Oilers’ coach McLellan: ‘We had some passengers … and the passengers let the rest of the group down’

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Currently 28th in the NHL’s overall standings, the Edmonton Oilers will go into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak capped with a 4-1 defeat to the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The Oilers, now without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the long term due to a broken hand, don’t play again until Feb. 2, when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Perhaps there is reason for at least a little bit of optimism on the injury front.

The 19-year-old sensation Connor McDavid, out since Nov. 3, had been held out of the lineup despite practicing because the team felt he wasn’t ready to return prior to the break. But Edmonton has 10 days in between games, so it will be interesting to see if McDavid is ready for that first game back against Columbus.

As for Saturday’s effort, well, head coach Todd McLellan wasn’t exactly pleased with some players in his lineup.

“We had some guys that really came and participated and were hard and had an impact on the game, and then we had some passengers,” he told reporters.

“And the passengers let the rest of the group down. And that’s what we get. When we’re as thin as we are right now, we can’t have it.”