Oilers offence clicking on power play

EDMONTON _ Scoring goals has not been a problem for the young Edmonton Oilers so far in this abbreviated season. How they’re scoring, however, is a bit of an issue.

EDMONTON _ Scoring goals has not been a problem for the young Edmonton Oilers so far in this abbreviated season.

How they’re scoring, however, is a bit of an issue.

With the likes of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ales Hemsky and No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov, it was safe to expect that the Oilers would have an impressive offence this season.

So far that has proved to be true. The Oilers have scored 15 goals in five games, and with three wins they sit atop the Northwest Division.

The problem is, only three of those goals have been scored five-on-five. Monday night all four of their goals in a 4-1 win over Colorado came on the power play.

Only one of Edmonton’s three even-strength goals has had any impact on a game’s outcome. Yakupov scored with five seconds left in the third period against Los Angeles last Thursday to force overtime, where the Oilers won with a power-play goal.

Their other five-on-five goals were scored by Hall, late in a 6-3 loss to San Jose, and by Gagner, with two seconds left in a 4-3 loss in Calgary.

“The power play has been awesome, creating a lot of goals,’’ Eberle said prior to the team heading out on a three-game road trip that will see them play Wednesday in Phoenix, Thursday in San Jose and Saturday in Colorado. “When you’re struggling five-on-five it’s great to have that. The five-on-five goals will come, but in the meantime if we’re scoring (power-play goals) and we’re winning games you don’t have to worry about it.’’

That’s certainly the attitude of the players: why worry about even-strength goals when they’re scoring enough on the power play to win three of five games?

“If we were losing games it would be an issue but right now we’re winning games with the power play and keeping the puck out of our net,’’ said Eberle, who has all three of his goals on the power play. “It doesn’t effect us in this locker-room. We’re winning games, but if we weren’t it would be an issue for sure.’’

The Oilers have been using their speed to force opponents to take penalties. Edmonton has had 28 power-play opportunities and are scoring at a 36-per-cent rate with the man advantage, second only to San Jose.

The young guns remain confident the even-strength goals will come when needed.

“We feel that if we take our power-play game into our five-on-five game eventually it’s just going to turn out for us,’’ Hall said. “We do feel like we’re creating a lot of chances and getting a lot of shots … it’s just not going in for us five-on-five. Maybe our power play is not going to be clicking at one point but if we can keep spending time in their end eventually pucks are going to start going in.’’

Gagner agreed the players have to take their power-play play and mentality into their five-on-five game, and that means showing a little more grit around the opposition goal.

“We have to take a page out of what we’re doing on the power play,’’ he said. “We’re scoring goals by getting the puck to the net and creating traffic. That has to be our mentality five-on-five. We were doing that at certain times five-on-five and creating chances, but for whatever reason it’s not going in. I don’t think we can look at it too much. The main thing is winning games and it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it.’’

However, he said, there will be times when the need that five-on-five to produce goals “so it’s important for us to shore that up.’’

NOTES: The Oilers put backup goaltender Yann Danis on waivers Tuesday, indicating that veteran Nikolai Khabibulin, who underwent hip surgery last April, is ready to return to the roster. … Yakupov played his fifth NHL game Monday night meaning he is no longer eligible to return to his junior team in Sarnia, Ont.

Just Posted

BILD says not the time for higher permit fees in Red Deer

Construction industry is hard hit by slow economy

Bighorn Country telephone town hall for Red Deer area set for Wednesday

Residents can phone in from 6:30-7:30 p.m. to hear about the project or ask questions

Central Alberta real estate sales follow a familiar pattern

2018 house sale numbers mirror 2017 in central Alberta

Red Deer hospital settles dispute, welcomes neonatal nurse

A dispute over nursing levels at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency… Continue reading

Drumheller-Stettler MLA quits UCP

Rick Strankman to sit as Independent

Lucic, Kassian each score twice to power Oilers in 7-2 win over Sabres

EDMONTON — Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian each scored a pair of… Continue reading

Big Valley family gives back to community

Donates $24,560 to Stettler Health Foundation and Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital

Giordano notches three points to lead Flames in 7-1 blowout of Coyotes

CALGARY — Flames captain Mark Giordano celebrated his 800th NHL game in… Continue reading

All-female team out to prove women racers aren’t a gimmick

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every racing series in the world is full… Continue reading

‘Game of Thrones’ final season to debut on April 14

NEW YORK — “Game of Thrones” fans, get ready. HBO announced Sunday… Continue reading

Kylie Jenner loses record for most-liked Instagram post

NEW YORK — Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement is no longer the most-liked… Continue reading

Study shows black bears need a variety of salmon species to be healthy

VANCOUVER — Black bears need access to different species of salmon rather… Continue reading

Trade war’s wounded: Companies improvise to dodge cost hikes

WASHINGTON — In Rochester, New York, a maker of furnaces for semiconductor… Continue reading

Most Read