SUN Hockey Pool

Quinn happy with opposition goals

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- Coach Pat Quinn has no complaints about the way the Oilers have been filling the opposition nets.

It's the way they've been filling their own net that concerns him a little.

Four games into the season they've already scored four "own-goals" by Shawn Horcoff, Ladislav Smid, Jason Struckwick and Nikolai Khabibulin -- with a little help from Calgary's David Moss on the latter.

All came on seemingly harmless plays that weren't even heading for the net.

"They seem so not dangerous, but it's cost us a couple of points so we have to start recognizing that maybe they are dangerous," said Quinn.

"We have to stop beating ourselves before we start beating other teams regularly."

Nevertheless, Edmonton is 2-1-1 as it heads out for a brief two-game road trip to Nashville and Chicago (tonight and Wednesday).

Aside from a couple of last-minute gaffes, the team was pretty happy with the homestand.

"We did what we needed to do in the first four games, give ourselves a little bit of confidence heading out on the road," said Horcoff, adding the own-goals and last-minute losses won't carry on forever.

"It's a little frustrating when you lose games because of mistakes you've made, but there's a little bit of confidence knowing that if you tighten those up you're going to get wins. It's different than when a team comes in and dominates you, and that hasn't been the case."

Meanwhile, with the offence going at a nice clip --14 goals in four games -- there isn't much concern yet that the first line seems to be easing its way into the season.

The top unit has two goals in four games, one from Hemsky in the shootout loss to Calgary and one from J.F. Jacques in the win over Montreal. They've been OK, but haven't taken control of a game yet.

"I don't think I'm at the top of my game yet," admitted Hemsky, who says he's still trying to blend his freelancing style with the new system.

"I know you have to be in the right spots, but I have to play my game, too, carry the puck and make something happen.

"They want us to be good on defence; without defence you can't have offence. It's a learning process. I have to have the confidence, not be scared to make some plays."

It's the only line Quinn hasn't shuffled yet, but he says the trio isn't carved in stone.

While Jacques isn't a prototypical first liner, he brings an element to the unit that Quinn likes -- a big body with half-decent hands who can get in on the forecheck and create traffic in front of the net.

"Our coaching staff has talked to him and his linemates about how that line can work most effectively," said the coach.

"It won't stay that way all the time; we'll be looking sometimes for a little more give-and-go talent, but at the start I wanted some size and some grit and a guy who would clear some room for the other two."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos