SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers keep four off the floor

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:13 PM ET

The Minnesota Wild were definitely looking for a little more four play.

But 58 seconds of it was more than enough for Tom Renney.

After watching Zack Stortini, Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones give up two goals against on their first two shifts, the fourth line trio didn’t get a chance to give up a third. They spent the rest of the game, 54 long and uncomfortable minutes of it, nailed to the bench.

“Tough start, obviously, for the three of us,” said Fraser. “Two shifts and two goals against is unacceptable. We didn’t play again. That’s the way it is. We didn’t deserve to play again. I think Tom sent a message and we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

They’d complain … if only they had something to complain about.

“If you play well and you’re sitting there, then you have an argument,” said Fraser. “But when you’re minus two in two shifts you don’t have an argument. We’re all grown men, it’s professional hockey, the NHL, you have to come do your job and obviously we didn’t do it well enough.

“I’m not one to pout or to mope around, that’s not my style. I just have to play good the next game.”

As the shifts rolled by and the tap on the shoulder never came, the cold realization that their night was over began to hit home. Being that close to the action without being in the game, they were in hockey’s version of courtside seats at a Lakers game.

“You get a feeling (you’re not playing again),” said Jones. “As players we’ve been through a lot of hockey and you just know it’s coming. You always want a chance to redeem yourself, but after our first two shifts we didn’t deserve it.”

Jones made it out for one more five-second shift and Fraser drew in for some late minutes after Dustin Penner’s 10-minute misconduct left Edmonton with only eight forwards (who weren’t in the doghouse).

“You always want another shot at it,” said Fraser. “Nobody wants to sit there, but that being said, you can understand why you’re not playing, Redemption comes the next game, or the next time you’re out there.”

While the move was largely punitive, it also made pretty good strategic sense — Edmonton’s top three lines were flying, so why not take Minnesota’s fourth (which had scored twice) out of the equation?

“You need to get a message across,” said Renney. “It won’t be the last time it happens to somebody. Having said that, there seemed to be a really good flow to the game.”

Fraser agreed, and he had a good seat for it.

“If we don’t let those two goals in, we win that hockey game,” he said. “Those three lines were playing well, they deserved to play. All the other guys were pulling their weight and we weren’t.”

Jones says there’s nothing they can do but learn what they can from it, then bury the memories in the backyard.

“It was one of those nights,” he said. “Everybody has a couple in their career and ours was yesterday. We feel horrible, we let the team down, but we’ll build. It was a tough night, but we’ll bounce back.”

The Thursday train wreck came out of nowhere for a trio that had been playing pretty well before that.

“I think we’ve played well to this point,” said Fraser. “Jonesy’s got a goal, we’ve fought, we’ve hit, we’ve finished checks. I think we have to get back to that instead of dwelling on last game.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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