SUN Hockey Pool

Turning miscues into magic

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

Maybe that's the way to do it. Just go out there and have the worst shift of the entire season.

Make a mess of it in every direction. Get it all out of your system at once.

Remind yourself early how bad you can be, then smarten up and do what you have to do to win another hockey game.

That's essentially what happened last night as the Edmonton Oilers went from being one of those black and white slapstick movie fire drills to giving up an early 1-0 lead to the Canucks and ending up winners of their fourth game at home this season while Vancouver lost a fourth straight on the road.

If Oilers head coach Pat Quinn has sounded like a broken record on the subject of his team spending way to much time in their own end and giving the puck away way too many times when they’re doing so, it was all there to see in one shift six minutes into the game.

“It was brutal,” said defenceman Denis Grebeshkov.

“It was really bad. For all it takes to get the puck to the other blueline...

“It was really, really bad. I don’t know what happened. I guess we weren’t ready.”

The Oilers provided five gift-wrapped turnovers, including two by Grebeshkov, on the same shift in their own zone to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

Nikolai Khabibulin once again gave the Oilers a chance to win as they got their game back together.

“Sometimes it goes that way,” said the nyet minder.

“At least it didn’t stay that way. From the second period on, we took it to them.”

The ’Bulin Wall shrugged his shoulders at his own part in the win.

“If you’re going to get in the playoffs there are going to be a lot of games like that which you have to win by one goal,” he said.

“We’ve got some things to clean up. But I think we will. I’m pretty sure about that from what I saw tonight.

“From the second period on, we made some good decisions, especially after we got the lead.”

O.K. — except for the last five seconds, when Kyle Wellwood was allowed to go coast to coast and score after the Oilers were foiled up ice on a pulled-goalie empty-net scoring chance.

The Oilers were saved by a video replay that showed the clock hit 0:00 before the puck crossed the goal line.

“It was a six-on-three attack,” said Quinn. “Then one of our players loses himself and our defence decided to back in and pray.

“It looks like an open net goal for us. Then another guy doesn’t think too well. He’s up there looking for some gravy. We almost ended up with gravy on our face.”

Quinn is certainly having an interesting return to coaching in the NHL with this young team with the attention span of a bunch of five-year-olds when it comes to the messages he’s trying to deliver.

The best way to get experience is to have experiences and to learn from them.

That’s what seemed to happen as the Oilers stretched their record to 5-2-1.

“We have a low threshold for panic right now,” Quinn said after the 2-1 win.

“It’s about preparation,” he continued to preach. “You have to know beforehand what you’re going to do. Before you get to the puck. You have to make a decision. The next thing you know, it’s in our net.

“We’ve got to be less dangerous to ourselves.”

Quinn has now confirmed in his mind another condition his club has to cure, after they take care of the ’flu bug which has hit the team and prompted his decision to keep the players away from each other, with no practice scheduled for today.

“Vancouver is a good club. I think we decided ‘Let’s be cautious. Let’s be safe.’

“We certainly did that in Chicago. We decided to stand around and hope nothing bad happens.

“You can’t play in a tortoise shell.”

The great thing about what’s happened here so far is that the Oilers fans, who booed their team off the ice after half the home games last year, are watching wins at Rexall Place again.

At the same time, they’re getting an open-book education from their coach as he uses the media to reinforce the messages he’s trying to drill through their helmets.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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