Turn Off The Lights. The Season Is Over.

Jonathan Willis
October 05 2013 11:29PM

Based on the reaction to tonight's game on Twitter, I've arrived at an inescapable conclusion: the season is over. Thanks, Craig MacTavish, for trying to fix the Oilers, but now you need to go back to the drawing board. The good news is that you have just under 12 months to completely overhaul the team before the 2014-15 season starts.

In All Seriousness

Devan Dubnyk has now had two very bad games. It's fair to note that, it's fair to say that he needs to be better, and it's fair to be concerned about what happens next. What's crazy is writing him off after two bad games. 

If the last 20 years of NHL history have shown us anything, it's that people judging goalies based on their short-term results are going to be burned very, very badly. Brian Boucher has the NHL record for the longest consecutive minutes without allowing a goal - longer than Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek or Martin Brodeur. He didn't do it during a good run, either - the record came in Phoenix, where Boucher was (outside of those five games) miserable for two and a half years. 

Oilers fans can probably recall something similar - Jeff Deslauriers' miracle run in 2009-10. He went 5-0 on a five-game road trip, posting a 0.938 save percentage. He posted a 0.895 save percentage the rest of the way. Last year, he was a 0.902 save percentage goalie in the ECHL

It works the other way, too. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the game - a guy with a far better track record than Dubnyk - and through two games with New York last year he had a 0.865 save percentage.

These runs happen. They're basically meaningless.

While judging individuals like Dubnyk or Taylor Hall - playing out of position - over a pair of games is foolhardy, that doesn't mean it's too early to say a few things.

For one, Vancouver's casual dominance in almost every category stands out. The Canucks out-shot Edmonton 44-to-23, and when the game was still in question the ratio was 22-to-8. If it was close, we might say things like 'it was close' and 'the Canucks are a good team.' But when one club ragdolls another like that, it seems reasonably clear that what's going on right now isn't working and isn't likely to work.

Dallas Eakins has time - I'm not sure Twitter knows this, but there's something like 80 games left in the season - and on Monday he gets Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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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 Power Engineer
October 05 2013, 11:43PM
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I have to admit that I am a fan if Dubnyk. I think he can do the job we need him to do. That said, the pressure of playing in Edmonton, with such a temperamental fan base, no doubt makes it tougher. Should the time come he needs to be traded/asks to be traded/needs to be demoted, do you think there could be a deal for Reimer out of Toronto? Patience needs to be exercised but is in short supply around here and understandably so. To me this is a deal that could be done straight across. Reimer just seems like he has his stuff together just a little more, and we would not have to gut our team for improvement at the goaltender position. JMHO.

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#2 Oilhead99
October 06 2013, 12:16AM
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First timer poster. I have to say I have been an diehard,Oilers fan since the age of 5. I have 2 oilers' Tattoo's to prove how diehard of a fan am.Everybody just needs to look forward to better days for a our young,maturing team that is starting something special soon. We just need to be healthy with RNH,Gags& were good to go! Have some faith Oil Nation!

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#3 madjam
October 06 2013, 12:03AM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

Who saw this coming?!?

Unfortuneately a lot of pundits seen it coming when MacT. decided to fill from within .Up till then it was looking like he was going to add some more outside system to make roster stronger . Most seem to choosing us as finishing 24-28th this year . Oilers refuse to add strength , grit and size down center as all NHL teams are doing . Goaltending they vastly overrated , as well as defence for this season . Put the three weaknesses together and that spells losses . Not looking like new coach - still trying to know the team or new system helping much either . To many inconsequential changes all at once ?The kids are not ready to carry this club yet , and may never be for all we know right now .

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#4 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 05 2013, 11:40PM
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Pay them based on games won. Bet we'd see a little more effort every night...

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#5 Muji
October 05 2013, 11:49PM
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They will be fine. It's just a 2 game losing streak.

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#6 **
October 05 2013, 11:56PM
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Jonathan, Dubnyk may turn up to be an outstanding goalie at age 31, but unfortunately for the Oilers they can not wait that long. It is the here and now for this team. The luxury of time is gone, one would like to think. Dubnyk has been bad since the preseason games, and I don't think people who are bashing him are talking just about the last two games, but the last 3 years of the same trend of letting in soft goals at crucial times. His overall numbers get better every year yes, but it seems that when the game is on the line, when he has to step it up, he doesn't have what it takes to lift his team, he lacks that killer instinct, that confidence to make the clutch stop. Not unlike Roberto Luongo it seems. The Oilers need a Reggie Miller in goal, not a Vince Carter

. Great to see the fans have finally ran out of patience.

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#7 jman
October 06 2013, 03:36AM
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Ahhh Willis... so jaded. Hall smyth hemsky top line? Both top centers not playing... no top pair defensemen... but lets convince the fan base to resist calling a spade a spade? Ridiculous. Stand behind this shabby article in two months.... I dare you. You won't. There is too much to be fixed and if the season is to be save (playoffs) moves need to be made today.... yesterday.... and months ago. Reality bites and the season has already started with a vague thud. But be patient right? No way. Willis. We are all done waiting. Maybe you should wake up.

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#8 Fresh Mess
October 06 2013, 12:04AM
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Hall assists against his own team have nothing to do with him playing centre, and everything to do with him not using his head.

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#9 Patrick Miranda
October 06 2013, 01:21AM
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David S wrote:

Odds are RNH is gonna be pretty ordinary for a while. Same with Gagner. It took Hall a good month to recover his game.

Anybody who thinks his return is going to be an instant turnaround should stock up the liquor cabinet. The suck will be here for a while I'm afraid. It'll only truly get better when Hall goes back to where he's supposed to be.

If it takes Nuge a while to recover, who is going to cover for Hall's turnovers on the wing this year???

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#10 **
October 06 2013, 12:00AM
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Jonathan, the Canucks did not dominate every category, both faceoffs and hits were more for the Oilers. And yet the team was never in the game.

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#11 StHenriOilBomb
October 06 2013, 01:57AM
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madjam wrote:

Unfortuneately a lot of pundits seen it coming when MacT. decided to fill from within .Up till then it was looking like he was going to add some more outside system to make roster stronger . Most seem to choosing us as finishing 24-28th this year . Oilers refuse to add strength , grit and size down center as all NHL teams are doing . Goaltending they vastly overrated , as well as defence for this season . Put the three weaknesses together and that spells losses . Not looking like new coach - still trying to know the team or new system helping much either . To many inconsequential changes all at once ?The kids are not ready to carry this club yet , and may never be for all we know right now .

Who picked the Oilers to finish 28th?

Who are these people who chose the Oilers to finish 26-28? I read a lot of internet BS leading up to this season and I didn't see much of those types of predictions.

Maybe you thought so, but to say that "most" is, I believe, totally wrong.

Unless, of course, you can back this up with some sources, you have very little credit with me.

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#12 MessyEH!
October 06 2013, 02:38AM
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Accountability means Dubnyk sits next game.

In the press box.

In OKC.

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#13 Dan 1919
October 06 2013, 09:41AM
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Lol I love how much respect Dubnyk still gets like he's a proven goalie that needs to rebound. It's not two weak games, it's three seasons now that Dubnyk has been handed on a silver platter and has squandered. He's always been a weak goalie and now he's proving that he has showed very marginal improvement over three long seasons.

But but but his save % is high! Pay attention next game, the oppositions throw EVERYTHING on net against him because of his notorious reputation of being a terrible goalie. That ladies and gentlemen, is why he has a high save %.

MacT wasn't trying to sign Schneider for fun.

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#14 David S
October 05 2013, 11:48PM
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Odds are RNH is gonna be pretty ordinary for a while. Same with Gagner. It took Hall a good month to recover his game.

Anybody who thinks his return is going to be an instant turnaround should stock up the liquor cabinet. The suck will be here for a while I'm afraid. It'll only truly get better when Hall goes back to where he's supposed to be.

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#15 Cynic
October 06 2013, 03:32AM
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"Who picked the Oilers to finish 28th?"

People who didn't have their heads up their....

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#16 rob
October 06 2013, 12:03PM
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DD is true cause hes a big boob!he never plays a game as an oilers again,start sitting player than underperform!managment needs to show that they are serious so all the fans know they are not getting fleeced!let the kids run as that is the only way they have any success,and solve the goaltending issue now!trade a first round pick and Eberle for something,play labarbra till we can get someone else and sit hall for a game.Perron,gordon,petry and yaks are the only ones haulin there weight.we can all complain but managment doesent change what needs to be changed,only puts bandaids on it while we pay our money on tickets,merchandise and watch on tv for the same product time and time again!I hope when Rnh and Ganger come back it helps but we still have gaps that are glaringly there!

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#17 Cold Hard Truth
October 05 2013, 11:50PM
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Teams won't go far without a reliable goalie. Period.

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#18 jeanshorts
October 06 2013, 12:09AM
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All that stock I bought in metal umbrellas is about to pay out HANDSOMELY!

#TheSkyIsFalling

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#19 **
October 06 2013, 12:46AM
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Oilhead99 wrote:

First timer poster. I have to say I have been an diehard,Oilers fan since the age of 5. I have 2 oilers' Tattoo's to prove how diehard of a fan am.Everybody just needs to look forward to better days for a our young,maturing team that is starting something special soon. We just need to be healthy with RNH,Gags& were good to go! Have some faith Oil Nation!

you must be new here

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#20 Fresh Mess
October 06 2013, 01:22AM
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** wrote:

hey the Pittsburgh pirates waited 21 years. you are no real fans.

That's not being a fan. That's being an enabler.

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#21 Rama Lama
October 06 2013, 11:26AM
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Although my heart says no.......I'm going to back JW on preaching patience. We lost these two games for one or two simple reasons:

1. Since the glory days we have not had a game breaking goaltender. We had a chance to draft a top-tier goaltender this year, last year, and the year before but chose not to. Our fixation on top-offensive players will soon come to an end as eventually the Oilers brass will discover that drafting top defenseman like Nurse is more important.

2. Playing players out of their natural position never seems to work......at least at the NHL level......I know there are exceptions, I'm talking over all.

After RNH returns and calms the team down......this will all be forgotten. Relax people it's only game two.

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#22 Gerald R. Ford
October 05 2013, 11:51PM
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Bring back the doughnuts.

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#23 Fresh Mess
October 06 2013, 12:06AM
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Bloodsweatandoil wrote:

I know....have patience.This is getting very old and embarassing.

It's only been seven years. You must not be a real Leaf--er, I mean OILERS fan.

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#24 The Oilers Shot Clock
October 06 2013, 12:33AM
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Gerald R. Ford wrote:

Bring back the doughnuts.

Ha, I was just talking about this with my friend(my mom), at some point this season, there will be a doughnut throwing incident and only then, can we consider the rebuild over.

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#25 Bushed
October 06 2013, 12:45AM
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"It seems reasonably clear that what's going on right now isn't working and isn't likely to work."

Agreed. So where to start?

None of our forward lines played like lines tonight--we need more than pairs of players who have chemistry.

I've admired Smyth as a player for years, but he can't keep up anymore; keep his savvy and make him a coach or development guy, and get a third player who can keep up to Hall and Hemmer. Acton has try but is not an NHL player, and Arcobello isn't making a strong case either.

Size seemed to be a big issue for many of our forwards (puck battles?) and D (clearing the front of the net, winning battles on the D boards). Is that because the players don't know the system well enough? aren't executing? aren't the right players?

Successful puck possession teams seem to work as 5 man units on both sides of the puck, in all zones of the ice. I don't see much evidence of that with the Oilers.

Eakins and/or MacT have lots of work ahead...

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#26 spliff
October 06 2013, 03:07AM
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Wish I could share your enthusiasm Jonathan. However, the Oil got absolutely schooled tonight. Eberle a 6 million a year player? Destroying Hall's confidence forcing him to play center, when MacT had ample time to sign a decent centerman. How many years have we been deficient at center? Management from KLoser on down is a cronyistic joke of ineptness. Too many coaching changes, too many lopsided trades (thanks kevin) and too much time resting on their laurels (while insulting an incredibly patient,loyal and overpaying fan base). This is a business right? Okay KLowe and MacT - show me the results, time's a wasting. What's the plan now?

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#27 spliff
October 06 2013, 07:25AM
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What you talkin about Willis?

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#28 dw
October 06 2013, 08:30AM
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madjam wrote:

Unfortuneately a lot of pundits seen it coming when MacT. decided to fill from within .Up till then it was looking like he was going to add some more outside system to make roster stronger . Most seem to choosing us as finishing 24-28th this year . Oilers refuse to add strength , grit and size down center as all NHL teams are doing . Goaltending they vastly overrated , as well as defence for this season . Put the three weaknesses together and that spells losses . Not looking like new coach - still trying to know the team or new system helping much either . To many inconsequential changes all at once ?The kids are not ready to carry this club yet , and may never be for all we know right now .

I don't think MacT decided to fill the goaltending position "from within". I remember him making a push for Schneider before NJ swiped him. This isn't fantasy hockey. You don't just get to pick players you want. Not only do you have to come up with a package the other team agrees to but you also have to beat out all the other offers that you don't necessarily know they have. Not as easy as you allude to in your posting. McT has tried to fill the spot with candidates outside the organization but when the well went dry and Dubnyk was the best option left he did the right thing and threw his support behind him. Lamar brad (sp) looked decent in relief so let's start him next game and see what he can do.

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#29 madjam
October 06 2013, 08:32AM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Who picked the Oilers to finish 28th?

Who are these people who chose the Oilers to finish 26-28? I read a lot of internet BS leading up to this season and I didn't see much of those types of predictions.

Maybe you thought so, but to say that "most" is, I believe, totally wrong.

Unless, of course, you can back this up with some sources, you have very little credit with me.

Pacific division breakdown by Coppernblue article writer Scott Reynolds . Picks Oilers at 28th . Picks Flames just below us . Read the entire article , it is in depth and well written .

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#30 Cas3
October 06 2013, 10:57AM
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Our fanbase. Find someone to pick on than when the time is right pick on him like there is no tomorrow!!! Than you wonder why high profile Free Agents don't want to come out and play here or Players waive their No trade clause when traded here(Heatley). You guys are supporting the team Gretzky and Messier and all those guys built and this is what you do with it???

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#31 **
October 06 2013, 01:33PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Having more hits is generally a sign you don't have the puck - that's why hitting actually has a slight correlation with losing games.

Bit of a selective response there.

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#32 Oiler Al
October 06 2013, 01:33PM
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I think that Eakin;s "SWARM", has come back and bit him in the butt. I mean what the heck was happening on the ice. Looked like organized confusion.The puck possession certainly didn't work last night, because it means "hard on the puck" .. at all times, which was not the case with our skating ballerina's.Kids, your not in the Jr. hockey leagues anymore.

Bad coaching and poor management, of these number one picks was on display last night.

Sorry but Arcabello , Acton, is not the answer for an NHL team.

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#33 Jamie
October 06 2013, 01:40PM
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Yes Doobie has let in soft goals. This is bound to happen with so many shots faced, and so much time spent in your own end. People either don't know or forget that Doobie has recently had to shorten his pads by 3" each pad. This opens up an extra six inch's of net he isn't use to having exposed. He has also had to go to a stick with a smaller paddle. These changes may not seem huge but they change the way he has to play. He is not use to the equipment changes yet. Package this with soft play from the defense and turn overs galore, it's no wonder they are losing. Let's not crucify Doobie just yet, give him time to adjust to the changes. When we have our top two centers healthy and back to game form, things will improve. It may be hard to crawl out of the hole they will find themselves in. I think Mac T had to find an answer this summer. If he were smart he should have made a big push for Jokinen when he was available!! Look at the game play he started his season out with. Mac T missed the bus on that one. He also should have made some bigger pushes for more skilled gritty players not enforcers after the fact.

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#34 The Towel Boy
October 05 2013, 11:41PM
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Who saw this coming?!?

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#35 Bloodsweatandoil
October 06 2013, 12:03AM
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I know....have patience.This is getting very old and embarassing.

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#36 Bloodsweatandoil
October 06 2013, 12:09AM
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@Fresh Mess

I dont know what I am anymore lol...

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#37 **
October 06 2013, 12:45AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

It's only been seven years. You must not be a real Leaf--er, I mean OILERS fan.

hey the Pittsburgh pirates waited 21 years. you are no real fans.

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#38 Nina russo
October 06 2013, 01:17AM
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Power Engineer wrote:

I have to admit that I am a fan if Dubnyk. I think he can do the job we need him to do. That said, the pressure of playing in Edmonton, with such a temperamental fan base, no doubt makes it tougher. Should the time come he needs to be traded/asks to be traded/needs to be demoted, do you think there could be a deal for Reimer out of Toronto? Patience needs to be exercised but is in short supply around here and understandably so. To me this is a deal that could be done straight across. Reimer just seems like he has his stuff together just a little more, and we would not have to gut our team for improvement at the goaltender position. JMHO.

If a goalie sees a shooter and has the time to get set and put his body in front of the puck, he must stop it. That is what he is paid to do. He is a professional goaltender. If he wants to play in the best league, as a starter, he better do a hell of a lot more than that. He better stop the ones he doesn't get a clear look at. He is not there mentally. If he isn't the problem, fire Freddy Chabot, because the job is not getting done.

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#39 dw
October 06 2013, 08:32AM
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Wow. My spell check changed Labarbra to Lamar brad. How does that happen.

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#40 The Soup Fascist
October 06 2013, 08:51AM
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dw wrote:

Wow. My spell check changed Labarbra to Lamar brad. How does that happen.

This Brad Lamar fellow you speak of ....... can he play goal? Centre, perhaps? Tough capable D-man? Does he have an agent?

Signed, Craig M.

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#41 StHenriOilBomb
October 06 2013, 09:34AM
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madjam wrote:

Pacific division breakdown by Coppernblue article writer Scott Reynolds . Picks Oilers at 28th . Picks Flames just below us . Read the entire article , it is in depth and well written .

Yeah, it's a good read.

Now where are the rest of your "most people"?

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#42 Ryan2
October 06 2013, 10:26AM
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As much as people are piling on Smyth and Schultz (both were done as effective every day players 2 - 3 years ago IMHO), the team was set up to rely on Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yakupov, Gagner, JSchultz and so far they are struggling to find their games.

One thing that is a concern, though, is the lack of defensive awareness and effort from the young guys thus far. They go hard on offense, and float on defense. Look at the effort levels on the first goal the Nucks scored shorthanded yesterday. Hemsky's pass from the corner was anticipated by Hansen and he picked it off. J Schultz is slow to react and they chip it past him. Yakupov is out of position on the other point, who knows where. Hall is 15 feet away standing still and watching the play as the Nucks chip it out and take off. Hemsky takes off from the corner and almost catches up, beating both JSchultz and Hall back, both of whom had a 15-20 foot head start on him. Hall could have easily caught up to pressure/ride out the Vancouver goal scorer, but he stands and watches as if he does not care/it is someone else's job to do.

Two games in I have noticed the same pattern with the young guys - nobody is paying any attention to defensive details. It is fine to play a pressure/possession game, but as Detroit has shown you need to put the same effort in on defense as you do with offense. Two games in, the skill forward that has done this the best is.......Hemsky. If the coaching staff can't get the young guns to buy into this then it will be a long season as our defense is not good enough to be left on its own.

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#43 Cas3
October 06 2013, 10:59AM
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Our fanbase. Find someone to pick on than when the time is right pick on him like there is no tomorrow!!! Than you wonder why high profile Free Agents don't want to come out and play here or Players waive their No trade clause when traded here(Heatley). You guys are supporting the team Gretzky and Messier and all those guys built and this is what you do with it???

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#44 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 05 2013, 11:47PM
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@Power Engineer

I'm not so sure about Reimer. That kind of seems like a lateral move.

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#45 Power Engineer
October 06 2013, 12:10AM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

I agree it could be a lateral move. I see upside in both goaltenders. I just don't see Reimer giving up the softies as often. Granted I don't watch 70-80 Leaf games like I do Oiler games, it would afford us some improvement without giving away the farm to do it. If Bernier takes over the helm in TO and keeps it I just see an opportunity to improve at that position. Who do you give up from our team to get a legitimate top tier #1. I think the price is too high for our team. Personally I hope Dubnyk proves us all wrong so we do not have to move any pieces at all for that position.

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#46 Mychew
October 06 2013, 12:54AM
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@Oilhead99

If you have been a die hard fan long enough you will remember the mid 90s when the oil had no talent and Marchant was our number one center. The oil worked their buts off and made the playoffs nearly evey year. That was more enjoyable than the last few years. I mean at least they gave us hope for 5 or 6 months. This team gives us hope for a preseason.

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#47 **
October 06 2013, 01:15AM
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Mychew wrote:

If you have been a die hard fan long enough you will remember the mid 90s when the oil had no talent and Marchant was our number one center. The oil worked their buts off and made the playoffs nearly evey year. That was more enjoyable than the last few years. I mean at least they gave us hope for 5 or 6 months. This team gives us hope for a preseason.

preseason plus 2 periods

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#48 Time Travelling Sean
October 06 2013, 01:24AM
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From what I saw we didn't get ragdolled physically, at least.

Petry has been annoying to watch, and I know Dubbie is better than what he's showing, but show it all ready.

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#49 Hammers
October 06 2013, 07:28AM
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** wrote:

Jonathan, the Canucks did not dominate every category, both faceoffs and hits were more for the Oilers. And yet the team was never in the game.

We where in the game, but we just where that bad . I have seen midget teams better organized and I'm not sure Eakins Swarm system will work unless it takes a year to sink in .In any sport you look at the talent you have and play them to there strengths.My only other point is are our so called "kids" really that good . McT cleaned house and added 3 excellent players and 5 that need to prove how good they are .He also added a coach that needs to prove his got it .

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#50 hockeycrazed
October 06 2013, 07:58AM
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cheers

@**

Finally, someone with insight writes something meaningful, of course we are not upset because of 2 lousy games, we are disappointed because of 7 years of frustrations has finally came to a boiling point where we had to speak up, ' We've had it, we're not going to take it anymore!!!' kind of mood. I am certain that MacT and company knew what we are talking about, otherwise they wouldn't be shopping for one during the off season, it's just that he couldn't pull the trigger, it's all. But, he will, mark my word, or he'll have the shortest career in oiler history!

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