While St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray says his team is tired, Craig MacTavish believes his Edmonton Oilers are trying too hard.
Even so, it's hard to use those reasons to entirely justify just how bad their teams have been on offense.
The Blues and Oilers continue to search for ways to find the back of the net as two of the league's worst teams match up Saturday.
St. Louis (9-9-2) has been held to two goals or fewer in four of its last five games, and its last two performances on offense have been particularly anemic.
One night after winning 1-0 over Nashville in a shootout despite managing only 17 shots on goal, the Blues finished with 22 shots in a 3-1 loss to Colorado on Wednesday.
"It's a grind for us now," Murray said. "We played a lot of games, a lot of back-to-back. We just have to play with more hunger."
Despite St. Louis' struggles on offense, it had managed to earn at least a point in five straight games before facing the Avalanche. The Blues played the final 2:11 of that game with a 6-on-4 advantage, but couldn't score.
Center Alexander Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, acquired in a trade with Toronto on Monday, each made their debuts with St. Louis. Steen's role in Toronto had diminished, but there is ample opportunity with the Blues due to injuries to Paul Kariya (hip), Andy McDonald (ankle) and T.J. Oshie (ankle).
Edmonton (9-10-2) is averaging 2.52 goals per game largely because its better offensive players have failed to produce. Winger Erik Cole, who scored 81 goals in his previous three seasons, has been held to three in 21 games.
A six-day break was supposed to help the Oilers recharge, but they went 0-for-5 with the man advantage in a 2-1 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday night. They have been held to two goals or fewer in five of their last eight games.
"We're a tight group right now," MacTavish said. "The will and the try and all of those things based on effort are there. It's just a lack of execution in some pretty critical areas of the game offensively."
The Oilers have lost four of five, going 0-3-1 at home in that span. Edmonton will now play four of its next five on the road, where it has gone 3-1-0 after losing six of its previous eight.
The Oilers recorded their highest-scoring game of the season in their last road outing, beating Columbus 7-2 on Nov. 18.
Edmonton went 1-10-1 with three ties at St. Louis before winning both of its contests there last season, scoring eight goals. The Oilers won the season series 3-1-0.
Oilers No. 1 goaltender Dwayne Roloson is 5-3-1 with three ties and a 1.96 goals-against average in 12 games against the Blues. He's been even better at St. Louis, posting a 1.63 GAA in six contests.
Roloson, though, has struggled somewhat on the road this season, going 3-3-0 with a 3.18 GAA.