SUN Hockey Pool

Little 'power' in Oilers power play

Shawn Horcoff says the Oilers' penalty killing has kept the team in the first two games of the...

Shawn Horcoff says the Oilers' penalty killing has kept the team in the first two games of the season. (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 PM ET

In Edmonton, it's never too early to talk about the power play.

Or in the Edmonton Oilers case, the lack of production on the power play.

Heading into Saturday's game against the Vancouver Canucks (8 p.m.) at Rexall Place, the Oilers have yet to register a power-play goal. The club has come up empty on seven opportunities in their first two games.

"We've gone against two teams that can kill penalties pretty well, so you have to give some credit where credit is due," said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. "I think any time the power play is struggling you just have to get pucks to the point and get pucks to the net.

"You have to have a lot of bodies in front and create some traffic and work on odd-man situations. We'll work on that and keeping going forward."

With a number of highly-skilled options available to head coach Tom Renney and the return of Ryan Smyth, who is a master of scoring greasy goals in front of the net, the Oilers do not expect their power-play drought to last long.

Perhaps of bigger concern at the moment is the fact they were only able to generate a pair of power-play opportunities in a 2-1 shootout loss to Minnesota on Thursday.

"I think we need to try and get the puck down in our opponents’ end more," said Oilers winger Taylor Hall. "If we can get the puck down in their end and work them down low like we did against Pittsburgh, where we created so many penalties with our speed and our puck possession, that will help.

"It's a big thing, if you don't have the puck, you're not going to generate a lot of penalties and we need to get the puck more."

While the Oilers power play waits to get off the mark, conversely, their penalty killing unit is on a roll.

After giving up a goal on their first short-handed situation of the season last Sunday, the Oilers have gone on to kill 11 consecutive penalties, including a five-minute major towards the end of their encounter against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the past couple of seasons, the Oilers have struggled to kill penalties, but they have found a rhythm this year, rotating through three pairs of forwards on each short-handed situation.

"I think our penalty killing has given us points in each of the two games and has given us a chance to win both games," said Horcoff. "We take pride in it. We're off to a good start, it is only two games in, but we're showing some really good signs out there.

"Special teams is a huge part of the game, if we can have a successful penalty kill, you're giving yourself a chance to win every night. Once the power play gets going and if we can keep the penalty kill where it's at, it should put us in a good situation."

The Oilers penalty killers were bolstered by the fact neither Sidney Crosby, nor Evgeni Malkin were available to the Penguins in the season opener.

If they were, perhaps Ryan Smyth may not have gotten away with taking a five-minute elbowing major towards the end of regulation.

Against the Canucks, they Oilers won't be as fortunate as both Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be in the lineup Saturday.

The twins have traditionally feasted on the Oilers penalty killers. The Sedins are already off to a strong start, each collecting five points in their first four games. Daniel Sedin has also tallied one of the Canucks' three power-play goals so far this season.

"They're obviously a very, very talented duo, probably the best in the league or close to it," said Horcoff. "It'll be a good test for us, we're looking forward to it."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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