Oilers and fans need reset after Game 4 thrashing

If the Edmonton Oilers hope to retake the lead in their playoff series against the San Jose Sharks, they're going to have to put Tuesday night's embarrassing 7-0 loss behind them.

'Our task is going to be a little more difficult,' says forward Mark Letestu

Edmonton Oilers players and fans have suffered through many embarrassing moments during the last 10 years.

Tuesday night's thrashing at the hands of the San Jose Sharks ranks right up there.

Faced with what was essentially a must-win in Game 4, San Jose came out against the Oilers and quite literally turned it into a feeding frenzy. 

Edmonton started leaking blood early, and it got ugly fast. 

When all was said and done, 7-0 was the final score. It was San Jose's largest-ever margin of victory in a playoff game, and the worst loss in Edmonton's post-season history.

If the Oilers want a chance to win Game 5 and beyond, the team and its fans will have to forget about Game 4 and look ahead to what now becomes a best-of-three series.

'It was a rough loss'

"I think you give yourself some time and space to vent and get it out of your system and, 'Yeah, it was a rough loss,' but you don't have the luxury of a lot of time to do that you need to let it go and move forward, " said Billy Strean, a University of Alberta physical education professor trained in sports psychology.

Strean says professional athletes are trained to realize what went wrong, and to focus on not repeating it for the next game. Coach Todd McLellan and his staff will no doubt review video of Game 4 and focus on righting some of those mistakes.

The Oilers' penalty kill had limited the Sharks to one power-play goal on 14 opportunities before Tuesday's game. in Game 4, the Sharks scored four times on eight power plays and chased starting goalie Cam Talbot from the net.

"One of the mental skills that athletes need to develop is to be able to shift from something that didn't go well, let it go, and then move their attention forward," Strean said.

'We've got to stay out of the box'

The Oilers seem to be doing that. Before they left San Jose to return home on Wednesday, players were already talking about what went wrong, and how avoiding costly penalties will be one of the keys moving forward.

"We'll go over the video, but it's one you just forget immediately," said forward Jordan Eberle. "Obviously it's not the way we wanted it to go. I think the biggest thing is we've got to stay out of the box.

"You give a team like that that too many opportunities, they're going to score." 

Oilers forward Mark Letestu said the only score that matters is that the series is tied at two. If anything, the Oilers have given the Sharks ammunition to boost how they feel about themselves, Letestu said.

"We've probably strengthened an already strong belief system over there. Some guys, now they've got some confidence they can put the puck away.

"Our task is going to be a little more difficult. That being said, we played all year to get home ice advantage. It's the best of three with two games at home so it's something our team should feel real good about."

And feeling good is important, said Strean, whether you're a player or a fan. 

Game within a game 

Then there's the question of gamesmanship.

On the morning of Game 4, the Oilers had to practice without lights or nets. Will the Oilers try and get some payback before Game 5 in Edmonton? It could happen.

"Opposing teams, and opposing athletes do engage in different kinds of what you might call gamesmanship," Strean said.

"Part of what athletes need to do is say, 'All right, whether this was intentional or not, we need to adjust, we need to adapt, we make the most of our training opportunity, we're not going to get rattled by this, what's really important is that we're ready for the next game.' "

The Oilers already seemed focused on that.

As the home team, the ice is technically tilted in their favour.

Whether the Sharks' routine gets disrupted or not will be worth keeping a close eye on. 

Often the best payback is the kind that keeps the visitors guessing.