The First 41: Halfway Where?

Robin Brownlee
December 28 2013 11:23PM

So, are the Edmonton Oilers actually as lousy as their record at the halfway point of their schedule or have they under-achieved through their first 41 games?

While I didn’t see the Oilers as Western Conference playoff contenders this season, I'm leaning heavily toward the latter when I look at a team that is an underwhelming 13-24-4 for 30 points after reaching the halfway pole by coughing up a 2-0 lead in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Rexall Place Saturday.

Are the Oilers as bad as their record? No. Does that mean this first half has been nothing more than an unlucky aberration and everything will be fine if people just sit back, relax and let things fall into place? Not a chance. I'm not even going to try to blow that brand of sunshine up anybody's backside, and anybody who does should give their head a shake.

The issues are many. Too much of the same thing up front. A defensive group that lacks enough actual NHL defensemen and a true top pairing. Lack of size and grit. Consistency in goal. Not enough veteran leadership . . . blah, blah, blah. GM Craig MacTavish has much work to do. All this we know.

That said, there's no question this group of players, holes and all, didn't come close to playing as well as was reasonably expected under NHL rookie coach Dallas Eakins in the first half. A tough schedule early played a part in that. So did injuries. So have horrid performances by players who have a record of being better.

Are they this bad? No. Are they good enough? No.

In the Second Half

I expected the Oilers to be .500 in terms of points this season. That's not going to happen through 82 games with the terrible start they had, but I expect they'll be at or near .500 in their final 41 games. Even if MacTavish doesn't make a single roster move – he will -- I see the Oilers winning 18-20 games. I see them finishing with 70-74 points.

I know, big deal. Playing .500 in the second half won't be enough to get a playoff spot, making it eight years out of the post-season. If that's your bottom line for reasonable progress four years into the "official" rebuild, I get it. I didn't think a playoff position was a realistic expectation going into the season, but believing the Oilers would stay within hailing distance of the top-eight didn’t seem like too much to ask.

The Oilers went 19-22-7 for 45 points in 48 games last season. They had 74 points from a record of 32-40-10 in 2011-12. I didn't expect to see the Oilers take a step back so far this season. A step, not a leap, ahead? Yes. Back? No, but here we are.

So, back to why I expect the Oilers to be markedly better in the second half than they were in the first . . .

The Who and How

DEVAN DUBNYK: No way Dubnyk struggles in the final 41 games like he did in the first 41, posting a .896 save percentage and 3.24 GAA on the way to a 10-15-2 record. I expect we'll see Dubnyk in the .914 to .920 range -- his season numbers the previous two seasons -- in the second half.

ILYA BRYZGALOV: I was one of the people who thought it was nuts to take a chance on Bryzgalov and his baggage when he was sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. What we've seen so far is a goaltender who can still play and is better than Jason LaBarbera any day of the week.

SAM GAGNER: To understate, it's been a forgettable season for Gagner, who busted his jaw in pre-season, came back too early from surgery and struggled mightily when he did. I'll leave the same old arguments about Gagner to you, but he'll be better in the second half. He can't be worse.

NAIL YAKUPOV: Yakupov's sophomore season has been all over the place, with the overriding theme being how he's been used, or not used, by Eakins. This is a talented kid with holes in his game you expect from a 20-year-old. I don't know how or if he'll pan out long term, but look at his numbers today and tell me with a straight face he won’t be better in the second half.

THE FIT: Facing another year out of the playoffs, fans don't want to hear this, but here's always an adjustment period with a new head coach and we've seen it with Eakins. He needs to get a feel for the players and where they best fit. They need to get a feel for him. Expectations laid out early in the tenure of a new coach get tweaked over time on both sides of the equation. That's not an excuse for the record, but it plays into it.

The Bottom Line

You have to look at who might fall off their pace and performance of the first half, not just who should improve, but in projecting the second half, I don't see anybody who over-achieved to the extent they're destined to drop off the edge of the earth in the final 41 games.

I doubt we'll see a 60-point season from David Perron. He'll likely drop off a bit. Outside Perron, nobody among Edmonton's top-five scorers is scoring at a pace we haven’t seen before. In fact, I expect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who started the season coming off shoulder surgery, to be better.

The back end? Will Justin Schultz eliminate some of the glaring errors in his game and be better at picking his spots on the attack? I'd hope so. Will Anton Belov improve in the second half? I'd like to think so. I didn't see anybody on the back end play better than I expected through 41 games.

This team remains several players from being a playoff contender, but my expectation is the Oilers will have a significantly better second half and give everybody, notably MacTavish, a truer picture of what remains to be done than we got in the mess that was the first 41 games.

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

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 09:47AM
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K_Mart wrote:

When I see the Oilers play like they did last night, I wonder how they'll ever win another game. When I see them play the way they did in the first period against St.Louis a few games ago, I think we have it in us to play above .500.

Never have I seen a team that is able to play so well and so poorly all within one game. There are hot streaks and slumps, good games and bad games, but we've managed to take inconsistency to a whole new level. And outside of Hall and perron, every player on this roster is guilty of it. Even Huge to my surprise.

That is what you get when the core of your team is a bunch of kids playing in the best MEN'S league in the world.

Nobody (myself included) wants to hear it right now, but the truth is they are just not quite ready yet.

On the plus side, just imagine how good they will be when they do learn how to bring their A game consistently, and learn how to win in this league.

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#52 Quintana
December 29 2013, 09:47AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Trade Gagner to anyone willing to give up their second line center for him. Or package him in a deal for a defenceman. Let Acro sink or swim the rest of the year then fill the 2C hole in the summer.

He just has to go. The team will never win with him as 2C.Full stop.

With samwise at 5 ft 10 the oilers are going nowhere!!!! Trade him!!!!!

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#53 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 09:49AM
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blue31 wrote:

As a previous poster said, Dallas Eakins is in way over his head. He is stubborn and headstrong enough to truly believe that he is the smartest guy in the room, and believes he is destined to revolutionize the game of hockey with his brilliance and creativity. I wonder if he's required have a special license for all that awesomeness?

From his "fitness" mantra to goofy unproven systems. From confusing player deployment to bizarre on-ice decisions. Dallas Eakins should be coaching a minor league team of Bad News Bears instead of ruining the careers of promising young elite athletes.

It doesn't appear that he has any sensitivity or feel for the talent that the Oilers have. Just a "my way or the highway" bullheadedness, and it's obvious that no-one is buying in. Where would this team be sitting in terms of points (and player development) with a Ken Hitchkock at the helm?

MacT messed up bigtime with this decision.

The coaches keep changing, but the results stay the same. Regardless of the validity of your arguments, the results indicate that it's the roster that is the problem, not the coaching.

Also, why mention an untouchable coach like Ken Hitchcock then blame MacT? It was Tambo that missed out on Hitch not MacT.

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#54 Buttters
December 29 2013, 10:00AM
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K_Mart wrote:

When I see the Oilers play like they did last night, I wonder how they'll ever win another game. When I see them play the way they did in the first period against St.Louis a few games ago, I think we have it in us to play above .500.

Never have I seen a team that is able to play so well and so poorly all within one game. There are hot streaks and slumps, good games and bad games, but we've managed to take inconsistency to a whole new level. And outside of Hall and perron, every player on this roster is guilty of it. Even Huge to my surprise.

I think it was more about STL waking up then it was about how the Oil played. I think other teams actually play a style which beats the Oilers. Trap, wait for turnovers, cash in on same.

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#55 Tyson
December 29 2013, 10:01AM
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I have lived in Edmonton for the past 10 years so compared to some of you I am a new fan. In my time hear I have heard Oiler fans complain about EVERY coach. I think a new coach is like a first overall pick, you need to give them a little time to develop.

The biggest mistake of this rebuild is that we have switched coaches every year. Wether you like Dallas or not there needs to be development of coach between players and development of the coach learning the NHL.

I remember reading an article on this site showing some of the great coaches and how bad they were early on in their careers. The problem with Oiler fans is we want to fire a coach every season instead of seeing them develop into a great coach right before our eyes.

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#56 Spydyr
December 29 2013, 10:01AM
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Quintana wrote:

With samwise at 5 ft 10 the oilers are going nowhere!!!! Trade him!!!!!

Sam is not wise nor is he 5 ft 10

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#57 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 10:05AM
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Samwise, Joensuu, Smytty, and All 8 d men are the problem. I believe that Ference, Petry and Jultz can be #4-5-6's on a playoff team, and Belov may be a #7. But Nultz, Potter, Larsen, and Marincin are not NHL caliber d men IMO. Larsen is a great skater, and I have hope for him because he's young, but even if he pans out, he'll never be more than a D Wide man.

This team is 3-4 dmen, and 3 forwards away from being a playoff team, and nothing Eakins does will change that.

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#58 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2013, 10:06AM
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@steveb12344

I don't recall a lot of people around here predicting the Oilers would have their worst season since the "official" rebuild began four seasons ago. You can look for those comments on this site but you won't find them.

While a few optimists picked the Oilers to make the playoffs, most people, including me, looked at the roster and the rookie coach and figured this team would finish 9-12 and be slightly better than last season. I had them, as I said, as a .500 team, which doesn't get you in the playoffs.

Good teams can under-achieve and so can bad teams, which is what I think the Oilers did in the first 41 games. Saying I expect them to improve to "at or near" .500 in the second half doesn't suggest in any way I think this is a good team. It's not. It's a mediocre team that has been awful.

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#59 The Swarm
December 29 2013, 10:09AM
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Keeping Eakins on account of stability is insanity.

Coaching is all about special teams and the Oilers have regressed so badly this year with largely the same line up. That is on Eakins. Continuing to play 4 or 5 forwards on the PP is nuts. Teams realize that all they have to do is pressure the Oilers points and turnovers will ensue. A peewee coach can see this. We have Petry, Belov and Potter, all with heavy shots who incidentally can also play defence, sitting on the bench and the minute the other team gets the puck, look out - it's an instant scoring chance. The first 30 seconds of the PP at the start of the second period was the most comical display of "hockey" I have ever seen, with Hall flying the zone (from his defensive position) to give up a breakaway and then another brain cramp by Gagner and Shultz to give up another 5 alarm chance in front. All within 30 seconds. Unbelievable really.

The game should have been 8 to 3 and I wouldn't have blamed Bryz at all because the chances the Oilers were giving up were ridiculous.

Fire Eakins and hire a veteran coach that has a clue about special teams and let him introduce a real system over the rest of the season.

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#60 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 10:09AM
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I'd like to know how many years Lowe and his ring polishers get for this so called rebuild? if we're at the bottom of the league yet again this time next year will I still be reading articles about the lack of defense, grit and how young the kids are?

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#61 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 10:09AM
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Speaking of Hitchcock, I wonder how he would be dealing with Yak and his league-worst -25.

TRASH if you think Hitch would continue giving him the cherry minutes, and let him work it out on his own.

PROPS if you think he would be giving him the Eakins treatment, and forcing him to earn his minutes.

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#62 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 10:12AM
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Buttters wrote:

I think it was more about STL waking up then it was about how the Oil played. I think other teams actually play a style which beats the Oilers. Trap, wait for turnovers, cash in on same.

The Blues aren't nearly as prone to inconsistency as we are, which leads me to believe the ridiculous turn around in play was more oilers sucking than it was STL waking up.

At the top end of this roster's play their lies a bubble team, call me a raving optimist, but that is what I believe.

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#63 blue31
December 29 2013, 10:14AM
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steveb12344 wrote:

Speaking of Hitchcock, I wonder how he would be dealing with Yak and his league-worst -25.

TRASH if you think Hitch would continue giving him the cherry minutes, and let him work it out on his own.

PROPS if you think he would be giving him the Eakins treatment, and forcing him to earn his minutes.

What button do we press if we don't think Yakupov would even be in this position with Hitchcock as coach?

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#64 gcw_rocks
December 29 2013, 10:14AM
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K_Mart wrote:

The coaches keep changing, but the results stay the same. Regardless of the validity of your arguments, the results indicate that it's the roster that is the problem, not the coaching.

Also, why mention an untouchable coach like Ken Hitchcock then blame MacT? It was Tambo that missed out on Hitch not MacT.

No, but he missed out on Lindy Ruff. Anyone who is taking over a fragile team with a need to improve quickly and then picks Eakins over Ruff is a complete moron.

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#65 Don W
December 29 2013, 10:15AM
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So everyone here thinks Yak just deserves to get more ice time. Until he is committed he should be limited to about 10 soft minutes a night. You can tell what kind of game he is going to have almost from the start so if Eakins sees he isn't going I have no problem with him warming the bench. I do hope the assistant coaches are working with him to be better. For a smaller guy he has shown a tenacity at times that makes you wonder why he doesn't play harder all the time.

I do think that the oilers are coming around in many ways. The d zone coverage is generally not atrocious like it was at the beginning of the year (except JSchultz).

As for points in the second half I think that with the improved goaltending they will be getting more loser points so will probably be in the 35-40 range.

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#66 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 10:18AM
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steveb12344 wrote:

While I agree this team definitely has issues, and need to improve in many places. I'm not sure if it's quite as bad as most of you are making it out to be.

Robin is right. They have been much better in the 2nd quarter of the season than in the first.

That start to the season was disasterous. Now that the goaltending has been stabilized, they have been pretty much an average team as opposed to the AHL team they resembled for about the first month and a half.

Believe it or not they have been playing .500 hockey already for the last 20 games.

Their record over the last 20 is 9-9-2 for 20 points. That is including the 6 game journey through Death Valley.

So I agree with RB that we should see something close to .500 hockey the rest of the way, and should easily surpass the 30 points they got in the first half.

I know this still sucks, and I'm not at all happy with the continuing playoff drought. But I think we need to see how the rest of the season, and offseason play out before writing off MacT and Eakins as failures.

When a team is in as much disarray as this one has been in recent years, you honestly can't expect a new GM, and coach to turn this thing around over night.

For the love of god, 9-9-2 is NOT .500 hockey. The loser point makes .500 impossible to calculate, but if you go 9-9-2 you did not get 50% of the points that were earned in those 20 games.

2. The last 20 games EDM played ten against bottom 14 teams. In the next 41 they will play a far higher percentage against the top sixteen where they have consistently gotten waxed.

3. The first half wasn't just disastrous it was THE WORST FIRST HALF in oilers history. That's not just disaster - it's apocalyptic. They didn't just disappoint they are underperforming expectations worse than any team in the league with the possible exceptions of Ottawa and our managerial role model - NYI.

4. You say the team is in disarray. Shouldn't someone be to blame for that? Weren't they a better roster in your eyes at the beginning of this year than they were at the end of last year? And yet the coaches have Managed to take that better roster and deliver the worst half year record in oilers history. Shouldn't someone be held to account for that?

I think the responsibility for the unprecedented failure of this team so far falls squarely on the GM and manager. And the responsibility for hiring the rookie (and incompetent) GM falls on the incompetent POHO.

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#67 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 10:20AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't recall a lot of people around here predicting the Oilers would have their worst season since the "official" rebuild began four seasons ago. You can look for those comments on this site but you won't find them.

While a few optimists picked the Oilers to make the playoffs, most people, including me, looked at the roster and the rookie coach and figured this team would finish 9-12 and be slightly better than last season. I had them, as I said, as a .500 team, which doesn't get you in the playoffs.

Good teams can under-achieve and so can bad teams, which is what I think the Oilers did in the first 41 games. Saying I expect them to improve to "at or near" .500 in the second half doesn't suggest in any way I think this is a good team. It's not. It's a mediocre team that has been awful.

Ummm, I'm not sure what you saw in my comments, but I was agreeing with you.

I also said I expect them to be around a .500 team the rest of the way, and obviously a .500 season gets you nowhere near the playoffs.

I said that I see them currently playing as an average team. I said nothing about them being a good team right now.

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#68 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
December 29 2013, 10:22AM
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Can we all agree to stop calling #89 "Samwise" ? It's definitely not a fitting nickname. "Snowpants" is a much better fit, and if you've never heard it before You'd at least be able to figure out who it refers to.

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#69 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 10:25AM
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@The Swarm

"Coaching is all about special teams." ?!?

As much sense as you made through the rest of your post, this statement has me wondering how much you know about coaching at all.

A more accurate statement would have been: "A new coache's largest and most immediate impact will often be seen on special teams, where they have the most control."

But in the grand scheme of things, the coach should end up having a large impact on all aspects of a team, not just special teams.

That being said, Eakins has ruined our special teams and I'm still waiting for him to put them back together.

On the topic of coaching however, I do believe that Steve Smith has shown a consistent inability to develop and teach nhl defensemen over a very large sample size of games. I know picking on an assistant coach is often seen as 'reaching' but what good has he done for our d men EVER?

Maybe Petry's own goal was his doing though.

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#70 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 10:26AM
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Tyson wrote:

I have lived in Edmonton for the past 10 years so compared to some of you I am a new fan. In my time hear I have heard Oiler fans complain about EVERY coach. I think a new coach is like a first overall pick, you need to give them a little time to develop.

The biggest mistake of this rebuild is that we have switched coaches every year. Wether you like Dallas or not there needs to be development of coach between players and development of the coach learning the NHL.

I remember reading an article on this site showing some of the great coaches and how bad they were early on in their careers. The problem with Oiler fans is we want to fire a coach every season instead of seeing them develop into a great coach right before our eyes.

Actually the biggest mistake was hiring coaches without any formal due diligence process that involves a real methodical interview process:

Look at the list of coaches this team had had:

1. KLOWe - old oiler 2.Mact - old oiler 3. Quinn/Rennie - old friends of tambo (and Klowe apparently) 4.rennie 5.kreuger - hired from within - no external search 6. Eakins - hired from an assistant coach interview. No formal head coach hiring process.

The same hiring method has led to consistent failure. The heavy turnover rate is a symptom - not a cause.

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#71 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2013, 10:28AM
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@steveb12344

I didn't think you were disagreeing with me.

I used your comment because it echoed much of what I feel. I just reiterated what I said in the main item -- this isn't a good team, it's a so-so team that has under-achieved.

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#72 blue31
December 29 2013, 10:29AM
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K_Mart wrote:

The coaches keep changing, but the results stay the same. Regardless of the validity of your arguments, the results indicate that it's the roster that is the problem, not the coaching.

Also, why mention an untouchable coach like Ken Hitchcock then blame MacT? It was Tambo that missed out on Hitch not MacT.

The results stay the same because every year it's one step forward (player development and experience) and one step backwards (new coach, new system). Net result: no forward progress. Your point doesn't make sense. For the most part, players naturally get stronger and smarter as their careers progress. Why is that not happening here?

And perhaps my point about Hitchcock wasn't expressed clearly. I said they could use "a" Hitchcock. Not "the" Hitchcock. Someone like Hitchcock. And for that, my comment about MacT still stands. Sorry for the confusion.

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#73 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 10:31AM
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Don W wrote:

So everyone here thinks Yak just deserves to get more ice time. Until he is committed he should be limited to about 10 soft minutes a night. You can tell what kind of game he is going to have almost from the start so if Eakins sees he isn't going I have no problem with him warming the bench. I do hope the assistant coaches are working with him to be better. For a smaller guy he has shown a tenacity at times that makes you wonder why he doesn't play harder all the time.

I do think that the oilers are coming around in many ways. The d zone coverage is generally not atrocious like it was at the beginning of the year (except JSchultz).

As for points in the second half I think that with the improved goaltending they will be getting more loser points so will probably be in the 35-40 range.

Yak is committed, he's just not playing well is all. He just needs to keep working and his game will come around. Not at all worried about him. His glaring mistakes are expected from a young guy like him. He'll figure it out.

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#74 blue31
December 29 2013, 10:38AM
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K_Mart wrote:

Yak is committed, he's just not playing well is all. He just needs to keep working and his game will come around. Not at all worried about him. His glaring mistakes are expected from a young guy like him. He'll figure it out.

I think a coach who was more concerrned about his players, and less concerned with fitness, soundbites, the "Swarm," and his hair might go a long way towards helping Yakupov figure this out.

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#75 Mikey
December 29 2013, 10:44AM
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@Serious Gord

"For the love of god, 9-9-2 is NOT .500 hockey. The loser point makes .500 impossible to calculate, but if you go 9-9-2 you did not get 50% of the points that were earned in those 20 games."

While I do agree with you that 9-9-2 is not .500 hockey, I don't agree with your statment of

"50% of the points that were earned in"

What if a team goes 11-9, but 5 of those wins came in OT or a shoot out?

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#76 Bloodsweatandoil
December 29 2013, 10:58AM
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Good blog Robin!

I see the Oilers continuing the same course, win a couple, lose a couple with this current roster and record combined.

In the Spring at trade deadline, I sense that we are going to see the bold moves that will reshape this organization permantly and lay the groundwork for the club in the off season. How can they not? I am thinking that with these moves at trade deadline, it will help improve the record for the season then....

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#77 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 11:00AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I didn't think you were disagreeing with me.

I used your comment because it echoed much of what I feel. I just reiterated what I said in the main item -- this isn't a good team, it's a so-so team that has under-achieved.

Oh, ok. My bad.

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#78 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 11:03AM
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@Serious Gord

For the love of god, 9-9-2 is NOT .500 hockey. The loser point makes .500 impossible to calculate, but if you go 9-9-2 you did not get 50% of the points that were earned in those 20 games.

9-9-2 will get you 20 out of a possible 40 points.

In the "Bettman point" NHL that is .500 hockey.

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#79 camdog
December 29 2013, 11:11AM
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The term .500 hockey no longer exists, so would everybody please stop using this term. In the old, NHL .500 hockey meant you were a good team, today it means absolutely nothing.

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#80 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 11:24AM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

No, but he missed out on Lindy Ruff. Anyone who is taking over a fragile team with a need to improve quickly and then picks Eakins over Ruff is a complete moron.

Tell that to the bolts who had the choice of Ruff(who would have never come here) and chose Cooper.

The Ahl is a great source for coaches, and always will be.

Boudreau, Bylsma, Laviolette, Hartley, Therrien, Cooper, Torterella... All from the AHL. I'm sure there's more, but you get the point.

Dallas has clearly struggled, but so has every coach here. Also, you're point about the team getting better simply because the young players are getting older is part of the problem, you don't just automatically get better because you're aging, you have to work at it, and to put the lack of progress on Eakins, who has been here for 3 months out of 7 years of missing the playoffs is foolish.

Steve Smith has been butchering our defensemen for far longer, and Klowe has been pulling s strings in trades and signings for far too long.

Eakins fine in my books. Arrogant, yes. But the reason for regression? not a chance. Our roster is the wrong mix plain and simple. Everyone knows it.

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#81 Derian Hatcher
December 29 2013, 11:25AM
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I, like many of you, have been an Oiler fan my whole life. Through all of the glory years and all of the tough years. I have vehemently defended the organization through all of the bad years, poor drafting (even when our “chief scout” was living in the true hockey hotbed of Cabo San Lucas). Against my better judgement I even thought “maybe they know what they are doing” when they selected Steve Kelly instead of Shane Doan. Uuummm, or maybe not.

But this latest installment of the Oilers is a complete and utter embarrassment. A disgrace. A league-wide joke.

Why? Because from the owner, to mr. six rings, to Laforge, to Howson, to MBA, to the professional scouting department, to the coach, to their Oilers Now host, they seem to think they are smarter than everyone, just give us time for the “process to work”.

From last spring when Mr. Eakins was hired after being interviewed for an ASSISTANT coaching position.

MacT –

“He was getting players to do things that as a coach I knew were very difficult to get players to do,” said MacTavish. – umm apparently not in the big leagues Craig.

Eakins -

“I want players to be so fit that a forward, if I ask him to play 26 minutes that night, he’s going to play 26 minutes at a high level. If we’re in a Stanley Cup playoff game and we’re in quadruple overtime, he will still be firing on all cylinders.”

When will this start happening Dallas? Your team cannot compete for 60 minutes on back to back game nights! Stauffer said last night post game that he’s starting to think that the oilers are having problems on the second night of back to backs – REALLY BOB??? Whatever gave you that idea?

More Eakins from when he was hired –

“When we have the puck we are going to challenge the other team with that kind of game. But as soon as we lose the puck, we’re going to push the pace to get it back.”

When will this start happening on a consistent basis Dallas?

"But the No. 1 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."

Ummm…..when will this plan be implemented, Dallas?

I realize that rebuilding takes time and there is a process involved. BUT, there is a large difference between saying what WILL happen and implementation.

So far, all I see is the same old lack of compete, same old quotes after the games…like this one from Eberle last night….“The big thing was we turned the puck over a lot.” Ya Jordan, just like for 35 of the last 40 games…or is that “part of the process”

The Kool-aid is getting stale and mouldy….this organization is spiraling and has been a total farce for the last number of years. The fat-cats who sit around telling each other how clever they are and how “when this process is complete….blah, blah ,blah…” need to be held accountable for the lack of direction, lack of planning and lack of overall competence that is displayed year after year. If this was a normal company that actually have to entice customers (tier 1 or tier 2 fans) to buy its products, there would be immediate changes and competent personnel with a TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS would be put in place.

Unfortunately, no matter what kind of product is put forward, tier 1 and tier 2 fans purchase tickets and merchandise, watch the games and display loyalty to an enterprise that IMO is at best, floating, and at worst, incompetent.

Hopefully Brownlee is correct and the second half will be better. Count me as skeptical.

Happy New Year.

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#82 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2013, 11:28AM
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camdog wrote:

The term .500 hockey no longer exists, so would everybody please stop using this term. In the old, NHL .500 hockey meant you were a good team, today it means absolutely nothing.

Playing .500 hockey meant you were a good team? No.

Percentages used now, by sites like Hockeyreference.com, are defined as follows: "PTS% -- Points percentage (i.e., points divided by maximum points)"

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#83 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 11:36AM
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Mikey wrote:

"For the love of god, 9-9-2 is NOT .500 hockey. The loser point makes .500 impossible to calculate, but if you go 9-9-2 you did not get 50% of the points that were earned in those 20 games."

While I do agree with you that 9-9-2 is not .500 hockey, I don't agree with your statment of

"50% of the points that were earned in"

What if a team goes 11-9, but 5 of those wins came in OT or a shoot out?

I agree. The otw total is rarely shown so a true calculation of winning percentage is not possible. And it varies from team to team.

The NHL has THE worst points system in professional NA sports. And for a league that talks constantly about attracting new fans - fans who usually have baseball or football as the primary interest - the points system is a barrier to them casually following their team.

Hell even most fans of hockey - journalists included - don't understand it and they constantly misuse the .500 term.

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#84 Cam
December 29 2013, 11:42AM
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Enough well said there regarding underachievement in the first 41. I do believe Nuge has delivered, and playing against the toughest opposition in the league. He's been really good. Can you honestly say you expected Belov to come in and grab the top 4 minutes he has. He makes some mistakes and had a bad game against Calgary...but for being an NHL Rookie he's been quite good. He plays within himself and makes good accurate passes off his redline or skating up.

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#85 blue31
December 29 2013, 11:48AM
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Every team playing .500 hockey is exactly the parity that the league is striving for. Discourage excellence. Reward failure. Make everyone equally miserable.

Check some of the other teams forums. Other than a couple at the top, most fans are pretty snarly at their teams inconsistent win one / lose one records. That is the reality of NHL parity.

Sometimes I yearn for the old days when we were an underdog because of financial realities and team location. And, as fans, we knew it. Beating the Rangers or the Leafs was a big event. And losing wasn't as maddening.

Equality mixed with entitlement. Oil and water.

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#86 Side Note
December 29 2013, 11:52AM
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Off topic - when did the oil hire a 12 year old girl to play the music at the games? Last nite was horrible.

2nd side note - I wonder where this team would be had they hired Brent Sutter last year when he was up against Ralph?

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#87 boxman
December 29 2013, 12:13PM
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Side Note wrote:

Off topic - when did the oil hire a 12 year old girl to play the music at the games? Last nite was horrible.

2nd side note - I wonder where this team would be had they hired Brent Sutter last year when he was up against Ralph?

Screw Sutter, he left Nurse off the world juniors. And while I'm at it serious Gord your ground hog day harping is soul sucking. Have you considered cheering for the flames?!! Sigh.......

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#88 season not played
December 29 2013, 12:19PM
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The 'Real' Ron Burgundy wrote:

Can we all agree to stop calling #89 "Samwise" ? It's definitely not a fitting nickname. "Snowpants" is a much better fit, and if you've never heard it before You'd at least be able to figure out who it refers to.

Agreed. When I see Gagner play the last thing I think of is wise. More like:

no hockey sense unintelligent unaware slow liability outchanced overpaid etc

All more fitting than wise.

And anybody questioning whether or not the Oilers are well coached. Watch the power play. That pretty much says it all.

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#89 D-Unit
December 29 2013, 12:20PM
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blue31 wrote:

As a previous poster said, Dallas Eakins is in way over his head. He is stubborn and headstrong enough to truly believe that he is the smartest guy in the room, and believes he is destined to revolutionize the game of hockey with his brilliance and creativity. I wonder if he's required have a special license for all that awesomeness?

From his "fitness" mantra to goofy unproven systems. From confusing player deployment to bizarre on-ice decisions. Dallas Eakins should be coaching a minor league team of Bad News Bears instead of ruining the careers of promising young elite athletes.

It doesn't appear that he has any sensitivity or feel for the talent that the Oilers have. Just a "my way or the highway" bullheadedness, and it's obvious that no-one is buying in. Where would this team be sitting in terms of points (and player development) with a Ken Hitchkock at the helm?

MacT messed up bigtime with this decision.

Not that I think Eakins is a great coach or even will be one some day, or that he is or ever will be on a level of a Hitchcock, but I do have a question.

Do you think Hitchcock would not have a "My way or the highway" approach? Or really any proven Stanley Cup winning coach?

Things would be better with him at the Head Coach spot, but I don't think it would be a huge difference in terms of standings.

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#90 Johnnydapunk
December 29 2013, 12:25PM
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I could be wrong on this but I know a lot of people are talking about the Oilers coaching and suggesting that someone like Ruff or Hitchcock or Sutter should have been hired instead of Eakins or whoever. There is a bit of me that wonders if these people would even accept the job as it seems like the Oilers coaching job is a poisoned chalice. I can't think of any head coach that the Oilers hired and fired that has had a successful stint as an NHL head coach after they left. It could be a factor as to why perhaps other coaches were not mentioned. Maybe the Oil were rejected by other candidates.

There is no pressure or anything as an Oil head coach, you just have to first live in the constant shadow of one of the greatest teams put together in hockey history, and you have to turn a team that hasn't been in the playoffs for almost a decade with a bunch of young players who have yet to experience anything close to playoff hockey into a Stanley Cup contender. You also have every move you do and every thought you have dissected in numerous media outlets and by some of the most knowledgable passionate fans in the NHL so everything you do has to be fully explained and questioned. I can't imagine it being very easy.

I'm not the hugest fan of Eakins mind you, and he may have made some "mistakes" but we can't get Krueger back (who I was alright with) and I kindof understand what he is trying to do so may as well give him a season or two to see what happens, what's the worst that could happen, we finish last and get a top three pick, wouldn't be the first time sadly.

Who would have thought that 6Rings and MacT are tied for having the 2nd best coaching record of the Oil, like exactly the same winning percentage which is somehow over .500 (.537)

I hope this didn't come off as knocking anyone or anything, as that wasn't the intention.

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#91 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 12:28PM
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Side Note wrote:

Off topic - when did the oil hire a 12 year old girl to play the music at the games? Last nite was horrible.

2nd side note - I wonder where this team would be had they hired Brent Sutter last year when he was up against Ralph?

And traded for bishop

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#92 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 12:31PM
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Can we please get new assistant coaches simply on principle!! Why is losing so tolerated around here??

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#93 jybute
December 29 2013, 12:31PM
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@Nowuknow

Bryz?? Is that you??

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#94 Hockey Problems
December 29 2013, 12:42PM
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Justin Schultz couldn't play a lick of defense if the game was played on a Popsicle.

If he was only stronger. He is 24 yrs old and plays with the strength of a 15 yr old. I have seen zero improvement from this player and yet he is constantly on the ice. How do u give the same player (Couturier) 2 chances on the same SH shift? How do u constantly get out positioned in front of your own net? Why are you always in the rush before the forwards and yet last man back into your zone defensively? The only player I see "having to earn ice time" is Yak. Hey coach... How about put up or shut up ! If you made "all" the players on the team earn their ice time, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

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#95 Rama Lama
December 29 2013, 12:44PM
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After watching the world juniors I think it's safe to say that any defenceman playing on Canada, USA, Russia, Latvia, Upper Rubber Boot, ..........is better than anyone of our defencemen.

Our issue is in spite of knowing this Mac T and company only added Ference and Larsen ( the two smallest defencemen he could find) to improve our fortunes. I'm no genuis but I suspect they knew all along that adding Ference and Larsen would do nothing except look like they were doing something??

It's now patently obvious that this team was assembled for another run at a top end draft choice. I would be very happy to add Ekblad to our stable and it appears that is where we are headed.

Time for another rebuild, retool, re-engineer.......call it what you will but it's happening right in front of our eyes.

I truly believe that the best way to get another top draft choice is to let Eakins continue his ways with our team.

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#96 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 29 2013, 12:51PM
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spliff wrote:

Gagner symbolizes all that is wrong with this organization. Soft to play against, questionable defensive skills, not able to deliver when it counts, too small and unable to play against men and always an excuse when things go wrong.

What is it this year with Samwise? What was it in previous years? Always some F*cking excuse. Remember that Samwise always has a slow start but he will get better. If I sucked at my job for two months a year I would get pink-slipped, and I ain't making 4 bills a year.

The Oilers wasting a top first round draft pick on a 160 pound child who has no business playing in the nhl screams to the hockey world what is wrong with this organization. They picked him when KLowes "plan" was to emulate the Red Wings, and have small fast skilled forwards. Management is too stupid to come up with their own plan, so they try to copy the Red Wings, even though Ken Holland alone has more hockey smarts then the entire Oiler management group. Now that their plan has derailed, what is their plan? Who will they emulate now, the Sharks? What a sh*tshow.

This team is as bad as its record, and there is not excuse for how bad they are. When half decent teams decide they want to win against the Oil, they turn it up a notch and the Oil instantly look like an AHL team.

Even if MacT is able to make some trades and UFA signings, this team will never be a top team, and will just be like all the other pre-2007 KLowe-MacT teams, scrambling around in the 8 - 11 position in the conference, making the playoffs once every 3-4 years.

I like Brownlee......but I think Spliff has a MUCH better handle on where this team is at. We'll see come April. Well done Spliff.....now pass yourself around please.

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#97 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 01:08PM
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Hockey Problems wrote:

Justin Schultz couldn't play a lick of defense if the game was played on a Popsicle.

If he was only stronger. He is 24 yrs old and plays with the strength of a 15 yr old. I have seen zero improvement from this player and yet he is constantly on the ice. How do u give the same player (Couturier) 2 chances on the same SH shift? How do u constantly get out positioned in front of your own net? Why are you always in the rush before the forwards and yet last man back into your zone defensively? The only player I see "having to earn ice time" is Yak. Hey coach... How about put up or shut up ! If you made "all" the players on the team earn their ice time, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Don't be so hard on the poor guy! He's really good in the AHL

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#98 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 01:10PM
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boxman wrote:

Screw Sutter, he left Nurse off the world juniors. And while I'm at it serious Gord your ground hog day harping is soul sucking. Have you considered cheering for the flames?!! Sigh.......

Just calling it how I see it. Do you actually have an argument or is you have just foundationless bile?

And the Groundhog Day syndrome is all on the oilers - every year is another year of failure - with the same guy at the top.

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#99 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 01:13PM
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steveb12344 wrote:

For the love of god, 9-9-2 is NOT .500 hockey. The loser point makes .500 impossible to calculate, but if you go 9-9-2 you did not get 50% of the points that were earned in those 20 games.

9-9-2 will get you 20 out of a possible 40 points.

In the "Bettman point" NHL that is .500 hockey.

But there could be as many as 30 points given out between both teams. Thus .500 is a gibberish term.

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#100 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 29 2013, 01:13PM
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steveb12344 wrote:

That is what you get when the core of your team is a bunch of kids playing in the best MEN'S league in the world.

Nobody (myself included) wants to hear it right now, but the truth is they are just not quite ready yet.

On the plus side, just imagine how good they will be when they do learn how to bring their A game consistently, and learn how to win in this league.

You say the "on the plus side" part like it is an inevitability, which it is not.

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