Oilers develop nasty habit

Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk can't keep St. Louis' Chris Stewart from scoring on the third shot of...

Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk can't keep St. Louis' Chris Stewart from scoring on the third shot of the game, just two minutes in, Friday during the Oilers 5-0 loss to the Blues. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

EDMONTON - It would be nice if the Oilers could at least wait until the anthem singer is off the ice before they’re down 1-0, but starting games in the wrong key has become a nasty habit lately.

Both goalies had their share of early wake-up calls this month, with Devan Dubnyk giving up a quick one in three of his last four games:

- On Feb. 13 Anaheim scored 33 seconds after the opening faceoff.

- On Feb. 19 the Atlanta Thrashers went up 1-0 on their first shot of the game.

- And St. Louis took the lead at 2:07, on their third shot of the game, on Friday.

Throw in a couple of rough starts for Nikolai Khabibulin (he let in the first two shots he faced in the Ottawa loss) and the Oilers have been on their heels to start a lot of games lately.

“If they were just shooting the puck on the net and I was missing it, it would be easy to say, ‘Be ready to play,’ but they’ve been some pretty decent goals,” said Dubnyk who doesn’t think it’s a preparation issue. “I try every game to really bear down at the start. I’ve said it before, it’s an important part of the game. You have to be ready to go as much as you can at the start of the game. The longer you can keep them at zero the better the game seems to go.”

Dubnyk, who gave up five goals on 22 shots against the Blues, will get the net again Sunday against Boston.

“I think you come right back and give him that chance,” said head coach Tom Renney. “He had a tough night. But there’s other guys who had tough nights, too, and had the opportunity to press on. I think it’s really good for people to jump right back in there.”

Here’s the beef

Renney didn’t like the way Edmonton engaged the Blues physically, or, rather, didn’t engage them physically.

Edmonton struggles against big teams and since the Bruins have a lot of beef, he added Gilbert Brule and Steve MacIntyre to the mix in practice Saturday.

“I think we’re getting a team that’s even bigger, and better, with all due respect to St. Louis,” he said of the Bruins. “This is one of those games where we have to show up regardless of who’s wearing the jersey. We have to man up. It’s a big test for us, I’m looking forward to it.”

Brule has been out of the lineup for six weeks. He’s been healthy for the last two but with Edmonton on a bit of a roll they couldn’t get him in. The soft 5-0 loss to St. Louis opens the door.

“It’s been way too long,” said Brule. “I’ve been patiently waiting to get back in.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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