“I wish I had an answer for you. I really do,” captain Connor McDavid said Friday morning.
“There’s no real good answer or good explanation or excuse or anything like that. I’m not sure why it wasn’t there.”
While that will do little to satisfy the disappointment in oil country, McDavid says he will dissect the four-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks eventually.
“It’s easy for fans and media to sit back and want to diagnose and want to get right down to it. As a player, it’s a little different,” explained McDavid. “You need a break. You need to relax and try to look at it with more of a clear head. When it’s so sudden, it’s very easy to be frustrated. You’re just not thinking clearly.”
McDavid racked up nine points in four games as the Oilers scored 15 goals on the Blackhawks. However, McDavid and his teammates ran into problems in their own end. They allowed four goals per game, up from 3.03 in the regular season.
“That’s an issue we’ve been trying to fix for a bit now. We seem to get it down in the regular season, and for whatever reason it wasn’t there in the playoffs,” said McDavid.
“As a team, it’s been a focus,” Darnell Nurse said. “I think we’ve been more consciously working about our D-zone, working on keeping pucks out of our own net.”
“It’s not where it needs to be,” McDavid said.
“Teams that win are teams that defend. We haven’t seemed to seem to figure it out yet. Personally, it could be better.”
Despite the loss to Chicago, McDavid believes the team is in better shape than last summer. He recalled not having a permanent coach and general manager last April, when Ken Hitchcock and Keith Gretzky held those jobs on an interim basis.
The Oilers improved in goals for and against and boasted one of the best power plays in league history during the 2019-20 season.
“I’ll take where we’re at into this off-season as compared to last off-season,” McDavid said. “We’ve definitely made strides. We’ve definitely brought in pieces and have a little more stability, I think.”
“There’s a taste in everyone’s mouth that no one likes,” Nurse added. “We need to find a way to not have that taste.”
The Oilers were eliminated from the NHL Playoffs qualifying round on Aug. 7 after falling to the Blackhawks 3-2. As Edmonton is one of the league’s hub cities, NHL action continues at Rogers Place.