Go for it: Oilers coach

Edmonton Oilers head coach has a simple message for his young team — Go for it! (Tm Braid, Edmonton...

Edmonton Oilers head coach has a simple message for his young team — Go for it! (Tm Braid, Edmonton Sun)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:22 PM ET

EDMONTON - CHICAGO — Go for it.

That’s the message head coach Tom Renney is trying to get across to a fast and skilled hockey club that doesn’t seem to know its own strength.

The Oilers offence has been like the Incredible Hulk this season, hopelessly passive until the team has been sufficiently roughed up by the other guys, then flexing their muscles in a transformation that is sometimes scary to watch.

“I’d rather us go forward and try to make things happen than sit back and be tentative about our approach,” said Renney. “Go play. Right now we’re kind of playing not to lose. That’s dangerous. Let’s just go, let’s see what we’ve got, what we’re capable of. There’s so much that can grow out of that.”

Call it the Anti-Flames strategy: instead of spending the entire night worried about getting scored on, reluctant to show any offensive hunger, why not try and make some noise at the other end of the ice.

“We’ll teach the defensive side of the game, we’ll get that under control, that takes a huge commitment from everybody, obviously,” said Renney. “But we’ve got to attack. The net’s at the other end of the rink, let’s get there.”

Chicago would be a good place to start because the Hawks will be ready.

Not only are they on full alert after dropping a couple in a row at home, but Sunday is their first opportunity for a little payback after the 7-4 thumping Edmonton laid on them on the last trip. The Oilers will actually be in Chicago before the Blackhawks, who play in Atlanta Saturday before jetting home to play their third game in five days, but there’s no chance the hosts won’t be fired up for this one.

“They’re obviously not happy with the way they’re playing, they’re used to winning,” said Sam Gagner, who scored twice in the win. “That’s the way we want to be in here. We want to get back to a winning attitude where when we lose, it shouldn’t happen.

“That’s something we can draw from them. They’ve lost a few and they’re upset about it, we should feel the same way. We’re not happy about the way things are going. It should be a great game.”

It was last time. Something about the styles really seemed to mesh in the back-and-forth high energy track meet.

“Hopefully we can go in there and do the same things we were doing before,” said Gagner. “It seemed like when we got chances we were really bearing down making sure we put them in. When you can do that it’s pretty deflating for the other team. They scored goals but we answered them.”

The fired up Hawks could be a handful but as Shawn Horcoff points out, when you’re last in the NHL, there are no soft spots on the schedule.

“When you’re 28th in the league there are no easy games,” he said. “So whoever we play on any given night, there are no easy teams. When I first started there were four or five cake walks but that’s not the case any more.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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