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 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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#52 Johnnydapunk
December 24 2013, 03:57PM
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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.

I was resisting but I'll bite :-)

Just because the Oil beat and beat up your Thrashers doesn't mean you need to get all worked up here. Gazdic made Stuart look like a child and for a while there I thought I was watching the fencing with the stick swinging of Ladd, Little and Bogosian. Apparently body contact is a problem but spearing, cross checking, and slashing is just fine...

Anyways no point in going on about which crap team is better as they are both shockers this year.

Happy Holidays !

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#54 G-Unit
December 24 2013, 09:08PM
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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?

I agree that the changing of coaches has to stop, but do you contend that we should stick with Eakins regardless because he happens to be the sixth guy. If this team is worse than last years team, why shouldn't his position be examined.

Any team with such awful d-zone coverage isn't being coached well. Any team with a powerplay that gives up more chances than it creates isn't being coached well. These deficiencies are so glaringly obvious that every fan in the stands can see it and if Eakins can't correct them is he the right guy? If he has delegated these responsibilities then one of the assistants needs to go.

Who is the smartest man in the room when MacT, Eakins and Rubber Boots have a meeting? They all believe they are smarter than everyone else on the planet.

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#55 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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#56 Racki
December 24 2013, 09:26AM
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I care when the Oilers, but it doesn't bother me so much if they play like yesterday and lose. All I want is to see them show they give a Damn. Not just about scoring, but everything. Normally if a player is pushed around they rely on the refs to do something (save for Gazdic and maybe Ference and a very small few). I loved seeing an entire line stick up for Yak. That was new, and something I wanted to see all year. This team needs emotion like that. And Rexall will always appreciate that.

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#57 Joe Mamma
December 24 2013, 09:44AM
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Who cares what it took. If jersey-gate was what it took to get these guys to start playing for the crest on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back, then so be it. It was just nice to get to watch an effort from our team that we could be proud of. Not because of flashy goals and dipsy-doodles. Not because of raw talent. But because of guts, tenacity, and some good old fashioned jump-on-the grenade-for-the-guy-next-to-you hockey. I hear they gave the game jacket to Gazdic for sticking up for Yak. I say about damn time. If the team learned something about how to win, about how to be a TEAM, forget giving the jersey-tosser the ceremonial puck drop at the first playoff game. The guy should get his own parade.

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#58 BIGDAWG
December 24 2013, 10:15AM
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There, now was that so bad.. im not saying you gotta score 6 everynight but geez.. When a team comes together like that.. wow its nice to finally see.. Some passion, heart, desire.. some.. ya I give a fck.. bout time....... MORE!!!!

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#59 FussyPucker
December 24 2013, 10:36AM
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@Spydyr

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

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#60 St Albert Boris
December 24 2013, 10:46AM
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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

I agree, I wouldn't have tossed my jersey on the ice either but I think he made a statement and there are a lot of people who agree with his action at that moment. If you read Terry Jones artical from Monday,you will see that the fan didn't quit. I also had a jersey from that era, wife #2 got it in the settlement ....

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#61 gm_armchair
December 24 2013, 11:20AM
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When this team is clicking boy are they fun to watch

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#62 Cubro
December 24 2013, 11:22AM
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-30- wrote:

Deadmonton?

bnr is a troll. Come back after mommy cleans your basement room and gets you ready for Chrissy

What does Deadmonton have to do with hockey?

Maybe bnr is DSF's alter ego? LOL anyways bud cheap shots are going to exist whether you like it or not, so either stop watching hockey or quit crying about it...MERRY CHRISTMAS

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#63 Ed in PV
December 24 2013, 12:04PM
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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.

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#64 Ryan2
December 24 2013, 12:09PM
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G-Unit wrote:

I love the fact that Eakins left Yakupov out to answer after his goal. It is a terrible decision if Yak gets his ass handed to him and is out injured for 6 weeks.

The embarrassing part of the end of that game was Ladd slashing at Yakupov and then backing away like he had just accidently poked at MacIntyre. I have been a big fan of Ladd's for years and that play was puzzling.

+1 re: Ladd backing away. He is how much bigger than Yak? I was shocked he did that - if you are a leader and instigate then you should follow through.

The other bushleague move was Fatbastard throwing the water bottle in the penalty box. FWIW, the comments re: trading for him - he would have the fan base turn on him here in a second. He plays like Penner did - when he is on he is great but when he is off everyone will jump on him for being lazy even though he is still playing average hockey.

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#65 Rod from Viking
December 24 2013, 12:18PM
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I thought Hemsky had his best game in years last night, maybe the tossed jersey being #83 had something to do with it? I also really like Luke Gadzic and not only sticking up for Yak but his little head massage on him in the penalty box. Last nights game also showed that the Oiler's need a couple more gritty players, one can play top 6 and the other a 3/4 d man that can drop the mitts if needed. It could have gotten real ugly if Winnipeg would have decided to have a line brawl with Gadzic in the box. "Merry Christmas"

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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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