Detroit Red Wings toy with lack-lustre Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton’s 5-0 loss marked the first back-to-back shutouts at home since 2007
EDMONTON - Memo to the Edmonton Oilers: If you’re going to be bad, be bad on the road where your fans aren’t paying big prices to sit through the equivalent of a hockey root canal.
The Oilers’ record of futility at Rexall Place the last season and a month into the current campaign is 13 wins in 45 games after the Detroit Red Wings romped to a 5-0 victory over the well-rested home team on Saturday night.
The Red Wings were playing their third game in four nights on a Western Conference road trip that will see them play at Winnipeg on Monday.
The Oilers, who hadn’t played since Tuesday, put absolutely no heat on Detroit youngster Petr Mrazek in net, throwing just eight shots at the 21-year-old in the first 32 minutes and finished with just 14 in all.
Mrazek, playing his third NHL game, got all the support he needed when Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar scored 27 seconds apart in the fifth minute on Oilers goalie Richard Bachman, who left the game midway through the first with a pulled groin.
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera gave up Jacob Kindl’s second-period shot and two in the third by Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi as the Wings toyed with the Oilers like they were rag dolls and won their third straight game on the road (2-1 at Vancouver and 4-2 at Calgary).
The Oilers, 1-5 at home, have been outscored 17-2 while losing four in a row at Rexall. They’ve dropped five straight overall and been drubbed 20-6 in the goal department.
Edmonton has also been shut out the last two games, having lost 4-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The last time that happened at home was in February/March 2007, when the Oilers lost 3-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes and 5-0 to the Minnesota Wild. The last time they were shut out in back-to-back games was in 2009, at Vancouver on Oct. 25 and against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 27.
If Pat Quinn was still the Oilers’ coach, he’d have called this one a “fly by.” There was no hitting, no fire against the Wings, who are nowhere near the powerhouse they used to be.
“Just not good enough, but it’s all been said,” said Oilers winger Sam Gagner, who sat through a players-only meeting after the Leafs game.
The Oilers can talk the talk, but they can’t or won’t walk the walk.
“We say everything, but it’s the action that matters,” said captain Andrew Ference. “It’s not a league where you can win where guys are trying to do things on their own page.
“It’s a team game for a reason. The team on the other side showed us that tonight.
“You want to turn the page on (the Toronto loss) and you focus on fundamental stuff and none of it soaks in,” he added.
Gagner, playing his second game after breaking his jaw during the pre-season, can’t fathom the Oilers’ 3-10-2 start, with a four-game road trip against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks starting on Tuesday.
Edmonton is 29th in the league, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres, with the Flyers 28th and the Panthers 27th.
“There’s high expectations obviously, every year, coming into a season and there’s hope and optimism, but nothing ever gets done unless the guys in the room do it,” said Gagner. “We haven’t been nearly good enough, obviously. Look at our record. We’ve got a lot to prove to ourselves, first off.”
The Oilers had 14 shots, only 10 by the forwards. They lost 65 per cent (40 of 62) of the faceoffs. Gagner struggled mightily, losing 10 of 11.
Apart from the odd scramble, Mrazek had to make only one or two tough stops. He made a nice glove grab on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a second-period power play.
Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid was gobsmacked by how poorly his club played.
“Not one person can be proud of what he did on the ice,” said Smid. “It’s time to start working for each other. We talk about the right things and go out on the ice and it’s a different team.
“I’m in shock. This is unacceptable for us, especially at home, and you saw the reaction of the fans,” Smid said after they were booed off the ice. “I don’t blame them.
“We have to hold each other accountable and I guess it has to get uncomfortable in here,” he said.
Helm, who played only one game during the lockout season (Jan. 25 against the Wild) because of back problems, scored in his first game since then to give Detroit the lead. He raced in on a breakaway, showing the fastest feet in the NHL, and ripped a shot through Bachman’s legs.
On the next shift, Tatar finished off a juicy rebound of an Andersson shot and buried it past the Oilers’ farmhand goalie.
Bachman stretched on a wide shot off the backboards and stumbled getting back in position in his crease, pulling his groin. He had to be helped off the ice and down the alleyway behind the bench, favouring his left leg after 14 minutes.
LaBarbera, who might have been heading to Oklahoma City in the American Hockey League if Bachman had played well and not been injured because Devan Dubnyk (ankle) is almost ready to come back, made several big stops, but got no help at the other end of the ice.
Dubnyk changed out of a suit after the first period and put on the gear to sit on the bench in case he was needed after Bachman was hurt.
Kindl blew a 35-footer from the side boards past LaBarbera’s blocker in the second period to give Detroit a three-goal cushion in a period where the Oilers had only one shot on Mrazek in the first 12 minutes.
In the third period, Andersson beat Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the slot and banged it past LaBarbera, with Nugent-Hopkins slamming his stick on the top of the net in disgust.
Bertuzzi finished off the scoring on a power play.
Late in the third, Edmonton defenceman Anton Belov got wiped out by teammate Mark Arcobello along the boards and injured his left left leg. He couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he limped to the dressing room. It’s one more for the black-cloud injury-list — forwards Taylor Hall (knee), David Perron (neck), Ryan Smyth (groin) and Jesse Joensuu (ribs) are out.
Cue a return for defencmen Corey Potter or Denis Grebeshkov, who were both just sent down to the minors.
“We have a group that’s dying. They’ve lost their confidence. The best way to get it back is with some success and it starts with one guy pushing back. Then you hope it feeds the rest of the group,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins.
“All of these guys ... every player, every coach, we’ve all at one time have been looked at to be the guy. Whether that’s novice or atom or midget, junior, American Hockey League, NHL. When things are going bad, you have to remember that. And it’s time to stand up.”
Eakins heard the fans vote with their throats and they have that right.
“If you play like this, they will voice their displeasure and it’s the only way they can because they can’t get us one-on-one,” said Eakins.
ON THE BENCH: Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz (groin) missed his first game in the NHL. He played all 48 in the lockout season and the first 14 this fall ... Philip Larsen, recalled from the Barons, took his spot on the roster ... The Oilers decided to play winger Ryan Hamilton, who is getting over a knee injury, rather than Anton Lander. Lander was sent back to Oklahoma City just after recalling him. This is twice in the last six days that Lander has been summoned only to be quickly sent back ... Hamilton crashed into the end boards on a rush on his first shift and was shaken up, but recovered ... The Wings didn’t dress No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard because they don’t want him playing back-to-back games. He played at Calgary on Friday ... Johan Franzen (ill) didn’t play either, along with Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves. Detroit is trying to trade Tootoo to open up some salary-cap space
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