November 18 2011 11:01AM
When the Oilers lost in Boston, Detroit and Chicago many felt it was a sign of how far they had to go to become a contender? Well then what about last night v. the Ottawa Senators?
The Oilers dominated the first 7 1/2 minutes. They swarmed the Sens, but couldn't beat Craig Anderson. Then the Sens scored two goals on two shots in nine seconds and the game was over. The Oilers got frustrated and abandoned their game plan.
And they set a new low in injuries, as Andy Sutton tweaked his groin in warm up, came out for the start of the game but never took a shift.
If you woke up today worried that you were on the road to another 30th place finish I sympathize with you. The good news is that the Oilers would really have to suck to be passed by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but I digress.
For the past few seasons we've seen a team that consistently was inconsistent. They'd have stretches that made you believe they were ready to take the next step, only to crush your hopes and dreams of the playoffs by getting dominated for the next month.
I understand it is a learning process for this team, but are they actually progressing?
They have better skill in Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle, but this team is still lacking in size in their top-nine. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
For reasons unexplained this organization can't stay healthy. The Oilers lost Sutton and Corey Potter last night. Potter has a sprained ankle and will be re-evaluated today, while Sutton pulled his groin and as of now there was no timetable for his return. Cam Barker is gone until March, Ryan Whitney is getting closer, but how long will he stay in the lineup?
The Oilers recalled Colten Teubert and Taylor Chorney from OKC this morning, and while that's great for those two the Oilers will face the best team in the West tomorrow night with Teubert, Chorney, Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham as their 2nd and 3rd pairings.
It is hard to expect this team to win moving forward with that much inexperience on the blueline. I don't blame the players if they make key mistakes or get overwhelmed, because you shouldn't have four D-men that young in your lineup. Injuries forced this, but excluding Potter, the other three have had a history of injuries.
At some point you the Oilers brass needs to start looking at previous injury history as much as salary and usefulness when going after free agents or trades.
The forwards, excluding Hemsky, haven't been banged up, but they haven't banged anyone either.
Lennart Petrell is doing is best in limited minutes, and while Tom Renney felt Ben Eager tried to make his presence known last night, I don't think he has done it often enough this season. Of course we shouldn't ask one 4th line player to be the only physical player, because that is a recipe for disaster, and so far that's what we've seen.
The Oilers were winning early because their goaltending was off the charts. Now that Khabibulin has come down to earth the Oilers have got blown out four straight games.
I know trades aren't easy, but the Oilers can't afford to sit around anymore. They have to do something.
It is clear they need to do more offensively, but it is time for Steve Tambellini to make a move and shake things up. Sure, he is dealing from a position of weakness, but sitting around and doing nothing isn't going to solve the problem. But do they honestly think the players will collectively learn to play grittier at all once? No chance.
For the past five years, I've said the Oilers need more size in their top-nine. Not every player needs to be big, but they need to find someone with size and skill. Of course it isn't easy, but winning isn't easy either, and if they want to win then Tambellini needs to give Renney some help.
This team needs more DESIRE. You can't fold your tent because you aren't rewarded in the first seven minutes. Winning is hard. It takes heart, desire and an inner fire not to give up. I'm not sure they have enough of that right now.
If you bring in one or two free agents and they don't work out that is fine, but in the past three years the Oilers have signed or traded for Khabibulin, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk, Eric Belanger, Corey Potter, Andy Sutton and Ryan Smyth.
Smyth has been great since coming back. Potter had a great start, but he isn't a top-four D-man. The rest haven't done much, if anything.
Losing becomes a habit, and while the players, coaches and management continually say it isn't acceptable, it sure looks like they are better at losing than winning, and that they don't know how to deal with adversity.
They gave up two goals in nine seconds and they fell apart.
That needs to change.
It is time Tambellini makes a move.
DROWN YOUR SORROWS
I will be guest Bartending at the Boston Pizza on 23rd ave and 50th street tonight from 7 to 9 or maybe later. All of my tips and wages will go to Cancer research. Stop in say hi, and have a pint. We can solve all of the Oilers issues over a few beers. We might need a keg to solve all of them, but what the hell, it is Friday.
See you then.