Now Eventually You Do Plan To Have Power, On Your Powerplay, Right? Hello?

Jonathan Willis
December 19 2013 10:50PM

The game-winning goal in Thursday’s game was scored by the Colorado Avalanche, while the Edmonton Oilers were on the power play. That’s bad. That it’s just the way Oilers power plays tend to go these days is worse.

The Goal!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Justin Schultz coughs up the puck at the opposition blue line.

This one isn’t especially complex; that’s the crux of it. The initial pass is inexplicable; Schultz had time and space but decided to force a pass to a covered Taylor Hall rather than hang on to it himself or pass it to the open man on the far boards.

That started a two-on-one. Hall did his level best to get back in the play and gained some ground but wasn’t able to get there in time. The Oilers would have been okay if Schultz had played the pass, like every defenceman defending a two-on-one ever is supposed to, but he didn’t and that left Devan Dubnyk hanging out to dry.

The Trend!

Here’s a statistic: In the last 13 games, the Oilers have surrendered 14 shorthanded chances. They have only managed to generate 11 themselves all season.

Here’s another one: in the last six games, Edmonton’s power play has been out-chanced 8-7.

Superficially, the power play ranks 16th in the NHL in overall effectiveness, with 23 goals on 130 chances (17.7%). However, after eight shorthanded goals are taken into account it slips to 25th overall in goal differential/opportunities. It’s a ludicrous number given the talent the team has at its disposal.

Edmonton plays games on Saturday and Monday, but then has a long-ish break before playing Calgary on Friday (Update: as Jason Gregor reminds me, there's a little-known holiday called "Christmas" in that stretch, which makes it somewhat less than ideal as a time for practicing things). That break might be a good time to completely reimagine the power play.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Retsinnab5
December 19 2013, 11:05PM
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Props if you think we should fire Eakins. Trash if you think we should keep him.

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#2 dougtheslug
December 19 2013, 11:07PM
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Ludicrous indeed. Why not send Schulz the younger back to OKC for a season or two to learn the rudiments of playing professional hockey. He has been lost at sea for most of his NHL career, and it appears learning on the job is a recipe for ruining a career.

Of course that would expose the silliness of trading Smid for very nearly what they got for Linus Omark.

Makes you wonder who is the most incompetent:the Owner, the POHO, the GM, the Coach, or the players that make the same mistakes game after game after game.

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#3 Fresh Mess
December 19 2013, 11:24PM
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Props if you think props polls are cool.

Trash if you think they are exceedingly dumb and should be banned.

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#4 hallsyoilerforever5
December 19 2013, 11:03PM
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It's truly frustrating to know how PP was strong last season. Who the hell runs the PP now? Acton? Eakins? League leading SH's is just shameful. Dead last in the west, flames are still ahead, 4 points from 30th with Buffalo winning a game tonight. This season has been such a disaster.

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#5 T&A4Flames
December 19 2013, 11:12PM
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MacT's bold move...tank, just like thel last guy, and draft Ekblad to fix the D.

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#6 Oilcan
December 19 2013, 11:51PM
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Schultz is in a rough spot clearly he has the talent but he needs to be on the third pairing and with Edmonton not having what you would call a capable d core, he plays way too many minutes, therefore making too many mistakes.

Also that "2nd line" sure seems to bleed chances against for the past couple years, oh gagner is still the centre on that line, hmmm must be the 9 different wingers fault #oilerlogic

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#7 Bryzarro World
December 20 2013, 08:35AM
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Coach is a joke. We had the same sad line up, even worse in some cases the last couple years but there were still areas the team shined. The Oil were losing but they had a great power play and not bad penalty kills.

Wtf do we have now? An even bigger turd pile. THANKS COACH

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#8 @pistolpetestar
December 19 2013, 11:20PM
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I know we joke about it but there has to be some serious consideration taken to declining penalties or firing the puck over the glass to even it up to 4 on 4.

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#9 bob
December 20 2013, 01:46AM
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this 'team' blows........this organization blows........sport announcers on radio and tv blow........no entertainment value at all........

ive heard from buddies with kids......the kids think cheering for oilers youre not cool.....they are cheering for other teams and players............and starting to watch other sports

oilers are on the verge of losing the younger generation.......not good for business

what a shame

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#10 Loweblows
December 19 2013, 11:30PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

NHL teams can't practice on Tuesday and Wednesday due to Christmas. They will work on PP tomorrow most likely. The way things are going they will need more than one day.

The oilers need to practice their power play under the guidance of a coach who is experienced in teaching structure. Eakins has set this team back in the fundamentals. Remember the fruit fly swarm defense? I agree coaching change affects players but Eakinsbhas taught this team squat. Set him adrift now and bring in a coach who understands structure. A ll you Eakins apologists can kiss my a&@!

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#11 Dan
December 20 2013, 12:28AM
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Oilers as an organization have done a very poor job in developing their players and not surrounding the young core with smart veterans. I fear the constant losing will just further erode the confidence and development of our core players...think it already has, you see it in their body language. Six years the Oilers mgt team have done very little to build this team other than acquire first round picks (3 times drafting first overall)and they are no better than the year they bombed in 2007 (and had 3 first round picks and bombed out with two picks). That in a nutshell tells you why the Oilers are where they are. I don't see the Oilers fans waiting for another rebuild with this current management team...this would never happen in MTL, TOR and VAN. Until we get a capable mgt team and making trades/drafting well to meet needs, this organization is going nowhere and Katz will be laughing all the way to the bank in his super nice new arena.

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#12 LoweBlow
December 20 2013, 12:44AM
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Glad I missed this game. I'm seeing that I'm happier when I don't watch the Oilers.

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#13 Jacques Strap
December 20 2013, 07:12AM
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Props if you think they should fire K-Lowe.

Trash if you kick puppies and want the terrorists to win.

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#14 Smokey
December 20 2013, 08:02AM
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Heads should roll. How can a President and GM watch the debacle of a powerplay with that much talent suck so mightily.

The Oilers dzone coverage and inability to defend is laughable. A top pairing of Smid Petry would look lovely right now. Not sure how Lowe and MacT could think a plethera of soft 180 pound defenders with no apparantly no defensive accumen could handle this load. Just pathetic.

They dumped Smid for ECHL goalie and a tweener so they could sign a goalie who they don't play. If your going to dump your only decent NHL defender then roll your goalie till he drops. Total headshaker.

Good on Hall and Nuge to play for pride. The only highlights last night.

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#15 Rheal1
December 20 2013, 05:47AM
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Famous quotes:

"And lastly I’ll say, there’s one other guy I believe in hockey today, that is still working in the game, that has won more Stanley Cups than me, so I think I know a little bit about winning if that’s ever a concern." - K Lowe.

"The number one thing we're going to be committed to is competition. If you're going to play for the Edmonton Oilers, you're going to compete. That's how you win games in the NHL and that's how you make your organization better." - D. Eakins.

"In professional sports, winning is the bottom line … This isn't about winning one game or one season. We're going to bring this organization back so that we're in the mix to win every single year." - D. Eakins.

"Now, I'm an impatient guy, and I bring that impatience to this situation. And I think that we're at the stage in terms of the cycle of our hockey club right now, that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion." - MacT.

"What really, truly matters is what we do tomorrow as an organization to get better. If I can come in here and sell you guys on my capability and credibility to do the job today, it means nothing tomorrow." - MacT.

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#16 Brian
December 20 2013, 07:45AM
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I suspect that KLowe will be avoiding open mics for a while yet . Too bad . I quite enjoy his Rob Ford-like sound bites.

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#17 Say what again
December 20 2013, 09:59AM
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It must be yak's fault. Instead of asking hard, penetrating questions to the management and coaching staff, the media should go corner the young russian some more.

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#18 Rama Lama
December 20 2013, 10:48AM
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Relax everyone, there is lot's of time left. Coach Eakins has a plan, and I for one think it will work.

1. Mix the line ups and often ( blender at high speeed) because that always works.

2. Play players outside their natural positions because that always works.

3. Make sure that everyone is fit, demand it, because that always works.

4. Bench players and often,( except you favourites) because that always works.

5. Look angry, and talk in a low voice to the media, because that always works.

6. Match lines like your pee-wee hockey team, because that always works.

If anyone still thinks that because Eakins had a good AHL team, he will be a great NHL coach........stop smoking those drugs.

Time to turf MR. Fitness, the team has tuned him out!

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#19 Dan the Man
December 20 2013, 09:18AM
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As awful as Schultz has been this year at times (and there have been many times) he just played in his 77th NHL game. That's not even a full season yet.

Craig Simpson was defending him on Twitter last night and had this to say: "Point being, Schultz better first year than Karlsson, Erik's 2nd was 45pts -30 on non playoff team and knives were out on him. Nothing worse than judging a talented young D, trying to be an impact player in 2nd year, on a bad team that can't defend...Perspective here. Paul Coffey had 32pts in 74gp as rookie, Schultz had 27 in 48gp on a bad team in a tight defensive NHL. The point was, nobody would have pegged Karlsson as a future Norris winner at ANY point in his first 2 years…."

Horrible play last night but you really need to be patient with young defensemen.

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#20 hall2010
December 20 2013, 02:15AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Ya I'm a huge Yak fan but I'm totally sick of watching his lacklustre, disinterested play on defence. I've been saying trade Eberle for a #1 d-man, but to be honest right now if we could trade Yak for a #1 d-man I'd do it in a heartbeat. Then just resign Hemsky in the #2 right wing spot. Too bad we'd get jack for Yak right now.

It's not going to happen unless MacT pulls a Christmas miracle out of his hat. Maybe the best we can hope for is a Festivus miracle, and Yak actually shows up to play a 200 foot game on Saturday night.

i think yak's disinterested in playing for eakins rather than defense.

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#21 jim
December 20 2013, 01:48AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Crazy trade proposal for the day - Sam Gagner and Justin Schultz to Florida for Dmitri Kulikov, Shawn Mattias and Jimmy Hayes. We'd definitely be beefier, would add some depth and a legit top 4 d-man.

crazier trade.........sam gagner and j schultz for horcoff

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#22 Kr55
December 20 2013, 09:40AM
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It's pretty obvious Krueger took all the brain behind our special teams with him. Gotta really question what Buchy and Smith actually do on this team. I wouldn't be surprised if Krueger asked for extra coaching help because he knew those 2 were useless and he was doing everything himself. Possibly not using those 2 played a part in him getting fired. Only thing worse than asking your boss to fire untouchables like Buchy and Smith is to exclude them and make them feel as useless as they are. Eakins must be more of a "team player".

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#23 Bruce McCurdy
December 20 2013, 11:45AM
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"Here’s another one: in the last six games, Edmonton’s power play has been out-chanced 8-7."

... and outscored 3-1.

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#24 Jason Gregor
December 19 2013, 11:01PM
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NHL teams can't practice on Tuesday and Wednesday due to Christmas. They will work on PP tomorrow most likely. The way things are going they will need more than one day.

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#25 Drowning in Oil
December 20 2013, 10:33AM
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Just going to sit back and wait for Omark to start tallying up the points in Buffalo. In a way, I really hope he sticks it to the Oil!!!

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#26 CMG30
December 20 2013, 06:17AM
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I think the GF might be on to something. She knows nothing about hockey but still somehow came up with this: "I think I hate these guys. Everytime I watch them they make me mad"

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#27 Zarny
December 20 2013, 10:42AM
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Schultz has a brain fart and we get comments about Lowe and Eakins. Good grief.

That's not coaching. That's a dumb play. That's sh*t I see in my men's league. That's all on J. Schultz. If we're going to talk about accountability and such.

Last night was par for the course. A bunch of kids prone to making mistakes on the ice together. Coverage of the Oilers looks a bit like child abuse sometimes.

I thought it was fitting Max Talbot was the difference maker. The Oilers could use a few boring old vets like him.

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#28 S cottV
December 19 2013, 11:38PM
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It takes veteran presence and nerve to run the pp from the top of the umbrella. You have to have the right guy to pull it off or you run a different pp formation.

I think Krueger's downfall was handing off too much too soon to the kids. If Eakins doesn't watch it - he will end up getting one of those Skypes.

As for Schultz - he has a long way to go. In fact I would settle his @ss down, hope for some relative calm, so some team might want him and trade his butt for a real d man. He really is over rated

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#29 camdog
December 20 2013, 07:59AM
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DoubleDIon wrote:

What I can't figure out is why Nail Yakupov isn't being sheltered more. He is clearly the worst defensive player in the league. Why the heck is he playing against the Duchene line? The O'Reilly goal is a prime example of his disinterested play. I'd play him the 5 minutes the 4th line plays for the other team until he decides to actually stick with his man.

He went to the media and his agent the last time he got sheltered minutes.

Yak's has great skill, but he needs to be surrounded by a veteran center to develop his overall game. I know there are a lot of Horcoff haters, and he is a shell of a player he once was, but Yak needs a guy like that right now.

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#30 Zarny
December 20 2013, 01:42PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I always wonder about well coached teams.......it seems no matter who is out they find a way to win.

Why, you ask Zarny, well because they have a system of play that all players have bought into and they make it work.

It's called good coaching. We hired a rookie GM who made a rookie mistake and hired a rookie coach. The rookie coach though he was smarter than God......and still does.

Since we cant fire the President, GM, Asst. GM, the only one left is the coach.

We should have hired Brent Sutter in the first place.........he would have never made the STUPID mistakes that Eakins continues to make. Let's stop blaming the players as NOT being good enough. Every time we say that the player leaves only to shine on some other team.

That's nonsense. Torts, Hitchcock, Ruff, Maurice...tons of good coaches have had winning and losing seasons. They don't always find a way to win. That's a pure fallacy. That's why they get fired.

I like Sutter. Would't have had a problem with him at all. NJ struggled his first 20 games. Same with Oates in Wsh last year.

You say rookie like it's an actual point. Sutter was rookie when he was hired too. Bylsma was a rookie in Pit. Oates was a rookie in Wsh. Cooper is a rookie in TB.

Being a rookie has nothing to do with it.

It doesn't matter who the coach is there is no top pairing D. Literally. Any combination will fail. Not one D on this team is good enough to play against top F 25 min a night let alone 2.

The top 6 F all play the same and have the same flaws. It doesn't matter what combination you throw out there. And the spare parts on the 3rd and 4th line are useless aside from Gordon.

You take 3 or 4 names off that roster and it's an AHL team. That's the problem.

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#32 Toro
December 19 2013, 11:17PM
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I like Ekblad

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#33 bazmagoo
December 20 2013, 12:35AM
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@reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)

I think sending J Schultz down to the AHL would be a little over the top, but he should definitely be playing 3rd pairing minutes. Anyone can see that. Trading Smid does look pretty foolish, especially with no replacement in the organization. Just continuing to hope these bad days will motivate these young guys to improve in leaps and bounds.

Ekblad does look like a nice prospect though, wouldn't be a horrible thing to end up with him. He's already rocking a serious beard at 17 - http://www.eliteprospects.com/gallery.php?player=49042. I'm ok with the Oilers sucking now, there is power in beards.

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#34 Quicksilver ballet
December 20 2013, 03:59AM
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Life is hell without a couple first pairing blueliners.

The heart of the power play.

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#35 Rama Lama
December 20 2013, 11:48AM
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@Zarny

I always wonder about well coached teams.......it seems no matter who is out they find a way to win.

Why, you ask Zarny, well because they have a system of play that all players have bought into and they make it work.

It's called good coaching. We hired a rookie GM who made a rookie mistake and hired a rookie coach. The rookie coach though he was smarter than God......and still does.

Since we cant fire the President, GM, Asst. GM, the only one left is the coach.

We should have hired Brent Sutter in the first place.........he would have never made the STUPID mistakes that Eakins continues to make. Let's stop blaming the players as NOT being good enough. Every time we say that the player leaves only to shine on some other team.

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#37 Turnover
December 19 2013, 11:53PM
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Jonathan, maybe the reality is, the "talent" at the coaches disposal, is not as talented as you believe it is !

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#38 Rheal1
December 20 2013, 06:54AM
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Isn't Steve Smith the D coach? Isn't he also the PP guy behind the bench? Shouldn't he be fired? Arent assistant coaches part of this uber failure?

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#39 Ed in PV
December 20 2013, 06:58AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Famous quotes:

"And lastly I’ll say, there’s one other guy I believe in hockey today, that is still working in the game, that has won more Stanley Cups than me, so I think I know a little bit about winning if that’s ever a concern." - K Lowe.

"The number one thing we're going to be committed to is competition. If you're going to play for the Edmonton Oilers, you're going to compete. That's how you win games in the NHL and that's how you make your organization better." - D. Eakins.

"In professional sports, winning is the bottom line … This isn't about winning one game or one season. We're going to bring this organization back so that we're in the mix to win every single year." - D. Eakins.

"Now, I'm an impatient guy, and I bring that impatience to this situation. And I think that we're at the stage in terms of the cycle of our hockey club right now, that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion." - MacT.

"What really, truly matters is what we do tomorrow as an organization to get better. If I can come in here and sell you guys on my capability and credibility to do the job today, it means nothing tomorrow." - MacT.

That pretty much sums up the Oil's management team. Plenty of good quotes but nothing is being delivered.

Gregor, Brownlee and anyone else in the Edmonton sports media I ask for a Xmas gift from you guys. The next time KL has a media availability (and I know it is not all that often) please someone ask him directly is he is accountable for the embarrassment the Oil have become, if not him then who. Will the responsible people be held accountable (i.e. be shown the door due to not doing their jobs).

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#40 Oilers4ever
December 19 2013, 11:21PM
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I'll say it like yesterday. Until this team trades gags, yak, and their 1st round pick... heck add hemsky... to get the 1-2 dman they need and a top 6 lucic like player they will continue to suck. They don't frighten anyone and are pushed around far too easy. Until they address that nothing changes.

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#41 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 20 2013, 12:14AM
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Shultz needs a smart veteran to p[lay with. When Coffey first came in the Oilers picked up gary lariviere who Coffey said helped build his confidence by leting him know when to go and when not to. Shultz needs something.

Imo don't see how the AHL will help when he showed he can dominate that league. Played half the season there and still won defenseman of the year I believe.

Is he another pierre larouche or Alex Giroux in that they can't seem to do it in the NHL consistently?

Tough to say when the Oilers are very poor at development

i honestly don't know what to make of him right now. is he this bad?

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#42 Joe Mamma
December 20 2013, 11:13AM
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bob wrote:

this 'team' blows........this organization blows........sport announcers on radio and tv blow........no entertainment value at all........

ive heard from buddies with kids......the kids think cheering for oilers youre not cool.....they are cheering for other teams and players............and starting to watch other sports

oilers are on the verge of losing the younger generation.......not good for business

what a shame

Yep. My son told me he is the only oiler fan in his class, and the rest of the kids bug him about it.

I asked him "who do they cheer for then?" And his response should be a very scary proposition for ownership, and maybe even the league... "Nobody. There are a couple kids that are fans of some other teams, but mostly they just don't care about hockey."

In what is considered one of the best hockey markets in north america, to hear that should absolutely send a chill down the spine of Katz.

On the verge of losing them? I think they've already lost them.

Sad indeed.

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#43 Joe Mamma
December 20 2013, 11:52AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Wow. You guys are already talking about tanking next season. Do you ever plan on being relevant again?

Kindly step in front of a moving semi.

Don't you losers in calgary have anything better to do in your world class city than sit and troll oiler boards? Get a life.

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#44 bazmagoo
December 20 2013, 02:24AM
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@hall2010

I'm wondering if that's what the issue is with J Schultz too, didn't Krueger convince him to come to E-town?

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#45 dougtheslug
December 20 2013, 06:34AM
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** wrote:

I think Schultz won rookie of the year with only half a season in the minors, so what else is there for him to learn in the minors?. One has to think it's the stupid defensive deployment Eakins is giving the team.

Remember Schultz played his brief minor league career on a unit with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and RNH. It was all offence, all the time and seriously skewed his offensive numbers, and I think distorted the perception of his abilities, as well as leaving his clear defensive liabilities unexposed until he arrived at the NHL.

It is obvious he has lots to learn on his own side of center ice. Put him down in OKC with their current roster, and I bet you he wouldn't put up anywhere near the offensive numbers he put up last year.

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#46 David S
December 19 2013, 11:08PM
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Any chance of doing a screen capture analysis of the PP Jonathan? Seems like alot of the same breakdowns due to some sort of system failure (or lack of being able to execute said system).

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#47 **
December 20 2013, 12:40AM
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The NHL should add a rule that allows the team receiving the power play to decline it, much like in football. That would reduce the danger of being scored on for the Oilers.

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#48 Taylor Gang
December 20 2013, 08:13AM
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Why are Hall and Nuge the only two producing as of late? Please explain

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#49 S cottV
December 20 2013, 08:34AM
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-30- wrote:

What happened from last year to this year?

Last year the Oil powerplay was deadly. Zipping the puck quickly and then bang. Goal!

Is it the system? Is it the players? Is it the coach or is everyone else in the league defending the Oil PP better?

Mental lapses happen but lately they seem to be magnified by more lapses. Can't J Schultz be benched at least?

-30-

I think there is truly a disconnect with the Coach.

It's probably a combination of things like different systems that the players are not embracing, off ice protocol and personality.

Eakins admitted that some of his systems were off base for this player group, so that tells me there must have been and probably still are issues between the Coach and player group.

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#50 Loweblows
December 20 2013, 09:02AM
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Eakins said the power play isn't getting it done- correction required-Eakins coaching isn't getting it done! The power play last year was effective and under his stewardship it has regressed. Fire Eakins now! Andvfire KLown while your at it.

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