AT THE BREAK

Brian Sutherby
December 24 2013 08:59AM

 

We didn’t see any jerseys on the ice at Rexall last night, so that’s a bonus heading into the Christmas holidays.  For just the sixth time this season the Oilers treated their fans to a win on home ice and made the holidays just a smidgen better.

We all know after the attention given to the jersey tossed yesterday and the state of this franchise, there would have been more last night had the outcome been different.

HOT TOPIC

I didn’t like Eakins reaction. Even if he felt that strongly about it, I didn’t see how that was going to make anything better. I understood his frustration because jerseys are sacred but yelling at a fan base that hasn’t seen a winning season in forever and coming off a sixth straight defeat may not have been the appropriate time.

I actually felt like he was yelling at his players in a sense about having pride and not being quitters. Either way, it came off poorly and I think it was quickly regretted.

CONSISTENT MESSAGE

I for one am a Dallas Eakins supporter. Not because he has had great results so far but because I don’t think another change on the bench is a good move. I said it 20 games into the season and I stand by it as we close in on 40 games.

This team needs to hear the same message for more than 8 months. It’s clear many of these players have struggled with having several bench bosses over the years and haven’t learned much about two-way play.

Somehow, someway this guy has to get this group to be more responsible. I played against an Eakins coached team in the minors last year. A run and gun, turnover prone, soft team is not the system I saw.

The rest of this season needs to be about teaching. It needs to be about implementing winning habits like stopping and starting and back pressuring as hard as you can. Limiting turnovers and an emphasis on playing every shift like you may not get another one.  That’s how the team that came in here and spanked them 6-0 a few nights ago plays.

This Oilers team has skill but they don’t have enough good habits yet.

YAKUPOV

Look at this guy’s game last night. I for one am not a fan of what I have seen to date (I was not watching last year) but it’s amazing what happens when your ice time gets taken from you. He played 1:32 in the 1st period. He didn’t pout; he worked harder and earned more time as the game went on.

All of the sudden he was moving his feet, he was hitting guys, he was dumping pucks, he was driving the net and elbowing goalies. He looked pissed off and you know what?

Good

Many people will say what good is that, what a waste of our skill.

SIMPLIFY

Sometimes you have to strip your game down to the simplest form before it can get better. Work on the little things like positional play, make simple puck decisions and play with a chip on your shoulder.

I absolutely loved that he whacked Ladd back and stood up for himself.  If I’m the coach I’m ecstatic with his effort last night. Show the video of his early shifts and emphasize those things. When you work like that, the goals and assists will come with that type of talent.

More guys may have to go to this hockey school as the season moves on.

HALL

Taylor Hall was everywhere. He’s the engine that needs to drive this team. I truly believe if he buys into more of a two-way style it will push everyone in that locker room to do the same. As he has many times this year, he put the team on his back last night.

BRYZ

Tough first goal left many people wondering what was happening but he shut the door the rest of the way. Much needed response from him.

TEAM TOUGHNESS

I’d like to see them initiate it more at times but it was good to see everyone get in there and stick up for Yakupov when things got a little testy. There was no hesitation.

As a teammate when you see that happen, it should give you a little extra confidence that guys have your back for the next time and maybe you can push back once in a while.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Last night was the exact type of game I expected. The Oil had a response that will suck some fans back onto the band wagon, while other fans are left wondering why this effort doesn’t happen every night.

Round and round we will continue to go. By now everyone should be used to this roller coaster and not be surprised by the ups and downs. It’s what young teams do.

You may as well buckle up for the second half; I don’t expect this ride to change anytime soon but maybe your egg nog will taste just a little bit better for a few days.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas everyone.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#51 bxman
December 24 2013, 01:53PM
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Wohin gehst du? wrote:

It's great that Yakupov is pissed off. He should chirp and make scrums, like Perron. But, bnr is right. If he did in fact elbow the goalie on purpose, he should be called out for it and disciplined. I would want the other guy to be punished if, say, he whacked me in the face with a hockey stick on purpose. Or hit me knee on knee on purpose. Or checked me in the head on purpose. So the same standards have to apply to me.

No one should be proud of a player overstepping rules like that. The chirping and grinding is good. Elbowing goalies? Not so much.

It's time you and bnr lost your man cards. Players are always trying to distract the goalie and this was no different. Late shot, whack on blocker, snow the goalie etc.. If you two were in charge the teams couldn't keep score because someones feelings may be hurt. Sheesh!

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#52 Joe Mamma
December 24 2013, 01:54PM
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bnr wrote:

I for one, did not like what I saw from Yakupov yesterday.. He is a dirty little bastard. Elbowing goaltenders in the head is downright dangerous and thuggish.

Stay classy there Deadmonton.

That's rich, a guy from manitoba cutting down edmonton. Have a look out your window and shut your hick mouth.

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#53 ColourMeImpressed
December 24 2013, 05:20PM
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Brian Sutherby wrote:

Well that's where we disagree. I don't think we really know what the Oilers have in Eakins yet. I don't think this team currently coached by anyone in the league is a playoff team.

The makeup to me is not right. Until that is addressed I don't understand the theory of let's just keep rifling through coaches, it must be the coach?

I've been inclined to give Eakins time and a fair chance, but I was reading this piece on Puck Daddy - http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/return-bruce-boudreau-reason-rock-red-washington-223445097--nhl.html - about Bruce Boudreau and his time in Washington.

He coached the team he had.

And when playoff success didn't materialize, and he tried to coach them to play defence first, they imploded. The Caps haven't recovered from that.

MacT is a defensive coach. He loves grinders. LOVES them, and knows how to get the most out of them. He pushed Toby Peterson into the first power play. He made Pisani. He was instrumental behind Horcoff's success and allegedly pushed for Horcoff's giant contract. Horcoff was the ultimate grinder - took limited tools and become an almost-first line centre.

MacT hired Eakins because Eakins thinks like MacT.

And as I read about Boudreau and those wonderful Capitals of his, I'm not sure that Eakins is the right man for the job.

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#54 nick
December 24 2013, 10:28AM
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Once again they beat an uniterested Winnipeg team, another of the bottom feeders. Eakins is a joke and the little 5 year old was correct, "Eakins sucks" It is hard to tolerate watching this guy run a bench or should I say hold up the glass behind the bench.

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#55 Serious Gord
December 24 2013, 12:04PM
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So Brian, if after 80 games the team is little better than today: able to beat fellow bottom feeders but completely outclassed against top sixteen opponents - they are 3-20 against that group thusfar if my math is correct - will you then declare Eakins a failure and that he should be fired?

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#56 FlamesRule
December 24 2013, 05:31PM
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Ed in PV wrote:

I find it interesting that whenever an Oiler plays with an edge (Ference pummeling Stempniak, Yakupov nailing a goalie) there is someone in cyberspace crying foul.

I hope we have someone crying foul after very game. One on the many aspects the Oil are missing is being hard to play against.

Guess PV ain't Proofreadingville, eh Ed... Ference is a dirty boy!

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#57 risto siltanen's slapshot
December 24 2013, 10:56AM
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FussyPucker wrote:

His heart is what hit the ice. I've been pretty mad too about the last 1/2 dozen games also but if this small gesture wakes a giant killer up, toss another jersey! That win over Winnipeg was awsome! The fan did quit. Play well and we'll replace him. I've had my jersey for 30 yrs, it's kinda tight a little dis-colored and a few loose threads. Paid $65.00 back in 1984 before we won the cup. Priceless

the jersey thrown was #83 non? not quite as priceless as Charlie Huddy's or their cups. maybe your jersey means something but when I see an #83 jersey on the ice I think overpaid, underperforming and not enough playoffs. well done fan of the "new" oilers cuz the old guard didn't need to motivate them...we were scared they'd take our team away not give us this one.

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#58 R U Kidding Me!
December 24 2013, 12:42PM
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This was the Oilers best game so far this season. Keep it up boys.

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#59 Wohin gehst du?
December 24 2013, 02:34PM
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@bxman

bnr is clearly not an Oilers fan, so it would be pretty stupid to put him in charge of the team.

However, if anyone thinks that overstepping rules with the intent to injure another player is okay, I don't want them to complain ever again if one of our players is injured by a cheap shot. I don't want to see them raging about Zack Kassian's slash to Gagner's face.

I am against intentionally injuring other players. If they're playing hard and an accident occurs, then accidents happen. I am 100% for hard play.

If Nail Yakupov accidentally hit the goalie, I'm fine with the play. If he did it on purpose, he deserves discipline.

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#60 Serious Gord
December 24 2013, 11:22PM
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Hardcore39 wrote:

This organization needs to sit on this coach and ride it out. He is a good coach, anyone that has played for him has great things to say about him. If the oil gets rid of him we start at square one. Again. MacT is not going to admit that his first move as GM has a failure. He will get next year and probably the year after.

If they think coaching is an issue they need to get rid of the assistants that have been around the entire time of the rebuild. Maybe they should get rid of them and get some real assistants in.

Everyone had great things to say about kreuger too. Ditto Rennie. The cloistered world of pro hockey dictates that you not criticize management if you want to stay in the game.

And it is ridiculous to insist that the assistants be fired. That's like leaving an incompetent general In place and firing all the colonels - whether they are incompetent or not - the generals actions far overarching their inadequacies or their strengths.

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#61 Oilers4ever
December 25 2013, 08:54AM
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Merry xmas nation and oilers fans everywhere. On a side note, people bladting eakins should get a grip. He blasted ONE single fan not the whole bloody group. Take your rose tinted glasses off. About time someone speaks their mind. Screw what the media thinks. Half the time they dont know what they are talking about anyways. He singled out one individual and quite frankly this team doesnt need quitters supporting them. Good riddance I say.

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#62 Rdubb
December 26 2013, 06:32AM
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It's funny Brian, Yak's best games this season are the ones when he SIMPLIFIES his game & when he is using a bit of his size hitting people and being a bit of a pest...funny how that works isn't it? I have talked to friends who have played in the NHL in regards to things like this and they always say the same thing, & tend to use the exact same word(s), "simplify your game", "keep it simple", "dump & chase", "finish your checks"...they may seem like clichés but they are all true, are they not? You hear NHL players talk about it all the time, your best games are when things get simplified, and when a player & team does this, then their skill will show through and thus the goals will go in. Look no further than the Pens or Hawks to see this. Sid & Malkin dump the puck in all the time when they find themselves out numbered and have nowhere to pass the puck... I was also very lucky as a youngster, I guess between the ages of 9-15, as I got to spend a lot of time around those great Oiler teams, from going to a number of games in regular season and playoffs, and cup finals, to spending time with them away from the rink as many were family friends. I can look back @ those times now and can say that I learnt more from listening to them talk about hockey than from watching, but watching sure was fun! They were all very intelligent hockey people, and it would be interesting to hear what they think about this Oiler squad, from Pat Hughes, to Lumley, Ron Lowe, Mark Lamb, Huddy, Fuhr, Moog, to Gretzky, Kurri, & Anderson. Guys who are NOT part of the Oiler team @ this current time...& I know a few live in the area, so wouldn't it be a good article to ask then of their opinions? Just my rabbling thoughts Peck

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#63 Rdubb
December 27 2013, 04:14AM
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Brian Sutherby wrote:

No I wouldn't. I would try something new in these parts and let a coach have a second year. "The coach isn't going anywhere guys, so maybe we should start listening and buying in"

If players can just shrug off a coach every year knowing he will get fired, when or why will a player in this organization ever listen?

How can a 6th coach in 6 years all with a slightly different philosophy be good for a young team?

More importantly, they just aren't good enough right now, but maybe the players here with a consistent message can learn a thing or two until more help arrives.

Those teams you mentioned them losing against have built rosters with skill, some size, sprinkled with some gritty skill and character. Oh and most have a number 1 or 2 defenseman.

The best teams in the league are built that way and the Oilers aren't even close to matching up yet.

How many times can you blame the coach?

Gord I don't think Edmonton can fire Eakins, although I do agree with you 100%! The guy has meddled in the PP & PK when both near the top of the NHL and now our PK has given up 8 shorty's, hell, we must be pretty close to being a minus on the PP pretty soon if this all keeps up. There were SEVERAL things he could tried to fix instead of the PP & PK, & that swarm defense looks no better than a line of peewee's playing shinny on the outdoor rink too... but, back to firing Eakins. They can't!!! The reason is because MacT made a huge mistake and gave Eakins a long contract to start off with, either a 4 or 5 year (5 I think) deal. Why so long for a 1st time NHL coach? What would have been wrong with a 2 yr deal and extending it if, and a BIG IF, if he was doing a good job. Even 3 yrs, but 4 or 5, way too freaking long with the way Edmonton has been going through coach's. If I am not mistaken, are we not still paying for 2 of them because of the long terms given to the coaches? Peck

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#64 Serious Gord
December 24 2013, 08:42PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

So you believe coaching is the problem with this team?

I'm not buying it.

Goaltending, Grit, and Defensive play are the culprits. Eakins is sitting players when they deserve it and following up his words with actions. If they don't buy in, they don't play. I like this coach.

MacT has been trying to fix the Goaltending since he came on board, which is something Steve (Khabby is our MVP) Tambellinni wasn't even aware of.

Perron is gritty, Ference is gritty, Gadzic is gritty, Belov is gritty, Joensuu is gritty. Something tells me they are trying to address this problem too.

Defensive play, and by that I mean preventing goals and gaining puck possession and getting the puck up the ice going the other direction, has been lacking ever since Pronger left town. They need a number 1, and everyone knows it. I am sure MacT knows it too.

So I am defending MacT and Eakins, because I think they have a clue. I want to see what the second half of the year looks like.

It is not THE problem but it definitely is A problem. That will likely be laid bare on the 27 when they play cgy. They may win but the flames are far less talented and are missing two real stalwarts - glencross and Russell but I think you can take their commitment to their coach to the bank.

Also one of Eakins claims to fame is khadri. Time to reassess that project.

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#65 Hardcore39
December 24 2013, 09:58PM
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This organization needs to sit on this coach and ride it out. He is a good coach, anyone that has played for him has great things to say about him. If the oil gets rid of him we start at square one. Again. MacT is not going to admit that his first move as GM has a failure. He will get next year and probably the year after.

If they think coaching is an issue they need to get rid of the assistants that have been around the entire time of the rebuild. Maybe they should get rid of them and get some real assistants in.

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#66 Johnny
December 24 2013, 02:50PM
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Have you seen the video of the two blondes you posted?

GREAT scene...

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#67 Rod from Viking
December 24 2013, 03:13PM
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@Brian Sutherby

Brian, what are your impressions of Tim Gleason? He seems like a decent shut-down type 3-4 with a lot of grit and is a decent fighter, he has a $4m salary with a LNTC which is a little steep but I think he is the kind of complimentary player the Oil need unless you and Struds are coming out of retirement.

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#68 Serious Gord
December 24 2013, 08:42PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

So you believe coaching is the problem with this team?

I'm not buying it.

Goaltending, Grit, and Defensive play are the culprits. Eakins is sitting players when they deserve it and following up his words with actions. If they don't buy in, they don't play. I like this coach.

MacT has been trying to fix the Goaltending since he came on board, which is something Steve (Khabby is our MVP) Tambellinni wasn't even aware of.

Perron is gritty, Ference is gritty, Gadzic is gritty, Belov is gritty, Joensuu is gritty. Something tells me they are trying to address this problem too.

Defensive play, and by that I mean preventing goals and gaining puck possession and getting the puck up the ice going the other direction, has been lacking ever since Pronger left town. They need a number 1, and everyone knows it. I am sure MacT knows it too.

So I am defending MacT and Eakins, because I think they have a clue. I want to see what the second half of the year looks like.

It is not THE problem but it definitely is A problem. That will likely be laid bare on the 27 when they play cgy. They may win but the flames are far less talented and are missing two real stalwarts - glencross and Russell but I think you can take their commitment to their coach to the bank.

Also one of Eakins claims to fame is khadri. Time to reassess that project.

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#69 Doublee
December 25 2013, 10:21AM
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Brian: Enjoyed your article- thoughtful, balanced and reasonable. Well done!! Will look forward to more comment from you.

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