SUN Hockey Pool

Easy prey for Predators

Oilers Robert Nilsson get up ended by Nashville Predators Shea Weber during NHL action at Rexall...

Oilers Robert Nilsson get up ended by Nashville Predators Shea Weber during NHL action at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta on February 1, 2009. (Edmonton Sun/SunMedia, Jordan Verlage)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

On Sunday afternoons, guys in church usually daydream about being at a hockey game.

Yesterday at Rexall Place, it was the other way around.

The Edmonton Oilers were so lifeless and boring in their matinee that they made waking up early, putting on a suit and getting scolded on a wooden pew for 90 minutes seem like Mardi Gras.

There's no telling how many disgruntled fans looked at the price of their ticket and muttered about how much cheaper, and infinitely more satisfying, it would have been to toss a few bucks into a collection plate instead.

There just weren't many in Copper and Blue who deserved the money.

"We played really well the other night, had a good day of practice and today ... I don't know, it's hard to explain how our game can change so quickly," centre Kyle Brodziak said after a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in which Edmonton looked nothing at all like the team that whipped Minnesota two days earlier.

PROFESSIONAL

"Everyone is professional enough to know how to get themselves ready, but for some reason I guess we didn't do that good of a job of it.

"It was a game we had to have, and we blew it."

There was no fire and no brimstone in this one, just a few ill-timed sins in the defensive zone to confess.

"They played a good road game, they just waited for mistakes and they capitalized on all of them," said defenceman Tom Gilbert, a culprit on both Nashville goals. "And we couldn't score on our opportunities."

Nashville didn't generate much, Edmonton didn't generate much and neither side generated any intensity.

As is often the case when the home team sleepwalks through a game, the other guys win it.

So instead of moving 10 points ahead of the Predators, they let Nashville back in the race.

"We have to take the responsibility to take care of our own business and we haven't done that for a few years here," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"When you get a game like that, where you can drive the nail in, we need to get the game.

"The one thing you want to show in a game like that, and we saw it in the Minnesota game, was the intensity.

"We need more consistent jam."

For those of you lucky enough to have missed it, here's what happened.

First period: Nothing. No goals, no penalties, no good hits.

Second period: One goal, one hooking minor, one holding minor and a delay of game penalty, which should warrant Radek Bonk a suspension for making this dog last one second longer than it had to.

Third period: Two goals 1:04 apart.

Ales Hemsky's beautiful one-timer 64 seconds after Martin Erat gave Nashville a 2-0 lead was the only thing worth cheering about all night.

Edmonton's skill players didn't bring enough skill to score a nice one, nor enough heart to score an ugly one.

CONVICTION

"You have to have a little bit more conviction going to the net when you need that goal," said Ethan Moreau, who played his heart out, posting nine shots and at least as many hits.

"Unfortunately, some nights we just don't have that same conviction to go to the net.

"It's a bit of our makeup; we have skilled guys so maybe it's not natural for them to drive the net, but you have to realize where a lot of the goals are scored.

"We have Hemmer, but outside of him we shouldn't have much leeway with our systems. He can create pretty much every time he's on the ice, but everybody else has to get to the net.

"I don't see any other 80- or 90-point guys in our room."

The blue collar guys weren't good, either.

"We didn't have enough jam from our role players," said MacTavish.

"The Wards and Smithsons outplayed four or five of our guys who we are counting on to do that same thing."


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