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 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:11PM
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The oil is now 7 points out of a playoff spot with PHX having a game at hand. Might not sound like a lot, but that is already a huge gap.

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#52 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:16PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The Oil have been outclassed on every level since six rings took over.Forget 2006 that was a fluke getting Pronger and Rollie.

You will get no argument from me - and he had pronger fall in his lap - no savvy required../

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#53 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 09:18PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

The oil is now 7 points out of a playoff spot with PHX having a game at hand. Might not sound like a lot, but that is already a huge gap.

In other words done and it has not even snowed yet.

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#54 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:23PM
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Spydyr wrote:

In other words done and it has not even snowed yet.

I have been fiddling around with numbers on a spreadsheet - assuming that 96 pts is the playoff line the oil is going to have to play top five level of hockey just to make it into eighth. This team just has too many holes to do that.

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#55 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 09:28PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I have been fiddling around with numbers on a spreadsheet - assuming that 96 pts is the playoff line the oil is going to have to play top five level of hockey just to make it into eighth. This team just has too many holes to do that.

Sad but true.Not going to happen.Only question left is when does the tank job start?

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#56 Dave
October 17 2013, 09:31PM
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There should be rule that would prevent Edmonton getting another number one pick this decade. It would just a waste of star talent.

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#57 The Hall Way
October 17 2013, 12:49PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

Hey?! Why does Sutherby have 2 usernames on this site?!

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#58 OILERSORDEATH
October 17 2013, 12:57PM
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God that roller coaster looks badass!!

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#59 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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#60 Senator Theo
October 17 2013, 02:14PM
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@madjam

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

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#61 oilerjed
October 17 2013, 03:10PM
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WONGER wrote:

He doesn't! I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR HOW HE PLAYED THE GAME!!! He is too modest to toot his own horn, but I always liked the way he played, and I wished he would have been an Oiler!!!

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

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

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#63 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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#64 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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#65 Sidney Frosby
October 17 2013, 04:55PM
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Sidney Frosby wrote:

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

Oh and Vanek palyed for the U of Minnesota...And.....Minny will pay up to $95 million dollars..apparently.

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#66 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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#67 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:24PM
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I blame that first goal on Schultz.

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#68 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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#69 LoweBlow
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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#70 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:32PM
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LoweBlow 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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#71 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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#72 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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#73 Bloodsweatandoil
October 17 2013, 07:32PM
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Wow.....I tried to be positive with my post this afternoon.

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#74 K_Mart
October 17 2013, 08:28PM
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1-6-1 ... ... so painful. Just so disappointing. When we get outplayed, we lose, when we outplay the opposition, we lose, when the play is even, we lose. Everything seems to be on par in Oilerland.

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#75 K_Mart
October 17 2013, 08:32PM
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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

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#76 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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#77 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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#78 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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#79 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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#80 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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