Oilers' lesson learned
Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers centre Sam Gagner (L) battles with Phoenix Coyotes right wing Mikkel Boedker of Denmark in the first period of their NHL game in Glendale, Arizona, November 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Rick Scuteri)
PHOENIX - PHOENIX — The Edmonton Oilers knew they weren’t going to run the table on the remainder of the season.
But now that their six-game winning streak has come to an end, the club is anxious to get back on the right track, trying to ensure one defeat doesn’t spiral into a losing skid
That’s easier said than done as the Oilers move on to play in four of the toughest buildings in the National Hockey League, starting in Montreal against the Canadiens on Tuesday.
“It was inevitable, you know you’re eventually going to lose a game,” said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert following a 4-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday. “How you lose it is the way we’re looking at it. We didn’t have the first two periods that we wanted to, we weren’t dictating the play, we weren’t doing the things that we were doing during the winning streak.”
The Oilers were outplayed through the first two periods in Phoenix, before finding their skating legs in the third. Yet it wasn’t enough to overcome a two-goal deficit.
“It took us being down two goals in the third period before we started skating, using our speed and doing the things that create offence for us,” Gilbert said. “They definitely outskated us in the first couple of periods. Our neutral-zone play wasn’t very good, they were skating right through us and we had too many turnovers. We were trying to make too many cute plays instead of just getting the puck up and trying to get it deep.”
The Oilers had credited the ability to do the small things properly for their longest winning streak in nine years. They’ll try to clean up their game heading into Montreal.
“We have to learn from (Saturday’s) game,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We’ll work on that in practice — we’ll purge the loss. We’ll talk about the right things we need to do if we’re going to get back on a roll again.
“It’s a great challenge. You build a season. You build as much off defeats and frustrations and tough nights as you do as off the exact opposite of that, so we’ll see what we’re made of.”
The Oilers were beginning to make believers of those around the league by putting an impressive run together that saw them knock off some formidable opponents.
They’ll face their toughest test to date heading into Boston, Detroit and Chicago following their encounter against the Canadiens. “It’s going to be a challenge, they are all good teams, they are fun buildings to play in and you have to be ready to play right from the drop of the puck,” Gilbert said. “This is a tough road trip. We started out the way we wanted to start out but then we got away from the things that we needed to do. We just have to take what we can from this game, learn from it and play a full 60 minutes against the teams coming up.”
As is usually the sentiment facing a tough stretch, the Oilers are taking the one game at a time approach.
They’re not looking too far beyond their next opponent.
“We’ll pay attention to the next game,” smiled Renney. “It’s Montreal right?”
“Our guys are pretty good at that. One thing about this group so far, is that they haven’t gotten caught up in how they’re doing and all the things that are going their way to self-destruct.
“I’m excited about the fact that we have a chance to correct ourselves off a tough loss and we also get a chance to see what we’re made of.”