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BLOG: Oilers look to learn to "stop the bleeding" sooner

"It takes maturity to do that, and I think the players learned a lot about that this year," Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said.

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - When it rains, it pours.

In the case of the Oilers, letting a few too many losing streaks drag on without an answer was a crutch this season after having five separate streaks go above the four-game mark.

They were holes players couldn't dig themselves out of fast enough, and in the NHL that can prove costly to your playoff outlook.

Video: RAW | Larsson 04.07.19

"If you look at the season as a whole, our downs were too big and we had to dig ourselves out of that hole for most of the year," defenceman Adam Larsson, who recorded 20 points (3G, 17A) in all 82 games for the Oilers this season, said in his exit interview on Monday.

"Throughout the 82 games you go through that, but we had some troubles coming out of losing streaks. The league is too good if you slip like that, and it's tough to bounce back."

Going through losing streaks is one of the only ways you can learn how to avoid them and turn the tide quickly, said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock.

"I look at two or three things where having a game plan is one thing to stop the bleeding, whether it's during the actual game or to stop it the next game," Hitchcock said. "It takes maturity to do that, and I think the players learned a lot about that this year. That's a step to help them understand, that's a teaching moment that takes a little bit of time, you have to go through it before you learn, and I think the players understand that's the key to getting into the playoffs."

The Oilers finished 11 points back of a playoff spot, with the deficit coming close to about one-less loss in each of this season's dry spells.

Video: RAW | Hitchcock 04.07.19

"You're talking about one win a month, and that's the reality to get into the playoffs," Hitchcock said. "But you're also talking about turning things around a bit quicker and not letting it bleed out. There were a few times this year where we took a bit longer to recover." 

Despite a 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche on December 11, the negative feeling was palpable after losing both Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell on the back end due to injury with Andrej Sekera already nursing a torn Achilles.

It was the start of a slide that Hitchcock exemplified as a big teaching moment this campaign.

"The other thing, frankly, is that we weren't able to absorb significant injuries," Hitchcock said. "When I look back, I know the feeling everyone had on the bus in Colorado when we lost the two defencemen and had the one already out. We had trouble recovering from significant loss of players, especially on the back end.

"We held it together for a couple of games, but that kind of started the slide and we weren't able to maintain the competitive level that we'd shown."

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