Oilers not getting their shots

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

It could be worse -- head coach Pat Quinn could be in charge of a chaotic and woefully unprepared immunization program that shrugs its shoulders while children and pregnant woman are shoved aside by a stampede of selfish adults.

And Flames.

As bad as things are under Quinn's watch, nobody's kid ever died because an offence didn't know what it was doing.

And speaking of not getting shots, how about those Oilers?

You'd swear Ed Stelmach and Ron Liepert were on Edmonton's power play for all the aimless bumbling that's gone on in the last week.

The numbers are painful to look at:

Oilers: One win in the last six games.

Robert Nilsson: One goal (an empty netter) and a team-worst minus 9 in 10 games.

Oilers: Scored a grand total of three goals in their last five losses.

Patrick O'Sullivan: Minus 8 with one assist in his last seven games.

Oilers: One win in six road games.

Denis Grebeshkov: Minus 8 with one assist in his last seven games.

Oilers: Outshot their opponent once this season, in Game 1.

Shawn Horcoff: Points in just one of the last 10 games.

Oilers: In 15 games only have five guys with double digit PIMs.

Sam Gagner: Pointless and minus 5 in the last five games.

Oilers: Two wins in seven games against divisional opponents.

Tom Gilbert: Two assists in 15 games.

It's enough to make a head coach lose his temper, in case you hadn't noticed from Quinn's recent run of post-game venting.

"We've said from Day One that our offence would come from our (team) defence and our (team) defence sucks right now," he said between losses to Boston (2-0) and the Islanders (3-1).

"Our defence is just like anyone's, they need help from the forwards, but their contributions defensively have been not very good."

It's hard to get a decent breakout going when you spend all night chasing your tail.

"When you spend so much time in your zone, victory is just getting the puck out instead of putting it in their net," said Quinn. "We have to get a whole mental change here."

They've been trying that for about three years now. Fifteen games into the season, as the adrenalin boost from a new coaching staff begins to wear off, Quinn is running into some of the same problems that drove Craig MacTavish crazy -- a lineup that believes it is far more skilled than it actually is, and, as such, is unwilling to roll up its silk sleeves and pay the same kind of price that other teams' second, third and fourth liners do.

"What happens is you get scared. I don't mean physically scared -- or maybe it is physically scared, I don't know," said Quinn, who didn't like the way they've been losing puck battles lately.

"If you don't want the puck in your zone and you're pushing it away from yourself and you lose the battle, then you lose the guy going to the net ... That isn't even a physical team," Quinn said of the Islanders. "It's one thing to say we're small and outmanned physically, but that's not the case. That was a small team that was better at fighting longer for the puck."

Crashing the net, selling out to block a shot? Quinn isn't seeing much of either lately.

"We get out of the way of wrist shots now, we don't even get in front of those," he said. "I don't understand that but we've got to fix it."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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