SUN Hockey Pool

'Critical junctures' for Oil

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish took exception to the question regarding his team's power play.

Especially when a local radio host backed it up with an inaccurate statistic.

"Don't let the facts get in the way of a good question," joked MacTavish. "The thing about the power play was when we got back from the road trip, we talked about how effective the power play was, we scored six or seven power-play goals on that road trip. And now we're one game into the homestand and the question is about the ineffectiveness of the power play.

"It's more the five-on-threes. We're getting great opportunities but we're not capitalizing on them. In San Jose, we had a five-on-three and they went down and scored short-handed right after that so that's a two-goal turnaround. In Dallas, we had a four-on-three and we pulled the goalie with two minutes to go to make it a five-on-three, so there's an opportunity to get back in the game and we don't capitalize on it. Against Calgary at about the 16-minute mark, we're up 2-1 with an opportunity to go up 3-1 on a five-on-three. We get a couple of looks and don't get anything to show for it."

The inability to capitalize against the Flames cost the Oilers a point in the standings. Had they been able to take a two-goal lead in the contest, they win the game despite Matthew Lombardi's late goal in the third period.

That has been the source of frustration for the Oilers recently, not necessarily the power play as a whole.

"Those are critical junctures of the game where you have to deliver the goods," MacTavish said. "We met today on our five-on-three and our four-on-threes to try and get more production out of it. Our power play has been OK, but we have to capitalize on those critical five-on-three and four-on-threes. If we did that, we'd be in much better shape today."

Heading into tonight's encounter against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Oilers are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Considering how tight the race is for the final post-season berths in the Western Conference, failing to capitalize on those critical man-advantage opportunities could come back to sting.

"I feel like any time you get a five-on-three, it should be an automatic goal," said Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray. "At least four out of five times you should have a goal on a five-on-three.

"I think right now, guys are trying to over-complicate things a little bit, trying to search for that perfect play, when maybe sometimes keeping it simpler is better."


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