Cole taking lumps

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

Ready when you are, Erik.

Twenty-seven games into the season, the Edmonton Oilers are still waiting for Erik Cole's production to catch up with his advanced billing.

They were expecting more than three goals to this point.

So was he.

"It's no secret that I should be scoring more," said Cole, who hasn't found the net since Nov. 10, and had nothing to show for five shots on net Thursday against Florida. "Hopefully as long as I continue to get chances on net some of them will start going in."

He's been hard on the forecheck, getting to his hits and creating chances, but three goals in 27 games is hard to hide from.

"I'm just trying to make sure I'm contributing something each night," he said. "Whether it's being physical or reliable, start from there and hopefully things will start to get better."

The Oilers, a little shy on offence and intensity, could really use a guy like Erik Cole at the top of his game right now.

"When he's on his game he's one of the best power forwards in the league, he's proven that, he just hasn't been able to find his stride," said linemate Ethan Moreau. "It's frustrating for him, it's frustrating for us to watch when a guy is working hard, competing, and things just aren't falling into place for him.

"You have to think with a guy like that it's only a matter of time. That will be huge for us it'll be a big boost for our offence."

Time isn't exactly on Edmonton's side, not when they're last in the division, seven points behind first place Vancouver. But head coach Craig MacTavish says things can turn around in a hurry, like they did for Shawn Horcoff.

"The expectations for him were 20 goals," said MacTavish. "He had a career year once and scored 30, but outside of that he's been a career 20-goal scorer. That was our expectation.

"We feel like he's making some strides. Once he gets something positive to happen offensively he's going to be OK. We need him to get out there play three periods like he played the third period last game."

HOME TWEET HOME ... The Oilers are one of only two teams in the NHL with a winning record on the road (10-8-0) and a losing record at home (3-4-2). Carolina is the other.

"It's frustrating that we can get wins on the road and we come back home ... (and lose)," said defenceman Tom Gilbert.

"It gets frustrating that we can't win in our own building. That's where you're supposed to be your best, that's where you're supposed to dominate teams and be more physical, make teams not want to come here."

The fans have done their best to help. They cheered and chanted and cajoled for a good 58 minutes last game, till they finally had enough and started booing.

"That's the way it is," said Gilbert. "We just have to keep working through this."

FOR PEETE'S SAKE ... The offence is so dry that goalie coach Pete Peeters, one of the assistants out for yesterday's optional skate, lit into the players. He gathered them at centre ice and ripped them for employing the same cutesy-pie style in the drills that they've been using in games.

"It really emphasizes the importance of putting pucks to the net and not squandering those opportunities," said MacTavish.

"Pete has said this many times to the players, 'You have to make the goaltender make a save. Even if it's a bad angle shot, shoot it to an area that's going to give you a rebound.' It's the casualness and the over-passing that put Pete over the edge."

LATE HITS ... The Oilers assigned Gilbert Brule to Springfield, where he will begin serving his AHL suspension.


Videos

Photos