He extended it to 0-3 in Toronto last week when Renney took a shot to the head in the pre-game skate and required several stitches and developed a concussion — which seems to have managed to get worse instead of better.
With Renney finally deciding to remove himself completely from the scene for at least the weekend home games against the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks, Krueger was back behind the bench for another loss Friday night.
“I consider it a great honour to coach the Edmonton Oilers,” the head coach of 21 years, mostly in Europe, said after a 3-1 loss to the Avalanche.
“I’d like to get a win, no question.
“It’s a tough league to get your first goal.
“It’s a tough league for a goalie to get his first win.
“And it’s a tough league for a coach to get his first win.”
It was pointed out to the Winnipeg area native that the loss will still go on Renney’s record even if the head coach was home watching it on TV.
“Sorry, Tom,” he said.
The game was exceedingly disappointing to the fans who had been so royally entertained two nights earlier in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coming of the fabulous, frantic exhibition of fire-wagon hockey two nights earlier and with Colorado being one of the few teams in the NHL the Oilers owned (5-0-2) at home recently, there was some anticipation of some Friday night fun.
But when the headline on the advance out of the morning skate was ‘Oilers look to limit Avalanche’, I guess it was sort of telegraphed.
When the quotes coming out of the morning skate were “can’t go out and have another track meet” and “obviously we need to keep it a little tighter than that last game and make sure we’re playing solid defensively”, I guess it was buyer beware at the ticket window.
I mean, how did that go, anyhow?
Just in case nobody noticed, that was game 57 for the Oilers. There are 25 left. If they (don’t choke on your bacon and eggs here) win all 25 of them, they’d have 100 points in the standings this season.
Last year, Calgary’s 95 wasn’t enough to get into the playoffs. Entertaining the fans at home occasionally isn’t a bad idea at this stage of proceedings.
It was difficult to criticize Krueger for some of the things that Renney has been taking heat over recently that way.
One knock on Renney is the ice time he’s given to unproductive pluggers like Eric Belanger compared to thoroughbreds like Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
Belanger was on the ice for only 14:33 in this one while Eberle was out there for 22:01, Hall for 21:06 and Gagner for 23:04.
“You can’t blame them. They’re out there trying. Maybe in this one they were trying a little bit of the time on their own. Sometimes you have to let the puck do the work,” said Krueger.
You don’t want to hear it but the Oilers as much as they need to entertain also need to learn how to win games like this.
“We’ve had difficulty finding our way to win difficult games,” said Krueger.
“We had trouble getting pucks and bodies to the net. We just didn’t create offence. The power play was very disappointing. There was a lack of execution on the power play,” he said of the unit that has been at the top of the league, especially at home.
The Oilers were 0-for-4 with the man advantage, including a run of four minutes while Ryan O’Byrne served a double minor.
“There was opportunity there to turn the game around. There was no battle,” he said of going to the net and fighting for puck retrieval.
Sounds stupid, but coming off this one the Oilers are looking forward to playing division-leading Vancouver Sunday.
“The top teams seem to bring out the best in us,” he said. “We’re asking for a passion reaction for our fans Sunday.”
And Krueger is asking for a win.