SUN Hockey Pool

Hexall Place

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:41 AM ET

If there is a silver lining to the stink bomb the Oilers set off at Rexall Place last night, it's this: they aren't going to win the Northwest Division.

The very last thing the Oilers need in the playoffs (in the event they actually do make the playoffs) is home ice advantage.

Not when all they've garnered from that so-called advantage is four wins in their last 14 home games.

In their last 14 road games, they're 7-6-1.

Hexall Place? Who needs it?

"We can't really pin-point one thing that's going wrong, because a lot of things are going wrong," said Raffi Torres, after a dreadful 5-1 loss to San Jose, in which the home team looked more interested in finding a soft spot on the canvas than a playoff spot.

'THROWING IT AWAY'

"We're throwing games away. We were in the game for maybe half a period, and then we were just trying to hold on."

And they didn't even do a decent job of that.

Fernando Pisani opened the scoring for Edmonton 13:20 into the game, then San Jose ran off five straight to win going away.

Outshot 38-21 when it was finally over, the Oilers were booed off their own ice in what's becoming an all-too familiar serenade.

"We have to start from scratch," sighed Torres. "We're at the bottom of the barrel right now."

This team used to dominate at home home, run teams out of the rink. Now they look nervous and afraid to make a mistake (they make so many of them, you'd think they'd have conquered that fear by now, but apparently not).

"We're missing that edge right now," said captain Jason Smith. "We're playing timid a little bit, and when you're timid and you react that little bit too slow, you're in trouble.

"We're not playing well, we're not playing with confidence, and we're running out of time."

This isn't how they wanted to begin the stretch drive, losing at home, and looking bad doing it.

And, man, did they look bad.

The defence looked as porous and confused as it ever has, the offence managed eight shots through the first 30 minutes, they took a steady stream of penalties and just never even seemed to put up a fight.

"It's not positive," Smith said of the home woes. "We definitely need to be better. There have been some efforts in this stretch that have just been awful. We have to get everyone playing with confidence.

"We need to find that edge, and find it in a hurry, or it's going to be too late."

It was too late in this one when two San Jose goals at 14:13 and 16:34 of the second period made it 4-1. Edmonton gave the No. 1 power play in the NHL eight chances, and didn't do enough on their own forecheck to get a man advantage until 9:22 of the second, which was abbreviated to one minute when Ryan Smyth went off for hooking.

OUT OF THE BOX

"We have to stay out of the penalty box," seethed Petr Sykora. "I don't know how many penalties we took. It's Game 49 and we haven't learned. The other half of the bench is sitting there, we don't get into the game until it's too late. It's hard to play from behind in this league. There you have it."

Indeed. They get right back at it tonight against the L.A. Kings. Unfortunately, it's at home.

"The good news is we play again (tonight)," said Torres. "The bad news is that we're running out of time."


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