Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Nashville Predators' Nick Spaling (R) battles for the puck with Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (L) during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Nashville, Tennessee March 25, 2013.

HARRISON MCCLARY/Reuters

When they lost on Monday, they said it was so "painful," it hurt them to their "soul." When they lost on Wednesday, their wounded refrain was: "It's disappointing … very disappointing, a tough loss to swallow."

Pained, soul-struck, disenchanted, the Edmonton Oilers are running out of ways to describe their emotional state as quickly as they've gone from playoff contender to a team with a serious case of the outs.

Ten days ago, a season-best five-game win streak had the Oilers thinking eighth place in the Western Conference. Since then, four consecutive losses have sent them speeding Thelma and Louise-like to the edge of a high cliff.

Story continues below advertisement

With six of its last eight games at home, including Saturday's tilt against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton has to win all it can while hoping the clot of teams ahead of it somehow comes away with next to no points, a virtual impossibility that has the players saying the only thing they can. "There's nothing we can do but come out and produce," forward Taylor Hall said, "against Calgary and against those other teams."

That they stopped producing when all was going so well is the question that should hound the Oilers through the off-season.

During their win streak, the Oilers scored 25 times and allowed just seven goals. They were hitting and moving, flash and dash. They pushed the play from the opening faceoff to game's end. In their last victory, an 8-2 flogging of the Flames, they shrugged off a 2-0 disadvantage with speed and confidence. Hall finished with a resounding five points.

But like his linemates, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Hall has lost his touch. The Oilers' top trio has zero points in its last four games and, as Hall admitted, that not only makes it difficult for the team, it "makes it hard not to feel some kind of pressure from that."

Dealing with pressure situations remains a part of the young Oilers development. This is the first time in three years they've been in a playoff fight this late in a season. They're facing determined, desperate opposition every other night. Their top players are drawing extra attention and tighter checking. What the Oilers are being taught is how to cope with the emotional highs and lows of a close game.

Sometimes they've been able to deal with the strain. Lately, a missed scoring chance or a bad goal against has been enough to rattle their faith.

"When we get momentum, we're very good with it," Edmonton head coach Ralph Krueger said. "In a game where the ball falls on the other side and we have to recover, we struggle. There's a level of frustration that comes in that we need to learn to manage. The patience that comes in a game evolving through 60 minutes is still not at the level we'd like it to be at.

Story continues below advertisement

"That's just continuing to mature. The only thing that gives you that confidence is a longer period of winning or having success. That's part of the in and out we're going through."

With the big line not scoring, other problems have popped up. Only Nail Yakupov has provided any semblance of secondary scoring. The veterans, such as captain Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky, have been unable to produce with any regularity. [The oft-injured Hemsky has one goal in his last 19 games while Smyth has gone goalless in his last 24.] That's made it difficult for the Oilers to shake off their bad moments and fire back, which is why they find themselves where they are today, on the outside of a playoff berth, trying to say the right things.

"Give up? We will not. Understand the difficulty of our situation? We will," Krueger said this week, tapping his inner Yoda. "We've got to keep this picture small. The pain I'm feeling is what the team is feeling. It hurts your soul. … We need to take this pain with us and accept it and try and find growth out of it."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies