SUN Hockey Pool

O'Sullivan hits defrost button

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

DETROIT -- Patrick O'Sullivan's hands are so cold he could stash Popsicles in his hockey gloves every night and they'd still be frozen in the third period.

He's a frosty minus-33 right now, a league worst stat that has as much to do with those cubes at the end of his arms as anything else.

As a hugely disappointing season winds to an end, a blur of point blank opportunities in which he shot blanks and got no points, O'Sullivan knows the damage is done. The Oilers are 30th in a 30-team league and he, like about 15 other guys on the roster, didn't do nearly enough to help.

Nothing he does in these last seven games will undo the past, but he can get to work on the future and Sunday's goal in St. Louis is the first step of his long, uphill climb.

"At this point you're just trying to get the most out of what's left in the year," said O'Sullivan, who'd been stuck on 10 goals since Jan. 16. "It's one of those things where you have to take each game as an individual game and not worry if you haven't scored in a while or things aren't going well."

It's not easy, nor should it be, when you're trying to ignore a couple of elephants in the room like Minus 33 and 19 games since your last goal, but crying over a spilled season won't do any good now.

"That's the tough part. One of the toughest things about this sport is trying to be mentally tough when things aren't going well."

They've all had a lot of practice navigating rough waters in a sinking ship, but O'Sullivan, in his second game back from a finger injury that isn't healed, was good against the Blues.

He buried a breakaway and posted six shots on goal, which is six more than the entire first line of Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule managed.

"He was dangerous, that's the way you want him every night," said Quinn, who wonders if O'Sullivan's hands aren't the problem here.

"He had six shots on net, but he probably had 12 opportunities and missed his shots. I might have to get him to see an optometrist or something, see if he can find the net for him."

(Pause for rimshot)

"It's nice to see," continued Quinn. "We need those guys who are supposed to be our scorers to put some in for us."

From Shawn Horcoff and Ethan Moreau to Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, there are plenty of poster boys for Edmonton's woeful, league-worst offence.

In O'Sullivan's case, they were expecting at least the 22 goals he scored two years ago in Los Angeles, and probably more. But unless he gets 11 in the last seven games it's not going to happen.

"I've scored 20-plus goals in the league, I know that I can score," he said, adding the fact he's still getting chances helps keep him sane.

"I haven't had a hard time getting chances this year, they just haven't been going in as consistently as I'd like.

"I don't know how to explain that.

"I just have to figure out a way to be more consistent and bear down on them. But as long as I'm going to the right spots and getting those chances ... I know I'm capable of scoring so hopefully the percentages kick in the other way.

"I changed my stick to what I used to use last year and the year before. I'm not saying that's going to be a difference maker, but ..."

But when there's ice-water running through your hands, every little bit helps.

"You have to keep the doubt out of your mind," he said. "It's been tough this year with everything that's happened."


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