It’s entering the end of November, the National Hockey League season is transitioning through the quarter mark and the Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of their second five-game losing streak already.
On Friday, the Oilers were booed off the ice after a 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Cory Schneider recorded the shutout with a 29-save performance in his 20th consecutive start, which reportedly breaks the club’s old record held by Martin Brodeur.
Goals from Adam Henrique and Tuomo Ruutu less than five minutes apart in the second period were enough for the Devils. Schneider, the workhorse, was solid.
Making matters worse for the Oilers was the loss of forward Benoit Pouliot, who suffered a broken foot blocking a shot and is now out indefinitely.
The Oilers are now at the end of a five-game home stand. It concludes Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, and that could mean even more pain for Edmonton’s fan base.
The Oilers have won only four times on home ice in 12 opportunities to date in the 2014-15 campaign. So yeah, you can understand the fans’ frustrations following yet another disappointing result.
And this once again had the Oilers searching for answers, but saying all the right things.
“What we can control is our desperation and our gamesmanship… The mistakes we made tonight simply can’t happen,” said Taylor Hall, as per the club’s Twitter account.
“That’s the problem with our group right now is that we can’t seem to get the full 60 (minutes),” said head coach Dallas Eakins.
“I don’t question – a lot of nights – their effort. I think that’s a very damning statement against a player, that a player in this league is going to show up and just not try.”
The New Jersey Devils have lost three straight games and while injuries have taken their toll, that’s not something they can afford to hide behind if they want to avoid digging a hole for themselves early.
“We have to stop the bleeding here,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said, per the Star-Ledger. “Whoever is dressed (tonight), whether we have all five of those (injured) guys who are out or whether one or two of them come back, we’ve got to stop the bleeding.”
DeBoer feels the team needs to play at a minimum of .500 while they work through their current batch of significant injuries. More than anything, they want to avoid following in Columbus’ footsteps, which has collapsed with eight straight losses as key players are forced to watch from the sidelines.
Jon Merrill, Adam Henrique and Ryane Clowe didn’t travel with the Devils to Boston for Monday’s game, so obviously none of them will play. Mike Cammalleri (upper body) and Martin Havlat (lower body) might be available though.
The Bruins are also dealing with more than their fair share of injuries, but they have still managed to win their last four games.
Patrick Elias has scored plenty of goals over his lengthy career — 394, to be specific — but he’s currently in the midst of one of his worst slumps, having failed to find the back of the net in 11 straight games.
“It’s frustrating. For me, it is,” Elias said, per NorthJersey.com. “I’m getting chances. I can get a goal probably every game that I looked at it and that’s the way it goes. I don’t know. We’ve just got to keep going, creating chances. Hopefully, it will turn around.”
Since scoring in a season-opening win over Philadelphia, little has gone right for Elias offensively. He has just three points in his last nine games and has struggled to put pucks on net, recording just eight shots on goal over his last six games.
Despite this, head coach Peter DeBoer saw signs for optimism during Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to St. Louis. Elias, playing on a line with Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder, “played great” according to DeBoer — and to be fair, the line would’ve likely been on the scoresheet last night if not for this outstanding save by Jake Allen:
“If he keeps playing like he did tonight,” DeBoer said of Elias, “then he doesn’t have anything to worry about.”