Oilers brace for Capital showdown

As match-ups go, the suddenly struggling Edmonton Oilers couldn’t find a less favourable one than today’s showdown against the Washington Capitals if they tried.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers can expect to be under siege tonight against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers can expect to be under siege tonight against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

EDMONTON — As match-ups go, the suddenly struggling Edmonton Oilers couldn’t find a less favourable one than today’s showdown against the Washington Capitals if they tried.

Losers of four straight games at Rexall Place after a 6-3 loss to Nashville Thursday, the Oilers have slipped to 8-7-2 at home. One of the main reasons for that is they can’t keep the puck out of their own net. Edmonton ranks 25th in the NHL with 109 goals against.

So what do the Oilers get in Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals? Nothing less than a team with the second-best road record in the NHL at 11-5-3 and a high-powered offence that has scored a league-leading 124 goals.

“They (Washington) have three lines of skill, three lines of guys who can really put up points,” said Shawn Horcoff. “I think they’ve got five or six 10-goal scorers already. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.

“It’s breakdowns in the defensive zone that are costing us right now. They’re breakdowns that are resulting in prime offensive chances, not just second or third opportunities.”

When the Oilers reeled off five straight wins on the road with victories in Detroit, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, it looked like they’d have some momentum with four of their last five games before the Christmas break at home.

Key mistakes in 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday and more of the same as the Oilers blew a 2-0 lead in the loss to the Predators have changed all that.

“Obviously, we’re not happy about the way we’re playing right now,” said goaltender Jeff Deslauriers. “But we played well on the road and we know we’re capable of playing like that. We have to get back into that mentality. It’s up to us to upgrade our play. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

With Nikolai Khabibulin out with a back injury since Nov. 18, Deslauriers has made 13 straight starts. While Deslauriers was on top of his game during the win streak on the road, he wasn’t very sharp against Los Angeles or Nashville.

Suffice to say, a repeat of the same mental mistakes, turnovers and untimely defensive lapses against the likes of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin could produce truly ugly results.

“He presents challenges,” defenceman Steve Staios said of Ovechkin. “He’s looking for offence all the time, so you’ve got to be aware every time he’s on the ice. Any time you play with that physicality, it brings a different element. As a top player, he brings every facet of the game.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

A recent investigation by the RCMP Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit led to the arrests of 24 people. (Contributed photo)
24 people arrested following RCMP investigation in central Alberta

Twenty-four people are facing a combined 235 charges following an investigation by… Continue reading

Photo from Town of Sylvan Lake Facebook page
Sylvan Lake communities band together on development plan

Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan expected to be approved next spring

Tribe restaurant owner Paul Harris, left, consults with manager Brandon Bouchard about how to proceed under pandemic rules that make it hard for eateries to be profitable. (Contributed photo).
New pandemic rules deemed workable for Red Deer retailers

Stricter COVID-19 reduction measures introduced in lead-up to Christmas

Quentin Lee Strawberry
Man accused in 2019 Red Deer murder will stay behind bars

Quentin Strawberry going to trial next year on second-degree murder charge

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

FILE - In this March 26, 2006 file photo, former soccer player Diego Maradona smokes a cigar as he watches Argentina's first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at his home in Buenos Aires. He was 60. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

In this July 1, 2020, photo, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen poses for a photo. Larsen is a sports writer, but with much of that world sidelined during the pandemic he's been digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. So when he found himself with a cache of spare change, partially from his childhood piggy bank, he knew plenty of people could use it. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, a view of a 'Matterhorn-Express' gondola lift in front of Matterhorn mountain in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland. Restrictions to slow the curve of coronavirus infections have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)
As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, actor John Boyega, right, pose with Star Wars characters during the Japan Premiere of their latest film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Tokyo. Boyega stars in Steve McQueen’s “Red White and Blue,” the third film in the director’s anthology of West Indian life in London from the ‘60s through the ’80s. The five-film series will debut Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

The Hockley Motel in Mono, Ont., is shown in this undated handout photo. An Ontario motel that served as a backdrop for the beloved CBC sitcom "Schitt's Creek" is up for sale. The Hockley Motel in Mono, about an hour's drive northwest of Toronto, was listed for $2 million today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Colliers International
Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Most Read