The expression is “Just Win, Baby.”
Not “Just Look Good In Losses To Better Teams, Baby.”
So head coach Tom Renny is hoping Edmonton’s three-game moral victory streak comes to an end this evening, in a good way, against the visiting Buffalo Sabres.
“We have to win, it’s that simple,” said Renney, whose club looked very good for long stretches in one-goal losses to San Jose, Los Angeles and Vancouver. “Moral victories are great but we need the points. We have to make sure we play the whole game and we play it properly.”
In all three defeats Edmonton played well enough to win, right up until crucial lapses that were just bad enough to make them lose.
“You lose for a reason,” said Renney. “Whether it’s giveaways, bad penalties at bad times, the penalty killing doesn’t measure up, or a power play that doesn’t quite nail it the way it’s supposed to. You have to play to win, not to lose.
“Before you start winning you have to quit losing.”
The Oilers are catching Buffalo without leading scorer Derek Roy and playing their second game in as many nights after a 5-2 loss in Calgary.
But Renney knows the Sabres from his days in the Eastern Conference and knows they’ll be a stern test no matter what.
“The one thing I know for sure is they play awfully hard for their coach,” he said. “My experience with them is they’re well organized and they always play their guts out and it starts at the top. They won’t quit, it doesn’t matter what the score is. We have to be a really smart team tonight and if it takes us 59 minutes to get ourselves a win then so be it,”
PETRY DISHES UP - Tonight marks the Oilers debut of defenceman Jeff Petry, summoned from Oklahoma City to bolster the blueline. He’s expected to draw in for Jason Strudwick.
“I want to control the emotions, get them all out in warm up and play the same game I was playing down in Oklahoma,” said the 23-year-old Michigan State product, selected 45th overall in 2006. “Over the last three or four weeks I’ve been playing a lot better, the plus minus is going up and I was feeling more comfortable every game.”
Petry, the son of former major league pitcher Dan Petry, is ready to try and make his own mark in the bigs.
“He deserves this opportunity, he’s been very, very good in Oklahoma City,” said Renney. “All reports from the coaching staff there suggest this is the guy to bring up. My first glimpse of him was in development camp last summer and there was just something about him you like. To see the evolution of him moving into his first NHL game is really cool. That said, he has to be good. He has to move the puck well, he has to get his shots through, he has to defend.
“(Buffalo) is a hungry team, they’re in a race in the Eastern Conference. We have to make sure he contributes in a solid way.”
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