Oil have no room for error

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

The Department of the Obvious just released a report the other day showing a direct link between the number of goals a team scores and the number of games it wins.

Somebody might want to share this new and startling information with the Edmonton Oilers, who, for some odd reason, still haven't connected those dots themselves.

Scoring equals winning? Wow. What are they going to spring on them next, parachutes equal softer landings?

Actually, the parachute info might also come in handy because if Edmonton's forwards don't show a little more determination offensively -- make that a lot more determination offensively -- the team is in for a hard, hard fall.

"The effect of Lubomir Visnovsky and Denis Grebeshkov being out has not helped our offence," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who's looking for someone to pick up the slack in the absence of his smooth-skating puck movers. "You look for guys, forwards in particular (to step up). We don't really get a consistent level of execution from our forwards."

It's been a year-long problem and it's the sole cause of their current three-game losing streak. Forget defensive breakdowns and bad changes, you only score two goals a game, as Edmonton did against San Jose, Dallas and Calgary, and you're going to lose 90% of your games. There's no room for error; every mistake, simple or dumb, that costs you a goal ends up costing you a game. That's no way to run a season.

'GET CONSISTENCY'

"We're trying," said first line centre Shawn Horcoff. "We've had some troubles getting consistent scoring throughout the lineup. We've had stretches where a line here or a line there has scored, but we have to get consistency."

They have to squeeze out just one more goal a game and everything will be OK.

The proof is in the results: The Oilers have played 23 games since Jan. 1. They went 10-1 in games when they scored three or more and 2-10 in games when they scored two or less.

Now, the goals-to-wins ratio shouldn't come as any stunning revelation, but the Oilers still haven't grasped the importance of that third goal.

When you're dying of thirst, and there's water nearby, you fight to get some. And when your team is starving for goals, it only stands to reason that you show a little hunger. Go wherever you have to to get those goals, even if there are big guys with sticks standing there who don't want you around. But here they are, 59 games into the season and three quarters of Edmonton's forwards look like they're allergic to blue paint.

"We need to do a better job of going to the tough areas to score, and just throw pucks to the net and get rebounds," said Oilers winger Erik Cole, who had one goal in 14 games before scoring two in the last three. "Kiprusoff was fighting it a little bit (on Saturday) and the few times we did drive to the net and put the puck there, there were some good opportunities, but obviously we need to do a lot more of that."

THREE-POINTERS?

It's almost as if Edmonton's objective is to try and score from as far away as possible, like the NHL is going to hand out three-pointers or something. Unless you are a rare talent, of which the Edmonton Oilers only have one, it takes more guts than hands to get a goal these days. Why else is Zack Stortini tied for the team lead in goals (3) over the last eight games?

Why does Liam Reddox, playing 10 minutes a night on the fourth line, have more goals in the last six games (2) than Sam Gagner (1), Marc Pouliot (0), Andrew Cogliano (1), Robert Nilsson (0) and Ethan Moreau (0).

"It's not for lack of effort, the effort is there," said Horcoff. "Maybe that's the problem. On the power play especially, we're a little tight. We're trying to put a lot of pressure on Hemmer to make the pretty play, that's not how good power plays work."


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