THE PLAN IS ON FIRE

Lowetide
November 03 2013 12:32PM

The Edmonton Oilers (MacT as GM edition) are 3-10-2 fifteen games in, and OilersNation has gone from anger to real disillusionment. Up next for the fanbase is indifference, but before they get there is there anything the GM can do?

 

  • Darcy Regier: "These GM jobs, they're good jobs. But waiting for a GM opportunity that's structured for success? I'm not sure it exists. When I was assessing the problems in Buffalo before I joined, Al Arbour said to me "Darcy, do you think there would be an opportunity there if there weren't problems? Go in there and do something about it.'" (from the book Behind the Moves).

I'm sure Craig MacTavish knew there were problems (he was part of the organization before agreeing to the job in spring) but there are elements out of the control of the GM that have (at least to this point) conspired against him. His new coach has gone from being seen as confident, fresh and relentless to another in a ever lengthening line of failed coaching hires in Edmonton.

His club has been rocked by injuries (two more last night, and as Robin Brownlee tweeted that Belov injury looked bad) goaltending maladies and confidence issues. I haven't seen locusts, but haven't been looking either.

It's a team in a bad way.

WHAT CAN THEY DO?

As the playoff hopes unhook and release (November 3rd!!!!) there's a sense that the club should do something--anything--to improve things. There are options:

  1. FIRE SOMEONE! Age old solution, find some poor schmuck who was in the room at the time. Candidates often include assistant coaches, pro scouts, the guy who brings the towels and people with one eyebrow. It usually doesn't help.
  2. HIRE SOMEONE! Oilers have already hired Messier, we just don't know what he's going to be doing.
  3. TRADE SOMEONE! Good idea, but you can go from 'we can't trade that guy' to 'no one wants our crap' in a heartbeat and the reality is that it's really early for a significant deal. Besides, the Oilers have traded Mike Brown which means they've used their "Steve Tambellini trade chips mid-season" allotment.
  4. CALL SOMEONE UP! They could call Omark, but I suspect he's broken his phone.

THIS IS GOING TO END BADLY

Probably. However, there's very little that can be done about things as they stand today. Firing the coach would be crazy, trading players when you haven't actually seen your entire team healthy is equally addled and despite being 3-10-2 after fifteen games you could make a case that with goaltending and better luck they could be 6-7-2.

That may sound like sunshine, and hell maybe it is, but from here there's not a lot going on here that some timely goaltending, a better penalty kill and better health can't fix.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The plan is on fire, the season is gone, but there's still a chance to get something out of it. Fix the PK, find useful 6's and 7's and 9's for the 3line with Gordon and the 4line overall. Get Yakupov scoring, get everyone else healthy, find a way to finish above Calgary and then work like buggers next summer to make certain that 2014-15 is the year we see a second season.

Sound horrible? It is. It's also the truth.

Or the owner can fire everyone again.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#151 Jordan1126
November 03 2013, 04:38PM
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I'm sick of hearing what the oilers record could be if they had goaltending that was consistent.

Bottom line it is what it is. Good teams find ways to win. If I don't produce results at my job I get let go or put on some sort of corrective action. Being understaffed or having someone on my team not performing is mine and their responsibility.

On the oilers nobody is held accountable. How about paying the players based on performance results, and actual effort.

I wish I knew I was guaranteed 6 mil per year for the next six years regardless of how I performed or whether I was on disability etc.

I'm sure a lot of teams would also have better records if they had another ingredient on their team. Bottom line our goaltending sucks our d coverage sucks and all this so called talent can't score 1 goal in two whole games.

Where I come from this would be considered a failure, but instead I have to witness k lowe driving his escalade through the Starbucks drive thru to get his latte every morning while I bust my ass off to make ends meet.

Plus nobody pays to watch me work.....

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#152 hankthetank
November 03 2013, 04:42PM
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@Ari Gold

i don't see enough emotion from eakins on the bench besides pure resignation. why doesn't he get fired up and scream once in a while? when my kids do something wrong, i don't just roll my eyes and swear under my breath...you have to know how to motivate them to do what you ask. motivation = emotion, look at the Avs/Roy, win or lose, the guy is a firecracker and it's infectious!

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#153 Zarny
November 03 2013, 04:54PM
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hankthetank wrote:

i don't see enough emotion from eakins on the bench besides pure resignation. why doesn't he get fired up and scream once in a while? when my kids do something wrong, i don't just roll my eyes and swear under my breath...you have to know how to motivate them to do what you ask. motivation = emotion, look at the Avs/Roy, win or lose, the guy is a firecracker and it's infectious!

If motivation = emotion was true Mike Keenan would still be coaching in the NHL.

The Avalanche are winning because their defense gives up very few scoring chances and their G has been the best in the NHL.

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#154 pkam
November 03 2013, 04:56PM
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Ryan2 wrote:

I disagree with you re: this being a coach problem. IF this roster is more talented than the one last year (it definitely is on the blue line), then how did the supposedly ineffective Kruger get better results?

A more experienced coach would have assessed the roster after being announced and develop a system that fits the players. Eakins did the opposite - he took a Junior or AHL system for a strong team and tried to apply it to a weak NHL team. Now we get to see if he can adapt the system to better fit his team, which is what a good coach would do........

Did you still remember Krueger's defense system last year? The Oilers sometimes would ignore a free puck 5 feet from him and looked for the player he supposed to shadow. That is the weirdest defense I ever watched in my life.

The GA was worse this year for several reasons.

1st, poor goaltending. I think this contributed to at least 10 GA, probably more. The 3rd goal last night is a great example.

2nd, terrible PK because Eakins believe our best players should be able to kill penalties and we are paying the price now. If you agree that our best players should have the ability to kill penalties, then it is the fault of the previous coaches, and Eakins is paying the price.

3rd, poor defense play by our players which has nothing to do with the Swarm system. Like the 1st goal last night, Petry cannot handle the puck and end up with a break away and a goal.

Eakins has explained his Swarm system. We will play a standard D zone coverage, but when one of our player pinch the opponent puck carrier near the wall, a 2nd player will jump in right away to take the puck away. To me, this is exactly a system to address the problem that our players can't win the 1 on 1 battle along the board 80% of the time.

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#155 DSF
November 03 2013, 04:59PM
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For those of you with an interest and access to NHL Centre Ice, in half an hour, the Calgary Flames play the Blackhawks in Chicago.

Now, I have very little double that Chicago will win but I also have little doubt the Flames will show up and bust their butts for 3 periods.

Watch.

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#156 DSF
November 03 2013, 05:00PM
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Zarny wrote:

If motivation = emotion was true Mike Keenan would still be coaching in the NHL.

The Avalanche are winning because their defense gives up very few scoring chances and their G has been the best in the NHL.

And because they have forwards like O'Reilly, Landeskog and McKinnon who already know how to play a 200 ft. game and show it every night.

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#157 Stangconv
November 03 2013, 05:08PM
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Fire everyone again? How about just Lowe?

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#158 They're $hittie
November 03 2013, 05:59PM
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They're $hitty

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#159 DSF
November 03 2013, 06:22PM
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D wrote:

Watching the Chicago game. It's interesting to see the difference in compete levels between the Flames and the Oilers.

Yep.

Agree completely.

They work hard every shift.

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#160 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
November 03 2013, 06:43PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

LT

I honestly think it’s gone beyond the “rails” It’s bigger than a little luck on the PK, better goaltending and bad luck health wise.

Question for everyone –

Can you be so invested in something that it actually affects your ability to do something correctly??

What I’m trying to get at is, K. Lowe & MacTavish are so invested in the Oilers that they can’t see that there actually the problem or at least contributing to the problem?

Nothing they have done has really worked out now has it?

This is a systemic issue and it has managements finger prints all over the place.

Maybe to a slight degree, but it’s not the talent on the ice, we’ve seen these players play good.

So what’s left?

They cant see the problem they created because their egos (especially Lowes) wont let them. They and their media partners have shoved Dubnyk so far down our throats as a great goalie it has become a joke. Lowes presser laster year showed who he is: A bully that will throw a temper tantrum when he doesnt get his way.

Remember when Lowe called Al Strachan a liar and I believe he use bloated gas bag but i could be wrong. Yet Strachan was telling the truth. ( I hate Strachan anyway) Lowe responded with bluster and hot air yet absolutley no substance.

Kevin lowe is way over rated as a hockey manager and his actions show why.

Just sayin

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#161 D
November 03 2013, 06:54PM
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DSF wrote:

Yeah.

Way overmatched in talent but they never quit.

And as soon as Chicago scored, the Flames redoubled their efforts and tied the game.

Interesting article on a blog (or in the Journal) that bringing in new players to the Oilers does not result in an importation of their previously winning culture (i.e. Ferrence), but instead the losing Oilers culture sucks the new hires in.

There's got to be a few undetected cancers in the Oilers dressing room.

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#162 D
November 03 2013, 08:15PM
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cubsfan wrote:

and the flames missing their captain.....and still competative

Flames . . . win.

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#163 madjam
November 03 2013, 08:16PM
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3-2 overtime win for Flames .

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#164 DSF
November 03 2013, 08:16PM
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Calgary hangs around and wins 3-2 in OT.

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#166 Ari Gold
November 03 2013, 09:53PM
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Primo wrote:

YOUR CALGARY FLAMES!!!!!!!

Bloody ridiculous. The Flames beat the Hawks. Oilers need to take notes. What a humiliating franchise.

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#167 oilerman53
November 04 2013, 12:21AM
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I found it funny after the Ducks cup win in '07 how Brian Burke was called one of the greatest hockey minds ever. Fast forward six years at least four of his teams have his fingerspints all overthem and theyre super competitive. Canucks, Ducks, Leafs a d now the Flames.

How does this team stink so bad after picking three first overalls in the past four years? This is a huge problem now, winters were a bit warmer with an Oiler game and now I watch just to see how bad they'll lose.

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#168 The Oilers Shot Clock
November 04 2013, 01:39AM
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I hope we get shut out again. I want this to be the definitive rock bottom.

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#169 NJ
November 04 2013, 04:29AM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Bloody ridiculous. The Flames beat the Hawks. Oilers need to take notes. What a humiliating franchise.

Flames beat hawks. ON THE ROAD.

Of note. I watched more of the flames game last night than I watched of the oil on Saturday.

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#170 MMAX
November 04 2013, 06:00AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Barring Katz selling the team the next best thing is firing Lowe. And as this is only a part time gig/hobby for Katz it makes sense to fire the person highest up who is full time involved (Lowe).

Perhaps Lowetide cannot bear thought of conceding that his hero has to be sacked.

I've got it, and I quote, "Somebody should frag his a**". Too bad Staff Sergeant Barnes wasn't in the Oilers organization. He'd do it in a heartbeat.

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#171 seriously
November 04 2013, 06:39AM
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@spliff

I really get the feeling that a majority of the oilers just do not give a f#€k!! I really was wishing that things would turn around this year!! BUT what a disgrace!! I give them the fact that yes they are talented, but like we've seen and commented, there is no effort! Lack of commitment! Yeah yeah... They need mentors but take our armed forces... Young men and women stepping up to the plate and becoming leaders... Just using that as an example!! Even though the oiler management team could not organize a rock fight in a gravel pit..... GROW UP!!! TRY!!! PUT EFFORT IN!! ACCEPT RESPONSIBLITY!! AND PERFORM!! BE A TEAM!!! As for the management....... They all can go f#€k themselves!!!

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#172 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 06:47AM
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cubsfan wrote:

......Flames win!!!! Crap.....Glencross 1 goal and set up winning goal in OT......why cant the Oilers find someone like Glencross.....Oh!......never mind......

And for all the Lowe lovers. Losing Glencross is on Lowe.

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#173 5inatrailer
November 04 2013, 08:30AM
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@D

Me too. My buddies and I have narrowed it down to San Jose (road trip!)

or St Louis Blues- heavy team and not the overall favorite.

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#174 Brassmaster
November 04 2013, 08:39AM
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@elpolodiablo

"he needs to fail and lose a job to gain some hubris"

Hubris: an excess of ambition, pride, etc., ultimately causing the transgressor's ruin.

I think what you mean is that in your opinion, Eakins is already full of hubris and he needs to lose his job to gain some humility?

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#177 Wanyes bastard child
November 03 2013, 01:06PM
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Neal wrote:

How about implementing Home Game System Play:

1) PVR it 2) Down by 1 - Play and Pray 3) Down by 2 - Fast Forward to (maybe)Oil goal 4) Down by 3 - Max Fast Forward 5) Down by 4 - Turn off. Wonder why you bought the f@#$%^& Mini Pack anyway.

Sadly.... this is what I have been doing...

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#178 Randaman
November 03 2013, 01:08PM
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D wrote:

When a patient is in triage, the first step ER doctors take is to stabilize. Figure out what will get the patient through the night and then the week. Once the patient is clear from mortal danger, then follow-on medical personnel can determine how to rehabilitate the patient.

For the Oilers, it should be no different. We now have talented players that we were unable to retain in the late 90s and early 2000s. Determine this season what is missing in order to stabilize the team (while retaining the top end talent) and at least make it a passable NHL organization.

Okay, so there's no playoffs this year, but what could the Oilers do this season to compete at the level of say, Carolina or Nashville. Not elite, but at least passable NHL franchises. Once you get to that point, then worry about jumping to the Chicago-Pittsburgh level.

So what you are saying is we are where we were 4 years ago and we should relax and start over. No thanks. Lowe, buchberger & Smith have to go. This circus is a complete and utter failure.

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#179 15w40
November 03 2013, 01:10PM
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D wrote:

When a patient is in triage, the first step ER doctors take is to stabilize. Figure out what will get the patient through the night and then the week. Once the patient is clear from mortal danger, then follow-on medical personnel can determine how to rehabilitate the patient.

For the Oilers, it should be no different. We now have talented players that we were unable to retain in the late 90s and early 2000s. Determine this season what is missing in order to stabilize the team (while retaining the top end talent) and at least make it a passable NHL organization.

Okay, so there's no playoffs this year, but what could the Oilers do this season to compete at the level of say, Carolina or Nashville. Not elite, but at least passable NHL franchises. Once you get to that point, then worry about jumping to the Chicago-Pittsburgh level.

They are still at the point where they are yelling "CLEAR" and seeing if they can get a pulse.

Sad when your already in to a salvage operation from a smoldering heap of a season on the 1st weekend of November.

They need a fresh set of eyes - not the coach, (how many coaches has this group skewered), to evaluate the talent without any prior baggage of scouting or drafting them.

Look what Burke had to say about Sven Baertschi in Calgary. The current management has hitched their wagon to these guys and will ride them on greased rails into a lake of fire because they have painted themselves into a corner.

The 80's were great - but they are over. Time for a new perspective.

IMHO

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#180 I Remember the Orange Jerseys
November 03 2013, 01:15PM
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Hi. First time poster here at ON. I’ve been coming here regularly for a couple years to read insightful thoughts about my favorite team. So far, you good people have never let me down!

What I took away from Andrew Ference’s interview last night on Hot Stove was that DE has lost a significant part of the locker room, and that it’s largely the “young guns” that he’s lost. I think Ference was also suggesting he believes Eakins’ system would work if the team would actually buy in.

There’s little doubt in my mind that MacT needs to trade one of the so-called untouchables, and he needs to do it now. Given the potential return, and (in my opinion) his complete lack of commitment to the game when the puck isn’t on his stick, Eberle would be my first choice.

This team has become too much of a sh** show to fix with one trade, but trading one of the young guns at this point would bring back something else in return that the team does need, and it would send a message to the locker room that the coach, not the players, run the team.

I’m definitely not sold on Eakins myself, but it does appear to me that a large segment of this team will not commit to defense, and this hasn’t been a problem just since Eakins came along.

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#181 Slats
November 03 2013, 01:17PM
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THE NEW VISION

I think that this has to start with a new philosophy of Team and Organization.

1. Start by being self-critical, perfectionist of all details, and a militaristic approach to the game;

2. Emphasis on Team - individual great players who are not team oriented are traded for multiple pieces/assets and are replaced for ones who are.

3. Equality among players and lack of individual ego (see above)

4. Complete devotion and strong work ethic, intelligence and high level of focus and preparation for each individual game

5. Be versatile and have players who are versatile, able to play multiple positions and systems (not 1 but multiple!)Multiple schemes intended to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses.

The above is from the New England Patriots. The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club does about 10% of these and that's why their results are about 10% of what a great team is.

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#182 Dan 1919
November 03 2013, 01:17PM
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oilerman53 wrote:

I've been following the Oilers closely ever since they captured my heart again the night Marchant silenced that Texas crowd on a warm spring night. This is by far the worst team I've ever seen assembled, they play with zero passion and zero accountability. There isn't any fire throughout the whole lineup, I think the first mistake was giving up too early on Krueger. Then giving an outsider the captaincy, Taylor Hall was poised to lead this team. Before all of you naysayers come in with your catty remarks. Look at Colorado and their young captain, I'm sure Landeskog has some growing up to do but his team goes as he goes. With Hall in the lineup this team looks different, this is becoming a huge joke in itself and the fans are the real losers in the whole situation. I'm just frustrated beyond belief, I just wanna see some effing results. As a fan don't I deserve that much?

Well are you a tier 1 or tier 2 fan?

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#183 Oil_is_runnin_dry
November 03 2013, 01:31PM
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As a die hard oilers fan i have to say this. In the last 5 years the Edmonton Oilers are the worst team in all of sports.

thank you that is all.

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#184 **
November 03 2013, 01:33PM
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at this point there's really only two paths for this team:

1.- They tank the season and get a high draft pick and maybe trade it in a package for a stud D man. 2.- Start playing hard and finish around 20th place. It will be useless in terms of getting a good draft pick or reaching the playoffs, but it might give them confidence for next season.

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#185 Jeffff
November 03 2013, 01:34PM
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Every year young fast talented team. New coach every couple years. Rinse wash and repeat.

“Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.”

FIRE KEVIN LOWE

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#186 prudham's
November 03 2013, 01:39PM
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Your article is a correct assessment as far as I can tell. I'll throw in two peripheral points:

1. Wasn't the Oilers power play last year really good? Did they try to change to he Eakins way this year? If so, why not revert back to last year's PP system tout de suit? They still have two coaches that know it.

2. My anecdotal, but constant observation about organizations of any kind is that everything is affected by the top. This is not an original idea, but every aspect of a company is eventually suffused in ways subtle and overt by the topmost human element. D. Katz: Pressured the EIG into selling, using his love for the city and team as a talking point / went off to Quebec city in order to imply the team was not secure in Edmonton so he could gain leverage / went off Seattle to do the same thing / made secondary purely selfish demands after an agreement that was favorable to him had been made on the arena / then made extra threats based on that situation I believe.

The problem is that the Oilers really are a beloved institution, and the city deserves someone who actually thinks this too, and is not more motivated by greed than the good of the team/community. He doesn't deserve to own the Oilers, and I wish I heard more people strongly suggesting to him that he should sell to a better element.

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#188 Jackson
November 03 2013, 01:54PM
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Jeffff wrote:

Every year young fast talented team. New coach every couple years. Rinse wash and repeat.

“Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.”

FIRE KEVIN LOWE

FIRE KEVIN LOWE

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#189 15w40
November 03 2013, 01:56PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

I haven't missed an oilers game since the invention of the PVR, and this is the worst Oilers Team I have ever seen..

Worst Goaltending. Worst Defence. Absolutely the Worst Forward Group.

No grit, no forecheck, no passion, no desire.

Team seems confused out there, with no idea how to score and how to keep the puck out of the net.

It's so sad.

Trade Weber for Yakupov, Smid + parts. Trade Gagner for Bogosian.

Trade N Shultz for a second rounder.

None of those proposed trades will ever happen.

If they were - MacT would be getting those trade papers to the NHL offices on the back of a mule if need be.

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#190 vetinari
November 03 2013, 02:02PM
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Philly, Florida, Winnipeg, Dallas and Buffalo are all struggling too... I'd be trying my damnedest to pry a defenceman and/or a quality centre from one of them right now, even if it meant using one of the kids as trade bait.

I'm guessing that if MacT hasn't pulled the trigger on a deal by now, it's probably because either Katz won't let him part with any of the kids or else all the deals are complete larceny.

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#191 Kr55
November 03 2013, 02:11PM
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NHL.com reporting attendance was 16,389 instead of the max 16,839. Streak since 2005 is over? or typo? I think that streak ending would be a definite sign the fire has started. And also if it's true, congrats to Oiler fans not giving as much money for such an inferior product.

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#192 mlcselli
November 03 2013, 02:17PM
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I still remember the spiel Eakins put forth the day at the presser when he was introduced as the head coach. How motivated he sounded when he gave us all this hope. EVERYONE is going to compete, whether you were 1st line, 23rd man or someone in Oklahoma. We were going to play hard every night….blah blah blah. What a crock. He looks like he has also resigned himself to more losses. Craig MacT is nowhere to be found so he can tell us more about these bold moves we are all waiting for. Klowe is kissing his 6 rings and Katzs' arse. The players are only out for a skate. The Oilers are a pitiful, pathetic group, and we the fans pay a heavy price to support the team. I am so frustrated that nobody is listening to us, and doing something, anything to show there is hope. Change needs to come.

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#193 pkam
November 03 2013, 02:22PM
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Racki wrote:

Hey everybody, I'm headed down to Whyte Ave.. LETS BURN THIS CITY DOWN!!

You speak like a Canuck fan. Sorry, not me.

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#194 Loweblows
November 03 2013, 02:22PM
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Lowetide in his article said option 1is to fire someone. You vaguely rattle off options on who to fire but fail to mention one name. I think I speak for the majority of the posters here who have one name in mind only. For the mismanagement long term he has caused this organization there is only one man we want held accountable. If given 5 options on a non-scientific poll I am sure only one name would recieve the majority of votes and his name is Kevin Lowe.

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#195 JayW
November 03 2013, 02:22PM
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"you could make a case that with goaltending and better luck they could be 6-7-2.

That may sound like sunshine, and hell maybe it is, but from here there's not a lot going on here that some timely goaltending, a better penalty kill and better health can't fix."

You could reasonably make the case that this team could have ZERO wins on the season if you'd like to play that game...remember that New Jersey and Montreal both gassed 3rd period leads against them, and Dubnyk stood on his head to beat Ottawa.

For me, this type of cherry picking results is BS. I am tired of people saying we have "skilled" players. Skill means you're good at something, and as far as I can tell the Oilers are not good at anything except losing. When Ryan Jones is your best player two home games in a row, I think it's prudent to trade anyone on the active roster.

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#196 Chris.
November 03 2013, 02:46PM
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In 2010 I was extremely disappointed that Katz charged the same group who crashed my beloved Oiler Franchise with the task of rebuilding things.

This is why.

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#197 D
November 03 2013, 02:47PM
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Randaman wrote:

So what you are saying is we are where we were 4 years ago and we should relax and start over. No thanks. Lowe, buchberger & Smith have to go. This circus is a complete and utter failure.

Yes we are where we were 4 years ago, but with additional high end talent in the way of Hall, RNH, Yak, and Eberle. Most of this talent would not have been available to the Oilers without major suckitude over the last several years.

What I am saying is that rather than blowing up the core as some posters here would suggest, recognize instead that this organization has been rotting for two decades and that a blow-up now will yield another generation of bottom dwelling.

If as DSF pointed out, this team needs a big #2 center, two top pairing defenders, and above average goaltending, try to address those issues and get this team into Nashville territory before aiming for Chicago territory.

That to me is how you reverse 20 years of ineptitude.

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#198 oilerman53
November 03 2013, 03:23PM
Trash it!
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Dan 1919 wrote:

Well are you a tier 1 or tier 2 fan?

Im a fan who wants to see some f***in' results!!! I'm a fan who has paid hard earned dollars on merchandise and tickets. I'm a fan who still dedicates at least three hundred hours of tv time watching this team try to win. I'm just a frustrated fan, I dont know what tier that puts me in.

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#199 pkam
November 03 2013, 03:32PM
Trash it!
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Curcro wrote:

The reality is that the Oilers only need one of those things.

Top Pairing Defenders. That would calm down things in the D Zone, would mean the forwards had the puck more.

Dubnyk is roughly equivalent to Crawford (career .914 SvP).

The forward group except for the fourth line is actually reasonably good but they have been torched by injury.

As a team the Oilers look really tight right now, afraid to make a mistake.

They have Florida and Philadelphia two sucky teams on this trip. They need need need to win those games.

Who is the top paring D in Colorado Avs?

I think the Avs has proven that you don't really need a top pairing D if the players buy into the team defense concept.

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