Oilers solid on defence

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:08 PM ET

Offensively, their defence is contributing.

The Edmonton Oilers went into Saturday's contest against the San Jose Sharks with one of the top scoring defences in the NHL.

The Oilers defenceman have combined for 42 points this season.

Comparably, the Sharks back end had collected 29 points on the year.

"I'd like to say they share the wealth for us, but Ryan (Whitney) has been pretty good for us," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. "He can move the puck pretty well, and he can find the right people on the move and he works the offensive zone well.

"Beyond that, we have some people that can move the puck too. Tom Gilbert can do that, and Theo Peckham is capable of getting the puck going north and does well getting it at the net, too."

Whitney led the Oilers in scoring heading into the contest against the Sharks with 17 assists on the season.

Despite the fact he's still looking for his first goal this year, the Boston native is on pace to eclipse the career-high 59 points posted with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2006-2007 campaign.

Kurtis Foster is the Oilers second-leading scorer with a pair of goals and eight points, while Gilbert had seven points heading into Saturday's game.

"We like for our defencemen to jump in the rush," Renney said. "As soon as we see that we can get numbers on the rush, then we want that guy to go. More often then not, it's the weak side defenceman that would probably jump in and come in late

"Even if he takes three of four hard strides heading up ice, and then backs off, we believe that also would work. The forces the other team's defencemen to back up, giving us a little bit more room on our entries. To have them active is really critical."


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