On a day when the Toronto Maple Leafs finally took Ron Wilson by the hand for a one-way walk out behind the barn, Edmonton Oilers fans filing out of Rexall Place had to be wishing someone would show them the same mercy after witnessing a coma-inducing 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars.
Result aside for an outfit that’s dropped six of its last seven games on home ice, you have to work the memory banks overtime to think of a game this disjointed and devoid of any offensive flow or fluidity of attack. It’s as if every player on the ice slipped into the Belanger Triangle. Hands of wood all around. Line rushes resembled group seizures.
At one point, after watching for five minutes without looking away to give my brain a rest, I started to hallucinate. I could have sworn I saw Lennart Petrell playing on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Tom Renney would have to lose his concussed mind to put that trio together, no?
Inept on the attack in a 5-2 loss to the stifling St. Louis Blues Wednesday, a game in which they managed just 24 shots on goal, the Oilers got even less done against the Stars, directing just 20 shots at Kari Lehtonen, spoiling his shutout bid when Sam Gagner hacked a puck past him in the final minute.
Against the Blues, the Oilers had just one power play. They didn’t have a single man-advantage against the Stars. For a team that has struggled so mightily on the power play in recent seasons, the Oilers are leaning too heavily on it now. They’re getting almost nothing accomplished at even strength.
Perhaps we’ll see Darcy Hordichuk alongside Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle against the Ducks in Anaheim on Monday. Maybe, if Renney really wants to take a flyer, how about, lemme see, Linus Omark or Magnus Paajarvi? Or is that getting really silly?
WHILE I’M AT IT
— I don’t know about you, but I found it disconcerting when Taylor Hall flinched in pain after tweaking his left shoulder early on a hit by Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric.
That’s the same shoulder Hall injured on a hit by Ryan Wilson against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. Against Fistric, as was the case with Wilson, Hall tried to brace himself with his left arm and ended up heading to the bench with arm hanging by his side. While Hall finished the game and Renney didn’t seem concerned during his post-game availability, I’m thinking Edmonton’s training staff should be keeping an eye on it.
— As you likely already know, Ales Hemsky spent a fair bit of time after practice this morning doing extra work. Hemsky, usually one of the first players off the ice, worked on taking some one-timers.
Whether that was Hemsky’s call or was induced by a talk from the coaching staff or management, maybe both, the sight of him hanging around has been a rarity in the decade he’s been an Oiler. When a player as gifted as Hemsky has just five goals, it’s time well spent.
— While it seems NHL officials are pocketing the whistles down the stretch, which is of particular consequence to a team like the Oilers that has relied so heavily on the power play, bitching about non-calls, as Renney alluded to tonight, won’t change anything. Shut up and play.
— Almost as mind-boggling as Petrell playing with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle: Jason Gregor is getting married Saturday and I will witness it with my own two eyes. Congratulations, Gregor.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.