ONE-TRICK PONY

Robin Brownlee
November 26 2013 07:23PM

I'm not sure where the Edmonton Oilers would rank if we rated NHL teams one through 30 based on the offensive skill and prowess of their of top-six forwards, but I'm confident they'd sit higher than 30th or 29th or 24th, which is where they've finished in the standings these past three seasons.

While the Oilers stack up pretty well – on paper if not in actual on-ice production -- in top-six flash and dash with the ability to send Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner out the gate, they are so lacking in other dimensions you get what we have here as they head for Nashville with a 7-16-2 record.

If opponents match Edmonton's level of offensive skill on the top two lines – and there are several teams that can – the Oilers are screwed because if they can't coax teams into a track meet or a no-hitter, they don’t have another way to get the job done, to win games.

The Oilers aren't big enough or gritty enough to win games that turn into a physical battle. They aren't mentally tough enough to prevail in a test of wills. They aren't remotely close to defensively sound enough to lock things down in tight games. They lack gamesmanship. They don't have a goaltender who can consistently outperform the guy in the crease at the other end of the rink.

It's been said countless times. We've seen it play out time after time the past three seasons, including last night in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The mix is wrong. Plenty of reasonably skilled and undersized forwards, not much else to bring to the table. This is not stop-the-presses stuff for fans, media or GM Craig MacTavish. All this we know.

THIS JUST IN . . .

Knowing what's lacking, obviously, is one thing. Doing something about it, changing the mix of personnel and adding different dimensions to the meat of the roster, not the fringes, is quite another because MacTavish hasn't managed to pull it off so far with an eighth straight year out of the playoffs on the horizon.

Until MacTavish does that, until coach Dallas Eakins has a different roster of players from which to assemble his line-up, anything he does right now is, to borrow a threadbare cliché, akin to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. This team, as assembled, isn't going to compete for the playoffs. Not this season. Not next season. It's not going to happen.

Again, this is not a revelation. That, I suspect, is what frustrates Oiler fans most. Does MacTavish need more time to change the make-up of this team? Sure he does. He's been on the job as GM for months, not years. Fact or not, that's a tough sell for fans who've been faithfully buying tickets for decades. They've been more than patient.

That isn't MacTavish's fault, but it most certainly is his problem. Changing the make-up of this team, assembling the right mix, is either going to take a lot more time or the kind of "bold moves" MacT talked about when he took the job. That, in the end, is going to mean taking a player or two from that talented group of forwards and turning it into the necessary pieces.

Time, I'd suggest, is not on MacTavish's side. That leaves bold. My sense is that, while nobody wants to part with one of thoroughbreds up front, they've seen enough of the same damn thing for years on end to have the stomach for it if the return is right. Until that happens, this one-trick pony of a team isn’t going anywhere, except in circles. It's a carousel of false hope.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Chainsawz
November 27 2013, 06:54AM
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voom04 wrote:

If ya all wanna get off the bus then get the #@!! off, more room for us.

If you're on the bus of blind faith in Lowe and co, you may be surprised it's driving right off a cliff.

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#52 hockeycrazed
November 27 2013, 07:40AM
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@Larry

Not trying to be anything, man! Just trying, which is more than I can say about some of the over-paid bystanders the Oils have right now. But it's true isn't it? What I'm afraid is, management's going to trade for, under pressure, a 30 something, over the hill D-man, leftovers that his team don't need no more, and at the same time give away a legitimate prospect or two away!!! Heck, they gave Smid away for almost nothing! If they are going to do that, then might as well start playing their prospects here in Edmonton, at least they'll find out first hand whether they're prospects or suspects!!! At least die-hards like us could have a taste of what the futures is, rather than hear about how good they are playing for the other teams!!! Right?

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#53 Blucifer Copperballs
November 27 2013, 07:58AM
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Terran wrote:

Keep RNH, Hall, Perron, and Belov. Everything else is up for grabs, for the right return.

Belov will be good someday, and sooner than later. But he sure gets lost under pressure right now. Not really his fault, since the oilers have a real history of throwing too many minutes at guys who shouldn't have to shoulder the responsibility, but have to fill a void where there is no option.

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#54 Rob...
November 27 2013, 08:43AM
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I can just imagine Katz sending MacT a text: "So, Dustin Penner has 18 points in 20 games. Interesting, isn't it?"

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#55 Dangilitis
November 27 2013, 10:16PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Why dig yourself deeper?

You listed three stats. You flat-out fudged one of them -- about fighting majors -- and gave two others that are, at best, debatable in terms of supporting your argument.

The best part is you're arguing like I'm blaming the top six forwards for the Oilers problems when, in fact, I'm saying the exact opposite -- the top six is a position of depth and can or should be used to address other shortcomings that are the problem.

Why trade a strength of the team for players that could have been had in a great buyers UFA market last off-season for free? Boyes, Raymond, Grabovski, Gilbert, Hainsey, the list goes on. Khudobin instead of Labarbera and maybe its a different season.

That is why MacT failed. How could he not see the train wreck? Now media like you are going to force his hand to do something rash and stupid, and its his own fault.

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#56 Butters
November 26 2013, 08:11PM
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You could write a thesis paper on why the Oilers suck, but it boils down to them being too small I guess. Better trade skill for a coke machine, that will solve all the problems. Me, I would try to get a better goalie and better defense, and I might not have hired a rookie NHL caoch. But then again I have never built a last place NHL team before

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#57 **
November 26 2013, 08:13PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"Suggesting that the oilers top six could not win games if we had a capable defence backing them is crazy!"

Where in the item does it say the Oilers could not win with this group of forwards AND a capable defense?

Teams are playing defense all through the lineup these days (the best teams anyway).

Even if Mac T. brought Shea Webber and Ryan Sutter the Oil would still be out of the playoffs imo.

There's only so much ice the d men can cover. One of the biggest holes up front for me is the lack of a soild, physical two way center. Nuge has shown he has soild defensive fundamentals and he has enough size to fill up a bit in years to come as well as time to work on his faceoffs, but neither Arcobello nor Gagner fit the bill.

By the way, is it me or have the Oilers changed the shawarma defense and are going now more for a man to man?.

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#58 Butters
November 26 2013, 11:17PM
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madjam wrote:

NHL has fast become a war zone in front of opposition net , and also our own .That's where the bulk of every game is played/evolved . That's natural progression with the deluge of hockey players available today . Like football,you require a superior offence and defence lineman in todays upper eschilon . Neither of which we are very good at , or have the prerequisite size . Our results certainly bear that out . Gone are the days of skilled multiples of smaller softer forwards with questionable defensive liabilities beyond just their size . Lowe may be responsible for builing it , but MacT. is not going about correcting it or only partially recognizing it . Wish it were otherwise but 8 years of failure shows much needs to change or we will remain on same course .

Seriously? Do you not remember when Chelios played? I wish they collected a stat for how many crosschecks he gave out in a game. And the players on the receiving end weren't wearing Kevlar.

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#59 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 27 2013, 07:03AM
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seanjohn wrote:

the one eating their words will be you and Mact when he announces his trading of one of the players he, at this moment, believes he never will. eventually, he will come to the conclusion that he can't improve this team without trading one of the young thorobreds. the only question is will he waste next season living in this current state of delusion.

i would be willing to wager MacT already knows they need to move one of the kids....

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#60 bleedblue
November 27 2013, 09:16AM
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Blucifer Copperballs wrote:

At the risk of being unpopular, and getting trashed, I'll say what i have been saying since the start of the season. We need to package Yakupov (RNH and Hall arent going anywhere, and Yakupov has more upside to teams then Eberle) along with the 1st round pick ( we dont need another right now;weak draft year)and Hemsky (if anyone will take that contract; he wants out, won't hit, history of injuries) and get a couple grinders that can skate, hit, score to round out the 2nd and 3rd lines. Just make the trade to the east so we dont have to watch Yak light up the net more than twice a year after he comes back. Yaks got a shot, and he will be great one day, but his trade makes the most sense and holds the most value for getting somethign back. Someone out there must need a power play specialist, which is really all Yak is right now.

Trade will happen around the Olympics.

EDIT: Also, because I've said this again, Yaks and Hemmer will probably light it up on the road trip Thur and Fri, because thats what always happens when i open my mouth and speak. I just make room for feet.

It would be madness to trade Yakupov. He had success in his rookie year because Krueger put him in a position to succeed. Tom Renney did the same for the other young guns. Eakins is a rookie coach who doesn't understand how to utilize what he has, nor does he put the rookies into positions where they are more likely to succeed. Why does it seem like the majority of the posters here seem to be ahead of Eakins? Did he watch every Oiler game from last year to understand what he was taking over? Just wondering.

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#61 camdog
November 27 2013, 11:33AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Using hits as a stat is meaningless. General physics dictates that a 5"9, 165 pound checker checking a 6"2 220 pound forward doesn't produce the same effects as a 6"2 220 pound forward hitting a 5"9 165 pound forward. You can have all the compete in the world, that said the body checks are not of equal value. The Oilers being in the top ten in the league in body checks does not equate them to being a physical hockey team.

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#62 chris
November 27 2013, 01:15PM
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its funny when people talk about the oilers skill levels like they have proven themselves at the nhl level. when the oilers freakin compete every night then and only then will I consider them to have skill. right now there a bunch of spoiled millionaires. my dead grandmother has more energy than these bums

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#63 Team Hall
November 27 2013, 02:44PM
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I think that if we have to move one of the superkids, I would trade Gags first.

He is small, he gets pushed off the puck, he is not as offensively gifted as the others, and he has a replacement in waiting (Arco).

Gags for Errhoff?

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#64 Rama Lama
November 27 2013, 03:27PM
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I think that most fans are resigned to the fact that until the Oilers land a big tough puck moving defensemen with a positive track record, nothing will change.

The real problem is is there one of those defensemen available? I suggest not......and even if there was, we would have to give up two or three top end assets to get him. All this means we would now have a stud defensemen and now be short in other positions. The net gain would be neutral and now the fans would be just as pissed off.

There is no trade solution so the only logical solution would be to get a UFA and overpay, .......and then hope that your drafting provided exactly what you need.

We can only hope Darnell Nurse is the next coming of Chris Pronger!!

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#65 Puck_In_Throat
November 27 2013, 04:52PM
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Here is the crux of why the Oilers suck and Detroit pwns:

Edmonton rushes young players to the NHL, and Detroit does not.

Every young player, not matter how skilled, plays at least a year in the AHL in Detroit's system or in Europe.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg joined the Wings as 23 and 22 year olds, respectively.

Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, Detroit's top two prospects, have played in the AHL for 2 and 3 years respectively, putting up nearly a point a game.

In those years, young players learn how to play 2 way hockey, without the pressure of requiring wins "today". They are then brought up to the NHL and expected to play 2 way hockey.

By comparison, none of Eberle, Hall, Nuge, Yak, Gagner, Hemsky or J. Schultz has, with the exception of the lockout, played in the AHL.

You all saw what those guys did in the AHL for 40 games. If they all had 150 AHL games, they would have learned a LOT more than in getting pounded for 150 NHL games.

BTW, Nyquist is Gagner's age, and Tatar is a year younger. Their NHL salaries: $950,000 and $630,000, respectively. You could ice both players for less than half the cost of playing J. Schultz.

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#66 Copper
November 27 2013, 05:50PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Robin, so, stats only count when they support your argument ? 60% of Oilers games have been on the road so far. Not homer stats. Again, biggest holes are bottom 6. Oilers at missing 5 of them. Top pair Dman is what most NHL teams would like too.

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#67 pelhem grenville
November 26 2013, 07:32PM
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RB said...It's a carousel of false hope.

...so there's still a chance then ?

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#68 Dog Train
November 26 2013, 08:26PM
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As long as our core players are one-dimensional, we won't make the playoffs. They play the most minutes so blaming the nightly suck routine on an inept fourth line or an incompetent third pairing is hogwash. It's time for the 'kids' to grow up.

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#69 Jeetz
November 26 2013, 08:44PM
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Butters wrote:

You could write a thesis paper on why the Oilers suck, but it boils down to them being too small I guess. Better trade skill for a coke machine, that will solve all the problems. Me, I would try to get a better goalie and better defense, and I might not have hired a rookie NHL caoch. But then again I have never built a last place NHL team before

I think the answer is as easy as it is sad. At every level in management the oilers think they are smarter than everyone else. Listen to Kevin Low talk, he 'knows' everything about winning and hires a green GM to replace his last inept GM. THAT GM had it right to hire a mentor coach for Kruger but kicked that to the curb to hire a coach with no nhl experience ( brought in no mentor for him) THEN the new 'green' coach wanted to reinvent coaching in the nhl.

It wouldn't have mattered if every oiler came out guns blazing at the start of the season. They were doomed for the 1st 20 games. The season was lost before it started.

Sad

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#70 kale
November 26 2013, 09:21PM
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Great article RB. Wow does Buffalo ever suck (only team I can say that about being an Oiler fan and all)

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#71 Dave
November 26 2013, 10:36PM
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I really don't think any Oiler player has earned the right to be regarded as an untouchable.

They need to look at all offers.

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#72 madjam
November 26 2013, 10:59PM
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NHL has fast become a war zone in front of opposition net , and also our own .That's where the bulk of every game is played/evolved . That's natural progression with the deluge of hockey players available today . Like football,you require a superior offence and defence lineman in todays upper eschilon . Neither of which we are very good at , or have the prerequisite size . Our results certainly bear that out . Gone are the days of skilled multiples of smaller softer forwards with questionable defensive liabilities beyond just their size . Lowe may be responsible for builing it , but MacT. is not going about correcting it or only partially recognizing it . Wish it were otherwise but 8 years of failure shows much needs to change or we will remain on same course .

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#73 Slats
November 26 2013, 11:23PM
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What we have is time, if you conclude this season is done. MacT needs to wait as we get to Dec and Jan as other contending teams get injuries in their top 6 forwards.

He should have his list of players available (please include Gagner with NTC - would he not want to go to contender like Pitt? really?)ready and then start trading. Bold trades. No more picks please! Actual players.

We will then be trading on teams with a weakness (hopefully teams like Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Pitt, St. Louis)

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#74 Toro
November 27 2013, 04:11AM
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Playoffs outta the question this year... ya sure....but also next year!? That's unacceptable I can't take it anymore past this year!!

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#75 Reagan
November 27 2013, 07:34AM
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At the end of the day, this new Rogers deal will bring us more out of market games, and can now rely on one main broadcaster to bring us Oilers games. Currently TSN coverage is limited site to the fact they only have two national loops. Rogers can essentially broadcast over five of its feeds. This utilizing CityTV and CBC. If anything I wouldn't worry about the talent factor yet, TSN hopeful will ultimately jump ship, just like Darren Dreger did just a few years ago. I'm not going to complain on saving 200 a year on centre ice. That price will fall.

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#76 Fresh Mess
November 27 2013, 07:55AM
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He Who Knows wrote:

Oh god, the watered down sportsnet is now the behemoth of the hockey powers in Canada? Help us all.

It won't be watered down for long. There is going to be a mass exodus of TSN and CBC employees heading over to Sportsnet. You get the best people when you have the best content.

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#77 camdog
November 27 2013, 10:15AM
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Blucifer Copperballs wrote:

Belov will be good someday, and sooner than later. But he sure gets lost under pressure right now. Not really his fault, since the oilers have a real history of throwing too many minutes at guys who shouldn't have to shoulder the responsibility, but have to fill a void where there is no option.

Belov is a UFA at season's end, no guarantee he will be here next season, regardless of what management thinks of him.

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#78 Hockey Problems
November 27 2013, 10:26AM
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@hardcore moiler

If the fLames had some talent ... ...

Nah!!!

Stil wouldn't watch.

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#79 camdog
November 27 2013, 10:53AM
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@Robin Brownlee

If this team had another 2-3 Mark Arcobello's on their roster it's not out of the question that this team would lead the league in hits....lol It never fails to amaze me how educated hockey fans can be so blind to their own teams weaknesses.

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#80 Spydyr
November 27 2013, 11:10AM
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@Robin Brownlee

It also cannot be coached, either you have it or you don't.

That being said if both players are equally motivated, say the playoffs, the bigger stronger player will win most battles.

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#81 S cottV
November 27 2013, 11:30AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Arcobello is an excellent example of a smaller player who competes (and has been effective in many areas of the game during his limited NHL time). You can't judge willingness to compete with a tape measure.

Agreed - he competes but is not at a top 2 lines level, Gordon more upside in the 3rd rotation and Arcobello is not really a 4th line centreman kind of guy. He probably deserves to play on demonstrated merit but where?

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#82 Oier Al
November 27 2013, 03:07PM
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I think this is great write up on the Oiler situation.

I think MacT tried to make more moves this summer but could no or perhaps was told that there are untouchable beyond the Fab Five....

I mean Hemsky and Gagner should have been moved ,they are not difference makers on this team .I honestly think these are Lowes boys and that why GAGner gets extended, and Lowe showered $10 million on Hemsky two years ago... no team wants him and his contract.

The fact is that if you had a great improvment on the 3 and 4 lines, Defense , goal tending , your top six still play the same game,,, and they are top minute crunchers .. what you see is what you get.... their game will remain the same... and thats not good.

I have no problem moving Eberle, but it would be A CRIME .. to trade him while retaining Hemsky and Gagner.

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#83 paulie
November 27 2013, 03:22PM
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Oier Al wrote:

I think this is great write up on the Oiler situation.

I think MacT tried to make more moves this summer but could no or perhaps was told that there are untouchable beyond the Fab Five....

I mean Hemsky and Gagner should have been moved ,they are not difference makers on this team .I honestly think these are Lowes boys and that why GAGner gets extended, and Lowe showered $10 million on Hemsky two years ago... no team wants him and his contract.

The fact is that if you had a great improvment on the 3 and 4 lines, Defense , goal tending , your top six still play the same game,,, and they are top minute crunchers .. what you see is what you get.... their game will remain the same... and thats not good.

I have no problem moving Eberle, but it would be A CRIME .. to trade him while retaining Hemsky and Gagner.

To me it is the same article just rehashed over and over. Lets say MacT was told not to trade any of the Fab Five, what does that speak of him. It would certainly speak to the ineptitude of this organization and why MacT really got the job. Of course it is speculation, but nothing would surprise me with this organization.

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#84 Rama Lama
November 27 2013, 05:08PM
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S cottV wrote:

Here is an excerpt from a Toronto newspaper reporting on the Phaneuf contract negotiations "No question, he is Toronto’s best defenceman, someone who is used on the power play, penalty kill and to shut down the other teams’ top lines. In that role, he has the Leafs’ best possession numbers, with Phaneuf on the ice for more shots for than shots against." Geez - wouldnt that be a few attributes we could use in an Oiler uniform?

He would look good in an Oilers uniform........but I suspect he will want to go to LA where his girlfriend wants to be?

I was thinking more along the lines of a Gardiner/ Schenn to help in a second pairing. No chance TO lets him walk IMHO.

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#85 Chainsawz
November 26 2013, 08:26PM
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I think the sentiment that MacTavish has a mess to fix kind of funny.

In one hand I fully agree with it.

In the other we have Kevin Lowe who had signed Tambellini to an extension in June of 2012 so up to that point he must have thought everything was alright.

But of course some would say firing Lowe won't solve anything. To that I say what do the Oilers gain with him around?

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#86 DCC
November 26 2013, 08:50PM
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David S wrote:

Tippett would have walked away from this train wreck. The situation we're in is the result of (purposefully) trading away actual NHL'ers and replacing them with guys no other team would consider if they were serious about winning.

This is the back end of going into the tank to acquire high end draft picks. I have no doubt Katz (who authorized the tank job), Lowe and MacT fully anticipated what we're seeing right now.

As much as I hate to say it, it's part of "the process". This year is about identifying the core, stripping the rest and adding key players through trades and deadline acquisitions. I have no doubt we'll be quantifiably better next year. I also have no doubt one of our shining lights will be part of that transformation, being traded for that elusive D-man or forward.

Oilers management is lucky the fans have such poor short term memories. I very distinctly remember fans, probably the same ones, saying that LAST year was about identifying the core, getting rid of the rest and filling in holes with key players. This organization is a bad broken record.

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#87 hadenough
November 26 2013, 09:05PM
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Retsinnab5 wrote:

"Im my opinion, he can go because if hes not scoring big goals"

Have you watched the world juniors?

What does the world juniors have to do with the last 3 NHL seasons? His NHL contract is not given to him these days for what he did as a jr.

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#88 Bubslub
November 26 2013, 09:08PM
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Hate to bring this back tong anger but it just so epitomizes why we will fail given present management. To protect this guy as a core player when he does not fill any of our needs is insane. Not to say he is not an able NHL player but he does't fit with the playoff destination needs of this team. So why protect him for 3 more years? For this team to change someone has to look at these assets and move hopefully the ones that don't fit but moving anything seems to be our biggest problem. Tough to be bold with guns always holstered.

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#89 Wax Man Riley
November 26 2013, 09:49PM
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Butters wrote:

You could write a thesis paper on why the Oilers suck, but it boils down to them being too small I guess. Better trade skill for a coke machine, that will solve all the problems. Me, I would try to get a better goalie and better defense, and I might not have hired a rookie NHL caoch. But then again I have never built a last place NHL team before

I haven't either, but I bet I could!

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#90 Butters
November 26 2013, 09:54PM
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nick wrote:

Wouldn't make a difference, the Oiler forwards don't work hard enough and they have no idea how to play defence.

I agree, they looked pretty listless that night. You would think they would get up to play the SC champions. Still, there D is an issue and next year they may have 2 rookie blue, Nurse and Klef.

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#91 camdog
November 26 2013, 10:01PM
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Gadzic wrote:

@Robin Brownlee

Not referring to your article in specifically, just a general frustration with some commentators. I have also heard you and Gregor on 1260 mention changing the make-up of the top six. While this might be necessary down the road, our top six will never matter if we do not have a defence that can get the puck up to our forwards. Getting "grit" is not the issue, the issue is we do not have enough proven NHL players and continue to trade NHL players for potential (i.e smid). But I agree, until this is addressed we are just arranging the seats on the titanic, which at this point is already resting at the bottom of the ocean.

In 2-3 months you may need to add Hemsky's name to the above post.

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#92 Reg Dunlop
November 26 2013, 10:29PM
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nick wrote:

Wouldn't make a difference, the Oiler forwards don't work hard enough and they have no idea how to play defence.

I have to say, nick, you got that right. I think, however, team defence is directly proportional to effort so maybe the plight of the oil can be simplified further: the young oilers lack work ethic and character. Very seldom have I witnessed a pro hockey team give up so easily and often. They get down by a goal and give up. They start the season slow and give up. Skill and character don't necessarily live next to each other, sometimes skill lives next door to spoiled, self-centered diva with a sense of entitlement.

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#93 Sam
November 26 2013, 10:57PM
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I think the Oilers will trade Eberle because he wear number 14 and Mactavish wants to retire that number, Eberle cant switch to 41 because Wil Acton is a longer term Oiler because his dad is an associate coach and he can give him the ice time he deserves, maybe Ferrance should give him the C too. It sure seems like Pee Wee hockey.

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#94 BleedingOil
November 26 2013, 11:15PM
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Retsinnab5 wrote:

"Im my opinion, he can go because if hes not scoring big goals"

Have you watched the world juniors?

In the World Juniors he was more experienced and somewhat considered a "vet" by junior standards. Comparing his skill there where he was one of the best in one small league in Canada to being one of 600 players in the WORLD is a huge difference. He is playing against men now and is considerably younger than most of the league. It wasnt until his 5th year of Junior / Major Junior hockey that he stood head and shoulders above his peers. At that point in time, everyone he played against was less mature and experienced. How long will it take to see that here? The Oilers cannot afford to do that with all their young talent. Keep one player per line and make the rest expendable.

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#95 Wohin gehst du?
November 26 2013, 11:25PM
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@Old School G

So look at all nhl players whose names start with P. Interesting strategy.

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#96 mlcselli
November 27 2013, 07:18AM
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How in the name of all that is holy, are we ever going to compete in this league when we can't even get a roster of NHL players to play for 60 minutes a night? The attitude these players have of giving up on the play, and throwing in the towel half way through a game, when they are down a goal or two is mind boggling to me. It appears to me, more often than not that the Oilers are playing out of their league. They don't show any fight, interest or compete most of the time. As we sit in whatever tier we are in, getting ulcers waiting for the next draft pick, the players are laughing all the way to the bank. This is so unacceptable and a shame for the fan that pay outrageous prices to watch another collapse.

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#97 Rod from Viking
November 27 2013, 08:34AM
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What is concerning me is the lack of compete which was lip serviced would not happen, I am getting so tired of the 2 hour drive home after watching a game like the Chicago game and the many others like that the last 6 years. I am a Taylor Hall fan but he is playing like someone that knows this team is going no where fast and is tired of this losing culture. I think Mac T made a big mistake saying we are going to keep this core of small skilled players and add to it, the most unfortunate thing is when the do decide they need to trade one of these players they will be eating some of the contract to get it done.

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#98 Tired of thes
November 27 2013, 10:42AM
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Perhaps the best article that I have read on Oilers Nation in years. Finally, an article brimming with common sense. I'm tired of reading of our skilled forwards. Just what have they done in the last 4 years? I've had enough of reading of all the hype and potential. Give me some hard nosed knuckle draggers that live to win!! We have such a soft team to pin our hopes and dreams on.:(

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#100 S cottV
November 27 2013, 10:48AM
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Ryan2 wrote:

They compete less this year than they did last year under Kruger - that much is evident. This was MacT's first big mistake. From what I can see, the team is worse away from the puck and is not willing to play as hard as they did last year.

If MacT were smart, he would have said Kruger has another year while he assesses the staff instead of throwing his perceived boy wonder coach into the fire. Sure, a GM wants to bring in his guy, but if it was clear to most of us that the Oilers were not a playoff team then it should have been to the team's "braintrust" as well. At that point, keeping Kruger on for another season was the safest bet - if the team did better than expected you looked like a genius GM, and if it floundered as expected you could pin it on the coach.

Now MacT has backed himself into the corner where his team does not appear to buy into what the coach is selling AND is not competing as hard as they did for the old one.

Agreed 100% - should have left Krueger in charge, evaluate Eakins as an Associate and ease him in - if warranted. As for the line up, I really believe most of the problem originates from the centre ice position, the lack of a stud d man and general weakness in the back end. Oilers just dont get enough possession and zone time, which is largely driven by dominance in the middle and in the back end. Very hard for wingers to get going without strength in the middle and back end. Somebody posted the other day that "someone needs to feed RNH because he looks frail." That might be an overstatement and RNH has great potential - no question. But - right now, he is in over his head as a 1st line centreman and its killing Hall and Eberle. Same can be said in the second rotation with Gagner and when your first two lines have insufficient presence or dominance in the middle - the team is going to be in big trouble. Some of this has to do with injury recovery for both RNH and Gagner and had both been healthy from the get go - the Oilers would probably be in a little better shape right now. RNH isnt going anywhere and eventually he will fill out - gain strength and experience to fill the bill - but this might take another full year or two. What is needed is a high end centre ice tank to replace Gagner which makes him expendable. This tank might even take the place of RNH on the first line, to take some pressure off of him and to allow for more time to develop into a bona fide first line centreman. No way that you would trade Hall, Eberle and Perron - as they just need strength in the middle. RNH and Gordon stay and everyone else including Yakupov could be considered in a trade for a key centre ice man and a stud d man. Yak has great potential but someone has to go and he might command enough with some added frills to get what is really needed.

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