October 25 2010 09:27AM
It is very early in the NHL season, but this morning the Oilers find themselves on a four game losing streak and sitting in 30th place. They have three games in hand on the Devils, and sit one point back of them, but I don't think any player thought they'd be in 30th six games into the season.
The only thing worse than being an Oiler fan this morning would being a Dolphin fan, or waking up Sunday morning after an action packed birthday party. While my head was a touch fuzzy Sunday morning I still could have figured out the proper call in the Steelers/Fins game.
The NFL not only botched the call yesterday, clearly the refs had no clue what they were doing. Regardless of the original wrong touchdown call, isn't it their job to find out who has the ball in the pile?
Even with video review they still screwed it up...
The Dolphins should be 4-2, but the Oilers don't have anyone to blame, but themselves, for their 2-4 start.
The Oilers are struggling in every area of the ice right now in case you haven't been paying attention.
They are tied for 29th/30th on the PK, with a horrific 66.7% rating. In the four losses they have allowed 9 PP goals in 18 chances. You can't be 50% on the PK and expect to win games.
They are 27th in GAA, 25th in goals scored and 28th in SOG. It is never a good mix when you can't score and can't keep the puck out of your net.
I expected there to be some hiccups in their rebuild, but I thought the Oilers would be more competitive than we've seen so far. The spanking they took on Saturday at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, might be what they needed for them to realize they need to start playing better. In their previous three losses the game were close, on the scoreboard and that might have given them a false sense that they were being competitive.
They probably deserved a better fate when they hosted the Wild on Thursday, but outside of the home opener v. the Flames, the Oilers have been outplayed in most of their games thus far.
It is still early, however, Tom Renney needs to find some guys who can kill penalties. In their first two games the Oiler penalty killers were patient and not running all over the ice, but in the past four games too often guys have strayed from their lanes, over pursued the puck carrier, and allowed the opposition to many uncontested shots.
I'll be curious to see if Renney spends any extra time on the PK this morning.
WHAT ARE HIS OPTIONS?
The Oilers will play their first back-to-back games Thursday in Columbus and Friday in Chicago and that might give us an indication as to which back up they are leaning at keeping. Both Renney and Steve Tambellini have stated up until now the three-headed goalie monster hasn't been an issue, but it will become one now that they have to make a choice.
I also think that Renney would like a 14th forward around rather than a 3rd goalie.
I'm not saying the 14th forward would bring more wins, but if he could kill a penalty and deliver the odd body check I'm certain Renney would dress him.
Through six games Gilbert Brule is the only forward with more than eight hits. The Oilers aren't blessed with a lot of size in their top nine, but they need more guys who are willing to at least try and separate guys from the puck. Brule has 15 hits and Andrew Cogliano, Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones are next with eight. If your fourth line is going to be an energy line, they need to deliver at least two hits a game.
I think the Oilers management and coaches expected there to be some growing pains this year, but I don't think they wanted to be sitting in 30th three weeks into the season. The next few weeks are crucial for this club to ensure they stay close to the pack.
I suspect most fans understand the process, but they want to see progress and they don't want to see the Oilers out of the race by December 1st.
Renney has been called a great teacher during his previous NHL stops, and those skills will be put to the test over the next month. We'll see if he has the proper pupils, or if he realizes that moving forward might require some new faces.