MIND GAMES

Brian Sutherby
October 17 2013 11:42AM

Sitting at 1-5-1 many frustrated fans are left wondering why coaches and players around the team are now talking more about improvement and positive things when the results still aren’t there.

As a guy in my first month of watching Oiler games, I too have been very frustrated at times watching this squad and I haven’t been around for the last 7 years.

I get it.

FRUSTRATION MOUNTING

Many things need to be improved fast for this team to remain in contention and get to the level expected of them this season. One thing I can assure you is that no one is more frustrated than the coaching staff and players. Fans may disagree but losing is just awful for everyone.

As a player, sleeping after bad games is nearly impossible. You lay there replaying everything in your mind till all hours of the night. Few things are worse than having to watch video of horrible play after horrible play while the coach is ripping you in front of your peers.

There is nothing fun about answering the tough questions to the media or reading about how bad you are in the papers. It’s an awful feeling letting a fan base down when expectations are high.

You have to be mentally strong to play this game, but all those things weigh on a player and after a week or more of that kind of atmosphere, negativity can completely take over. If everyone can feel the mood of the dressing room start to sag, that is not good.

WHY SO POSITIVE?

After the first couple losses you saw some anger, some frustration, and the benching of a young star. After the last couple games you're starting to hear positive things or a focus on improvement from the team. When you watch the Pittsburgh game it may be hard to disagree.

Maybe it’s not recognizable but you see this all the time during losing skids. A flip flop of a coach’s message from negative to positive even though the only thing growing is in the loss column.

When player confidence is low the coaching staff has to read the dressing room and the body language of his players.

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

I’ve been on good teams and I’ve been on terrible teams. Often times when you get on a win streak by the second or third game, instead of the coach remaining positive and buttering guys up he decides to use this opportunity to keep everyone level headed and tear into a few guys or focus on the things that need improvement.

Conversely, when a losing streak hits three or four games and the sky is falling, all of the sudden the coach is the happiest person in the world and you are thinking what the hell?

I think you are beginning to see the Coaching staff relaxing their tough stance of late. Eakins has to get these guys to feel good about themselves again while showing them the good things they have done to improve their play. Continuing to harp on the losses right now will only add to the stress of guys fighting the puck or thinking about mistakes.

I’m sure you have heard it before from players that they need to be reacting on the ice and not thinking. The minute you start to second guess yourself as a player you are in trouble.

ROLLER COASTER

This does not mean losing is acceptable. This does not mean that players and coaches are not as disgusted as you, the fan. It just means the coach has likely sensed that the yelling and tough love has exhausted itself for now and is having a more negative impact.

An 82 game season is full of emotional ups and downs and many times throughout the season the coach has to change the psyche of the dressing room.

I think this is one of those times. It’s up to the coach to get his players in the best possible mind set to win a hockey game. It doesn’t matter how, just win.

MAIL BAG

I would like to start a weekly Q & A piece on here. I love interacting with hockey minds and think it would be fun to provide some insight into certain questions you guys may have whether it’s Oiler related or just hockey related. Hit me up at brian@oilersnation.com or on twitter @briansutherby. Fire away and I will answer the best one’s in a weekly piece.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#51 DSF
October 17 2013, 05:08PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

Oh, let's see.

1) He's already stated he doesn't want to stick around for a rebuild in Buffalo

2) He played his college hockey at the U of Minn.

3) His wife is from Minnesota

4) He lives in Minnesota in the offseason.

5) Dany Heatley's $7.5M is coming off the cap next season

6) He would be joining 2 other Minnesota boys, Suter and Parise on the team.

7) His best friend is Jason Pominville who signed with the Wild in the offseason

8) The Wild are about to become an elite team.

Other than that...I've got nothing.

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#52 fig pucker
October 17 2013, 08:12PM
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Greg the Hammer Valentine wrote:

I believe Taylor Fedun would be the best call up as of now.

Anyway, it's not going much better in OKC.

the truth is we don't have anyone in our sysm that can make a dramatic improvement now. that not to say they won't become 1 or 2 defence men (nurse,klefbalm) but they aren't that now. this team was built the wrong way from the front back so our defence and goaltending are far behind in maturitycom pared to our top 3. for every team there is a window of a few years to win, it may pass us by before nurse becomes the player we hope he will. why not package nurse up in a deal for weber? these are the kinds of moves we need to make to take this team to the post season.

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#53 outdoorzguy
October 17 2013, 09:24PM
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K_Mart wrote:

So the goalie shows up, but the team puts up an underwhelming performance.

Why is our PP so horrible looking? Why is our PK so horrible looking?

So many things to fix, so little time.

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

These are the games an NHL goalie should pull out of the fire. We don't have an NHL caliber goalie. We lose!!

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#54 madjam
October 17 2013, 11:38PM
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Fans are not waiting for the roof to collapse , they are constantly waiting for the team to raise the roof off the floor ! They are waiting for expectations to at least meet managements rhetoric and expectations . New Gm and coach gives little to be optimistic about as results bear out . Our on ice performances is less than adequate to be a playoff team at this stage , and looks very unlikely to change much . There is a huge difference between negativity and reality . We are playing better , but no where near good enough to be a contender for the playoffs with present personnel and stages of development .

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#55 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:18PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

Interesting that Cap Geek has a new feature that analyzes value of dollars spent on payroll.

Only Philly, New Jersey and Buffalo are worse:

http://www.capgeek.com/bargain-hunter/?mode=teams&stat=P&position=-1&sort=ASC

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#56 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:58PM
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Oiler63 wrote:

If oilers seriously considered the swap, they need to literally go to hospital and get their brain checked. Two washed up over-the-hill UFA for an RFA number 1 pick forward, that'd be the worst trade in team history.

Not surprised oilers is on Miller's no trade list. Lowe has managed to get oilers on pretty much every NHL player's no trade list.

Agree completely, although I'm not sure Miller and Vanek are washed up.

I'd try and get Lehner out of Ottawa or one of Anaheim's spare goaltenders.

Vanek is pretty much a lock to sign in Minnesota next season so I expect Buffalo will try and swing a deal with the Wild closer to the trade deadline when Minnesota can absorb his cap hit.

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#57 Wax Man Riley
October 17 2013, 04:17PM
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DSF wrote:

Agree completely, although I'm not sure Miller and Vanek are washed up.

I'd try and get Lehner out of Ottawa or one of Anaheim's spare goaltenders.

Vanek is pretty much a lock to sign in Minnesota next season so I expect Buffalo will try and swing a deal with the Wild closer to the trade deadline when Minnesota can absorb his cap hit.

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

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#58 Wax Man Riley
October 17 2013, 05:47PM
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DSF wrote:

Oh, let's see.

1) He's already stated he doesn't want to stick around for a rebuild in Buffalo

2) He played his college hockey at the U of Minn.

3) His wife is from Minnesota

4) He lives in Minnesota in the offseason.

5) Dany Heatley's $7.5M is coming off the cap next season

6) He would be joining 2 other Minnesota boys, Suter and Parise on the team.

7) His best friend is Jason Pominville who signed with the Wild in the offseason

8) The Wild are about to become an elite team.

Other than that...I've got nothing.

Sooooo... are you booking it?

I'll give them all to you except #8.

Boat. Anchor. Contracts.

But we'll see.

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#59 Wonger
October 17 2013, 06:53PM
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Time to bring in Deryk ENGELLAND!!! Great 6 d man and Phaneuf as our 1dman!

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#60 Steve A
October 18 2013, 08:52AM
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It is so frustrating with all this talk regarding trades. From Crazy rumors (Vanek & Miller) to dumb comments (leafs won't trade Reimer for Yak) it is unbelievable. This is were we need some leadership from management. I think MacT needs to come out and say publically we are sticking with this team for 25 or so games, no one is being traded until we assess this team. Take the pressure off these players and have them focus on what they do best. He needs to say its up to the players to fix this cause the coach is not going away.

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#61 vetinari
October 17 2013, 01:16PM
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This team needs some good news, and soon. The best case scenario would be for them to post a shutout or something close to it to put the trade rumours to rest for a new goaltender.

And as for the "mental pressure" for a professional player, it's got to be tough in today's NHL. Years ago, a player only had to ignore the local newspaper and the fans on the street. Now you have to try and tune out 24 hour sports networks, twitter feeds, blogs and everything in between.

My question is how aware is the average player of what these sources are saying about them (and the team) and what effect it has on them?

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#62 rob
October 17 2013, 02:19PM
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millar and pysk coming to edmonton,yak,a second and prospect going to buffalo-book it

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#63 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:20PM
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More on the Miller rumours:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=434353

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#64 madjam
October 17 2013, 03:34PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

It has a lot to do with it . Chicago went up to a 57.12% increase this year ($313.18) because of , as they called it "a possible dynasty club " . I wonder what ours might be if we had a contender ? Toronto (the highest @ 368.60 ) went up because of they now have a "playoff team" . Isles because of playoffs jumped from $74.00 to $151.00 . L.A. dropped down to $126.00 because they did not reach finals last year . Does that answer your question more vividly ? Some of the lower ones . Blues 105.84 ,T.Bay 101.75 , Winn. (3rd highest) 276.69 , Anaheim 91.49 , Colorado 86.40 , Pho. 76.65 . All these fat increases in a lot of teams during a reduction of the cap .

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#65 borisnikov
October 17 2013, 04:07PM
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I would like to start a weekly Q & A piece on here. I love interacting with hockey minds and think it would be fun to provide some insight into certain questions you guys may have whether it’s Oiler related or just hockey related. Hit me up at brian@oilersnation.com or on twitter @briansutherby. Fire away and I will answer the best one’s in a weekly piece.



Can you also do a worst question/comment of the week just for sh*ts and giggles?

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#66 westcoastoil
October 17 2013, 05:06PM
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westcoastoil wrote:

You just traded Yak & a 2nd for a 33 year old Miller (who's save % the last 3 years = Dooby) and Davidson/Fedun/Marincin/Larsen/Potter.

Sorry Rama - meant to quote Pkam's post

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#67 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 06:24PM
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Schultz is my goat. Every couple shifts he makes a bad pass or misses receiving a pass, trips over blue line, watches an opponent park himself in front of the net or takes a good 3 seconds to wind up for that predictable lame wrist shot of his.

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#68 DrunkGuyTy
October 17 2013, 07:09PM
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@madjam

Supply and demand.

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#69 the dude abides
October 18 2013, 10:02AM
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@madjam

6 of 8 games have been 1 goal games, the oil have had more shots in 5 of 8 games, they've had the lead in 7 of 8 games. To me that's the roof collapsing.

I'm not going to defend management - goalie situation exhibit A - but I think they have solid personnel right now.

The expectations oil nation has that a new coach comes in and the team will turn it right around are unrealistic. Fact is, the core group of young guys have known only losing in the nhl, and I think it was pretty well accepted in the past and written off as them being young so it was ok. The way out is to keep their heads down, keep fighting against the head-winds, and commit to the 1-game-at-a-time mentality until wins start to come. I think they are on this track now.

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#70 Uks Ya!
October 18 2013, 01:17PM
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Wonger wrote:

Time to bring in Deryk ENGELLAND!!! Great 6 d man and Phaneuf as our 1dman!

Engelland from Pens & Gleason from Canes are Exactly the type of D we need in Edmo!!

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#71 Uks Ya!
October 18 2013, 01:24PM
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@Spydyr

RELAX!!!....every other 80 game season Oilers are sitting top 3 in the West come November & December only to finish 13 or 15 come march/ April ...

Everyone just needs to RELAX!!!

I know I know that 2 pts can be the 2 pts we miss playoffs by....our goaltending is seriously awful tho , but hitting the panic button and sending a possible future rocket Richard winner would only be a mistake ...unless it gets us Shea Weber, PK Subban, Zack Bogosion, Shattenkurk, Byfuglien type of player in return!!!

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#72 A-Mc
October 17 2013, 12:59PM
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At what point does the coach start handing out tabs of speed or other illegal drugs?

DO WHAT IT TAKES! O.O

(ikid)

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#73 Oiltimer
October 17 2013, 03:36PM
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I too Ramma

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#74 Sidney Frosby
October 17 2013, 04:53PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

Becuz Vanek loves Pominville and the movie Fargo....

And Heatley will be begging the Oilers/Senators to hire him after he doesn't get resigned by Minny

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#75 westcoastoil
October 17 2013, 05:05PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

If Dubby can dropping and flopping on every shot.......we may have a chance to win this one.

I for one will be clutching my remote and if Dubby let's in a soft one.....I'm changing the channel.

Go Oil!

You just traded Yak & a 2nd for a 33 year old Miller (who's save % the last 3 years = Dooby) and Davidson/Fedun/Marincin/Larsen/Potter.

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#76 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:24PM
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I blame that first goal on Schultz.

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#77 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:26PM
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BleedingOil wrote:

I blame that first goal on Schultz.

throw him in a trade to Buffalo and get Ehrhoff too. Or maybe NYR for Lundquist and Stall. Or STL for Elliot and Shattenkirk.

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#78 God
October 17 2013, 05:30PM
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The Oilers need a mass prescription for Effexor and a team of psychologists to work on the entire organization. I smell a psychiatric disorder..

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#79 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:32PM
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God wrote:

The Oilers need a mass prescription for Effexor and a team of psychologists to work on the entire organization. I smell a psychiatric disorder..

They have hit the lowest of lows. I have never seen such a long streak of totally inept hockey from a group of talented stars in all my life. I am almost becoming embarrassed to talk about my team.

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#80 Wonger
October 17 2013, 05:41PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Its nice to see that you have finally unstuck your Caps Lock key. Ya gotta keep your soda away from your keyboard.

OK!!!

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