The Edmonton Oilers know they must improve on defense if they
are to end their longest losing streak of the season.
The Winnipeg Jets exposed those deficiencies in a season-opening
win at Edmonton, but return to town as a dejected bunch.
The Oilers held a team meeting after their losing streak reached
six and will try to end that slide Monday night against the
Edmonton (11-24-3) will try to avoid losing seven in a row for
the first time since a 0-8-3 stretch March 8-31, 2011. Coach Dallas
Eakins held a lengthy team meeting after Saturday’s 6-0 home loss
to St. Louis and blasted his players publicly post-game.
One day later, Eakins made sure to get his message across at
practice that the Oilers must improve their league-worst 3.47
“Every player’s game has to start with defense,” Eakins said.
“If the other team doesn’t score, we cannot lose the game. That’s a
fact. And that has to be your mind-set and if you play good
defense, then your opportunities arise.”
Edmonton’s power play is also 0 for 14 during this slide.
Winnipeg (16-17-5) began the season with a 5-4 road victory over
the Oilers behind two assists apiece from Mark Scheifele and Dustin
The Jets arrive back in Edmonton on a 2-4-1 slide following
Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Vancouver. They felt unlucky after a tightly
played contest in which the Canucks held a 25-22 edge in shots.
“To lose that game is a game we felt that we could have won,”
coach Claude Noel said. “We weren’t able to close it out or push
Scheifele assisted on Evander Kane’s power-play goal to stretch
his point streak to six games, totaling three goals and five
assists in that span.
The Jets, now 8 for 24 on the power play in their last six
games, fell for the first time in six games with defenseman Zach
Bogosian in the lineup.
“We have to make sure our energy level is good for tomorrow,”
Bogosian said. “It’s tough not getting a point, not getting the two
points but we gotta put that behind us and make sure we’re looking
forward to Edmonton.”
Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves Sunday, but he’s started on
consecutive nights just once. Backup Al Montoya has won his last
three starts and has never faced Edmonton.
Eakins will choose between Ilya Bryzgalov and Devan Dubnyk for
an Oilers team that has been blanked in two of its last three
The coach is leaning on newcomers like captain Andrew Ference to
provide leadership for a franchise that has failed to reach the
postseason in its past seven seasons.
“I think about the situation here is that there’s been years of
disappointment and it’s not flicking a light switch, as we’re
finding out,” Ference said.
Oilers forward Ryan Jones did not practice Sunday. Jones,
however, could return after he sat out against the Blues since he
was knocked unconscious in a collision with Ference in Saturday’s