SUN Hockey Pool

No need to panic

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

They weren't that good then and they're not that bad now.

That's the message head coach Craig MacTavish and the Edmonton Oilers are sticking to in the wake of a three-game losing streak that followed their four-game winning streak.

"It's today's NHL," said MacTavish, as the Oilers returned to Edmonton after an 0-3 swing through Chicago, Colorado and Vancouver.

"We're playing better, in my mind, right now than we were when we were 4-0.

"That sounds ridiculous, but that ends up being the cycle of the streaks. We didn't play that well through the first four games but we found a way to win. Now we're finding a way to drop games despite the fact we're playing better."

Home for just one game before going back out on a seven-game swing, the Oilers need to tighten things up, starting tonight against the visiting Boston Bruins, or they could return to Edmonton in mid-November in a big hole.

"We're not happy about losing three in a row," said netminder Mathieu Garon. "But we're not at a panic point right now."

Sam Gagner agrees.

"We can't be too negative," he said. "We can't worry about it too much, but at the time we need to learn from the mistakes we made in the last few games.

"The energy in here seems to be positive, guys are upbeat, guys are working hard in practice. That's what we need to go forward. I don't think any negativity or guys feeling bad for themselves is going to help us."

NET WORTH: THE OILERS GOT MUCH BETTER GOALTENDING THAN THEIR OPPONENTS EARLY IN THE SEASON, BUT IT CERTAINLY HASN'T BEEN THE CASE IN THE LAST THREE GAMES.

"That's how important that position is," said MacTavish, adding "we probably let in at least one bad goal in each of our last three losses."

With three goalies on the roster, Garon hasn't been able to get into a starter's rhythm. Seven games into the season he's yet to play more than two games in a row.

"We've played seven games, he's played five, he's played lots," said MacTavish. "I think it's important that Mathieu get No. 1 goalie minutes and I think we've been able to give him that.

"But he has let in a few in the last couple of games that he would have liked back."

Garon, who's given up 10 goals in the last two games, says he's OK with whatever rotation the coach sets up for him.

"As a goalie you want to play them all, but it doesn't matter if I play a lot or get a break in between," he said. "Every time I get a chance to play I want to have a good game and win."

He says the recent stretch in which the starters were Garon, Drouin-Deslauriers, Garon, Roloson, Garon, and Garon, hasn't left him cold at all.

"I'd say the last couple of games I felt better than the first couple of games of the season," he said.

"But sometimes you don't get the bounce. You don't get lucky and it ends up in the net. I just have to keep working hard in practice and get those wins again."

HATS OFF TO THE OILERS: TONIGHT IS THE OILERS FOURTH ANNUAL CAPS FOR CANCER FUND-RAISER, IN WHICH 10,000 AUTOGRAPHED HATS WILL BE SOLD BEFORE THE GAME TO RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH.

Proceeds this year go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Kids with Cancer Society and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.


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