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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#101 David S
December 29 2013, 07:27PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I think the reason why no true veteran Unaffiliated coach has not been hired is because Klowe cannot bear having someone who has credentials and gravitas to face him down and do things that Klowe doesn't agree with. (Eg fire the assistants.)

I have a high degree of confidence in believing Katz is the reason why Smith and Bucky are still around.

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#102 The Swarm
December 29 2013, 10:16PM
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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.

Literally took the words right out of my mouth. He's a absolute disaster and must go. In the meantime, Eakins, get over yourself. Despite what you think, you don't have a monopoly on brains. I honestly think a cardboard cut out could do as good if not a better job than Eakins over the first 41 games.

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#103 Cowbell_Feva
December 30 2013, 09:08AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

This site has gradually become mouth-breather central. The comments section is usually a whining cesspool of wasteful negativity. I feel sorry for the writers here, not that they need or ask for it. What a waste of their talents.

Even a year ago this site was still a great place to come to. Now it has been reduced to a stinking corner of the undernet where small yappy dogs come to relieve themselves on top of each other.

What a shame.

Just slightly hypocritical, no??

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

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?

The Oilers had a good record against the NHL lesser lights which is encouraging. They just don't seem to have a lot of games against that type of opposition in the coming months.

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#105 Nowuknow
December 29 2013, 02:24AM
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Some say losing is contagious as is winning. But here in the city of Champions has be come too comfortable!!!!

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#106 Fresh Mess
December 29 2013, 06:37AM
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BK wrote:

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.

Because he has a contract to be head coach of the oilers. It is not a two way contract like players have. If you remove him from the oilers head coach position then his employment is terminated and he is still owed his salary for the remainder of the contract.

This is a silly suggestion.

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#107 Huskamania
December 29 2013, 07:29AM
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Everyone thinks, moving this guy or replaceing this guy will put Oil into playoffs you cant just get a defeneman and a top forward and suddenly move up 25pts in standing and be a low playoff team. They have moved guys and will move more, the attitude that has to change is managment get rid of them, the only one they ever change is the Head coach, we have had better coach's then Eakins but they were the scape goats for Lowe or Tamb. Change must come from the top to make it work only thing Lowe has ever done in administration is LOSE , just cause he played behind a great team doesnt make him worthy to make the correct choices. Only way for the Oil to move up is have a good set of eyes evaluate what is happening not the same old eyes that have 5 rings and want all his friends from the 80s to have jobs with him it hasnt worked, how many more years do we have to endure this. I will not blame any young Oiler player for wanting a trade or demanding one, why wreck your whole time playing hockey for a franchise that only care about what is good for them and not what is important to all the fans. my 2¢

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#108 Ray
December 29 2013, 09:15AM
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Robin....as a side note to your discussion I keyed on ference through most of last nights game....this guy has got game or JAM.... He hits anything and makes you pay....I didn't realize how much of a tyrant he is out there...all our D should watch him and try to emulate him....such tenacity !!!

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#109 Big Cap
December 29 2013, 09:27AM
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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.

BINGO!!

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#110 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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#111 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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#112 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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#113 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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#114 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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#115 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 01:23PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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.

Or hitch would have taught him how to play a defense system. If Brett hull could do it anyone can.

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#116 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 01:46PM
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Johnnydapunk wrote:

That wouldn't shock me in any way actually.

Who is better than 6Rings anyways as no one knows more about winning than he does...

Man he is such a muppet....

And very thin-skinned...

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#117 FireKLowe
December 29 2013, 02:04PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Half the season is gone,, is it not time that the media did an interview with the guy at the top to review how the rebuild has gone?

Six Rings is around, you can see pan shots at games with him hiding in the upper boxes of Rexall.

Lets get his perspective on this team and where he thinks the rebuild will be next year?

I don't mean Stauffer doing the interview either with the in house Kool Aide production.

I said many times the Edmonton media with the likes of Willis, Staples, and Matheson will never directly criticize Oilers management and ask tough questions. After that MacT hiring presser and the way the season has gone, Edmonton media has every reason to be tough with Lowe but they won't.

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#118 I tried it at home
December 29 2013, 03:42PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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.

And this would be bad.... why?

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#119 Oliveoiler
December 29 2013, 04:25PM
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I;m tired of all this losing again - as I know every Oiler fan is. I'm tired of armchair coaches who know so much better than any in the organization. I'm tired of the calling for heads to roll. Most of all I'm tired of the team saying they KNOW what they are doing wrong, but have no ability to do it right. If you KNOW what has to be done to win and not make us all sick and tired, then PLEASE DO IT. Game after game after game. DO IT RIGHT. End of story. It's not rocket science.

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#120 dv.asteroid
December 29 2013, 04:33PM
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Johnnydapunk wrote:

That wouldn't shock me in any way actually.

Who is better than 6Rings anyways as no one knows more about winning than he does...

Man he is such a muppet....

Hey...I love the Muppets.

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#121 RexHolez
December 29 2013, 06:23PM
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Schultz reminds me of poor mans Ryan Ellis

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#122 D-Unit
December 29 2013, 09:38PM
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@Serious Gord

I wouldn't mind the 3-2-1 system. Right now it's stupid how some games are 2 point games and others are worth three. Every game should have the same amount of points up for grabs.

But, I would rather see no loser points, and at the same time get rid of the shoot out. Also don't mess with other overtime ideas, none of the 3 on 3 or other pointless business that I hear rumblings about. Only change maybe extend it to 10 minutes. But I would be happy with the 5 mins and ties a possibility.

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#123 camdog
December 30 2013, 07:57AM
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@@Oilanderp

Not too long ago a sacred Oiler jersey was thrown on the ice at Rexal. Right now the odds are 50-50 that another jersey will hit the ice before the end of the season. It isn't just this site that is full of negativity directed at the Oilers organization. Morale hasn't been this Lowe in e-town since the days of Pocklington trying to move the team out of town.

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#124 **
December 29 2013, 02:03AM
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All things staying equal, I see the Oilers getting around 35 more points in the next half of the season. Mark it. The fact is the schedule was actually easier for them in the first half since they played most of the games against eastern teams already. The second half is heavy with western conference teams, and heavy with division rivals.

If Bryzgalov doesn't want to re sign here he will probably be sent to a contender by the deadline, and there goes any chance of moving up the standings.

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#125 Rdubb
December 29 2013, 08:00AM
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oilredemption wrote:

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.

I have a question, although I agree that the coach NEEDS to stay longer than one season, even @ least 3 so that these young players get to hear the same message day in and day out for a while and get to know one system; question(s) - why in the world would MacT give a rookie coach a 4 (or 5 yr, unsure which it is) contract? There is no reason why a 2yr deal would have worked, and if Eakins was doing an adequate job, extensions could be given, couldn't they? Didn't Renney do a very good job with the young guys when here? I think that he'd have been a great guy to coach these kids right now, plus they'd have had the same message for 3yrs now, don't you think?

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#126 Zamboni Driver
December 29 2013, 09:18AM
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Love ya Robin, but I am not buying that the Oil (and specific players) will be better only because they can't be worse.

Sure they can. Or at least stay at the same level of craptastic.

I appreciate the "half full" approach, but most of us are way too jaded to buy it.

Unrelated. Sorta.

I say Yakupov should be in OKC. Thoughts? Can't be worse for his ego than riding the pine. He'd (presumably) get to dominate.

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#127 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 09:37AM
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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.

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#128 K_Mart
December 29 2013, 09:43AM
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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.

You are absolutely right. We are a bad team, that happened to play horrid hockey for the first twenty games. But we did manage to play just bad hockey the following20 for a 9-9-2 record.

I was expecting a 36-38-8 record this year and don't feel it was even a very high expectation.

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#129 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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#130 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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#131 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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#132 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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#133 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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#134 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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#135 Eastern Oil
December 29 2013, 02:51PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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.

Although I agree with your premise, Yakupov would not have been able to head to the AHL as he came out of the CHL and because of his age.

I do think Todd Nelson has done a decent job down there developing players considering what he has had to work with, it would have been interesting to see Yak with a year of work under Nelson.

This could apply to any number of players though: Gagner 6 years ago, JSchultz, Lander 2 years ago. Our skill is present but it's not being handled properly.

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#136 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 02:57PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Half the season is gone,, is it not time that the media did an interview with the guy at the top to review how the rebuild has gone?

Six Rings is around, you can see pan shots at games with him hiding in the upper boxes of Rexall.

Lets get his perspective on this team and where he thinks the rebuild will be next year?

I don't mean Stauffer doing the interview either with the in house Kool Aide production.

Saw him waiting to get on the elevator to the upper suites at the red deer centrium for the Russian exhibition junior game about a month ago. (My friends and I have our pregame muster and drink Caesars point adjacent to there)

I resisted shouting "fire Lowe!!" But it wasn't easy.

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#137 seanjohn
December 29 2013, 03:02PM
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Bloodsweatandoil wrote:

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....

I dont share your optimism for TDL. Hemsky will be the only significant player moved and it will be for futures.

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#138 Ed in PV
December 29 2013, 08:28PM
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David S wrote:

I have a high degree of confidence in believing Katz is the reason why Smith and Bucky are still around.

God I hope you are mistaken. If the owner is making decisions about coaching selections, then all hope is lost.

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#139 tileguy
December 29 2013, 08:38PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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

Theoretically 9-9-2 could mean 20 points for us and 31 points for them, not even close to 500 hockey. Total gibberish. A bold move would be to hand out 3 points for a regulation win or 2 & 1 points for overtime, yes yes, like soccer.

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#140 Serious Gord
December 29 2013, 08:52PM
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tileguy wrote:

Theoretically 9-9-2 could mean 20 points for us and 31 points for them, not even close to 500 hockey. Total gibberish. A bold move would be to hand out 3 points for a regulation win or 2 & 1 points for overtime, yes yes, like soccer.

I agree 100%.

The nhl - or rather the current NHL establishment fears that that would reduce parity and make the race for the playoffs less close. But late season come from behind streaks would also be more likely.

And fighting for a regulation win would have a real reward.

I suspect and hope that the 3-2-1 will become a reality once bettman retires.

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#141 dougtheslug
December 29 2013, 09:40PM
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Just looked at the schedule. Other than Winnipeg (away on Jan 18) and Nashville (home Jan 26) I can't see another game in January we can win. Realistically looking at 2-13 over the next 15 games. Thank God I'm going away for a while (although still will be unlikely to resist NHL gamecenter. Damn)

Happy New Year, ON. Always next year!

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#142 Oiler Al
December 29 2013, 09:53PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

And Lowe and MacT and ....

I would not doubt for one second that Katz,has his fingers in this MUD PIE, in a big way.Maybe not the same way as Jerry Jones, but still.How else can you explain the existence of Lowe, Bucky, and Smith to name a few.

Other Operation would have turfed these clowns based on the performance over the past years.

Your either sleeping with someone, or your the best of pals in the whole world.

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#143 Alsker
December 30 2013, 12:43AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Just looked at the schedule. Other than Winnipeg (away on Jan 18) and Nashville (home Jan 26) I can't see another game in January we can win. Realistically looking at 2-13 over the next 15 games. Thank God I'm going away for a while (although still will be unlikely to resist NHL gamecenter. Damn)

Happy New Year, ON. Always next year!

I was just doing the same thing and maybe we get one of the Phoenix games but outside of that if we can grab 8-9 points we'll be lucky. Hope we're wrong but I doubt it.

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#144 K_Mart
December 30 2013, 09:04AM
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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.

While you're theory sounds great, you can't bench the whole team.

Hall and Perron, and maybe Nuge, are the only players who consistently play to win. Even Ebs has been guilty many times this year of not really showing up.

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#145 Dave
December 30 2013, 09:34AM
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Eakins picking Gagner for the shootout reminded me of the rookie coach we had last year. Well sort of ... but having a rookie coach was not a great idea. I presume or hope that he will get better.

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#146 K_Mart
December 30 2013, 09:43AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

This site has gradually become mouth-breather central. The comments section is usually a whining cesspool of wasteful negativity. I feel sorry for the writers here, not that they need or ask for it. What a waste of their talents.

Even a year ago this site was still a great place to come to. Now it has been reduced to a stinking corner of the undernet where small yappy dogs come to relieve themselves on top of each other.

What a shame.

So true. A better set of fans wouldn't be so constantly negative. However, being able to stay positive for 7/8 years out of the playoffs is pretty good. And so is selling out the building the whole time.

But in light of your comment, here are some positives.

Hall has truly elevated his game, and while he can't single handedly make this team a playoff team, he's often been the main reason we are even in some games. His big turnovers are still in his game, but they occur with far less frequency.

Perron was such a steal of a deal, man did we fleece STL.

Bryz is infinitely better than LABarbara and slightly better than Dubnyk. At first I figured there was ZERO chance of him resigning with us because if he plays awful we won't sign him, and if he plays wel he will sign with second else, but he seems to really get along with the boys so who knows.

9-9-2 in the second 20(including a 6 game skid against the best teams). I expect better than this, but it is a big step forward from the first 20 games.

Gordon, amazing pick up. I don't even want to think about what our GAA would be without him. Often been our best player when nobody else shows up.

Arcobello. Skates well, hits hard, and makes plays. Great surprise, breathing down gagner's neck for the 2C spot.

While Ebs hasnt looked himself, he's still managing to produce and will likely finish with 65-70 points.

Hemsky. Leads the team in takeaways. Primarily due to backchecking. His play has been great IMO. His minutes have been varied but he's still going to produce 40-50 pts.

Dubnyk looks like his game is back on track.

Belov is finally shooting(god he needs a goal).

The injury problem isn't so bad right now.

Nuge looks slightly improved in all areas of his game comparedto last year. I think ffaceoffs are starting to improve over the last 7-10 games as well for him.

Nurse is captain of the first place team in the OHL. He plays the toughest QualComp in the ENTIRE LEAGUE, he's a ppg, he's big, and he's mean as hell on the ice. Sutter and Canada likely won't even beat the Czechs without him... oh wait.

Last but not least, at the Philly game on Saturday I noticed something about the play of the players and how it was affected positively and negatively by the fans. In the third period for some reason the fans all decided to help the team with a good old fashioned 'Let's go oilers!' Chant, and I'll be damned if it didn't work. For those brief moments, the team sped up and huge chances were generated. You might think the 6th man shouldn't make a difference to a pro, but I swear to you it does. If you don't think the crowd can have a major impact on the outcome of the game go to a seahawks game. I know the players havent earned it, but part of the fun is that the fans can feel like part of the team, and right now we aren't doing our job. I'd like to see the fans just say F You to the opposing team. Maybe our players don't show up every night but I'll be damned if I don't do everything I can to fire up our boys and heckle the crap out of the opposition. Mr.Katz, lower your $1287 beer prices, it's time people started getting kicked out for cheering too loudly again.

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#147 S cottV
December 30 2013, 10:26AM
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The position the Oilers find themselves in - after 41 games is a disaster, almost a lost year toward development into a playoff contender.

This team should be .500 with some degree of hope to make the playoffs, that would have driven performance above .500 for the remainder of the year. Hope and staying alive in the hunt are powerful motivators that are lost to Eakins and I really dont think he has the leadership skills to otherwise rally this group.

Eakins seriously underestimated the situation at hand from the get go. He bit off too much change too soon, sacrificing short term results in the process. Worse - his "Eakins hockey vision" became a trial and error mess, that has surely eroded player group confidence in him.

Under the circumstances, I think .500 hockey will be a stretch for the remaining half of the season. It will be hard for Eakins to hold this one together.

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#148 Fresh Mess
December 30 2013, 12:40PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I agree 100%.

The nhl - or rather the current NHL establishment fears that that would reduce parity and make the race for the playoffs less close. But late season come from behind streaks would also be more likely.

And fighting for a regulation win would have a real reward.

I suspect and hope that the 3-2-1 will become a reality once bettman retires.

How about just eliminate the loser point altogether ?

The loser point was brought in because there were too many regular season games ending in ties. The thinking was that teams would quit being so defensive in OT and actually go for the win if they were assured of getting at least one point.

But then the shootout was brought in. All regular season games now end with a winner, so why even bother with the loser point?

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#149 K_Mart
December 31 2013, 01:43PM
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The Swarm wrote:

I didn't realize I needed your editorial input prior to posting. Based on your suggested edits, you obviously got my point. In the future though, should you need to edit my posts, please try and run a spell check first. I do actually know bit about coaching and I certainly know how to spell it.

In case you haven't noticed, with overall scoring down so much in the NHL, special teams are often the deciding factors in games. The Oilers were throughly schooled in this area against the Flyers - to the point where Giroux was actually directing traffic on their PP by pointing to who he was going to pass to. As a huge Oiler fan, it really was embarrassing.

*Coach's... so sorry.

For you to say coaching is all about special teams is just plain wrong. That was really all I was saying.

And it's "know a bit" not "know bit". Spelling mistakes happen, not a reflection on anyone's knowledge. Not yours, not mine. Hell, even the writers on this page are guilty of grammar problems on every article. It doesn't change how much I value their opinion.

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