SUN Hockey Pool

Shortcomings are glaringly obvious

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Craig MacTavish sees the problems - but fixing them isn't exactly easy at the moment.

On a five-game losing streak, there are weaknesses front and back with the Edmonton Oilers.

But ravaged by injuries, an exceptionally young roster is learning on the fly.

"We are having a tough time initiating the offence from the back end," said MacTavish.

"And when we do get it in the hands of the forwards they are struggling mightily in terms of putting the puck in the back of the net. So it is just a bad combination."

The Oilers will be forced to dress four raw NHL rookies tonight against the Ducks.

Nowhere is the youth movement more obvious than on defence.

Jason Smith has 853 career NHL games under his belt, but the rest of the crew on the blue-line has 166 games combined. (Matt Greene 90, Ladislav Smid 62, Danny Syvret 14, Bryan Young 0.)

"It is no secret that we are in a difficult situation and have been for quite awhile," said the head coach. "Irrespective of the injuries (on defence) we haven't got what we needed from the back end for awhile.

"A lot of that has to do with (Daniel) Tjarnqvist being out, (Marc-Andre) Bergeron being erratic. We have obviously needed more back there."

Edmonton has been outscored 19-4 on this five-game losing streak.

"It is a combination where our weaknesses internally are exposed nightly because the overall strength of the team isn't good enough right now to protect individual shortcomings," continued MacTavish.

"Everything is an open book."


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