December 7, 2017 6:17 pm
Updated: December 7, 2017 9:28 pm

Edmonton Oilers still searching for a spark

WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Oilers appeared to be making minor improvements at the end of last month but on Wednesday night, they took another step backwards. Quinn Phillips reports on the team's struggle with consistency this season.

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“If we knew, we’d fix it.”

That’s what captain Connor McDavid said on Thursday when he was asked to explain the Edmonton Oilers’ struggles this season. The team remains ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL’s Western Conference and is six points out of a playoff spot going into Thursday night’s action.

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“It’s a long way from over. It’s still early,” McDavid said. “Early December… a lot of hockey left. A lot of divisional hockey left. That’s something to look forward to.”

The Oilers do have 54 games left but will likely have to win more than half of them to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. McDavid’s sentiment of it being “still early” isn’t shared by all his teammates.

“At this point, [if you’re] thinking there’s still a lot of time, I think you’re being pretty naive. I think we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we have to be desperate every night,” centre Mark Letestu said. “Every two points, we have to have them. There are a lot of teams between us and the playoffs right now. We gotta jump a lot of them. If we think there’s a lot of time and it’s gonna come and stick with it, again, that’s being naive. We gotta step it up here. Otherwise, it’s going to be gone.”

The Oilers were beaten 4-2 by Philadelphia on Wednesday. Even though the Oilers escaped the first period in a scoreless tie, they were badly outplayed. Poor starts have plagued the Oilers all season, and they were sluggish early in practice on Thursday. Head coach Todd McLellan stopped a drill and lit into the players with pointed reminders about pace, precision and improvement.

“They need to be reminded,” McLellan said. “In today’s situation, I thought we carried yesterday’s game into today’s practice. They kind of had their shoulders rolled over, and they weren’t prepared to start.”

McLellan said the team was much sharper after his outburst.

The Oilers open up a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal. Recent waiver acquisitions Brandon Davidson and Nathan Walker could play for the first time since being claimed.

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