MacT has no shortage of ideas

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Craig MacTavish is not out of options.

Despite seemingly trying everything to light a fire under his team's butt - to little success - the Edmonton Oilers head coach still believes he can get through to his squad.

"When you go through phases like this, you're never out of ideas on how to improve your team," MacTavish said. "The answers are right there.

"It's like going to university and going through an open-book exam, all you have to do is open your eyes and see what the issues are. Then you come to the rink with a game plan. So there is never a shortage of ideas that you can forward to your team and to your players."

Currently the issue at hand is the inability to score.

The Oilers have only managed more than three goals once in their last eight games, and that was in a contest where Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire let in seven goals on 19 shots.

And it's not as though the Oilers are getting a number of quality opportunities and are simply unable to convert. On Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers only had 23 shots on net in a game they had five days to prepare for.

"It's hard to find your rhythm offensively through practice," MacTavish said. "You can help yourself a bit, but we need some things to happen positively for us in a game.

"We were tight early and we never got in sync offensively, with the exception of the last 10 minutes of the first period."

Of all the problems the Oilers envisioned having to overcome this season, scoring was not one of them. Not with the additions of Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky and the return of Sheldon Souray and Shawn Horcoff from injury.

The second-year players, who were so instrumental in a late-season surge last year, were also never expected to struggle this badly this season.

"To the extent that we've been stymied - with the exception of Ales (Hemsky) who's been outstanding offensively - we've not had a forward that's really stepped up," MacTavish said. "We have four or five guys that are operating quite below our level of expectation and that's blindsided us."


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