The Oilers are the NHL’s second-most penalized team in the league post-All-Star break, behind only Philadelphia.
“It’s a little bit of lack of discipline and a little bit of frustration creeping into our game,” said Matt Hendricks. “As silly as it sounds, we’re trying a little too hard. We’re taking too much risk offensively. We’re getting a lot of penalties in the offensive zone or the neutral zone where we’re trying to go on the offensive at those times. Obviously, you’re going to get the defensive zone ones to try and stay in position. A guy beats you to the net and you take a hook, a trip or something to try to negate a scoring chance. But it’s the ones in the offensive zone, when they’re not necessary, that are the ones that really seem to sting.”
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan has talked a lot recently about needing to cut back on those infractions. The Oilers players know it too.
“We address it, as a group. We talk about it,” said Hendricks. “Todd’s example in the game last night is it’s something that has to happen. We know the individuals who are taking the penalties don’t want to. I’m beyond guilty of it too, just like everybody else is. You have to be a smarter player and that’s how you learn from it. There has to be a little repercussion.”
The players have to take it upon themselves to correct bad habits that have led to these mistakes and penalties.
“I think, for me, it’s work ethic,” said Jordan Eberle. “You’ve got to keep your feet moving and not getting your stick in there and giving the ref a chance to call a penalty. It’s such a fine line though because you don’t want to start playing soft. You don’t want to be scared of taking penalties and start not using your body and not using your stick like you can. It’s tough to get around that, but at the same time it’s just keeping your feet moving and not give the ref a chance to call you when you’re using your stick in there.”