SUN Hockey Pool

Will the Oilers ever win again?

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

EDMONTON - There is accumulating evidence that the Edmonton Oilers play their best hockey when they’re trying to come back from two- or three-goal deficits.

What we’re dealing with here is decidedly different from what might be considered normal in these abnormal circumstances.

It’s upside-down cake here, where the 28th-place Oilers prepare to play the 29th-place New York Islanders on Thursday with the potential to switch places in the standings — with neither team sure whether that might be a good thing or a bad thing.

Should the Oilers just put 2-0 or 3-1 on the scoreboard Thursday night and get on with it?

It was like that when the Oilers came back from being down 3-0 against Colorado earlier in this homestand from hell.

And it was like that as they battled back from being down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings to tie it at 3-3 Tuesday, only to eventually lose 5-3.

Another moral victory! And a seventh-straight loss!

“We can’t be content with losing close games,” said Sam Gagner, who scored the equalizer to make it 3-3 in a two-point night.

“We have to play like we do when it’s 3-0 or 3-1. That’s the mentality we need here all the time,” said the centre, who was also five-for-18 in the faceoff circle.

“When we’re down by two or three there’s urgency and desperation.

“Look at all our goals lately. They’ve been scored when we’re down. It’s when we have nothing to lose that we start to play the game differently. We need that mindset all of the game.

“When we tie the game up, it’s like, ‘There, we did it.’ And then we lose again. We tie it up and start thinking something bad is going happen again. And it does.

“We have to keep pushing the pace like we do when we’re down in a game. We’re just a different team when we’re down in a game.

“We’ve just got to figure out how to come and just play. If we want to become a winning team we just have to play.

“Every team in this league is so good. You just have to develop the mindset that you’re going to go out and win.

“We want so badly not to lose. Losing breeds an on-your-heels mentality,” continued Gagner, who moved within one point of the team scoring lead last night.

“Look back to our very first game against Calgary. We had energy from the very start of the game. We played like we had nothing to lose. We’re not playing like that now.

“We’re playing on our heels like we hope we might get a lucky one. We have to play with a pace where we’re not worrying about losing a game.”

Head coach Tom Renney admits it’s a head-scratcher.

“Maybe they have to be scared or fearful. I’m not sure.

“I’m not sure they understand how competitive they can be just yet.

“There was a time when I think they did, and maybe that’s been on the road,” he said of the team which has six wins to show for the season — home or away.

“We have to be all of that at home here. We have a responsibility at home here to come out hard and start games.

“I think when the Detroit Red Wings come in here, you kind of hope you’re going to be OK instead of just doing what you have to do.

“I would rather have a tough night because we are going after things and stepping on the gas than playing with trepidation.

“You have to go after them and see what we are capable of.

“Maybe that second or third goal goes in and they start thinking, ‘Let’s not get embarrassed here.’

“That’s not the motivation you want. The motivation is is W.

“It’s a tough way to learn, but we have to learn quick.

“We want to be an accountable and responsible team and I think they are still trying to figure that out. Unfortunately we are losing while we figure it out.”

If they don’t win soon, Renney might end up with one of the more memorable ‘They Said It’ comments in hockey history.

“It won’t surprise me when we make the playoffs. It won’t. The biggest surprise of all might be when we don’t,” he said seven consecutive losses ago.

Surprise!

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones


Videos

Photos