O'Sullivan stalled on six

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

EDMONTON -- When itís 33 games into the season and you are a top-six forward whose point total is running neck and neck with your minus total, there arenít many right answers.

All you can do when the media comes calling is own it and promise to work harder, and for the most part Patrick OíSullivan stuck to the script Wednesday when the media congregated around his stall to revisit the low point of his year.

But he can be more fiesty off the ice than on it and wasnít willing to accept all the blame for his plummeting stock. He ventured dangerously close to the intersection of Excuse and Complaint, a position that didnít win him any points with the coach who benched him Tuesday night.

ďItís frustrating, especially when you donít have a lot of feedback,Ē said OíSullivan, when asked about being nailed to the pine for the third period against Los Angeles. ďThe fact that it was against my old team obviously wasnít an issue with the coach, but it definitely hurts me a little more.Ē

With six goals, nine assists and a team worst minus 13 rating, OíSullivanís troubles run a lot deeper than one game. The way he sees it, though, a lot of has to do with being the victim of circumstance.

ďItís difficult for me. I play different positions all the time, different linemates all the time. I havenít really had anything consistent to do or be with the whole year.

ďIíve been out for some goals against and that reflects on my plus minus. I donít think theyíre necessarily my fault. Itís a stat that can be misleading. Maybe theyíre looking at that, I donít know. I think Iíve played enough games in this league to know that Iím a good player and can be effective.Ē

But that can be difficult, he said, playing limited minutes on the fourth line with JF Jacques and Zack Stortini.

ďI think anybody who sees us three together can see theyíre different players than me,Ē he said. ďYou have to change how you play a little bit because we donít think the same way. Itís hard for them and itís hard for me as well. Itís something I have to adjust and play a simple game.Ē

But not for long, he hopes.

ďI donít think Iím a fourth line player, OK. I donít forsee myself playing those amount of minutes the rest of the year. So itís up to me to get back to where I was playing.Ē

Now, in case youíre new to the city, head coach Pat Quinn isnít much for excuses. He was already in a foul mood after Tuesdayís loss and didnít want to hear anyone rationalize a season-long slump.

ďI guess our expectations for Pat are a little bit higher than weíre seeing his play of late,Ē he said, adding he doesnít know where the communication breakdown could be. ďIf being spoken to on the bench means that youíre not getting feedback, then either youíre not listening or you donít give a crap, and I donít know which it is.

ďWhen you start thinking Iím being treated like a fourth liner but Iím really a first liner... what has been there to suggest that theyíre first liners? Somebody told them that? Six goals make him a first liner? Sure, I guess, if thereís another guy with two goals. I donít know what makes a first liner - I know a guy whoís a minus 13 better have a look at some other parts of their game.Ē

What does OíSullivan have to do to get out of the doghouse?

ďI donít really want to get onto individuals, Iíve already said too much about this. Itís nobody elseís business but his and ours, and his teammates, but one is compete. You have to compete in this game.Ē

At least they agree on something.

"If Iím going to play less minutes well, then thatís how itís going to be,Ē said OíSullivan. ďIím going to play a hard as I can in those minutes and see where that takes me.Ē

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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