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.

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 dunk7
February 28 2014, 03:02PM
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I'm pretty confident the team has bought into the new system....Suck Bad for Ekblad!

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#102 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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#103 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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#104 Jerconjake
February 28 2014, 04:51PM
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Reading the comments here, I think everyone is partially right about what's wrong. Everything.

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#105 Oiler Al
February 28 2014, 05:35PM
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Whats concerning is that when you look at the so called kids, we are talking now 2-3-4 years in the league. What I see is that their game has not changed, might even be worse in some cases. Why, they have experience with 3 different coaches, yet their game remains the same. Are they coachable.

Its time for these top minute crunchers to drop their junior

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#106 LoweBlow
March 01 2014, 07:19AM
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Jofa wrote:

Time to move to Rebuild 2.0. The first attempt has already been wasted, the second coming of the Boys on the Bus has been an illusion. What a disappointment this team has been, and even more disappointing is that the owner will trust this same group to have another go at getting it right...

I guess if management is learning from their mistakes, they should be the smartest men in hockey now, right? What a joke... Honestly, at this point I'd be happy to see a guy like Brian Burke come in and shake this team up. Seems almost fitting considering how much ol' Six Rings feuded with the guy and talked such a big game about how his team was run. Who's laughing now?

I had to chuckle every time I saw Lowe in Team Canada's "brain trust" box at the Olympic. How could they take the guy seriously give the state of team he has handcrafted for a decade?!? Thanks for all the super helpful ideas Kevin, but we've got this...

Sad state for the franchise... Getting to home games while I was living in Edmonton 15 years ago was awesome, the atmosphere was electric and it was a blast cheering for our plucky underdogs who could slay the giants on any given night with their blue collar effort and speed. Going to a game now seems like it would just be the start of a bad night. I don't know why fans are paying or even showing up, considering their team isn't showing up. The fans in the stands just kind of look like schmucks at this point. Brutal. Thanks Kevin and Darryl.

Yep. I understood the losing with the Canadian dollar was $0.65USD and there was no revenue sharing. Now with the cap and the dollar near par, the team should be back to the dynasty, no?

Hokay, the league is more competitive. So maybe they'll be battling for 6-8? No.

This team opened the year near the cap and sunk right to the bottom of the standings. Hall looks the same. Nuge & Scultz jr are stagnant while Ebs & Yak are digressing. The only players with fight in them are call-ups or those traded for.

It's obvious that the dressing room is a black hole for hope. Spend a few seasons there and watch your hopes for a cup, or even a winning season, swirl around a perpetual toilet that flushes in early December.

I can't cheer for another team. Instead I just don't watch the NHL anymore. The Olympics gave me a team to cheer for. A team that plays the way it's told to. A team of professionals that bought into a new coach in 10 days.

This current edition of the Oilers is dead to me.

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