Oilers struggling for answers after dominating in another defeat

Juuse Saros made 46 saves as the Nashville Predators beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-0.

“I don’t think it’s fair, this game.”

Patrick Maroon has been around a bit. Played 300-some games, scored his share in Anaheim and Edmonton. Had his ups, had his downs.

But this? He’s never lived through anything quite like what’s happening in Edmonton right now, where the Oilers dominated Nashville for most of the night Thursday yet lost 4-0.

They outshot the Predators 46-23, but couldn’t beat backup Juuse Saros even once. Kind of like the other night in Toronto, where they walked the Maple Leafs all night long and watched backup Curtis McElhinney stop all 41 shots they fired in a 1-0 loss.

“I’ve been around the game for a long time now, and it’s a weird, weird game,” began Maroon, in a post-game address that had a scent of Phil Esposito back in ‘72. “You’re going to go through times where you shouldn’t win, but you do. And you’re going to go through times when you should have won by a lot and don’t win.

“Let’s put it this way: They had eight shots on net,” and a 3-0 lead late in the second period, Maroon said. “They didn’t have a chance, five-on-five. I couldn’t even tell you to a time where they spent time in our zone, till right at the end of the game.”

Look, we can punch some holes in Edmonton’s game Thursday, one of those nights that takes Corsi and renders it as fake news. Not enough net-front traffic; poor finish; bad coverage in front of helpless goalie Laurent Brossoit.

But let’s stick with this theme for a bit, if only because Maroon’s soliloquy was so heartfelt.

“It’s weird. We score seven goals, then the next game we score zero. Then the next game we score six, and the next game, zero,” Maroon said. “I don’t know if God is punishing us right now? I don’t have any words.

“I know the fans are frustrated, and the media are looking for answers. But the guys, the last four games that’s the best hockey we’ve played in a long time.”

And they went 2-2 in those games.

They’re the Corsi kings, these Oilers, second in the entire National Hockey League in shot-attempt percentage heading into Thursday’s game. Likely leading this morning.

What’s that worth? Well, for Edmonton, it’ll be something to talk about on the golf course in early April, because its playoff chances are positively ghostly at this point.

But we’ll warn you now, don’t say that to Maroon.

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“Right now, we’re trending in such a good direction,” he said, knowing that those words will ring pretty hollow in Edmonton this morning. “A lot of people are counting us out. In this room, we’re not counting anyone out.

“I’ve been on teams …” he continued. “Anaheim — we had the worst start, made the playoffs, and finished first in the division. All you have to do is get in. Then you see what happens. Our mentality is, we’re going to get in. We know. We’re doing the right things. Every line is buzzing around, we’re all having chemistry… .”

And a good team like Nashville — maybe the best team in hockey right now — walks into your barn and has you beat in eight shots on goal. The shots were 24-4 for Edmonton when the Preds opened the scoring. And, it must be said, this wasn’t a goaltending issue for Edmonton.

The only serious action Brossoit saw were 10-bell, no-prayer chances. Meanwhile Saros was clearly excellent, but never saw an Oilers scoring chance of the pedigree that three of the first four Preds goals were.

Said Nashville’s Roman Josi, whose club was playing the second game of a back-to-back: “We didn’t play our best, but we worked hard and found a way to score timely goals and to win the game. It speaks well for our team.”

You can turn that quote all the way around, and it applies perfectly to Edmonton.

And the bad news?

With Devan Dubnyk injured, the Oilers will see the backup in Minnesota Saturday.

Gulp.