I have a bad feeling about this

Jonathan Willis
October 26 2013 05:33PM

The Edmonton Oilers had a pretty decent game. Really they did. Scout's honour. 

They lost anyway, and that's getting to be an ugly trend.

The Loss To Phoenix

Dallas Eakins said basically the same thing after the game.

Eakins avoided placing blame on goaltender Jason LaBarbera, instead saying that the Oilers need to get better at blocking those point shots. While that may be true, and it's certainly true that some of those outside shots were deflected, LaBarbera allowed four of five goals from far outside the scoring chances area.

And, just to add injury to insult, Tyler Pitlick scored his first NHL goal but then left the game on crutches after taking an awkward hipcheck. 

A one-goal loss to Phoenix isn't a huge deal, but the trouble is that the hole the Oilers are in gets deeper by the day.

The Problems

  • Over the last five seasons (including pro-rating Minnesota's 2012-13 pace) the eight place team in the Western Conference has averaged between 94 and 95 points. That means the Oilers need to record something like 88 points over their final 70 games - which assuming an average rate of overtime losses works out to a 40-22-8 record the rest of the way. Even if you believe (as I do) that the Oilers are significantly better than the record to date, that's a lot of ground to make up.
  • The goaltending has been flat-out bad. Devan Dubnyk seems to have rediscovered his form of the last few seasons, but Jason LaBarbera has yet to have a good game for Edmonton. At age 33 he's a little young to be losing it, so there's got to be at least a decent chance he bounces back but it's been ugly so far. I do think the Oilers move to add a goalie at some point but for right now the most important thing is Dubnyk playing as well as his long-term track record says he should.
  • The injuries up front are getting silly. As Bob Stauffer tweeted after the game, Pitlick is the ninth forward on an NHL contract to be out. He joins Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth, Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Hamilton, Steve MacIntyre, Ryan Martindale and Curtis Hamilton. If I had to guess I'd say Linus Omark is the next call-up; remarkably the Oilers will still have two plausible call-ups on the farm (Anton Lander and Andrew Miller) if they make that choice.
  • The penalty kill is a major concern, too. No team in the NHL is as likely to allow an opposition shot attempt 4-on-5 as the Oilers. It's not just a case of the goalies needing to stop more shots (though that has been a factor); it's a case where the entire unit just hasn't been good enough. I can't help wondering if the decision to work in a bunch of skill guys into the rotation is part of the problem here; the Oilers are leaning pretty heavily on inexperienced personnel. 
  • I'm less worried about the power play. A year ago, the Oilers scored on 16.9 percent of the shots they took (while not really generating a lot of shots); this year shot generation is up but the Oilers are clicking at just a 6.6 percent rate (meaning that any shot last year was more than twice as likely to be a goal as any shot this year).

Add a deep hole early in the year to a bunch of injuries to bad goaltending to struggling special teams and the Oilers chances of coming away with a playoff berth this season look pretty grim. Some of it will self-correct (the power play and possibly the goaltending), some of it needs help from the coaches (the penalty kill) and some of it (the injuries and the early hole) just needs to be overcome.

Put it all together and this looks like a season on its way to going pear-shaped, despite the team as a whole being significantly better than it was a year ago.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Jay Gray
October 26 2013, 05:34PM
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Same Oil Situation

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#2 OilTime
October 26 2013, 05:40PM
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Lander is scratched tonight, is he hurt or getting the call up?

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#4 Ted
October 26 2013, 05:44PM
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I wonder if the Oil rushed the young guys a bit too much. The team has been awful for so long and now it seems all of those high picks are not going to turn out. Not every high pick will become a star and it looks to be true here. The GM have to make some moves!

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#6 Sidney Frosby
October 26 2013, 05:56PM
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Good thing we have the following saviours to right the ship:

Scott Howson - never did anything for Columbus but crash and burn them, but will save the Oil somehow

Buchberger - has been here for 3 coaches and has shown he's useless

Smith - has done just a wonderful job with our defence year to year

MacT: couldn't get hired as a NHL coach anywhere, so Oilers gave him a well deserved GM Job, where he signed Labarbra to assist the Goalie (Dubnyk) he had doubts about. Oh and he signed a rookie coach thinking the guy was Bourdeau

Klowe - has accepted and encouraged all of the above

And the Jury is waiting for Eakins... Spent more time discussing doughnuts , diets, shape, and his swarm tactics....that have lead us to the basement of the NHL.

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#7 LinkfromHyrule
October 26 2013, 05:58PM
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One thing nobody seems to be talking about is the amount of silly penalties the oilers are taking. This is making our horrid penalty kill look much worse. We are 29th in minor penalties taken this year. We simply cannot continue taking this many penalties. Arco's high stick as well as ference's hook were just bad penalties.

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#8 madjam
October 26 2013, 06:06PM
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Well it could be worse , if our goalies had not stole 3 wins and a tie for us . Offense isn't a big problem either . Defence sucks despite number of shots blocked . and swarm system (the culprit defensively) is killing us defensively . It does not work defensively for our personnel make up . You cannot expect our club to average over 4 goals a game just yet . but they have to adopt another system defensively or trade for a couple of defenceman that are adapt at that system .

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#9 jl
October 26 2013, 06:07PM
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Nice to see not much has changed around these parts you guys still suck.

Shocking since in the off season it was mentioned on many occasions this group is a dynasty in the making.

Your franchise is a a complete joke I hope you guys show something im getting tired of you guus celebrating high draft picks.

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#10 Woogie63
October 26 2013, 06:07PM
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The team seems to lack structure, and it hard to understand what the team personality is. In the next ten games, what will Eakins and the other coaches do differently?

Would it make sense to bring in a seasoned coach as a consultant? What is Marc Crawford doing?

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#11 Mike Krushelnyski
October 26 2013, 06:08PM
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Even if all of those forwards got healthy today, this group isn't going to go 40-22-8. Mac T is going to need some bold moves to pay off big time if we're going to make the playoffs.

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#12 Muji
October 26 2013, 06:11PM
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I hate to say it, but Eakins has been a BIG disappointment. The players deserve blame, of course, but it's also up to the coaching staff to maximize the players' potential. Also, poor special teams.

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#13 max w
October 26 2013, 06:14PM
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One thing that bugs me is why on earth does a rookie get 6mil. a year for what!

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#14 Dustin Terpstra
October 26 2013, 06:19PM
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max w wrote:

One thing that bugs me is why on earth does a rookie get 6mil. a year for what!

What rookie is getting 6mill a year max?

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#15 Dustin Terpstra
October 26 2013, 06:19PM
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max w wrote:

One thing that bugs me is why on earth does a rookie get 6mil. a year for what!

What rookie is getting 6mill a year max?

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#16 YFC Prez
October 26 2013, 06:20PM
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Despite the loosing record the oilers are playing the best 5 on 5 I have seen during the rebuild. Bottom lines are playing quite good. I'm not willing to throw Eakins under the bus yet.

Krueger's special teams were better but I think it will come. I'm tired of coaching changes.

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#17 Smokey
October 26 2013, 06:20PM
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I have troubles watching anymore. Barbie's worse then Dubby. They have lost easily 8-10 points just on goaltending. Season is salvageable if you can fix it. If I was MacT I'd throw Backman in for game.

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#18 BJM
October 26 2013, 06:26PM
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Fed up. Goalies don't need to be Vezina quality, just make a save sometimes to help. Don't make open ice blind passes. This is sickening. 6Rings and his cabal have done nothing. Sorry just pissed off. There are no more excuses. October and out of the playoffs.

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#19 Alsker
October 26 2013, 06:27PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

The team seems to lack structure, and it hard to understand what the team personality is. In the next ten games, what will Eakins and the other coaches do differently?

Would it make sense to bring in a seasoned coach as a consultant? What is Marc Crawford doing?

Personality?? This has been the question since 06. Who/what are we? Hard nosed,hard working group?No. Skilled,smart,offensive,puck control team? No. Who are we, what are we, does anyone in this organization have a clue what type of team we are attempting to build? Hard to coach a team/install a system when tour group of players don't fit any existing example. I truly feel sorry for Eakins as its impossible to put into practice a system that at best showcases less than half of your teams abilities. If this doesn't slap upper-management in the face soon than another season after this one is lost already!!!

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#20 FireKLowe
October 26 2013, 06:30PM
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JW WTF are you smoking? The team sucks period. You're just as big a homie as Stauffer!

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#21 Alsker
October 26 2013, 06:38PM
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FireKLowe wrote:

JW WTF are you smoking? The team sucks period. You're just as big a homie as Stauffer!

No one, and I repeat: "NO ONE" is as big a homer as those blokes on ched. Dude Im old enough to remember Rod ripping both Gretz and Mess new as%holes for their play some nights, but the trash Micheals and Stauffer throw our way is almost as bad as the crap Brian Hall spews re: The Esks!!

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#24 LOIL99
October 26 2013, 06:50PM
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Ted wrote:

I wonder if the Oil rushed the young guys a bit too much. The team has been awful for so long and now it seems all of those high picks are not going to turn out. Not every high pick will become a star and it looks to be true here. The GM have to make some moves!

"All these high picks arent going to turn out."

Hall was 9th in league scoring last year, Nuge is over pt per game pace, and Yak is coming of a rookie year where he lead rookies in goals and points.

And they are all under the age of 22....

"All these high picks arent going to turn out."......

*FACEPALM*

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#25 james_dean
October 26 2013, 06:52PM
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FireKLowe wrote:

JW WTF are you smoking? The team sucks period. You're just as big a homie as Stauffer!

If you dont like it dont read it @sshole

Willis is a boss.

also last I checked there is only one person working in hockey....

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#26 LOIL99
October 26 2013, 06:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No, this team is better than its record.

If you don't believe me, go back over the schedule and count how many games were lost to goaltending alone.

Yes, the results are disappointing but year-over-year a lot of the performances are moving in the right direction; I think this team is much improved from where it was a year ago.

The trouble is the goaltending being so bad has overshadowed it, and then you add in the struggles on special teams and you realize this team has come a long way 5-on-5.

It just hasn't paid off yet.

Sounds like a UFC fan...no point in wasting your breath explaining JW.

GRRRRR!!! FIRE EVERYONE!!!! GRRRRAAAAHHHH!!!

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#27 Spydyr
October 26 2013, 06:53PM
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Newsflash :It has been bad since 2006.People are just starting to get fed up.You can only sell hope flavoured kool-aid for so long.It appears as that time has come.

The team just does not know how to win .They can't hold a lead and the team lacks leadership.

I have never seen a year until this one when the Oilers were out of the playoffs before it snowed.Don't fool yourself they are already too many points back.A team with this many glaring weaknesses can not come back from this hole they dug.

That is a very sad commentary on the so called "braintrust". What will it take for a regime change Katz?Ten years outside the playoffs?

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#28 Alsker
October 26 2013, 06:59PM
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@Spydyr

"Braintrust"..lol.. appears more like aneurysm to me.

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#29 oilerman53
October 26 2013, 06:59PM
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Holy crap this team is super crappy this year! No structured game at all and this whole swarm defence is just putrid. Is it the players not buying into the system or is it the whole thing in general. All the right things are said in the offseason and we getthis sickening brand of hockey where the team is letting in an average of four goals a game.

Way too many stick infractions as well as holding penalties are being called against arguable one of the fastest teams in the league. Who knows where this is leading to but its getting ridiculous, the losing is getting worst and worst every game. I have no clue anymore, my frustration level is at its peak after this game.

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#30 Greg
October 26 2013, 07:00PM
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Ted wrote:

I wonder if the Oil rushed the young guys a bit too much. The team has been awful for so long and now it seems all of those high picks are not going to turn out. Not every high pick will become a star and it looks to be true here. The GM have to make some moves!

Kevin Lowe needs to make one move to make this team better... Step down.

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#31 Serious Gord
October 26 2013, 07:01PM
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The playoffs are essentially out of reach with this loss. Oiler management should act accordingly and cease and desist making any rash moves. Leave roster changes to the new managers once Katz grows a pair and fires their a$$es.

The high injury rate is no fluke and has been a chronic issue for the oil for years now. The common themes: unchanged coaching staff and lack of team size/physicality. Again that has needed to be changed - and clearly current management is incapable of executing on it.

FYI Garth snow has been the poster child of crap owners pet managers for years now.

No longer.

Kevin Lowe - with his NY cup win picture in the background - now is the new poster child. Congratulations Kevin!!! It is long overdue.

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#32 Spydyr
October 26 2013, 07:02PM
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Alsker wrote:

"Braintrust"..lol.. appears more like aneurysm to me.

The only off ice personal on the Oilers that should have their job next year is Joey Moss.

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#33 james_dean
October 26 2013, 07:04PM
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I wonder what odds of eakins switching goalies before the shootout this year

the old morrison conklin tactic.

Seemed grim in some parts of the 05 06 season

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#34 Hammer
October 26 2013, 07:08PM
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Kevin Lowe, Mac T, Kelly Buchburger, Steve Smith all losers!!! They need winners like Gretzky, Messier they are winners!!! Dallas Eakins needs to pick his own assistants!!! Katz is going to need to buy all the drugs from his Rexall as Kevin Lowe and loser company are driving the Oilers into the ground

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#35 ngj
October 26 2013, 07:12PM
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@Spydyr

Would you give your head a shake. With three wins in succession the team would be in 18th place and three points out of the play-offs.

What is restricting success right now is the PK and PP. They have to modify the systems they are using to make those work.

Coaching needs to realize systems and player combos are not working. Having Gagner and Hall back would do wonders also.

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#36 Mikey
October 26 2013, 07:13PM
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jl wrote:

Nice to see not much has changed around these parts you guys still suck.

Shocking since in the off season it was mentioned on many occasions this group is a dynasty in the making.

Your franchise is a a complete joke I hope you guys show something im getting tired of you guus celebrating high draft picks.

Hey man you're right. Except what gives you the right to pop on here to bash? Who is your team?

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#37 Quicksilver ballet
October 26 2013, 07:14PM
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Imagine how bad this would be if Lowe hadn't fired all the equipment staff years ago. Stafford and Sparky, what a couple loafers those guys were.

That bold move never gets the credit it deserves. Keep the faith brothers. Better days ahead in 5 more yrs.

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#38 spliff
October 26 2013, 07:15PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No, this team is better than its record.

If you don't believe me, go back over the schedule and count how many games were lost to goaltending alone.

Yes, the results are disappointing but year-over-year a lot of the performances are moving in the right direction; I think this team is much improved from where it was a year ago.

The trouble is the goaltending being so bad has overshadowed it, and then you add in the struggles on special teams and you realize this team has come a long way 5-on-5.

It just hasn't paid off yet.

Unfortunately goaltending is a huge part of the team. Therefore, this team has no significantly improved from last year. All I know is they still lose...a lot.

The Oilers a 3W - 8L - 1OTL, which is not good enough this far along into the so called "rebuild". This joke of an organization has had very high draft picks for almost a decade now, and what we have now is a weak, less then mediocre team with no identity. This is taking place in a passionate hockey market, with a billionaire owner who pays to the cap. If the Oilers don't finish in the top 20 at least, this season will be considered another disaster. And if that happens, what possible reason can there be to keep the management group that got us into this quagmire in the first place. This franchise is being laughed at around the league. Where is your pride KLoser and MacT? WTF?

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#39 TayLordBalls
October 26 2013, 07:16PM
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what a gong show!

I put the blame squarely on the coach for trying to force ANOTHER new defensive system on the players.

Why not gradually introduce this new swarm system?

Or better yet - get back to traditional defense.

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#40 Alsker
October 26 2013, 07:19PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The only off ice personal on the Oilers that should have their job next year is Joey Moss.

Yah, Joey`s safe, maybe they give kLowe an office in the fire escape stairwell to keep him happy, though Im not sure WHO really looks after the business end of the Oil, but he(she) should decide who stays. Heck, can`t hurt, grab the first shoppping cart homeless dude to pass by their doors and ask them what to do, can`t be worse than what 6rings has done.

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#41 Alsker
October 26 2013, 07:22PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

what a gong show!

I put the blame squarely on the coach for trying to force ANOTHER new defensive system on the players.

Why not gradually introduce this new swarm system?

Or better yet - get back to traditional defense.

The fault lies on the GM, he hires a coach to install a system he believes he has the players to make such system work.. Hence why they interviewed multiple candidates for the job. Oh wait, that would have included King Lowe, ok the GM`s off the hook!!

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#42 oilers2k10
October 26 2013, 07:24PM
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I think Yakupov had a decent game, and him and RNH are finally starting to develop a little chemistry, not just off that pass Yakupov made to RNH that led to the goal, but after the first period the two were getting chances together shift after shift..

So the answer is Bad goaltending, but who's out there? Could the Oilers possibly deal this years first round pick and a B level prospect for a number one goalie?

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#43 Spydyr
October 26 2013, 07:27PM
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ngj wrote:

Would you give your head a shake. With three wins in succession the team would be in 18th place and three points out of the play-offs.

What is restricting success right now is the PK and PP. They have to modify the systems they are using to make those work.

Coaching needs to realize systems and player combos are not working. Having Gagner and Hall back would do wonders also.

Give my head a shake.Really,have not paid attention the last seven years?

You are saying if they only put together a three game win streak.Are you assuming every team in front of them goes on a three game losing streak?

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#44 nick
October 26 2013, 07:27PM
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I believe that Eakins does not know how to manage a bench. He talks about blocking more shots, he has one of the best shot blockers in the league that last 3 years in Smid and he plays Belov more. He plays the young stars on the PK and clearly that is not working. Eakins has this team so mixed we don't stand a chance in most games. Very bad decision bringing this monor league coach to the Big Leagues. Just like some players are good AHL players and can't play in the NHL same thing with coaches. Clearly Eakins is a career AHL coach.

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#45 Alsker
October 26 2013, 07:32PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Imagine how bad this would be if Lowe hadn't fired all the equipment staff years ago. Stafford and Sparky, what a couple loafers those guys were.

That bold move never gets the credit it deserves. Keep the faith brothers. Better days ahead in 5 more yrs.

5 more years, at my age thats a death sentence not an ETA. Man my son has seen Katzs plans for downtown in his office and it looks awesome. But DAMN, hockey is more important than municipal growth, forget rebuilding Edmonchuck and worry about winning the Goddamn cup!!!!!!!

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#46 KLIR
October 26 2013, 07:33PM
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Kevin Lowe is responsible for hiring a rookie GM who hired a rookie coach to oversee a rookie team. What was he thinking. No good manager would do this or if he did he should know he would pay the price if it didn't work out. Time for Lowe to go!

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#47 Rama Lama
October 26 2013, 07:36PM
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The Oilers are on the verge of something big. Yea a little adversity goes a long way.........the best is yet to come.

POSITIVES:

We are the best conditioned team in the NHL. We have a coach that does NOT need systems in order to succeed. The Oilers has some of the best trainers in the NHL. The Oilers no longer serve donuts to the media......JW has lost weight as a result. Katz is starting to wonder if 6 rings is wee-todd-did! We will be able to get another top five pick this year!!!........yipee! The best is yet to come! THe NYI are starting to look real good!

See the glass is not half empty.

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#48 Lower lows
October 26 2013, 07:39PM
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At the expense of us fans I appreciate that management has decided that now is a good time to experiment with the PK and PP. Eakins looks tired. Wonder if he is sleeping at night. I do like him but what worked last year seems completely broken this year.

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#49 S cottV
October 26 2013, 07:42PM
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Have a feeling that Eakins may not work out, even though for perhaps some of the wrong reasons. Risky MacT move bringing in an unproven rookie Coach. With a veteran Coach in this situation - MacT would be much better insulated and maybe a better feeling from all concerned that the situation could be worked through. No way this team goes 40-22-8 to make the playoffs, with a 5 to 4 crap shoot hockey culture. Unfortunately MacT has painted himself in a corner with a declaration of immediate results this year. He may have to get his shoes dirty...

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#50 etownman
October 26 2013, 07:42PM
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At the game today & yotes fans were shouting shoot as soon as their team had the puck, what does that tell you! We need no b_llsh_t goaltending! You could see the boys sag as soon as those first three went in! its' hard to fix that problem right now, but that's it, confidence in the tenders, & it isn't there! Concentrate on the goal out from now on, everything else will take it's place!

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