isn't ready to go.


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