SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers uniformly uninspired

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

EDMONTON - This is just about the time that last year’s team quit.

This year’s?

Only the players know for sure if they’ve had enough, but let’s just say it was tough to tell who looked more disinterested this weekend, the Edmonton Oilers or the poor saps who paid hundreds of dollars to watch them go through the motions for 120 woeful minutes.

After hitting what was supposed to be the low point of their season, a 5-3 loss Saturday to the pitiful Ottawa Senators, Edmonton dug a few feet deeper with an even more uninspired effort Sunday against Anaheim.

Five shots on net in the first period, four shots in the second and three shots in the third period of a shameful 4-0 loss.

Twelve shots on net? A team that used to be bad and entertaining is now just plain bad.

“It’s a never-ending cycle and the guys in here have to change it or it just gets worse and worse,” Sam Gagner said of Edmonton’s horrendous offence. “The coaches have the right to be upset, fans have the right to be upset. It’s just not good enough.

“No matter what the expectations were for the season, on what this team was supposed to do, right now it’s embarrassing. We need to challenge ourselves to be better in here. Till we start doing the little things right, getting open for each other, going to bat for our teammates, it’s just going to continue to get worse.”

Edmonton gave up the first goal 33 seconds after the opening faceoff... and there was no coming back. Anaheim expended most of its effort trying to dust the cobwebs off netminder Jonas Hiller, who posted the easiest shutout of his, or anyone else’s, NHL career.

“Up until about three games ago we had been playing pretty well, we just weren’t getting results,” said Taylor Hall, who had four of Edmonton’s 12 shots. “Now we’re kind of getting what we deserve. I just think we have to challenge ourselves to be a lot better. I truly believe everyone in this room cares and everyone is giving it their all, but at some point it has to turn into a result, it can’t be all try.

“If the fans, or you guys, are doubting our care level, that’s certainly wrong.”

The power play, one of the worst in NHL history, is in a 0-for-24 slump and didn’t get a shot on net in four minutes with the man advantage Sunday. This is the same power play that had a 0-for-37 slump last month.

“We’d love to be having a better season for ourselves, for the team, for the city, for the coaches,” said Dustin Penner. “You can debate ifs, ands, buts and whys of why we’re in this position, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, we’re here and we have to deal with it.”

It was Edmonton’s seventh loss in a row at home, their 21st in the last 25 games.

“At the end of the day we lacked mental toughness to push ourselves into this hockey game,” said head coach Tom Renney, back at the helm after missing two games to attend his father’s funeral in B.C. “What I didn’t like was our push-back after it was 2-0, or 3-0. We just didn’t seem to want to heave our way back into the game and that really bothers me.”

Losing because of mistakes is one thing, losing because it doesn’t look like you’re into it is another. And that’s the direction the Oilers appear to be leaning.

Renney and the coaches held a long meeting after the game, during which everybody said the right thing, but talk can be pretty cheap on a sinking ship.

“We have no choice but to man up and deal with this,” said Renney. “We’ll see what (the meeting) translates into. Is it just BS and varnishing what’s going on, or are they about to really man up.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/tychkowski


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