The Edmonton Oilers have a record of 2-2-2 through 6 games this season, and all four loses have been 1 goal games. Two of those loses have come in the shoot-out, and perhaps the most frustrating of them all was last night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild. Edmonton took the lead at 16:06 of the first period on a goal by Ryan Jones, thanks to a perfect pass from Ryan Smyth. They were able to hold that lead, almost for the entire game, until Dany Heatley stole the puck, and buried a goal with less than 2 seconds left in the game. The entire arena was stunned. And it seemed the team was too, as they ended up losing the game in the shoot-out. It was the second shoot-out loss in a week to the Wild. Last Thursday, the Oilers were leading 1-0 before Minnesota tied the game in the second period, and went on to win in the shoot-out. Protecting the lead as been an issue for the Oilers this season. They were ahead of the Calgary Flames 1-0 on Tuesday for most of the game until the Flames scored twice in the third period and held on for the win. Last Saturday vs. the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers held the lead twice, but blew it both times and lost 4-3.
There is certainly going to be a learning curve with this young group, and these experiences will go a long way in their development. Coach Tom Renney was pleased with his team’s performance none-the-less, and feels confident that there is enough time in this early season to correct the little mistakes.
The post-game press conference
The good news for the Oilers was that defenseman Ryan Whitney returned to the line-up this week. He hasn’t played a game in 10 months, after going down with an ankle injury last season. He was rusty in his first game back, and had this to say after the game in Calgary:
“The first period, there would be two guys on me and there would be no passing lanes open,” said Whitney. “You try and prepare yourself (speed), but there were some poor choices by me. I hope I get used to the pace quickly, although some of the guys I talked to said it was a pretty quick game for them, too. “I’m frustrated starting minus-one in my first game, but personally, I have to give myself 10 games and not be too frustrated,” he said. – Edmonton Journal
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini was on Sportsnet the fan 590’s Hockey Central this morning, and expressed his frustration with the late tying goal. Tambellini, like Renney, is confident with the group the have assembled, and is pleased with the leadership on his team, and the mix of veterans and youngsters. When asked about making moves to the current roster he had this to say: “There’s no reason why this hockey club can’t compete for a playoff spot. If it makes sense, we’ll do it.” When asked about Sheldon Souray’s resurgence in Dallas, Tambellini said “I’m happy for Sheldon. He’s got a new start.”