EDMONTON – Slaughtered 5-0 by the Winnipeg Jets, then bludgeoned to the same 5-0 tune by the Los Angeles Kings – in consecutive home games – the Edmonton Oilers season is swirling the bowl this morning.
We’ve found the chart that says they have a prayer, and you’ll see it below. But the way the Oilers are playing?
|Team||Through Date||Conference||Seed||Points||No. 8 Points||Difference|
|St. Louis Blues||12/31/2008||Western||15||31||39||-8|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||12/31/2013||Eastern||13||38||45||-7|
If you can see a team able to play .667 hockey for the second half of the season, you’ve got better eyes than I, my friend.
Tuesday night a familiar flaw was first star at Rogers Place, as the Oilers’ historically horrid penalty killing unit allowed three goals in a five-minute major penalty, ensuring Edmonton’s fourth straight loss since the Christmas break.
With the score 1-0 for L.A. and just five seconds to play in the second period, Edmonton’s Pat Maroon was given a match penalty and ejected for a head shot on Kings defenceman Drew Doughty.
By the time Maroon left the box at 4:55 of the third period, the score was 4-0. Game over.
How about that penalty-killing unit head coach Todd McLellan?
“It just sucks the life out of us. It sucks the life out of us,” he repeated. “We were OK for two periods. We made a mistake and they scored. The major penalty, it sucked the life out of us.”
This morning, the Oilers’ penalty killing unit has a 55.6 per cent efficiency rate on home ice. The 2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs posted the worst ever home-ice PK number with a mark of 69.4 per cent at home.
That’s almost 15 points south of the worst number ever turned in by an NHL club. That’s not just bad. It’s slapstick bad.
Overall, the Oilers kill penalties at a 70.8 per cent clip, dead last in the NHL. It’s reason to question pretty much everything about this team: Commitment, personnel, smarts, coaching, the GM who neglected this area.
You name it and it doesn’t work where the penalty kill is concerned.
“We’re in it, all game long, get a five-minute penalty against, and they get three out of it,” said Milan Lucic, who doesn’t kill penalties. “Too many games this year we’ve talked about or PK not getting it done. I’m not here callin’ out the PK, but that’s the reality of what happened tonight.”
The hit on Doughty was deserving of a match penalty, even if both players deemed it an accident post-game.
“I’ve known Maroon for a long time,” Doughty said. “He’s just trying to finish a hit. I don’t know that he meant to try and hurt me. I forgive him.
“When stuff like that happens, your team just comes together,” he added. “Scoring three goals on the power play to really shove it up their butts was awesome.”
Connor McDavid was held pointless again Tuesday, the first time in his NHL career he’s gone three straight games without a point. He was by far the best Oiler Tuesday, but these days that’s like being the least scandalous Kardashian. It’s not worth much.
Meanwhile, Leon Draisaitl had another stinker of a game. He’s not been good of late, at a time when his offence and leadership is required.
“Like a lot of our players,” McLellan said, “we expect more from him.”
“It’s been the story too often,” Mark Letestu said of the woeful penalty-killing unit. “That being said, we didn’t score any goals tonight. I’m sick of tipping my hat to good goalies. We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Jonathan Quick was fantastic in the shutout, stopping 32 shots, plenty of a high quality.
In other news, Pacific Division foes Anaheim, Las Vegas, San Jose and, of course, Los Angles all won games Tuesday night.
And the golf courses will, hopefully, open early in Northern Alberta come spring.