EDMONTON - OTTAWA — The Edmonton Oilers have the high-powered, edge-of-your-seat part down pat.
It’s those long painful lulls where it looks like they don’t want to be out there — and wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they did — that they’re trying to figure out.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead against Colorado, scoring on their first two shots, Edmonton vanished for the next 30 minutes. By the midway mark of the second period they were being outshot 26-7.
Saturday against the Sharks, after a brisk and resilient first period, they let themselves be outshot 14-3 in the second.
“I think it’s just a matter of our turnovers,” said Taylor Hall. “We have shifts where we just don’t seem determined to get the puck in (deep), and that’s going to cost you, especially against a team like San Jose, they really use those odd-man rushes to their advantage.”
Sam Gagner says keeping the intensity up amid all the things out there that can diffuse it was one of the toughest challenges he faced in his first few years, and he’s seeing it plague the current team, too.
“I think that’s one of the struggles of adjusting to the NHL game, there’s lulls in games,” he said. “There’s TV time outs, there’s power plays and penalties that ruin the flow a little and it’s something you’re not used to coming out of junior or anywhere.
“For me, in my first year, it was hard to adjust to that. As a group in here we need to find a way to do it. We need to make sure we’re intense and stay focused on the job no matter what the situation is.”
Because when the spark is lit, they go pretty good. They had the Sharks swimming in circles in the third period Saturday.
“We gain confidence from that, we know we can battle back against teams,” said Gagner. “When we’re getting pucks in deep and forcing them to turn we’re pretty dangerous offensively. We have to take that on the road trip and get a few wins here.”
The weakness in Edmonton that had been so prevalent earlier this season wasn’t there against San Jose. Instead of curling up when things went wrong, the Oilers fought back. From an early goal, from a 4-1 deficit.
“It’s the kind of thing that’s been hurting us psychologically, when things go like that they really eat us up,” said Ralph Krueger.
“There’s something different about our group and the reaction to the goal against early, and the second period and the 4-1 deficit. It makes you feel that something special happened in the group that we can use in the future.”