The Edmonton Oilers continue to search for answers in the midst of their current 11-game slide (0-8-3) and the task doesn't get any easier with the next two games being up against the best team in the NHL - the Vancouver Canucks.
Having clinched the President's Trophy for League's best record, Vancouver is first in the NHL in points goals for, goals against, power play and penalty killing. No team has accomplished this feat in the NHL's "expansion era" since 1967.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney is well aware of the task his team has ahead of them.
"Only on paper," Renney joked when asked if his 30th-place team would be underdogs heading into tomorrow night's game. "It's a great opportunity for us to improve ourselves, improve our reputation, to challenge ourselves in terms of our team play and expose our team to some very good hockey players and a good team."
The head coach also stressed that with the daily grind, motivation can be difficult but the most important thing was that the coaching staff continue to be upbeat and lead by example in that way.
"If we take on the appearance of being demoralized or lacking drive and ambitiion, that's contagious too," he said. "As a coaching staff, we feel the responsibilty for leading from that point of view and I have to say that our players are legitimate. It's authentic.
"You don't want to have to go through this too many times, obviously, but what they're doing with this experience and in our circumstance is pretty impressive." LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Some of the younger players on the team have also been thrust into the role of leading by example with the influx of so many players from the Oklahoma City Barons in the past few weeks. Ryan Jones
, 26, has only 171 NHL games under his belt but is now seen as one of those players with plenty of experience to share with the rookies.
"Those guys, I remember being in their position, you just come up and look for guys and learn from the things you do. It's just a matter of leading the way by example, there's not much that needs to be said. Everybody's a good hockey player at this point," said Jones. "If you need to calm them down or need them to relax, that's easy to do."
Jones did add that this season has been a lot more fun than last year despite the results being not much different overall.
"If there's one thing I'd like to pass on, it's that you can work hard and have fun at the same time." Jordan Eberle
mentioned that he has learned a lot from the older players on the team.
"I think a lot of it is what it takes to be a pro," he said on what he's learned this season. "If you look at some of the older guys, Gibby, Struddy, Horc and Hemmer when they weren't injured, you just see their demeanour around the rink and the way they approach the game."
On the flip side, despite only being 20 years old, Eberle is also seeing himself now in a bit of a leadership role, too. He's played more career games than six other Oilers on the current active roster.
"Most of my leading is trying to do it on the ice, making plays that will help our team win and stuff like that. That's the approach I take."