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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#1 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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#2 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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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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 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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#7 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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#8 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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#9 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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#11 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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#12 @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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 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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#17 @Oilanderp
October 27 2013, 08:27AM
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Throttlehead wrote:

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.

Have you watched the games? The best statistical tool I have to prove progress in the team is my wife: the amount of times she shhhhushes me due to my incredulous screaming at the TV has markedly decreased. It still happens, but not nearly as much!

If you want to feel depressed or angry about this team you can find whatever reason you need: it's there. All I know is compared to 3 years ago this team appears to be on the verge of actually playing hockey. I'm enjoying it in the here and now, and encouraged because given the age of the team, it will only get better.

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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 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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#26 Quicksilver ballet
October 26 2013, 11:47PM
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Why

so

serious

everyone....

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#27 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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#28 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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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#34 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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#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 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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#37 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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#38 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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#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, 07:22PM
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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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#41 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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#42 bwar
October 26 2013, 10:08PM
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TRADE EVERYONE. The only logical solution.

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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 Teddy
October 26 2013, 11:47PM
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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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#47 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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#48 Serious Gord
October 27 2013, 07:57AM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

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...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

It's not fickle it's math and the historical record.

No team in the modern era has ever come from dead last on Nov 1 and made the playoffs. Very few - 3 (?) have ever done it when they were 5 or more back on Nov one. The oil is 8 back with St. Louis having three games at hand. And two back of Dallas and they have two games at hand. And the oil have only two game left before nov1. Thus it is a near impossibility to make the playoffs.

So who is being fickle in light of those facts?

Time to take your realism medicine.

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#49 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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#50 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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