SUN Hockey Pool

Power play outage

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

There's no real sense of panic yet - it's still too early in the season.

But if the Edmonton Oilers don't score a power-play goal soon, the monkey currently residing on their back will continue to get bigger.

It gains weight with every unsuccessful man advantage.

"We would like to get a goal for sure," said Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray. "Our power-play is something that we've worked on and is something that we want to be a force for us this year ... (But) it's all new things for a lot of guys. Different things are being ask of different guys - and there's going to be an adjustment period.

"But that doesn't mean anyone should count us out and think that we're not going to be effective this year."

ZERO FOR 16

Heading into tonight's contest against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers are still in search of their first power-play goal of the season. They've gone 0-16 start the year.

In their 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, the Oilers were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.

"We're going to be fine," Souray said. "We've gotten some opportunities. We're trying some different things. We're now trying to get back to basics a little bit."

Souray broke an NHL record for defenceman last year with 19 power-play goals with the Montreal Canadiens.

His bomb from the point is one of the biggest weapons the Oilers have on the man advantage. It's not a question of 'if', but 'when' Souray scores. And whether or not he finds the net before taking someone's head off standing in front.

Currently that candidate is Dustin Penner who occupies the slot on the Oilers first power-play unit.

"We want to get Shelly the shot, but that's not always going to be there so we have to find some other avenues to create some offence," said Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff.

"Special teams are a huge aspect of the game right now. If you're going to be successful, you have to win the special-teams battle.

"You're never going to win that unless you score a goal on the power play."

Heading into tonight's contest the Canucks have given up three power-play goals on 17 short-handed situations. Two of those goals were conceded Wednesday in an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Vancouver.

Conversely the Canucks have scored six power-play goals in three games - second only to the Detroit Red Wings.

Daniel Sedin leads the team in scoring with four points, all of which have come with the man advantage.

"We just have to get pucks to the net," said Oilers centre Jarret Stoll, who also has the ability to step into a shot from the point on the power play.

"We're not doing a good job of getting pucks to the net and finding guys that are open and creating two-on-ones all over the ice.

'TOO CUTE'

"We're kind of being too cute and passing around all over the place.

"We have to get the puck to the net and get shots, a lot of good things can happen when you get pucks to the net."

MacTavish, who made his living as a player killing penalties, sees his team's power play evolving and it's just a matter of time before it all comes together.

He does have the luxury of choosing from a number of offensively talented players this season.

"We have the elements. We're doing a lot of the things and executing a lot of the elements that we're asking them to do," he said.

"We haven't had anything to show for it. We're disappointed by that. We're not frustrated - frustration in my experience doesn't help the power play at all.

"It's just a case of working through it."

Last season the Oilers power play was ranked 27th in a 30-team league. This season with the additions of Souray, Penner and the emergence of players like Andrew Cogliano, it's expected to be one of the team's strengths.

"We had a lot of good looks against Philadelphia that would normally be in the back of the net," MacTavish said.

"But it's something that we have to continue to work our way through. We're evolving and I think we're going to have some success before too long - I think we have to."


Photos