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, Sportsnet, 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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#51 james_dean
October 26 2013, 07:48PM
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Mac is getting more grey

Dallas and ryan getzlafs' hairlines will soon show resemblance at this rate

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#52 Quicksilver ballet
October 26 2013, 07:48PM
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Alsker wrote:

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!!!!!!!

We're both in the same boat. We are fortunate to have seen one of the best teams ever assembled in this league. My how the mighty have fallen.

Did your son say anything about the private parking and elevator being built just for Katz and his entourage? Gone will be the days of having rif raf breathing the same air.

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#53 vetinari
October 26 2013, 07:51PM
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I hate to even say it, but what would the team have looked like if Krueger was still the coach and Eakins was an Associate Coach? Or if Renney was still running the bench?

I'm all for supporting the incumbent coach but changing coaches every year means that they have to take 1/2 a season to learn what their players can and cannot do, and another 1/2 a season to teach them what you want them to do. They might as well run the next 4-6 weeks as one big training camp. Luckily, as a tier two out of province fan, I don't have to pay to see this mess first hand.

Get your draft guides out (again) OilerNation, and maybe 2014/15 will be a playoff year.

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#54 Rheal1
October 26 2013, 08:02PM
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The Oilers again losing by one goal....... Yup...... Who's the day in, day out team leader here? Who's hungry enough to be a winner? KLOWE? Another top 5 pick at the 2014 draft. And again in 2015. Then a rebuild.

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#55 Greg
October 26 2013, 08:12PM
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Spydyr wrote:

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?

Why wouldn't Katz love the taste of "hope flavoured Kool Aid". As long as this crap sells out he's fine with what Klowe is doing... At least is sure seems that way.... It's sad

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#56 etownman
October 26 2013, 08:18PM
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Oiler fans (?) need to get a grip! Certain things this team needs (goaltending) isn't going to happen over night! Watched Ebs, Nuge, Perron today among the few & loved what I saw! A couple key additions & this is a different ending! Love what Gazdic & Acton bring, big time compete & Oiler pride, love it!

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#57 D
October 26 2013, 08:18PM
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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.

JW,

I respectfully disagree and feel that this argument is relying on a syllogistic fallacy.

The goaltender is part of the team. So even if the team loses because of poor goaltending, the team results are reflected in the record. If a ship springs a leak, and after plugging that hole the ship springs a leak somewhere else, the ship is still going to sink.

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#58 Rheal1
October 26 2013, 08:20PM
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Huge and credible rumour this evening that a Yakupov trade to Montreal for Budaj, Diaz and a 2nd round pick about to be finalized...

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#59 YFC Prez
October 26 2013, 08:32PM
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@Rheal1

define credible...

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#60 Rod from Viking
October 26 2013, 08:37PM
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@Alsker

It is one good thing about being 50,I got to enjoy the Oiler's, Eskimo's and Blue Jays great teams in the 80's and 90's. The Oiler's need's are too great, they need a better goaltender, a top pairing d-man and a physical top six forward(or two) they have finally drafted the right player in the first round this year but all the years of drafting small forwards and bad picks has this team in such a hole I don't know if I will ever see a great Oiler team again. "Just saying".

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#61 Alsker
October 26 2013, 08:39PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

We're both in the same boat. We are fortunate to have seen one of the best teams ever assembled in this league. My how the mighty have fallen.

Did your son say anything about the private parking and elevator being built just for Katz and his entourage? Gone will be the days of having rif raf breathing the same air.

No mention of private elevators but did let slip a new helipad landing zone(im a huge FSX enthusiast). Funny though, my dad cursed the leafs decisions all throught the early 70s before he went back to europe. Doubt he would have believed he proud laughs would have gone this long without even a sniff. My kids were thrilled with '06 and thought it was the beginning of the 80s again, alas my oldest is now a cansuck fan and his brother a rangers fan. Such shame, such shame.

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#62 Alsker
October 26 2013, 08:41PM
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@Rod from Viking

Well you found 1 good thing about being 50 I didn't, and yes that is 1 one more than found total...lol

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#63 DSF
October 26 2013, 08:44PM
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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.

What makes you think it will?

For the most part, the Oilers have been playing EC cream puffs.

They have a ton of future games against the Sharks, Canucks, Kings and Ducks.

They're done.

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#64 vetinari
October 26 2013, 08:47PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Huge and credible rumour this evening that a Yakupov trade to Montreal for Budaj, Diaz and a 2nd round pick about to be finalized...

Must be speculation from an Eastern source because Yak has too much long term potential to give up on to get back a 31 year old goalie who will be a UFA in two years and yet another defenceman... also, we're at 48 contracts so I can't see us pushing that number up without darn good reason... and Montreal doesn't have a lot of cap room to take on any salary, thus, I can't see them trading away a decent backup who makes $1.4M/season for Yak's salary hit plus the cost of acquiring another NHL ready backup.

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#65 Alsker
October 26 2013, 08:54PM
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DSF wrote:

What makes you think it will?

For the most part, the Oilers have been playing EC cream puffs.

They have a ton of future games against the Sharks, Canucks, Kings and Ducks.

They're done.

Tell me DSF when are you going to get a Vulture as your avatar seeing as you`re insulting the eagle. He doesn`t pick at the rotting bones of those things already dead and decaying..we`re done, maybe. Regardless of our schedule, the way we don`t play the game it would be unlikely we win more than we lose, no matter who we play. Therefore your reasoning tho not inaccurate it is really be better off posting that statement somewhere on an Atlantic-Metro. division site.

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#66 Loweblows
October 26 2013, 09:15PM
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Mark february 3rd on your calender folks because thats when we play Buffalo for the "battle of the basement". And with the number one pick in the 2014 entry draft the Edmonton Oilers proudly select......

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#67 Rod from Viking
October 26 2013, 09:17PM
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@Alsker

The present avatar isn't too far off, an eagle eats more food killed by other things than it kills its self. Whats worse than that is how good the Canuck's are doing and how fast they have embraced the system implemented by their new coaching staff.

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#68 Alsker
October 26 2013, 09:20PM
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Loweblows wrote:

Mark february 3rd on your calender folks because thats when we play Buffalo for the "battle of the basement". And with the number one pick in the 2014 entry draft the Edmonton Oilers proudly select......

Man I truly hope we dont hear those words(unless via trade) again for a decade or better. Clean house Mr.Katz, find a real hockey dude, not a former cup winner, but a true student of the game, an enthusiast, someone NOT busy mulling over what was rather with what will be and will ALWAYS be!!!!!!

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#69 DSF
October 26 2013, 09:25PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

The present avatar isn't too far off, an eagle eats more food killed by other things than it kills its self. Whats worse than that is how good the Canuck's are doing and how fast they have embraced the system implemented by their new coaching staff.

The Canucks just completed a 7 game road trip and returned with a 5-1-1 record.

They were missing Burrows, Hansen, Booth, Weise and Kassian for many of those games.

In the last 2 games, they played with only 9 NHL forwards and still managed to win both.

Like the Oilers they have a new coach, new systems and a ton of injuries.

And, yet, they are 8-4-1.

Go figure.

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#70 Rod from Viking
October 26 2013, 09:32PM
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@DSF

They have what the Oilers do not, veteran team and coaches, true top four d-men, some size and grit and a goal tender that can steal a game once in a while.

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#71 nick
October 26 2013, 09:38PM
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@DSF

Yes they do have a new coach but they were smart enough to hire a proven NHL coach not a career AHL coach that thinks he knows it all. Oilers should have gone after a coach that knows how to handle an NHL bench.

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#72 DSF
October 26 2013, 09:39PM
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nick wrote:

Yes they do have a new coach but they were smart enough to hire a proven NHL coach not a career AHL coach that thinks he knows it all. Oilers should have gone after a coach that knows how to handle an NHL bench.

Can't argue with that.

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#73 DSF
October 26 2013, 09:41PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

They have what the Oilers do not, veteran team and coaches, true top four d-men, some size and grit and a goal tender that can steal a game once in a while.

Yep.

1) Above average goaltending

2) Legit top pairing D.

3) Centre depth

Who could have imagined that would work?

😳

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#74 Throttlehead
October 26 2013, 09:42PM
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The elephant in the room is goaltending, it is flat out terrible, Eakins won't say anything because it would take the minuscule amount of confidence that these goalies have and kill it. If we don't get a goalie and soon, we will be in and remain in the bottom 5. What has changed in coaching to where the PP and PK have sunk to the worst in the league? I assume we are trying to teach the young and the restless how to PK, I am not sure why its these guys. If its not the GM, not the coach, we have 3 1rst over all drafts, what is it exactly? The POHO is the same, the assistants, and whats with the goalie coach. I'm done whining :)

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#75 @Oilanderp
October 26 2013, 09:49PM
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The only problem with this season is if you thought the Oilers had a good chance at making the post-season. I did not, and so am not that upset. I am actually starting to enjoy watching this team again though. You can see their improvement from the past few years. I see progress. I like it. I would suggest to stop overanalyzing the team and step back and enjoy the progress...we're finally coming out of the desert.

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#76 Throttlehead
October 26 2013, 09:59PM
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@@Oilanderp

At this point in the season compared to last season, where exactly have we progressed?

GA- worse wins- worse PP- worse PK -worse

We just have a better car salesman telling us the so called positives after the game.

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#77 Russ99
October 26 2013, 10:00PM
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DSF wrote:

Yep.

1) Above average goaltending

2) Legit top pairing D.

3) Centre depth

Who could have imagined that would work?

😳

4. Shutdown defensive line(s)

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#78 bwar
October 26 2013, 10:08PM
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TRADE EVERYONE. The only logical solution.

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#79 spliff
October 26 2013, 10:10PM
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@Greg

Katz must be an ultra-competitive person, who is a admitted Oiler fan. Therefore, I'm sure this constant losing is bothering him as well. I can't believe that he enjoys investing so much money and time into a perpetually losing organization. There will come a time (I pray) when the chickens will come home to roost for KLost and pals.

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#80 Andrew
October 26 2013, 10:11PM
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Dear bre're Eakins, Mayhap you should have left the special teams alone. They were working fine last season before you showed up looking to re-invent the wheel. I'm not sure of the exact % of roster overturn but I would have taken a few more baby steps before I torched the season with this lame-ass display of beer league hockey at $225.00+ a ticket.

In closing, if I were you I would ask Santa for a competent goaltender or two and a new pro-scouting squad. Your odds of asking Santa can't be any worse than waiting for Mact to get off his duff and respond to a critical need. I'm not liking your shelflife.

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#81 Greg
October 26 2013, 10:15PM
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I swear if the oilers finish in the basement again, the league will be forced to implement a new rule limiting the amount of years a team will be included in the draft lottery.

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#82 Alsker
October 26 2013, 10:19PM
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bwar wrote:

TRADE EVERYONE. The only logical solution.

Now there's a idea, no wait, an entire fansite devoted to that 1 idea!!!

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#83 Alsker
October 26 2013, 10:25PM
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nick wrote:

Yes they do have a new coach but they were smart enough to hire a proven NHL coach not a career AHL coach that thinks he knows it all. Oilers should have gone after a coach that knows how to handle an NHL bench.

Agreed, cansucks have vet team, coachable team, good goaltending, proven system. Tell me, wouldn't you hate to be the guy that walks in and tells some 22 year old millionaire to get his sh^t together or else. Way too many chosen ones in our dressing room. No proven winning vets to slap them around, no accountability from the top down. Why should Ebs,RNH,Hall,Yak, etc. give a rats ass to what Eakins says, its not like kLowe ever walked the walk!!!

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#84 Andrew
October 26 2013, 10:28PM
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spliff wrote:

Katz must be an ultra-competitive person, who is a admitted Oiler fan. Therefore, I'm sure this constant losing is bothering him as well. I can't believe that he enjoys investing so much money and time into a perpetually losing organization. There will come a time (I pray) when the chickens will come home to roost for KLost and pals.

As I see it Mr. Katz only provable competitive edge is collecting "He" of the 6 and accumulating the most overall #1 draft picks in 10 yrs. Now we're talking some serious competition.

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#85 **
October 26 2013, 10:33PM
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"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."

In other words, just another Oilers season.

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#86 Butters
October 26 2013, 10:33PM
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I'm no stats guy, but I will bet Nail Yakupov's 0.00 shooting percentage is unsustainable.

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#87 Butters
October 26 2013, 10:40PM
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Why worry? 2 Years from now our centres will be Nuge/Reinhart/McDavid. Wow!

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#88 Johe
October 26 2013, 10:45PM
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You know things are bad when DSF is getting propped.

All I have to say is that 5 on 5 this team is (for the most part) miles ahead of years past, but special teams is really struggling right now. Eventually though, the percentages have to even out a bit. And eventually the team has to get healthier. Wins are coming. In fact, if their goaltending had been even average, we'd be at 6 wins and fans wouldn't be breaking ankles.

And the people thinking Eakins is going to lose his job this year are out to lunch. Seriously. Get a grip.

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#89 Walter Sobchak
October 26 2013, 10:51PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

The only problem with this season is if you thought the Oilers had a good chance at making the post-season. I did not, and so am not that upset. I am actually starting to enjoy watching this team again though. You can see their improvement from the past few years. I see progress. I like it. I would suggest to stop overanalyzing the team and step back and enjoy the progress...we're finally coming out of the desert.

^ Hear in lies one of the major problems with

Oilers fans……Apathy & Hope.

The” just one more year” “Next year they will be better”

So, not that I don't agree with you, I never had them pegged as a playoff team but, I never had them pegged as a playoff team because of their roster!! You’re looking at it from a tilted view!

The roster, choice of players & coaching is the responsibility of the management, the responsibility of the management is to make this team competitive.

I think it’s our responsibility to voice our displeasure at the way this team has been run, 8 years out of the playoffs is unacceptable in any sport. It’s unacceptable out of those eight years to burn off 4 years of contracts of arguable two of the team’s best players.

It’s baffling how they can fire 5 coaches and yet, not find any responsibility within themselves.

Logic would dictate that major whole sale changes should be made.

I will reference Chicago and the firing of Tallon after he won a cup, mistakes should never be tolerated, yet the clowns up stairs continue to make the same ones and is the sole reason the Oilers are looking at yet another year out of the playoffs.

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#90 David S
October 26 2013, 11:00PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Huge and credible rumour this evening that a Yakupov trade to Montreal for Budaj, Diaz and a 2nd round pick about to be finalized...

E4

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#91 madjam
October 26 2013, 11:04PM
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bwar wrote:

TRADE EVERYONE. The only logical solution.

We basically did that , and ushered in the so called rebuild . Got basically nothing for them and we are still reeling in cellar ever since .

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#92 hall2010
October 26 2013, 11:05PM
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problems with the oil are as followed:

1. rookie head coach playing an inferior swarm defense system.

2. mediocre to poor goaltending contributed by the pathetic swarm system (ss)

3.penalty kill stinks b/c swarm system earlier on (which has been modified) and now offensive players on the pk...joke!! where is lennart petrell...haha!

4.PP stinks b/c we need krueger. MacT. only did 1/2 right, he should have kept ralph as the HC and made dallas his associate coach and then told SS AND KB to lose his phone number -- or higher an legit/establish head coach.

5. the way i see it, we have had a bunch coaches over the last 3 years, and only Renney was legit. keep kreuger and eakins, make them assistants -- tell smith and buch to get the h3ll out edm. and hire a legit nhl head coach, heck i'm desperate enough that as soon as dallas is fired, i'd even have MacT. reinstated. he was the last coach that had some success ie. 2006

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#93 Zamboni Driver
October 26 2013, 11:07PM
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First time I'm going to be critical of the coach (though I don't know WTF our 'system' is in our own zone)...

How he handled the goalie switch was a joke.

Pull him or don't. And after a temper tantrum from your career backup - some guy whose name we will all forget next year - you PUT HIM BACK IN THE GAME?

What he should have done was send him on a one way to the ECHL...

Likely where he belongs, sure.

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#94 pkam
October 26 2013, 11:19PM
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Dustin Terpstra wrote:

What rookie is getting 6mill a year max?

You know Acrobello is making 600K. I think max w needs a pair of glasses, he seems to accidentally count one more zero.

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#95 Walter Sobchak
October 26 2013, 11:20PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

First time I'm going to be critical of the coach (though I don't know WTF our 'system' is in our own zone)...

How he handled the goalie switch was a joke.

Pull him or don't. And after a temper tantrum from your career backup - some guy whose name we will all forget next year - you PUT HIM BACK IN THE GAME?

What he should have done was send him on a one way to the ECHL...

Likely where he belongs, sure.

FYI.

He had no time out's left, he pulled the goalie to give his team a time out then he put him back in.

He mentions it in his post game on the Edmonton Oilers main site.

http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=4&id=468870&navid=DL|EDM|home

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#96 Zamboni Driver
October 26 2013, 11:22PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Well, I would say that's maybe a bit of revisionist history on his part. They went to a TV commercial.

Anyway...doesn't change the fact that if I'm the coach and my useless backup goalie freaks out after I make a decision, I certainly do not reward him.

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#97 madjam
October 26 2013, 11:29PM
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How can you can the coach when the GM canned Kreuger for him ? Obviously MacT. will not . Likewise , how would Lowe can MacT. ? If one goes they both go , but that's unlikely , and so we are stuck with both bad results or not .

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#98 Walter Sobchak
October 26 2013, 11:30PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Well, I would say that's maybe a bit of revisionist history on his part. They went to a TV commercial.

Anyway...doesn't change the fact that if I'm the coach and my useless backup goalie freaks out after I make a decision, I certainly do not reward him.

agreed, just giving you the reason.

Avatar
#99 Quicksilver ballet
October 26 2013, 11:47PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Why

so

serious

everyone....

Avatar
#100 Teddy
October 26 2013, 11:47PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Eakins coaching results are making me think Tambs, Renney. Quinn and Krueger are looking like progressive, creative, hockey dynamos by comparison.

Sad.

Keep it up Mr.Eakins because I hear you can get some real tasty veggies in the ECHL. And that is where you are very likely headed. I give you another 10 mos of the current situation and you may want to line up a good mover.

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