Oilers: A question of balance

Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi has been shut out so far this season (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi has been shut out so far this season (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

EDMONTON - Is it too early to ask, seven games into the season when the team has eight points, about a lack of balanced scoring?

Not when the only two story angles this year are either how well the goaltenders and defencemen are playing or how much every forward not named Ryan is struggling to get a goal.

While the Oilers have made finding the back of their net tougher than finding cats in a dog-pound, the other half of their game is being crammed into one basket.

Make that three baskets. Of the 10 goals scored by Edmonton forwards this year, five are from Nugent-Hopkins and four are from the other two Ryans Smyth and Jones.

That leaves 10 other forwards wondering what that red light behind the net is for.

Weve been creating chances, we just havent been executing, said winger Magnus Paajarvi, whos yet to register a point in seven games. But its better that you have really good defence and a solid offence than the other way around because youre going to lose games that way. Weve been earning points lately and thats important.

True, but theres no margin for error on the ledge they walk every night (four straight games with a 1-0 third period lead). The lowest scoring team in the NHL cant stay that way forever, no matter how good their goaltending and defence are.

Obviously we have to generate more offence, said head coach Tom Renney. Weve had our touches and our chances but I think what we need to do is really work hard to get to the paint, make sure its not just about them having to defend the puck, but defend bodies.

Maybe well have to get a Chicklet or two knocked out along the way or get sewn up here and there to figure out thats what weve got to do.

Right now the stats look worse than their faces do. Paajarvi and Eberle have 36 shots between them, and a shooting percentage of 0.

Ive had streaks before a lot longer than this, said Paajarvi. You just have to keep working, keep being patient work on the things that you need to do and not really get frustrated. Its going to come. When you do score a lot of goals and get a lot of points, you dont think, everything just happens, you just have to find that rhythm and that feeling.

Eberle, who scored the NHLs goal of the year in the home opener last season, had four in his first nine games as a rookie, then went 16 games without, then scored four in his next three. So he knows all about the ebbs and flows of a shooter.

It just happens like that, he said. You dont want it to, you want to be a guy whos going to be consistent as my career goes on I want to be a guy who scores every time I get a chance.

Ive had a little bit of tough luck at the start of season so far but at the same time I definitely need to bear down on some of the chances that Ive been getting. Ive been working on it in practice, trying to bear down on stuff out there.

But with the Oilers 3-2-2 and trending up in virtually every category but even-strength goals, theres no urgency to shake things up.

We want an offensive attack, we want it off of hard solid defensive team play, a good counter-attack, good cycle game and zone time, said Renney. Itll come. Well keep hammering away at it.

Im not worried about it all, Eberle said of his drought. Its going to come, and when it does its going to come in bunches. I can tuck two next game, be second on the team in scoring, and you guys will never talk to me about it again.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

TWITTER.com/SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


Videos

Photos