Road trip just what Oilers need

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

ST PAUL — Despite the holiday season, the Edmonton Oilers couldn’t wait to leave home Tuesday, especially considering there was little Christmas cheer at Rexall Place.

After playing so well and winning all five games of a recent road trip, the club came crashing back to earth in the form of four consecutive losses at home.

The worst took place Monday getting hammered 7-2 by the St. Louis Blues, a team attempting to climb out of the Western Conference cellar themselves.

“The big thing for us, is that we have to get back on track, we can’t have Christmas come early,” said Oilers center Sam Gagner. “This is a huge game for us, we have to go into the break feeling positive about the way we’re playing. That comes from a full 60-minute effort and getting off to a good start and coming out with the win.”

Wednesday the Oilers will try to regain their road warrior ways when the take on the Minnesota Wild at the Xcell Energy Center in their final game before the Christmas break.

It won’t be an easy task for the club that currently occupies the final slot in the conference standings. The Oilers haven’t won a game in Minnesota in nearly three years.

“They play a different game than they used to,” Gagner said. “I think the big thing for us is to get back to playing way the have on the road lately, keeping things simple, getting the puck in deep and trying to create some energy on the forecheck. I feel like maybe we got away from that a little bit and if we can get back to that, maybe we can fill some holes up.”

Whatever happened on the road, stayed on the road for the Oilers as they failed to build on their momentum in their return to Rexall Place.

There were moments of inspiration from the club during their recent four-game homestand, but were unable to sustain a strong effort throughout 60 minutes.

“This has been a tough stretch at home,” conceded defenceman Tom Gilbert. “All we can do is take the momentum we had on the last trip and try to do that to Minnesota. We have to simplify a lot of things, losing four games at home, this is not acceptable, although there were a lot of games we played well enough to win at home and just came up short in a couple of them.”

The mood heading out on the road was of sharp contrast to the one coming in after winning five straight away from home.

Back then, the club was feeling good about their record-breaking accomplishment and were looking to continue the trend as the home team.

Yet, losses to Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Blues have the Oilers in and even worse position than they were before they embarked on their previous road trip.

“It’s hard to say what was different at home than on the road,” said Gagner. “If we had a solution for it, we obviously would try and implement that. I think the biggest thing for us is to continue to push forward and get better every day.”

One of the few things the Oilers can find solace in, is the fact the last time they were humiliated, they responded with their five-game winning streak.

A loss like the one against St. Louis challenges their character, much like the one in Vancouver did prior to heading out on their extended trip.

“You have to try and grab confidence anywhere you can,” Gagner said. “Obviously we had a good streak going after our last bad loss hopefully this lights a fire under us.

"It probably shouldn't have to come to that, but hopefully we can get out of this funk, step forward and have a huge game.”


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