Oilers Shark-bit

Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry collides with Sharks forward Benn Ferriero at Rexall Place in...

Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry collides with Sharks forward Benn Ferriero at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., March 12, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

EDMONTON - With the playoff race tightening and Calgary, Los Angeles, Colorado and Phoenix praying for a San Jose loss in Edmonton, the Oilers widened their scope in a big way Tuesday night.

They managed to disappoint fans in five cities instead of just one.

And totally piss off their coach.

Tom Renney, who’s been maddeningly patient with a group that’s been brutal for months, finally lost it after a tepid 3-2 home ice loss to the woeful Sharks.

“It’s really hard (to win) if you don’t put out enough,” he seethed, after lighting into the players in a post-game meeting.

“It’s almost impossible. Problem No. 1 is playing not to lose. Problem No. 2 is two power play goals for your opponent. Problem No. 3 is deciding it’s just too hard.”

Renney says he’s tired of people taking short cuts and easy ways to the final buzzer, at the expense of the team and the fans.

“It doesn’t take many for the wrong approach, the wrong attitude, the wrong give a s--t to make its way through your dressing room,” he said.

“It doesn’t take many guys at all. We have a few people who have to look in the mirror here because this is unacceptable.

“You’re the Edmonton Oilers, you’re a millionaire, you have an opportunity to play the game … Suck it up and play hockey.”

There seems to be an acceptance in the Oilers dressing room that, because it’s a rebuild, they don’t have to work as hard as everybody else, don’t have to hate losing as much as everybody else, don’t have to win unless it’s going to come easily.

So they don’t.

“The responsibility for playing ultimately becomes theirs,” said Renney. “The game plan is my responsibility completely, I completely accept that. If it was that hard to do I would stand here and tell you that what I want them to do is too tough. Well, it’s not. It’s hockey.”

The Sharks, who came to Edmonton with two wins in their last 13 games, leapfrogged the Flames and Kings into ninth.

The Oilers remain in 29th. Whether that’s as embarrassing to them as it is to the people who support them is a question that shouldn’t have to be asked. But it is.

“The urgency level definitely needs to be higher in this room,” said Taylor Hall, the team leader in consistent passion and effort. “It’s not easy to play without a chance at the playoffs, but we get paid a lot of money, we have pretty good lives, we have to be expected to come out and perform every night regardless of the situation.

“Even though we’re in 29th we still want to play well for our fans who come out and see us every night.”

In front of another sellout for some reason, the Oilers fell behind twice, 1-0 and 2-1, and when the Sharks went up 3-2 in the third Edmonton didn’t have an answer.

“We can’t just go through the motions,” said Ryan Whitney. “I remember my rookie year in Pittsburgh we had a bad team that finished 29th, but we won a lot of games down the stretch, and that kind of led into the next year.

“Games like this one are the closest we’re going to get to playoff games. We have to be ready for them and compete harder.”

Yes, the Sharks are in a desperate chase for eighth, but that doesn’t mean the Oilers, who’ve lost eight of their last nine at home, shouldn’t be able to mix in the odd win.

“They’re playing not to lose,” said Renney. “If you’re going to fall, fall forward, lose going after games and understand that the ebb and flow is something you have to come with and learn from and go after it. It’s interesting who does that on a nightly basis, the guys who go after it every single time.”

And who doesn’t.

LATE HITS: Edmonton’s penalty kill has been leaking some Oil of late. It’s given up eight goals in the last eight games, on 22 chances.

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ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca


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