EDMONTON - What was supposed to be a competitive contest between the 28th and 29th ranked clubs in the NHL looked more like a contest between a knee and a groin Friday night.
Not that Anaheim’s knee had very much to aim at on an Oilers team that needn’t have bothered with jock straps in the most glaring display of resignation Rexall Place has witnessed in a long, long time.
The Oilers looked like they have accepted that they’re not good enough, accepted that they’re not strong enough, accepted that they’re going to be a lottery team, accepted that they were going to lose badly at home.
“I don’t see any ice bags in there, I don’t see guys sore from gutting it out to do everything possible to win a hockey game,” said head coach Tom Renney after the 5-0 defeat. “I’m not sure what they (Anaheim) did that was so spectacular. We were just brutal.
“We had a lot of guys take the out.”
No wonder they were booed off their own ice from fans who’ve been conditioned by ownership and management here to accept crappy teams, but not crappy teams that quit.
“It’s an amazing fans base and they have every right to be discouraged,” said Andy Sutton. “I don’t think it’s about the loss, it’s how you lose and we didn’t lose well (Friday night). They have every right to feel that way.”
It was the low point in a season heading straight down hill.
Edmonton’s won just three times in their last 17 starts and have scored two goals in their last three games.
You don’t need Mike Cammalleri to tell you what the Oilers are all about right now.
“It’s tough, especially guys who’ve been here the last few years, to go through the losing,” said Sam Gagner. “It’s just a matter of our habits, trying to turn those around, turn ourselves into a winner.”
“We’re discouraged, there’s no doubt about it,” added Sutton. “Especially because we’ve had some stretches of really solid play, we’ve been building towards something and this was a huge setback for our club.”
Sitting 13th in the West, just three points ahead of the Ducks when the night began, the Oilers said at their morning skate that they didn’t want to be caught from behind.
At least that’s what they said. It’s not how they played.
Aside from Taylor Hall and Gagner there was almost no energy and passion whatsoever.
The Ducks scored the only goal of a defensive first period and while the Oilers didn’t look good, they had to be happy with just a one-goal deficit.
Things blew up badly in the second, though.
The Ducks scored three goals, chased Nokiloa Khabibulin (on his birthday, no less) and Francois Beauchemin beat up Gagner.
And the Oilers seemed OK with all of it.
“After a scrap like that there should have been sign that said ‘show up,’” said Renney, who wonders about the Oilers ability, or willingness to stand up for each other. “I don’t know if they know how to. When something like that happens ... it’s OK, who’s next. There should be a lineup.”
That there was absolutely no response in a blowout game from the rest of the Oilers after Beauchemin worked over Gagner tells you all you need to know about the grit and determination Steve Tambellini has assembled here.
None. Gagner has one more fight this season than Ben Eager.
“Somebody, myself included, should have done something,” said Sutton. “It was 3-0, then 4-0, then 5-0, there’s only the right time at that point. We should have done something there.”
Nobody did anything. All night.
“For a team like that, playing their second game in as many nights to come in and beat us 5-0 is embarrassing,” said Horcoff. “Frustration for us right now is a big factor.”