It's nearly tee time, boys

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

They should have gone golfing.

Or maybe had another $17,000 team-bonding dinner down in Calgary.

The season's celebrated reboot with Pat Quinn's magic cure mini-camp didn't take.

The Oilers came out of it looking like they were in mid-training camp and treated it like a pre-season game.

Now what?

Cancel the Olympic break for a maxi-camp?

While there are no bags on the heads of any fans yet, people normally excited to see themselves on the video board are now looking embarrassed to be caught attending the game.

There were at least 1,000 empty seats in Rexall Place last night for the Oilers' "179th consecutive sellout."

They've had about as many real, actual, all-the-seats-filled sellouts in the last 13 games as they've had wins.

Which is one.

The biggest cheer of the night was for the goal in the Ford Small-Stars game during the first intermission.

Brutal in their own zone the first time the Nashville Predators got the puck down there -- and fairly frequently thereafter -- the Oilers were down 2-0 after five and a half minutes last night.

By early in the second period it was 4-0. The 5-3 final score flattered Edmonton.

The veterans didn't exactly dial it up.

Just when it looked like the Oilers were mounting a late comeback, captain Ethan Moreau took a stupid hooking penalty that killed any remote hope.

ONE HIT

Moreau, Shawn Horcoff, Patrick O'Sullivan, Steve Staois, Dustin Penner, Fernando Pisani, Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Souray had the combined total of one hit after the first two periods.

"We have to have mental toughness and be physically and mentally involved in the game," said Souray.

But, hey, $7-million man Horcoff and $2.9-million cap hit O'Sullivan moved into a two-way tie for top spot in the highest minus category, at minus 21.

At least that gives fans something to follow for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile ex-Oiler Robbie Schremp scored two goals and Dwayne Roloson registered a shutout for the New York Islanders last night.

You could blame what happened at Rexall on goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, who didn't have a great 26 minutes before he was pulled.

I'd like to see Oilers' management hang this winless drought on their goaltending. That would be rich, wouldn't it?

SCREWED UP

The goalies were the guys the organization totally screwed up by not having a farm team and a place to play one year and were further restrained by the three-goalie system last year.

Now these kids have to play goal behind a bunch of give-away artists.

"It was a lot of the same," said Souray. "There were a lot of turnovers. It's definitely deflating. There's no reason to put your tail between your legs and quit playing. But until we get some of the mistakes out of our game ..."

Pat Quinn agreed.

"It's still about turnovers," said the coach. "Good teams don't double-cross themselves. A lot of nights we should have different results, but we beat ourselves."

As for the veterans and the lack of physical play?

"You expect contact in this game. If you are losing games, you have to become more involved. If you are not one of the scorers, you have to be one of the hitters or one of the checkers ..."

But, hey, it all worked out in the end.

It's kind of reverse out-of-town scoreboard watching, but Sherwood Park's Cam Ward led the Carolina Hurricanes to a third straight win last night to move the Oilers within two points of last place and position 'A' in the Taylor Hall sweepstakes.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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