Oilers continue losing ways

Edmonton Oilers' Theo Peckham checks Chicago Blackhawks' Jack Skille.   (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

Edmonton Oilers' Theo Peckham checks Chicago Blackhawks' Jack Skille. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 AM ET

In trying to show their fans, and perhaps themselves, that theyre not really as bad as they were last week, the Edmonton Oilers looked every bit as bad as they were last year.

And thats saying something for an organization coming off the worst season in franchise history.

In the first game back after the disastrous 1-3-1 road trip that saw them outscored 28-10, the Oilers had a chance to prove that theyre not the weak and hapless wimps who look for a soft spot on the canvas the minute things get tough.

They didnt.

Instead, they were every bit as bad in the 5-0 loss to Chicago as they were in New York (8-2) or Detroit (6-2), or Carolina (7-1).

This is embarrassing, said Ales Hemsky, whos glad he didnt have to shell out $200 to watch that mess. I kind of feel bad for the fans and for everybody. We have lots to prove. We have to play better as a team, be hungrier. I dont really know what to say.

We sit on the bench and everybody is waiting for somebody else to do it. Were scared to play with the puck. We dont have any confidence right now and I dont know where well find it.

The Oilers are now 4-10-3, having lost 13 of their last 15. Theyve been outscored 30-8 in their last five games and have given up 12 straight goals going back to the second period against New York.

The concern now is that in this year of learning, the young Oilers are learning how to lose.

We could be close to that, said head coach Tom Renney, whose club was down 2-0 on the scoreboard and an astounding 20-4 on the shot clock and would have been force-fed a double-digit loss if not for Nikolai Khabibulin. You have to give yourself the best chance to win by playing hard and being emotionally connected to the game. When we lose that weve got a problem.

He scanned his bench and saw a few players were dialled out early.

There were some of them, said the coach, who only handed Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff five shifts each in the final 40 minutes. Your leaders have to show by example and they were having a tough night tonight. Its safe to say our better players on the night were our young people.

If there was an intermission pep talk after 20, it didnt take, because Jonathan Toews completed the natural hat-trick 72 seconds into the period. A shorthanded goal late in the second and the 5-0 goal early in the third completed the night.

Were all searching for answers, said Horcoff. Its tough. Its obviously not going to happen quickly for us, but we still have to believe that it will.

Its starting to look like an unhealthy situation here. Its hard to learn anything, except how to lose, when your team is continually being used for target practice.

I wouldnt go that far, Im still learning a lot this year and believe it or not I am having a lot of fun, said Taylor Hall. As a player and as a team its not always going to be sunshine. We know that in this year there would be ups and downs and right now were going through a down period, for sure.

Weve shown the ability to win games, weve shown the ability to play. Its not that we cant do it, its not that we dont have the pieces of the puzzle, we just need to put them together.

Or its another six months in 30th.

Its hard not to think about it, said Hemsky. I dont care about rebuilding. Its nice to rebuild but Im here to win games and play hockey. Its just excuses, that were rebuilding. I dont really want to get into that.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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