SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers blanked in Boston

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

BOSTON -- Blame it on the Chief.

And the Tool Man.

Last night the Edmonton Oilers waited as Johnny Bucyk was honoured by the Boston Bruins.

Then they were shut out by Tim 'The Tool Man' Thomas in a 3-0 loss.

"I thought we were pretty good right off the get-go," said Oilers winger Ryan Smyth. "Then we took a couple of penalties. Obviously they're pretty good on the power play, and the rest was history."

A pre-game ceremony for Bucyk that was supposed to take nearly 20 minutes took just over half that time to complete.

The longtime Bruins forward, known as the Chief, was being honoured for 50 years of service to the club.

By the time it was over, the Bruins were ready to take the opening faceoff, while the Oilers were still in the dressing room.

"It had no effect on us whatsoever," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We were on a time frame of exactly when we were coming out. They had 15 minutes counting down on the clock. That's what we were planning for. We could have gone early, but we stuck with the plan."

PLAN DIDN'T WORK

The plan didn't work. Just as it hasn't worked in most pre-game ceremonies the Oilers have been in recently.

They lost on Mark Messier night in New York last season. Then they dropped a crucial game late in the year on Al MacInnis night in St. Louis. Paul Coffey night in Edmonton? Same thing.

"I don't like them in our own building let alone the opposition's building," MacTavish said before the game.

"We just have to manage that better. I think it affects both teams, I don't think it's an advantage for anyone.

"Any time you change your routine, it can affect your game. We'd like things to stay the same, but there's nothing you can do."

Once they return from their road trip, the Oil will have to sit through another ceremony - Mark Messier being honoured.

But the season could be all but over by then. The Oilers entered the game six points back of Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

ALONG THE ROAD

They still have six games to go on this road trip with stops in Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, Columbus, Detroit and Minnesota.

"It's important that we collectively find a way through this," Smyth said. "We don't want to go from a Stanley Cup contender to not making the playoffs."

Two power-play goals in the first sunk the Oilers.

Brandon Bochenski got credit for the first goal on a two-man advantage. However it was Steve Staios who put it into the net.

The Oilers defenceman was trying to deal with Bruins giant Zdeno Chara in front and inadvertently kicked the puck in past goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

Marco Sturm added another power-play marker just over a minute later. He then scored the empty-net goal late to seal the victory.

"In a lot of cases if you watch the games that we're losing it's because we're getting eight, nine, 10 penalties per game," said Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff.

"You can't have that. It takes away from a lot of energy. We're a team that plays our best when we roll four lines and that really takes away from that game."


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