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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#1 oilredemption
December 28 2013, 11:45PM
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Shopping list: the flyers straight up for the oilers

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#2 Robin Brownlee
December 28 2013, 11:32PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Didn't think we would be this bad at the same point last year, we are not better we are getting worse.

So, your call is this team will have fewer than 30 points in the second half. Come back in April and say you told me so.

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#3 **
December 29 2013, 02:30AM
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David Legwand will be FA at the end of this season. Similar offensive numbers as GAgner, plays on the power play, has size and is old enough (33) that he can be serviceable for at least 2 more years as a stop gap/ veteran presence. He can probably be had for as much as 3.5 million/season. also, he comes from a very defense oriented system.

What do you think nation?

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#4 Butters
December 28 2013, 11:44PM
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Eakins is in over his head, big time.

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#5 Jay
December 29 2013, 01:19PM
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3 wins in a row!!! Lets start handing out contracts!!!

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#6 Oiler Al
December 28 2013, 11:59PM
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At the current rate and roster, I doubt they win 15 games on the back half, unless MacT has a couple of tricks up his sleeve, it aint happening...

Nice to see Hemsky and Gagner come out for a Saturday evening skate... What a couple of useless tools making $ 5 million bucks a season.

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#7 spliff
December 29 2013, 01:09AM
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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.

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#8 oilredemption
December 28 2013, 11:42PM
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As much as I think Eakins is a tool and loathe his coaching ability. He needs to stay for this team have some consistency in the meassage. Eakins is though ruining yaks career as we know it. Top goal scorer from the team last year and isn't played in ot and played 10 minutes a night. He's obviously not gonna be in the game when he's thrown on pp. I haven't once this year seen the excitement or emotion of the player he was last year playing for his team, his coach and his captain. Yak needs to go to OKC now he's not helping this team. Plus side is hemsky is playing well and oddly enough gagner still isn't.

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#9 Cold Hard Truth
December 28 2013, 11:53PM
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I don't see the Oilers trending upwards. They look as bad as ever, with the exception of goal tending. Bryz has brought some competence and has pushed Dubnyk as well.

I see the Oilers getting worse. All the losing will surely weight on the psyches of those players who still give a dam (Ference, Gordon, Perron, Bryz). Once golfing season comes around, they'll float the rest of the season.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Only until the ex-Oilers cabal is purged will we see a credible hockey team.

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#10 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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#11 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 07:53PM
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David S wrote:

So after years of griping on Stauffer's show and clogging up fan boards with your rhetoric you finally get to say what you think to Lowe in person and cowered like a school girl?

He was there in a different capacity (hockey canada). To shout at him under those circumstances would be just as egregious as if I had shouted at him while he was Xmas shopping in the mall. Now if he was in the rexall place during a game...

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#12 The Real Scuba Steve
December 28 2013, 11:27PM
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Didn't think we would be this bad at the same point last year, we are not better we are getting worse.

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#13 The Real Scuba Steve
December 28 2013, 11:44PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

So, your call is this team will have fewer than 30 points in the second half. Come back in April and say you told me so.

Yep, I had honesty believe this was the year we were going to playing or close to 500 hockey, but what your saying is pretty much a pipe dream, nice try though>

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#14 BK
December 29 2013, 12:19AM
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When a player with significant potential is not achieving they get sent to the minors for a bit. Maybe Eakins is not yet ready or the team is not yet ready for Eakins. So why not try something probably never done before and send Eakins to OKC (not players)and bring the OKC coach up and give him a shot. And give me a seriously good reason why this is not that bad of an idea. Eakins tries puling a goalie with 4 minutes left which is not the usual but it makes sense when you think about it. So does my idea.

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#15 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2013, 08:36AM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

Sorry, Robin. The Oilers are not better than their record; they are their record. Every team has their ups and downs and catches bad streaks. It's wishful thinking to think the Oilers are really a good team if only this temporary phase of bad luck was lifted.

I said exactly the opposite of what you imply.

"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. . . "

If you're going to try to put words in my mouth, I'd appreciate it if they were at least based on what I wrote.

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#16 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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#17 Serious Gord
December 28 2013, 11:59PM
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Robin - 41 games is a large enough sample size - they were as bad as their record. And that record was a record - the worst first forty-one games in oilers history. PERIOD

So yes, they very likely will do better in the second half.

But I think not much better.

Take a look at the second half of the second half- a brutal final fifteen games against teams that are almost all likely going to be gunning for the playoffs whilst the oilers are planning golf and fishing trips. The oil got so chewed up in the last half of last season - partly because of poor coaching tactics, but also because of the point outlined above.

And compared to last year the oil injuries in this first half were fairly light. Historically the featherweight oilers have had plenty of injuries over a season - will they revert to former form and if so will their record continue to be terrible as a result?

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#18 Cold Hard Truth
December 28 2013, 11:44PM
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Sorry, Robin. The Oilers are not better than their record; they are their record. Every team has their ups and downs and catches bad streaks. It's wishful thinking to think the Oilers are really a good team if only this temporary phase of bad luck was lifted.

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#19 a lg dubl dubl
December 29 2013, 02:03PM
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I still want to know what 6rings was cussing about when Jeff "Im really Tom Gilbert" Petry was called for bording. Gave me a chuckle.

Anyways, Shultz jr has to go, and so does Petry, those 2 alone have caused more goals IMO than anybody else.

Is it just me or is Eberle having the worst year of his career (points aside). To me he was one of the most defensive mined forwards the team had, this year it seems like he could give a rats poop about defensive pressure on the opposing player.

It still baffles me that the players, who have been playing the game since the age of 3, cant put in EFFORT for 60min! I don't care what kind of system is in place or if the "swarm" is to hard to comprehend, put in EFFORT!!

Cheers ON!!

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#20 **
December 29 2013, 02:04AM
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What say you now, Bryzee's haters? WHAT SAY YOU!!?

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#21 Nowuknow
December 29 2013, 02:05AM
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Robin, I am in courage by your positive wishes for the back end of record breaking losing season in oilers history. YOU MUST HAVE lots of faiths on this team, but they are what the record indicates or even worst!!! This team always folds when the season is on balance not to mention they have already purchase their golf passes. What left for them is going through the emotions... I am glad, I am tear 3 fun listens or log in here for results only. I find them wasting valuable time in this precious life.....

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#22 blue31
December 29 2013, 08:53AM
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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.

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#23 steveb12344
December 29 2013, 09:32AM
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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.

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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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pelhem grenville wrote:

...I swear if they don't finish with at least 75 points I'm gonna ...I'm gonna ...well I'm gonna

...off topic Robin... what's the collective sound of 20+ NHL players on this team pulling theirs heads outta their asses?

The sound you seek is ALSO the answer to the biggest question on all of man-kinds mind.

Just WHAT does the fox say?

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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#34 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 29 2013, 01:21PM
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blue31 wrote:

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

Under Hitch.....Yak would be cycling between the third and fourth lines and the AHL until he learned the game....then he would be getting Taresenko type minutes and opportunity.

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#35 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 01:21PM
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If this team played in the AHL I wonder if they'd make the playoffs?

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#36 D-Unit
December 29 2013, 02:43PM
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RexHolez wrote:

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

First off, I don't care for Justin Schultz. But what should the Oilers do with him, as he will be an RFA at the end of the season.

I see no reason to give him anything more than a qualifying offer, and Capgeek tells me that is $874,125. I don't think he would accept, but I wouldn't mind screwing over his career a bit.

Thoughts?

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#37 Hockey fan 1976
December 29 2013, 05:50PM
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I also take exception to his comments on HNIC where he indicated that a sports jersey was comparable to the national flag of our country... Soldiers risk their very lives on a daily basis going to war under our flag... These guys play for the jersey and get paid millions of dollars and pampered along the way... Eakins once again needs to retrieve his foot from his mouth and focus on doing his job. What an idiot!!

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#38 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 06:17PM
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D-Unit wrote:

First off, I don't care for Justin Schultz. But what should the Oilers do with him, as he will be an RFA at the end of the season.

I see no reason to give him anything more than a qualifying offer, and Capgeek tells me that is $874,125. I don't think he would accept, but I wouldn't mind screwing over his career a bit.

Thoughts?

I'm no Schultz fan bud I'd still give him a little more love than that. I'd be happy with a 4 year 2 million and use him on the power play and 3rd pairing

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#39 boxman
December 29 2013, 06:23PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I have plenty of basis for my bile. You say as much in your comment above. Your beef is that I am being repetitive. My complaints are largely unchanged because management remains unchanged.

As for the immovability of MacT and Eakins:

If Klowe is fired how long before that new POHO cleans house? My guess is that much like mr Burke actions as POHO in cgy one or both would be gone inside of 12 months.

Thus my opinions - part of a chorus of thousands - are the only substantive thing one can do to effect change. That it is now a years-long refrain mane they the plight of the oilers remains unchanged only adds weight to the argument that the only way for this team to truly embark on a successful path to adding engravings on the cup is to relieve Lowe of his position.

And I will add that while the overall demand that Lowe be fired remains the same - the reasons and characters are ever-changing - Horcoff, tambo, Quinn, in the past and hemsky, gagner Eakins today are just a few examples.

Your point that if enough people rise up and are heard change may come is possible. That said now is not the time for more change as that will perpetuate the problem.

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#40 Butters
December 29 2013, 12:09AM
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I took a cursory glance at the next 41 games for the Oilers. Not a lot of softies left. A worse second half looks possible to me.

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#41 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 12:18AM
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Butters wrote:

I took a cursory glance at the next 41 games for the Oilers. Not a lot of softies left. A worse second half looks possible to me.

Just look at the next ten games. Every single one is against a team that is in the top sixteen. And the oils record so far is something like 3-20. Will they be 2-8 in the next ten?

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#42 Andrew
December 29 2013, 02:13AM
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The player personnel issues have been well covered here. I do have some serious reservations about the coaching staff and primarily Eakins. He is a quirky guy. The NHL coaching ranks have had some real screwballs over the decades but this guy strikes me as an errational odd-ball. Ever since he arrived here he seems to be all about himself, like he makes his theories about everything the issue.

I don't care, Dallas, what quirky analogy you feel you must use to explain your theory about the game, the team and the fans. Put in your big boy panties and quit trying to remake the game if hockey in your own image.

Just win dammit!

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#43 Big Cap
December 29 2013, 02:23AM
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Its a simple as the this.

Down the stretch, teams fighting for the a playoff spot will feast on us and take the 2 points and run. While we proceed down the stretch drive, we will care less and less and will happily mail it in.

Sorry Robin, but there is NO reason to believe this team will be as good or better than the 1st half.

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#44 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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#45 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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#46 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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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#50 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 29 2013, 01:17PM
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K_Mart wrote:

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.

This team is AT LEAST 10 players away from being a contender and it's not just positional....it's also character.

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