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 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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#2 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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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#7 Jay Gray
October 26 2013, 05:34PM
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Same Oil Situation

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#8 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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#9 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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#10 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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#11 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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 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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#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 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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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#23 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#29 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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#30 YFC Prez
October 26 2013, 08:32PM
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@Rheal1

define credible...

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#31 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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#32 Big Cap
October 27 2013, 02:14AM
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Can’t stand to see that sour, cry baby look that our Big Mouth, Blow Hard, No-It-All coach displays after another one his swarm defense tactics have gone array.

Tell us again how you demand top fitness, and an ultra competitive team, because NO other coach demands the exact same thing. I’m sure when guys like Sutter, Carlyle, Quenneville, and Torts heard you spout off, they all thought, “Great Idea, I’m going to try that out too”

Hello, Pete Laviolette... you got any plans over the next few months?? Eakins your time is done!

PS - And thanks Eakins for taking down our history and tradition of our proud and successful years past.

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#33 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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#34 Alsker
October 26 2013, 06:59PM
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@Spydyr

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

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#35 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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#36 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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#37 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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#38 BLAKPOO
October 27 2013, 05:57AM
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Labarbera being terrible is a goaltending issue. Labarbera getting the start and being allowed to stay in after 3 brutal goals? That's a coaching issue. Yeah, sure it's against his old team, and it would make Labarbera feel like a champ to beat his old team, but we're not looking to make "After School Specials". We need wins.

This game was very winnable. Despite the bad penalties and consistent turnovers ( I'm looking at you, Nail ), the Oil showed some great ability and perseverance to battle back. It's a shame bad goaltending and bad coaching decisions lost them this game.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 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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#47 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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#48 Time Travelling Sean
October 27 2013, 03:27AM
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I'm depressed, but not so depressed to crap on our team, and be so fickle as to lose all hope/faith 12 games into an 82 game season.

Our worst season in history we started 6-3-1, who knows...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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#49 Loweblows
October 27 2013, 06:18AM
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Hey Mactavish, are you having fun yet?

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#50 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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