After a strong start under

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new coach Ken Hitchcock Alex DeBrincat Jersey , the Edmonton Oilers are proving to be a work in progress.With the league’s Christmas break in the rearview mirror, the Oilers have to figure out how to squeeze more production out of every player, starting with Thursday’s matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place.In the first 3 1/2 weeks under Hitchcock, Edmonton (18-15-3) picked up 20 of a possible 26 points, but the Oilers slumped recently.With a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, the Oilers have been outscored 14-6 during a three-game skid. The club also surrendered five power-play goals during that span, including three in a 4-2 loss at Vancouver on Dec. 16.Article continues below ...Lack of consistent production from players other than Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson combined with injuries to defensemen Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell have contributed to Edmonton’s slide.“We’re going to have to figure out who’s helping and who’s hurting for us to get to another level,” Hitchcock said. “We can’t keep doing it the same way over and over because it’s not going to work.”One core player — and a Stanley Cup winner — believes the team needs to show more mental toughness.“This group has to learn how to play in close games,” said Chiasson, who won a championship with the Washington Capitals last summer before joining the Oilers in October. “If you want to be a playoff team Cam Atkinson Jersey Kids , a team that has the chance to go deep, you have to learn how to play down one goal and stick with it for 60 minutes.”Chiasson is third on the team with a career-best 16 goals, including four in his last five games.Edmonton has won four straight and is 6-0-1 in its last seven at home against the Canucks.Vancouver (17-18-4) kicks off a six-game road trip looking to continue its strong play away from home. After six consecutive road losses in November, the Canucks went 3-0-1, including a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and a point against the Nashville Predators.Travis Green’s team comes off a 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. After his team took three of five on the homestand, Green offered praise.“I like the way our team is progressing. I like the way they are playing. I wish we had a few more wins, I think we easily could,” he told the team’s official website.Vancouver is 10th in the Western Conference, but Green also points to a culture change for a club long linked to now-retired twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin and that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013.“We’re still young in a lot of areas. Sometimes that shows. We’re in it right now. We’re playing to win,” Green said. “Our guys are believing in themselves. We talk about playing fast and hard and playing with confidence, and they are.” The team features young stars in Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, who has scored 12 of his 17 goals this season on the road.However Womens Josh Anderson Jersey , rookie Elias Petterson may be the best of the bunch.The 20-year-old winger has points in eight of 11 games this month, including his second five-point effort on Dec. 9 in a rout of the St. Louis Blues.Petterson leads all rookies in goals (17) and assists (19). No other first-year player has more than 23 points.One of Petterson’s five game-winning goals came against the Oilers this month. SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks head back to the Midwest for their final road trip of the season looking like a far different team than the one that stumbled its way through a tour of the Central Division just last month.They have the midseason additions of Evander Kane and Eric Fehr to thank for that.With Kane provide a scoring threat and physical play as a top-line wing and Fehr solidifying the fourth line and penalty kill, the Sharks are playing as well as anyone in the NHL down the stretch with a seven-game winning streak that is the team’s longest in five years.During this streak, they have managed to win wide-open games as well as tight checking ones and have managed to negate the speed of teams such as Vegas as well as deal with more physical play like they had Saturday in a 5-1 win over Calgary.”I think that’s something we’re trying to pride ourselves on,” defenseman Brenden Dillon said. ”Playoffs you’re going to meet all sorts of teams, speed teams, teams that can play hard down low. I think we’ve got the personnel that we’re able to match up with those. We’re doing things in practice to prepare for them.”The Sharks are in prime position with just two weeks left in the regular season. They have moved within six points of first-place Vegas in the Pacific Division with seven games remaining, giving them an outside shot at a division title. But perhaps more importantly, they entered Sunday six points ahead of Anaheim and Los Angeles in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round.It’s a far cry from last March when a six-game losing streak cost San Jose a chance at the division title and the team was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Edmonton. Now they’re playing their best hockey in March.”We’re a desperate team,” Kane said. ”We need all the points we can get. We haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet. The teams that are right behind us keep winning. We have to keep pushing forward and keep picking up points as we close out the season in order to secure a spot. It’s good to get in that playoff mindset right now.”Kane has provided a major lift since his arrival in a deadline deal with Buffalo on Feb. 26. He has stepped onto the top line with center Joe Pavelski and provided a scoring threat and some needed toughness to help make up for the absence of Joe Thornton, who has missed two months with a knee injury. Thornton has started skating again Adam Henrique Jersey , but there is no timetable for his return.Kane has seven goals and five assists while helping the Sharks to a NHL-best 10-2 record since he arrived. The team is scoring 4.2 goals per game with Kane in the lineup after scoring just 2.8 goals per game before he arrived.”He’s a crucial part to our team,” center Chris Tierney said. ”You can see how much he brings, whether it’s the physicality side or the goal scoring. He adds a lot of depth to us and he’s been great for us so far. Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”While Kane’s play has gotten most of the attention, the addition of Fehr just a week earlier has also had a big impact. Fehr has filled a hole at fourth-line center, allowing coach Peter DeBoer the freedom to roll through his lines without fear of mismatches, and added an accomplished penalty killer to a unit that ranks second best in the NHL.That line has even provided an offensive boost of late, especially since Jannik Hansen moved back into the lineup alongside Fehr and Barclay Goodrow after Joonas Donskoi went down with a shoulder injury.All three fourth-liners scored goals in a win last Tuesday against New Jersey and Hansen added another in the homestand finale on Saturday against Calgary after failing to score any goals in his first 39 games this season.”It always helps when you’re helping out and you’re producing,” said Hansen, who was a healthy scratch for long portions of the season.”It gets you momentum, it makes you feel good about the game. The puck doesn’t bounce as much, stuff like that. Obviously whenever we can chip in it’s a big part. We want to roll four lines and the fourth line is a part of that.”—