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Bettering goals-against stays the purpose for Edmonton Oilers

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They got here into the season on a mission to enhance their defensive sport within the hopes of tipping the scales on the finish of the yr.

As an alternative, the Edmonton Oilers have discovered themselves struggling beneath the load of a 2-6-1 document that resembles something however the Stanley Cup contender the pundits prognosticated them as being over the low season.

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And as for fixing the defence, issues have solely gotten worse because the Oilers are averaging 4 goals-against per sport to take a seat proper close to the again of the pack, thirtieth within the league.

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Oh, and it’s not the one space of their sport that has taken steps backward, as their document wholeheartedly signifies.

“It has been 9 video games right here. It has been a tricky stretch, we’re into it as much as our knees,” stated head coach Jay Woodcroft, whose squad faces a Nashville Predators workforce they’ve already crushed as soon as this yr, once they sq. off Saturday (1 p.m.) at Rogers Place. “Now we have the chance to go 3-6-1. Final yr, we had a section that was 3-7.

“It’s a tricky section, however you’ve started working your means out of it.”

And proceed all the way in which to 109 factors for a top-five end to a regular-season in franchise historical past.

Which poses the query, what’s modified to make this Oilers group unable to select up this season the place they left the final one off?

“Now we have the folks to get it completed,” Woodcroft stated. “This workforce’s gained 100 video games. It’s gone to 5 playoff rounds within the final two years.

“Now we have had powerful occasions in these occasions, we’re going via one proper now. It’s about sticking collectively. That’s what I believe.”

In seasons previous, the Oilers may depend on the offensive powerhouse up entrance led by the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to beat many shortcomings on the again finish.

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So, why have goals-against change into such an issue out of the gates this yr?

“Nice query. If I had the reply, I’d in all probability implement it in right here immediately,” stated defenceman Mattias Ekholm. “It’s not the a method we’re getting scored on, I believe there’s many components. The odd sport, it’s the rushes that’s the issue, the odd sport it’s psychological errors or errors or lapses.

“Proper now, we’re not scoring on the tempo the place we are able to, I assume, masks these errors and it’s costing us video games.”

Like Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.

“We had 50 photographs (on purpose) yesterday. We had virtually 100 makes an attempt. We performed actually good in opposition to Calgary,” Ekholm stated of Sunday’s Heritage Basic win. “There’s nonetheless a course of that’s working, it’s simply because it’s the primary 10 video games of the season and everybody’s seeing the win column. No one’s proud of that.

“The room is feeling, regardless that the outcomes haven’t gone our means but, that we’re working towards a course of that can lead us to a section the place we win a bunch of video games and make up for this.”

However the funk the Oilers discover themselves in isn’t only a defensive situation.

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“Clearly, we haven’t been scoring the way in which that we need to, so clearly there’s some frustration there,” Draisaitl stated. “However I believe if we proceed to place pucks on internet like that, as a rule we’ll rating sufficient to win.

“It appears to me prefer it’s extra particular person errors than systematic or something like that. So, I believe individually, I don’t know, we misplaced our sharpness for a second and it looks like each time that occurs it’s at the back of the online.”

That doesn’t imply these Oilers should swiftly begin taking part in mistake-free.

“Errors are going to occur, it’s simply are you able to restrict them to a sure quantity the place you may come out on the great aspect.”

They’re effectively conscious of what they can do, coming off of back-to-back seasons the place they had been solely knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

“Numerous it’s psychological,” stated Draisaitl. “Having the boldness to go on the market to not be afraid to make errors and never be afraid to play aggressive defensively.

“That’s the place the boldness half is available in. Wanting across the room, we’ve obtained plenty of good hockey gamers in right here. This could be a brand new yr however we’ve completed some actually good issues on this league and for one another over the course of some years right here collectively.

“We’ve obtained to proceed to chip away at that and never lose the boldness in who we’re as a gaggle.”

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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