Ladies and Gentlemen: the Edmonton Oilers have left the building. But unlike the King of Rock and Roll, the Oilers did not put on an unforgettable performance in Nashville. Instead, the Oilers dropped their fifth contest in a row and were shut out for the second game in as many nights, as they forfeited six unanswered goals to the Nashville Predators and lost 6-0.
Friday night’s game was also the second straight game the Oilers failed to create enough quality opportunities to generate any powerplays. The Oilers’ best chance came in the first period when Ryan Jones busted into the Predators’ zone on a short-handed breakaway. Jones’ opportunity was turned aside by Pekka Rinne and seconds later on the same Predators’ powerplay, Patric Hornqvist pushed a shot passed Devan Dubnyk after the puck bounced of the backboards in front of the net.
The Oilers were mesmerized by the play of the Predators on Friday. They stood around watching the energetic Predators and were behind 9-1 in shots at one point in the first period. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be the Oilers’ night when David Legwand dumped the puck into the Oilers’ zone from centre ice and beat Dubnyk with a lucky hopper over the goaltender’s shoulder with under two minutes remaining in the opening period.
After the goal, the Oilers seemed to give up all hope. Oilers’ backup goalie Yann Danis replaced Dubnyk to start the second period, but the Oilers continued to play a dreamy style of game, similar to the night before in Detroit. The Oilers had sporadic chances and bursts of energy, but the Predators were too much for the Oilers. The Predators’ defense took it to the Oilers physically and even when the Oilers did get a rare chance to score, Rinne was there shut the door.
Rich Clune, Zach Boychuk and Colin Wilson (two goals) scored the next four goals for the Predators and Rinne turned away all 24 shots for the shutout.
“We’re not scoring goals. We’ve been outscored, outshot, outchanced … you just can’t expect to win any games when you play like that,” Oilers’ defenseman Ladislav Smid expressed to the Edmonton Journal after the embarrassing loss. “We have to wake up here.”
“We should talk about it within the team and ask ourselves what’s going wrong and how we can fix these things, but this was just another embarrassing performance by us. It is unacceptable.”
After a couple decent games to start their current nine-game road trip, the Oilers’ have plummeted down the Western Conference standings. With a record of 8-11-5, the Oilers are only one point away from being in last place in the west and five points back of the final playoff spot. Oilers’ head coach Ralph Krueger indicated to the Edmonton Journal that his team’s current losing skid is a consequence of their unwillingness to drive to the net and losing in this manner is something he will not accept.
“We had been in close games for so long, now we’re starting to lose like this,” Krueger said. “Three of the last four games were just unacceptable. You just have to hope there’s enough pain there that they start driving to the net.”
We will see if the Oilers actually listen to their coach this time when they face the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.