The Perfect Storm

Jason Strudwick
January 20 2014 10:54AM

I love George Clooney. Call it a man crush! The guy has got style. He is the only person I know that can make a tuxedo look casual at the same time as formal. He has got it going on. How about his hair! Wow. Sick loaf. That salt and pepper look seems to really work it way into the ladies hearts. Probably doesn't hurt that he has a great place to take them to his house in Lake Como, Italy.

I admire his acting ability. He makes it look so easy. In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain.

Storm #1--- Youth and inexperience throughout most of the heavy minute eaters.

This group which includes Hall, Nuge, Yak, Eberle, Petry and J. Schultz. They are near the top for ice time each night. Although Yakupov is not at the top for ice time, he is near the top for creating goals against by his mistakes.

Playing against the oppositions top lines most nights has put a spotlight on how much this group of players need to learn. They are starting to understand how to play away from the puck. Unfortunately the only way to learn is through experience.

Storm #2---Unstable goaltending.

The Oilers overall team defence is not good. This puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending to make big saves on grade A chances. The two goalies who started the season here are now gone as a result of that. Bryzgalov and Scrivens are now the two under the gun.

All four goaltenders, this season, are not starting goaltenders. The have been in the past and could be in the future. This Oilers team needs a legit starting goalie. Not someone past their prime or a goalie trying to find out if they can play sixty consistent games a season. They need a solid starter. That goalie is not in the organization today.

Storm #3---Inexperienced coach

For many people Dallas Eakins was the best of the up and coming young coaches outside the NHL. He had success in the AHL and some coaching experience in the NHL as an assistant.

Looking from the outside I believe Eakins thought this team was a lot closer to being competitive than it actually was. There has not been a part of the Oilers game or a player that has been consistent all year. He must feel like he has been running from place to place putting out fires.

The goaltending, specialty teams, forecheck and all four lines have at different points this season been way out of sync. So not only has he had to deal with every aspect of the team but also learn how to coach against the top coaches in the world.

Just like players learning to compete against top players, Eakins has been dealing with in game adjustments and curveballs from coaches with over one thousand games coached in the NHL. He learning curve has been a steep one this year.

Storm #4---Inexperienced GM

MacT took over as GM with very little experience in the position. I like him as a person and as I coach I really liked playing for him. Being a GM is whole different game.

He is well spoken and fired up the Oilers fans with his promises of making change and a "Bold Move". Great to say but as I believe he has found out very hard to deliver.

He has made trades but I don't think any of them so far will be talked about years from now. He is learning the NHL GM job on the fly and maybe he has been dealing with curveballs from other super experienced guys around the league.

This is a lot of inexperience for a team to overcome. There are teams that deal with some of these "storms" but very few that have all four combine in the same season. It has put a lot of strain on the team. Strain they have not been able to handle this year.

Next year Eakins and MacT with both have a year under their belts. The skaters will also have another year of learning. The issue for me is goaltending. This team needs a goalie, a legit number one goalie. Not a goalie of the future or of the past, a "now" goalie.

A legit starter knows he is a starter. He doesn't doubt himself after a rough night. He doesn't get to high after an incredible game. He knows how to come back and be solid after a great or terrible night.

The Oilers need stability between the pipes. This goalie will let the odd goal in and at times will look weak unless the team in front of him improves their defensive play. But he will know how to handle both of these situations because he has been through them before. He isn't going through it for the first time.

There is a scene in The Perfect Storm where the clouds thin out and the darkness lightens to the point where the sun shines down on the Clooney's boat. For a second you pray that it is over and that everything will be ok. Just as quickly as the sun comes out it is gone again and the storm swallows up the boat.

We haven't seen to many rays of sunshine this season. I hope when we do it doesn't mean the end is near.

In Your Head

I watched the Flames/Canucks game Saturday night. It was an entertaining game. Five fights to start the game was something to see.

I don't mind it at all. The Flames wanted to set the tone in the Canucks building. Torts decided to send out his line to counter at the aggressiveness. The fights followed and eight players tossed. No big deal. No one was hurt. Move on and play the game.

I know that Hartley did it to rattle Torts. He got more than he could have hoped for as a response for Torts. Torts went nuts. After the first period he walked down to the Flames room and tried to get to Hartley.

This was a big mistake by Torts. Big mistake. He was completely out of control. As a coach you set the tone for your team. Your team follows you. Hartley was right inside Torts head and he made it look so easy by ignoring him!

Hartley was coaching in Hersey when I was in the minors. He was always chirping other teams’ players saying he was going to send different players after us to beat us up. I would just laugh and say send them out. I can't wait. He was trying to get in our heads. My teammates and I were around twenty one at the time, we could handle it but an experienced NHL coach couldn't.

There is no excuse for Torts going to the Flames room. He now has an in person hearing for his actions Saturday. I would give him ten games, at least. He needs to be put in his place.

I wonder if long term this hurts the Canucks and Torts. I think it does.

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#51 Nimrod
January 20 2014, 04:34PM
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None of these are storms. They are the consequences of decisions made by the organization.

You build a team with poor goaltenders and you get poor goaltending.

You build a team with one top four defender and you get poor defense.

You build a team with one-dimensional young forwards and you get bad performance out of them.

You hang on to front office staff that's failed for over a dozen years and you get a front office that isn't working.

There seems to be (judging by Katz letter today) a feeling that the organization probably is just a bit unlucky. Because the realization that everyone involved may not be good at what they are doing is too terrifying to think of.

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#52 @Oilanderp
January 20 2014, 04:40PM
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It sounds like barring any offer that they can't refuse, they are for the most part going to wait for the young d-men.

To really get what they need they'd have to overpay and that might jeopardize the ultimate goal of being a perenial contender.

It sucks, but they might be right.

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#53 Cynic
January 20 2014, 04:53PM
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I'm sure the free arena will fix everything.

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#54 Rama Lama
January 20 2014, 05:04PM
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The only actor better than George Clooney is Dallas Eakins! He managed to convince MacT that he was a real coach. In stead we saw a coach that needed 30 games to find out who plays which position!

He is apparently still learning, who does what, but he knows how to Chop Water and Carry Wood!

A perfect storm is a bunch of unexpected events happening at once. I for one know that there were many fans, pundits, and experts that called this re-build incomplete at the start of the season. I for one trusted what MacT was layinh down at the start of the season.

You can fool me once, but not twice!

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#55 BabyNuge's_Baby
January 20 2014, 05:14PM
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K_Mart wrote:

Storm #1 is the biggest problem no doubt.

Our youth is so obvious it is painful. They don't play hockey the right way.

They aren't physical, they don't do a good job away from the puck, they make it so easy for the opposition to make plays and score, and this is all due to inexperience. The sad thing, is that they don't seem much better now then they were a few years ago.

Yak is worse, Nuge is slightly better, Hall's about the same, but the possession numbers somehow say he's worse, Ebs is the same....

They STILL ignore the fact that the game is a contact sport and that preventing goals is equally important as scoring them.

We are one of the worst possession teams in the league, yet we aren't even close to the top in hits... what does that say? We are getting out hit even when we don't have the puck.

You'd think that Hall,Nuge,Ebs,Perron,Yak,Jultz, and Hemsky would be able to produce enough offense to offset their defensive deficiencies but that simply is not the case.

I can accept the losing, but in the past (1995-99), opposing teams knew that they were in for some serious pain when they came in to our building. They might leave the coliseum with a win, but they left with some bruises as well. Edmontonians are an easy bunch to please, and an easy bunch to piss off. If the oilers want the sixth man back on their side, they need to acknowledge that hockey is a contact sport. I guarantee you the crowd will turn in favor of this team, despite the losing, if the kids lead the way and start following through on their hits.

I'm sick of all the flybys by the kids. You might not be able to outplay the opposition, but at least match their intensity and physical play. I don't care if we aren't 'built' to play a physical game, it's a contact sport. If we aren't built to play a physical game, then we aren't built to play hockey.

NO MORE FLYBYS

Exactly! They play scared, like if they throw a hit they are going to get hurt or have to fight. Its embarrassing. You don't have to be 6'3" to bodycheck, Markabello is tiny yet he still throws checks every game. This group of talented princesses need to step it up.

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#56 Horcsky
January 20 2014, 05:27PM
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What really grinds my gears is that 'storms' 1, 3, and 4 were self-inflicted and totally preventable.

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#57 Do bolo
January 20 2014, 08:29PM
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What a terrible article. Torts showed how much he cared for his team and was pissed that he had to send his players into that situation. Maybe if Eakins showed he had the backs of the players, and nit just run them down in the media, maybe the players would play for him. For being a guy who played in the nhl, your sort of clueless on how leadership works.

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#58 Release the Hounds
January 20 2014, 09:15PM
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BabyNuge's_Baby wrote:

Exactly! They play scared, like if they throw a hit they are going to get hurt or have to fight. Its embarrassing. You don't have to be 6'3" to bodycheck, Markabello is tiny yet he still throws checks every game. This group of talented princesses need to step it up.

I agree with everything you both state. Habs are a smaller team than the Oilers but are in 10th overall right now. Why? Other than better goaltending, they PLAY BIG! They finish their checks, they play the body instead of making a weak attempt at poking the puck off the oppositions stick. They are not afraid to make a hit to get the puck back. They hustle to loose pucks. They play as though the puck is theirs to have. Size may matter to some degree but if you come to play and play BIG, you will have much better success than the prima donna Oilers as the Canadiens are proving.

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