BACK AT IT: TRULY FEEBLE

Robin Brownlee
February 28 2014 12:07AM

Team-5

As much of a dumpster fire as this season has been for the Edmonton Oilers, there was at least a hint of anticipation as fans dutifully filed into Rexall Place to begin the stretch drive against the Minnesota Wild after three weeks off for the Olympic break. Should have known better.

Rather than come back with some gusto and jump in a stretch that will see the Oilers play 15 of their final 22 games at home, they served up another feeble and indifferent display for the hometown faithful, collectively shrugging their shoulders in a half-hearted, half-assed 3-0 loss to the Wild.

Fans who arrived with at least a hint of hope the Oilers might finish off this mess of 2013-14 with enthusiasm and maybe a win here or there after a tidy roll before the break, were booing by the final buzzer at the Oilers were shut out for the fifth time at home this season, dropping to 10-15-2 at the Rex.

The power play has fallen and it can't get up. There was next-to-no flow on the attack. Ben Scrivens didn’t look particularly sharp. Worst of all, the give-a-damn meter appeared to be as low as it's been all season, save for some nastiness from Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic.

Played like their heads and hearts were still on the beach somewhere warm, did the Oilers. The only grit was the sand in their shorts.

NOT CLOSE TO GOOD ENOUGH

When a team has been as bad as long as the Oilers have, virtually every angle involving personnel, team chemistry, coaching and the X's and O's has been exhausted. The power play, at least this 1-3-1 version of it, is brutal. There are holes throughout the lineup front and back. The defense isn’t good enough. All this we know. More fodder for these last days before the trade deadline.

One ongoing glaring deficiency – far from the only one -- that stood out for me in this game was the lack of push-back from the Oilers, the unwillingness to back each other up. The all-for-one, one-for-all mentality most successful teams show consistently. Big problem.

That was illustrated best as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were getting knocked around near the Minnesota goal by Keith Ballard and Matt Cooke. Out near the blue line stood Jeff Petry and Anton Belov, two of the biggest players on the ice. And that's where they stayed as Ballard cuffed RNH and Hall had a brief altercation with Cooke. They watched.

I'm not foolish enough to think having Petry and Belov wade in and kick some backside, or at least show up, in that circumstance comes anywhere near close to addressing the many needs of this team, but showing opponents they don’t get a free pass in that situation would solve one of them – the lack of will to play and stand up for each other.

I'm not suggesting GM Craig MacTavish go on a thug hunt at the deadline or over the summer, but while he's looking for another defenseman or two and some size that can play in the top-six up front, find a player or two who isn’t so ready to turn the other cheek -- as too many players on this roster now are.

Culture change? Let's start with MacTavish getting some players who are as sick of losing as the fans who filed in to watch yet another no-show by a team that keeps talking the talk but refuses to walk the walk.

Enough already.

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

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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 Pucker
February 28 2014, 01:17PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

I actually own a business and have 15 years managing expirience. Any owner or manager will tell you that the manager is only as good as the people under him. Great sales manager and terrible sales team equals poor results. A new Sales Manager and same terrible sales team still equals poor results

Smith and Bucky are part of the problem, they have not proven they bring anything to the team. A rookie coach with poor assistants is a recipie for a disaster. An associate coach with NHL coaching expirience would be very beneficial.

You seem like the type of guy who blames the tool instead of the operator.

I get it, your a disgruntled fan and deservedly so but the people who score the goals and stop the pucks need to be held accountable and not just blame the coach.

If your kid whines to get what he wants and you always give it to him he will always whine, he doesn't know any better and doesn't learn to change.

A Great Sales Manager would address the terrible sales team problem. And I doubt very much it would take more than a few months to take care of it.

If not handled, then the Sales Manager isn't so Great, nor is he likely a manager.

Looks to me that MacT blew it here. Perhaps he'll right the ship.

I thought Perron had a good game. I thought the Oiler's made more passes than they have in most games the past few seasons. I think the time I spent watching the game was a terrible waste of time.

I'd like to see a line of RNH, Gadzik and Hendricks.

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#102 Bryzarro World
March 01 2014, 09:36AM
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Culture change will start when Lowe goes. Until then the nhl and the oilers can blowe me

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#103 Randaman
February 28 2014, 03:37PM
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dunk7 wrote:

I'm pretty confident the team has bought into the new system....Suck Bad for Ekblad!

The really sad part about last night is that neither Nurse or Ekblad would have just stood there while Nuge and Hall were involved by the net. That says all you need about Petry and Belov. Ekblad could play here next year and be our best defenceman with Nurse a close 2nd. Does Eberle, a draft pick & a good prospect get us a solid #2 to mentor these two studs? I sure hope so or we will be drafting McDavid which isn't a bad thing if you can handle another season like this one! Thought not...

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#104 God
March 01 2014, 07:01AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Think of the positives. One of these lotto picks will land us sunny side and headed in the right direction soon.

Ekblad could be the guy.

I see you're still drinking the Kool-Aid. Enjoy, I rather go to the movies and actually smile. I'll return when Ekbald makes the team in 3 years. Until then, pass.

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#105 Dave
February 28 2014, 01:23PM
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john wrote:

Are you serious man? Have you ever run a company or anything before? The coach teach the team, the assistants follow up with the system and the drills. Those assistants has been around since 2006 sup run, so it's not the problems. Those assistants know how the Power Play and Penalty Kill run with previous coach but they can't run those drills if Eakins want to play it his way. So they had to practice PP and PK with Eakins system (4 forwards and 1 Dman, the result is 10 short handed goals against). Oilers got shut out 8 games, 5 at home, would you pay to see that? Lose but at least score some goals so fans has something to cheer for. PP, PK and goals against are among the worst in NHL. What more proof do you need?

Sorry, is there a recognized symbol for sarcasm ?

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#106 dunk7
February 28 2014, 04:38PM
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Randaman wrote:

The really sad part about last night is that neither Nurse or Ekblad would have just stood there while Nuge and Hall were involved by the net. That says all you need about Petry and Belov. Ekblad could play here next year and be our best defenceman with Nurse a close 2nd. Does Eberle, a draft pick & a good prospect get us a solid #2 to mentor these two studs? I sure hope so or we will be drafting McDavid which isn't a bad thing if you can handle another season like this one! Thought not...

The scary part is that you are right in the fact that we're going to need to acquire a top end defenceman (and give up an Eberle or Yak) to tutor the up and comers. I shudder to think that Ference is the only real mentor out of this group. It's kind of like a blind man running a driving school.

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