Skip to content

Oilers still struggling defensively: 'Everyone's got to step up'

Icon Sportswire / Getty

Weeks after superstar Leon Draisaitl called out his club's lackluster defense, the Edmonton Oilers are still seeking answers.

Draisaitl's comments followed a 5-4 loss to the Washington Capitals on Nov. 8. Since then, the Oilers have won three of their seven games while being outscored 25-16, and they were left scratching their heads again after a 3-0 defeat to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

"We've got to be better," forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said, per The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman. "We are a playoff team, but we need to start playing like it consistently. To a man, everyone's got to step up and find a way through this."

The latest loss dropped the Oilers to 10-10 after a 7-3 start. They are now four points back of a Pacific Division playoff spot and rank 29th in the NHL with 3.6 goals against per game.

Edmonton was in a similar position at this point last season, but the team found its game when Jay Woodcroft was brought in as head coach. In 38 games after the change behind the bench, the Oilers raced to a 26-9-3 record and ranked sixth in goals against (2.76 per game) over that span.

Woodcroft said he sees some encouraging signs but there's lots of work to be done.

"We're working to building a game, finding out who this year's version of the Oilers is," he said. "While we've done some good things, we haven't done enough good things for long enough to put something together here the way we would like to.

"Sometimes when you're figuring that stuff out, those chances sometimes end up in the back of your net. No one's happy about it, but we're working to correct it. If we can do a better job of handling those situations, we'll come out on the right side of the result."

The Oilers' next game is Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox