The Edmonton Oilers will try once again to jump start their season against a struggling opponent tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Rexall Place.
It's the 15th place team in the West against the 14th place team in the East, but the Leafs (14-17-9) are coming off a win and are 2-2-1 in their last five games. The (15-20-4) Oilers, meanwhile, have lost seven straight.
Four points out of 14th, Edmonton can't even move out of the cellar with a win, but if the slump doesn't end soon, the season is toast. If it isn't already.
“It's definitely frustrating,” said defenceman Steve Staios. “I don’t think anybody likes to wake up in the position that we’re in, but today is game day and everybody is excited.
“We can’t let ourselves get too down. The only way to come out of it is to have good energy.”
They’ll need it against the Leafs, one of the more rambunctious teams in the NHL.
“Lately they've been playing some good hockey,” said Staios. “They play with a lot of energy and they’re a physical group and we have to be prepared to match that.”
The Oilers are second in the NHL with 35 fights this season, the Leafs are ninth with 29.
“We're preparing our team tonight to play a hard game, for longer and better than we have been,” said Oilers coach Pat Quinn.
“We've been leaving some things on the table. We’re making lots of mistakes and we’re paying for it right now.
“But we're preparing like it's a game we’re going to win.”
* Ladislav Smid, who went for hand X-rays in the wake of his Monday fight with Jarome Iginla, is fine... Dustin Penner, who worked his way onto Team Canada’s radar, was a longshot to make their final Olympic roster, and didn’t. But that he was even in the picture speaks volumes about his season. “He made tremendous progress,” said Quinn. “He’s among the best in the world today.”