Stoll 0 and waiting

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Jarret Stoll has found the back of the net this season.

But shootout goals don't count in yearly totals.

He does have an assist through the first six games.

But, as a second-line centre, the Edmonton Oilers were looking for more offensive production.

"I think he's lacking confidence right now, pushing and pressing," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "That's what happens at the start of the year with veterans.

"If, in midseason, you go four or five games without a point and you've had success early, it's not a big deal.

"But at the start of the year when you see the goose eggs across the board, it plays on you mentally.

"Especially on a guy like Jarret who's expected to score.

"I just encourage him to play a good, well-rounded game and the offence will come.

"The thing that you don't want to have happen is for him to be a liability - be unproductive at one end and a liability at the other end."

Stoll was arguably the Oilers best player last year before a concussion brought a premature end to his season.

This season with all his post-concussion symptoms behind him, the Melville, Sask., native was expected to pick up where he left off.

However, Stoll's had a slow start to the year offensively and has a team-worst minus-6 rating.

"I think maybe at times I was a little tentative, and I think timing is a big thing with that," Stoll said.

"I found myself a foot here, a foot there, a half-second behind, a half-second early. Those are big situations that happen over the course of the game.

"If you're out of position you're going to look stupid and you're not going to get to that puck, you're not going to get to that pass. And I think that's where I've been lately.

"But in the last couple of games I've felt way better.

"It's been almost night and day from the first couple of games. So, hopefully, I'm on the road to playing better. And if I'm playing better, hopefully, I can contribute offensively."

Stoll isn't the only veteran who's gotten off to a slow start. Ales Hemsky has yet to score, Raffi Torres has one goal, and Shawn Horcoff has one goal.

Regardless how well rookies like Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner play, the Oilers are only going to go as far as their veterans take them.

"I see their determination, and I have pretty much from the outset," MacTavish said. "The execution has been good, I see that, so that leaves me to believe that the guys are going to work their way through it.

Stoll's offence usually coincides with solid physical play. Yet despite getting crushed last season twice in a span of just over a week - the source of his concussion problems -Stoll has had no reluctance to get involved physically.

"I think by getting physical and getting in there is how I get my confidence by making plays," he said. "Once I get my confidence back a little bit hopefully things will turn around."

Same goes for the team.

"I think things are going to turn around," Stoll said.

"We just have to stay positive and work hard in practice and work hard at getting your confidence back.

"We just have to score a few goals and find the way to get the puck in the net."


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