Leon Draisaitl said the Edmonton Oilers are not giving up on coach Dave Tippett or anyone else in the organization despite losing 11 of their past 13 games (2-9-2).
“We’re not quitting on anyone,” the forward said after a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday. “We’re not quitting on our coach, we’re not quitting on ourselves as players, our team, our goalies, nobody. We’re not quitting.”
Draisaitl’s support of Tippett comes at a time when the Oilers are 0-3-2 in their past five games, escalating criticism of the coach from fans and media. It is the losing he is becoming tired of, not the man behind the bench.
“Still lots of season left, right, but it’s frustrating,” Draisaitl said. “Eventually you have to find a way to turn it around. And obviously we’re hurting right now with key players out. That never helps. But every team’s going through it so we’ve got to figure it out eventually.”
To Draisaitl’s point, the Oilers were missing some vital cogs in their lineup.
Forward Connor McDavid and defenseman Tyson Barrie were placed in COVID-19 protocol earlier Wednesday. McDavid (19 goals, 34 assists) is tied for the NHL lead in scoring with Draisaitl with 53 points and Barrie has scored 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) and is averaging 19:39 of ice time per game.
Nonetheless, Tippett was pleased with what he saw from his shorthanded team other than the outcome.
“Lots of try in our game,” he said. “There’s lots of try, lots of push, lots of people trying to have an impact on the game, which is good to see. We just can’t get that play made that makes a difference in the positive force for us.
“It’s a game where every play counts and you need that play to get you over the top. They got it tonight. We didn’t.”
It was the Maple Leafs who broke a 2-2 tie in the third period on Ilya Mikheyev‘s power-play goal at 11:25. In a game where one shot by either team could be the winner, Edmonton came up short yet again.
“It was good compete,” said Draisaitl, who scored his NHL-leading 26th goal of the season. “I guess it could have gone either way, yet we are standing here leaving again with no points. “You hope there are better days ahead, but it’s frustrating.
“No one wants to lose but we’ve been losing for a long time now. Eventually it’s time to win, so let’s just leave it at that.”
The Oilers hope to break their funk when they return home from their five-game road trip to play the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Tippett likes the improvement in his team’s play but said being close simply isn’t good enough.
“It was a solid team effort in the work part,” he said. “That being said, we’re a results-orientated business and you’ve got to find ways to get results.”