Oilers’ offence goes missing

Getting blown out by the Toronto Maple Leafs was not how the Edmonton Oilers wanted to start a six-game, 10-day road trip. The performance caught coach Todd Nelson off-guard after what he thought amounted to two days of strong preparation. Perhaps the lack of offence against the Leafs, and a few days earlier in a shutout loss at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, could have been anticipated. The Oilers have been without left-wingers Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot, who have combined for almost a quarter of their goals this season.

TORONTO — Getting blown out by the Toronto Maple Leafs was not how the Edmonton Oilers wanted to start a six-game, 10-day road trip. The performance caught coach Todd Nelson off-guard after what he thought amounted to two days of strong preparation.

Perhaps the lack of offence against the Leafs, and a few days earlier in a shutout loss at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, could have been anticipated. The Oilers have been without left-wingers Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot, who have combined for almost a quarter of their goals this season.

“That’s an excuse, right? We’re not going to use it, but it is reality: We do miss those guys,” alternate captain Matt Hendricks said Saturday night after the 5-1 loss.

“They play big minutes for us and are big offensive guys for us. But we’ve got to find ways to put pucks in the net.”

Toronto kid Luke Gadzic finally did with 2.3 seconds left, but that only functioned to ruin James Reimer’s shutout bid. It was the only goal in two games without Hall and Pouliot, who each have 11 this season.

Pouliot, out with an undisclosed injury, skated in a track suit by himself at Air Canada Centre Saturday morning and felt “not bad,” according to Nelson. Hall, who has missed five of the past six games with a left ankle injury, isn’t ready to skate yet, the coach said.

It’s unclear if Pouliot will be available for Monday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils, but at least he remains on the road trip. Hall returned to Edmonton on Sunday to undergo more tests, the team said.

Without Hall and Pouliot, the Oilers still should have the offensive talent to put up some goals. Top-line right-winger Jordan Eberle almost scored a couple of times against the Leafs but couldn’t cash in.

“That was one of the more frustrating nights,” Eberle said. “In the second period I had a breakaway to make it 2-1, hit the post, they go down and score. I had a chance in the third period, got hooked a bit and they go down and score again. It wasn’t going in for us and going in for them.”

More of an issue for the Oilers was their defensive play, according to captain Andrew Ference, who wasn’t happy with how he and his teammates were slow to react defensively and didn’t move their feet.

That’s usually not a recipe for success, especially on the road, where Edmonton will be for a while now with games coming up at the Devils, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets.

“You’re playing against good players and you have to do your job and take care of your own game to have a chance,” Ference said. “We didn’t do that. We stood around, we watched, we glided around the ice and they took full advantage of it.”

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

Just Posted

Justice Anne Molloy, from top left, John Rinaldi, Dr. Scott Woodside and accused Alek Minassian are shown during a murder trial conducted via Zoom videoconference in this courtroom sketch on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Verdict expected today in Toronto van attack trial

Alek Minassian admitted to planning and carrying out the attack on April 23, 2018

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home in Vancouver to attend a court hearing, Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Trump comments on trade negotiations with China take centre stage in Meng case

Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s airport more than two years ago

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Commissioner Roger Goodell talks about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award during the NFL Honors ceremony as part of Super Bowl 55 Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Annual NFL women’s forum enhancing career opportunities

When Sam Rapoport envisioned conducting virtually the NFL’s fifth annual Women’s Career… Continue reading

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020), speaks during a news conference with Toshiro Muto, left, CEO of Tokyo 2020, after a council meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP)
Fans from abroad unlikely for postponed Tokyo Olympics

Olympics scheduled to open on July 23

FILE - Singer Jhene Aiko poses for a portrait on Dec. 7, 2020, in Los Angeles. Aiko will host the 63rd GRAMMY Awards on March 14. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Jhene Aiko to host Grammy Award premiere ceremony

63rd annual Grammy ceremony set for March 14

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault holds a press conference in Ottawa on November 3, 2020. The Heritage Department is committing $40 million to a “COVID-safe events fund” designed to encourage arts and cultural plans to move forward in the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Heritage minister unveils COVID-19 events fund for arts and cultural sector

Financial support tops out at $100,000 per eligible applicant

opinion
Opinion: Crisis in long-term care must include data-driven change

More than 19,000 people in Canada have died from COVID-19 – more… Continue reading

The Dawe family home in the Michener Hill subdivision in Red Deer. This house was designed and built by Robert G. Dawe, a local engineer, in 1911 and has remained in the family ever since. (Contributed photo)
Michael Dawe: 65 years of Red Deer history

As a major milestone birthday looms, I thought that it might be… Continue reading

Dallas Stars' Mark Pysyk (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) compete for control of a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) grabs a loose puck as Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot (8) and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) battle for the rebound during first-period NHL hockey action Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Most Read