PACE IN PRACTICE..

Jason Gregor
March 10 2014 11:11AM

Allen Iverson's rant on practice is a classic. Iverson had sat out a practice and it became a huge story in Philly. When Iverson retired Gary Payton told the story how in the summer prior to this interview Iverson had asked him how he was able to keep his body fresh and play every game. Payton told him his head coach, George Karl, wouldn't let him practice very much. Karl knew he was a smaller guard and he needed rest to keep his body healthy. Iverson took it to heart, but he might not have went about it the right way.

It is still a great rant, and it relates to the Oilers because of what Ladislav Smid and Ilya Bryzgalov said regarding the pace and intensity of their new team's practices.

After his first practice with the Calgary Flames, Smid said he was surprised at how intense the practice was, and last week Ilya Brzygalov said the Wild practices had "a much faster pace."

Do the Oilers need to practice harder? Can they practice harder?

I went looking for the answers to those questions and a few more. I spoke with Dallas Eakins, Sam Gagner and David Perron about the Oilers practices.

I spoke to Perron because he was in St.Louis the previous six seasons, and I was curious if he noticed a difference in how the teams practiced.

Do you think it is up to the players to control the pace and tempo practice?

I do. Dallas mentioned it a lot. Do you want to be the guy driving the practice or do you want to sit in the back of the bus and hope the day goes by, and that’s not a way you get better. It’s up to us to bring that level higher. I think it has improved over the season, but there is another level to get to for sure.

How can you make practices more intense?

It’s pretty simple. Every time there is a rebound you try to score. Every time you go by the net you stop. The hard work comes with the habits. When you have good habits it brings your level higher because you want to succeed.

If you’re not going to do it in the game, you have to start doing it in practice and then it will translate in the game. You will go by the net and it will be natural that you will stop. Early in the year we didn’t have many guys going to the net, but I think it has gotten better and when we do have one-on-one battles in practice we can be harder for sure.

What differences have you noticed from practices in St.Louis to Edmonton?

Here they are a bit longer and we have more explanation at the board. I’m not sure if it’s because we are a younger team and having to explain more system stuff.

In St. Louis it (practice) was pretty short, because when you’ve been on the same team for a bit you’re on the same page, and that’s why they are having success and that’s what we are trying to get to here.

THOUGHTS...

The Oilers are younger than the Blues and Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Yakupov, J.Schultz and Petry have had a new coach every season they've played. It makes sense that this team needs more teaching and likely why their practices don't have a consistent flow as often as a veteran team like the Blues.

The Oilers still don't go to the net as often as they should, but Perron was bang on that at least they are doing it more than they did earlier in the season. The issue with the Oilers top-six isn't the individual talent of the players, rather that they are essentially all the same. Outside of Perron, the other five didn't have a "drive-the-net" philosophy in junior. It is hard to completely alter a player's game, and that's why I believe this group needs a different mix of players. They are all too similar.

GAGNER

89-Gagner-7

Sam Gagner has played his entire career in Edmonton. He's had five different head coaches and I asked him his thoughts on the pace and intensity of Oilers practice.

Some former teammates said the pace in practice was higher on their new team. Perron said your team’s pace was lower at the start of the season, but it has improved throughout the year. Have you noticed a difference, and if so in what way?

I think a lot of times when you are going to a new team you are flying and stuff, and that first practice is going to be tough regardless. For us, pace starts with puck movement and I think it has gotten better as the year’s gone on. If you are going to be a successful team in this league you have to be able to execute. That is something we are really focusing on, especially in practice, and we have to continue to get better if we’re going to become one of the top teams in the league. We still have a way to go.

Do you believe if you practice harder maybe they will play harder and grittier?

I’m a huge believer in it. I’ve always thought when you are in a slump you break it in practice before you break it in a game. You’re not always going to feel great in practice, whether you played a game the night before, but you have to find a way to get the most out of yourself, execute properly and move the puck properly and get your pace going. It translates into a game hugely.

Is the pace of practice set more by the players or the coach?

I think the coach is driving the practice and we’re the ones pushing it. The coaches have a practice plan and they lay it out, but it is on us to make sure we are pushing it.

Thoughts...

Gagner was on to something about the first practice with a new team. Smid's first practice in Calgary came after an off day for the Flames and when he was traveling. However, Gagner did admit his team still has room to improve in practice.

A few years ago I interviewed Nick Lidstrom and he told me that bad passes weren't acceptable during Red Wings practices. Players would get on each other if they made bad passes. He firmly believed that if you accepted bad passing in practice it would happen in the game. Mike Babcock said those rules were put in place by the players not the coaches, because the players needed to manage and decide which passes weren't acceptable. He said it carried more weight when a teammate challenged a player on his passing rather than the coach.

The Oilers don't have something like that in place, and if they do implement a similar rule, it has to be initiated by the players not the coach.

COACH EAKINS

Dallas Eakins 18

Do you have a response to what Bryzgalov said last week and Smid earlier in the season about the difference in the pace and intensity of practice?

I would totally agree with them. In the Smid case, he traveled the whole day and his first practice came after a day off and of course that will be a high-paced practice.

In Bryz’s case he is excited; he is going to a team that is coming off the trade deadline where they made some moves to try and take a good swat at the Stanley Cup. After that deadline I’m sure their practice was very exciting to get the new players in.

Did they have great pace in those practices, absolutely? But I will tell you this. I’ve watched a lot of teams practice in the NHL, teams that have come into our building and a lot of times when your team is struggling you go watch to make sure you aren’t missing something. I put our practices up against anybody in the league and I’ve seen some very good teams practice that, boy, there was no pace.

It was more rest, move the puck and conserve for the game. There are so many different ways you can skin the cat getting ready for the game. But for our team right now, when it’s supposed to be pace, we go after the pace, but a lot of time it has been about teaching.

How much do you feel is on you to set the pace, or how much of it is up to the players to set the pace?

I think it is up to everyone. It is up to the players to push each other; it is up to the coach to make sure they are going. The structure of the practice depending on the day of the week and how many games they’ve played, what you need to work on, that usually dictates the real pace of the practice is what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are coming off a day off and you don’t play for a couple days, that’s going to be a tough, hard battle, very high-paced practice. When you’re playing every other day you might be just working on your powerplay, which slows down the practice. And for our group, especially this year, we’ve had to do so much teaching that you are stopping practice and going into the details and trying to hammer home these new concepts and new habits. You could go watch a team practice five different days and each day the pace would be greatly, greatly different.

Is the plan to have less whiteboard time next year which will increase the pace of practice?

Exactly. The less you have to go to the board, but more importantly, the less you have to stop the drill and make sure everybody is in the right spots and re-enforce it, then you can get on to other stuff.

You have to be careful with pace in practice. We can go out and do a whole bunch of shooting drills that look nice and shiny and everyone will be skating fast, but they have little to do with the structure of the game. There are days you want the pace high, and there are days where you need the detail and the teaching. Our team right now, much less than at the start of year, we are still in the teaching phase and we are not going to let the details go.

WRAP UP....

  • The Oilers top players aren't very physical or gritty, so I wouldn't expect them to be in practice. They are also young and inexperienced and they keep turning over the puck in games, so I understand why the coach is still spending a lot of time on the whiteboard. I still don't think they battle as hard as they should -- Perron said the same -- but I think that is also a product of the make up of this team.

    The Oilers don't have a very big or aggressive blueline. Prior to Mark Fraser's arrival, Andrew Ference was the only D-man who would play physical. I've watched Fraser in practice and he doesn't go easy on the forwards. That will help them. If they are never exposed to playing against big, mean and aggressive defenders in practice, it makes sense that they would struggle against them in a game. Fraser at least gives them an idea of how hard it will be to go to the net or come out the corner against a big D-man. Petry, J.Schultz, N.Schultz, Potter and Larsen never presented that challenge.

    I remember watching Steve Staios, Jason Smith and Ethan Moreau practice. Smith and Staios practiced like they played, and they used to have some great battles with Moreau. I believe that helped them during games.

    The Oilers are starting to get a few more players like that. Hendricks brings an edge to practice as does Gordon and Perron, but until the Oilers get more skilled players with size I don't see this issue being solved. You practice like you play and the Oilers aren't blessed with many big, strong or aggressive players right now. They also don't have a lot of "old man" strength in their top-six. The Oilers skilled players will be much better and stronger when they are all 24 years of age and older, but they currently they lack the size and strength to compete with other teams.

    I still would like to see a bit more intensity in the battle drills, but like Perron and Gagner said that has to come from the players.

  • I watched last night's game from the lower bowl and the size difference of the Oilers and Kings was even more obvious. If you don't believe the Oilers need more size in their top-six now, then I'm not sure what games you've been watching. I thought the Oilers overall effort was fine, they just aren't as big, mature and experienced as the Kings. The Kings could manhandle the Oilers when they wanted to, and until this team matures and adds some skilled size I don't see that changing.

  • Jordan Nolan sucker punches Jesse Joensuu and nothing happens to him. I didn't see anyone even mouth him off when he was on the ice in the 3rd period. I'm sure Gazdic said something from the bench, but I don't understand why he wasn't put on the ice against Nolan. The score was 4-2 with 10 minutes to play, did anyone think the stingy Kings were going to relinquish the lead? For me it was another example of showing teams they can get away with anything against the Oilers.

    At some point isn't it important to send a message, other than the one that says it is okay to take liberties on our players?

  • I'm looking for a travel agent or agency to team up with me for a great fundraiser. If you are interested please email me at gregor@tsn1260.ca.

  • Oscar Klefbom is a now considered a regular recall and will make his NHL debut in Minnesota tomorrow.

  • Is coaching on the verge of ruining hockey? One NHL sniper thinks it is. Read here.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 R U Kidding Me!
March 10 2014, 11:32AM
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Nothing frustrates and pisses me off more than seeing these players time and time again not sticking up for each other.

This isn't something you can teach, some of these guys have to go.

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#2 Cold Hard Truth
March 10 2014, 11:27AM
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Eakins, Gagner, and Perron play down the comments made on the pace of Oilers' practice? Surprise, surprise. Ask them again once one of them leaves the team. You'll get an honest answer.

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#4 R U Kidding Me!
March 10 2014, 11:35AM
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I'm also sick of the bullpoop coming out of Eakins mouth all the time.

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#5 Puck_In_Throat
March 10 2014, 01:58PM
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I know that Eakins is taking a lot of heat here, and part of that is his own fault. He shot his mouth off a bit at the start of the year talking about how his system was going to make a big difference.

But I have to say what has been said by other people: even a great coach can't coach a team full of bad players to the finals.

Exhibit A: Ken Hitchcock - coaches a Stacked Dallas team to 5 straight years of 1st place (division) finishes; sacked when performance drops (coincidence: Brett Hull retires and the Stars lose 39 goals and 75 points).

Hitch coaches Philly to divisional finishes of 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd - fired in year 5 with a 1-6-1 start. Goalies for philly all have GAA of above 3.00 and Biron is tops for sv% at .908. ouch

Hitch coaches CBJ to a 20 point improvement over 3 years, culminating in their first playoff appearance. Columbus is eliminated in the first round. Hitch is fired the next year when it becomes clear 60 games in that they will not make the playoffs.

Hitch takes a year off and is hired by the Blues. They finish (divisional) 1st, 2nd, and soon-to-be 1st.

Did Hitch all of a sudden become a bad coach in 2002 (fired from Dallas), 2006 (1-6-1 start in philly) and from 2006-2010 in Columbus where his best finish was 4th in the division?

Or is it more likely that a good coach can only win with a good team?

All those who say it is "Eakins fault", you may be correct in saying that a good coach could get more out of the team (hello Ralph), but what Gregor and others are getting at is that this TEAM sucks, and that it wouldn't matter if Scotty Freakin Bowman himself came out of retirement to coach these guys. The Oil would still suck.

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#6 Rama Lama
March 10 2014, 11:33AM
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JG...........I respect your need to defend Dallas.

I for one do not give a rat's ass how the team practices or what the players say about practicing on other teams.

What most fans care about is seeing improvement...........even incremental improvement. If we improved in any metric, fans would probably lay off this guy. The sad fact is we have NOT improved in any area of the game, except dietary may be.

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#7 GoKlefbom
March 10 2014, 12:00PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

JG...........I respect your need to defend Dallas.

I for one do not give a rat's ass how the team practices or what the players say about practicing on other teams.

What most fans care about is seeing improvement...........even incremental improvement. If we improved in any metric, fans would probably lay off this guy. The sad fact is we have NOT improved in any area of the game, except dietary may be.

You don't care about practice? That tells me you have no clue how teams are supposed to improve.

I care about having a plan and sticking with it, something this organization hasn't done for four years.

This fan is sick of fans like you once again asking for the coaches head, but ignoring the truth. The players aren't that good. I don't know if Eakins is good or not, likely not, but I know the players aren't and no coach wins with bad players.

They had 20 good games last year and then sucked down the stretch. Where did they improve under Krueger? They didn't improve under Renney either, because the players aren't that good.

MacTavish needs to improve our blueline and get some beef in our top six..until that happens, we are probably googling McDavid goals next year.

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#8 Tim
March 10 2014, 12:21PM
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Gregor, thanks for being the only media guy willing to ask these questions.

I'm not in love with all of Eakins answers, but that's likely because part of me knows the players aren't that good.

At least you gave us some insight into what the coach and players think. Good job.

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#9 **
March 10 2014, 12:03PM
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The guy to ask those questions to was Andrew Ference, after all, he is the only one coming form a recent Stanley Cup win.

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#10 Soccer Steve
March 10 2014, 12:21PM
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I come on here once in a while and have my short say and I watch most of the games (at least halfway through). I consider this a tough grind for reasons we all know.

But you know who has it bad? Who I really feel for? The Gregor's, Brownlee's, Willis', Mitchell's, et al. who have to actually write lengthy, meaningful articles of some relevance about this pitiful 'team'.

I mean, Gregor, you talkin' 'bout practice, man. Practice.

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#11 BingBong
March 10 2014, 11:32AM
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Good post. My thoughts:

I agree that not every practice is going to be fast paced, so looking at another teams practice and judging ours seems a little unfair.

That being said, you make a great point about our forwards having no tough D to deal with in practice. Schultz, Larson, Petry, etc. We don't have 1 single defensemen who will punish our forwards in practice, which just makes it that much worse in real games.

Finally, the lack of pushback after that Nolan cheapshot was pathetic. I don't understand how you can watch that and then not do anything. The ref saw it firsthand, and gave Nolan 4 minutes. So now we know that a punch to the face when the guy isn't looking is only worth 4 minutes. I would of sent Gazdic and Hendricks out there to punch away...

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#12 Sailge
March 10 2014, 12:38PM
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Everyone in this organization seems to be pretty good at TALKING, not so much DOING, I'll give em that.....

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#13 Taylor Gang
March 10 2014, 12:17PM
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What concerns me the most is the team's breakout habits. Either one or sometimes two players are cherry picking and looking for an easy breakaway, or somebody panics under pressure and just rifles it out of the zone and gives it right back to the opponent. This, in my opinion, is the main reason why Edmonton is hemmed in their zone for seemingly endless periods of time. A change in zone exit strategy could go a long way in terms of possession time.

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#14 He Who Knows
March 10 2014, 12:17PM
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Guys not sticking up for each other on this team is going against one of the codes. Where did some of these softies come from? Individualists don't fair well in a team oriented environment.

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#15 Death Metal Nightmare
March 10 2014, 12:21PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Your hatred for the coach doesn't allow you to read an article without bias. I never defended his actions. I said I wished they had more intensity in practice, but pointed out that the players aren't a group of aggressive players.

Also it is a fact that the Oilers aren't that big or strong yet. If you go hard in practice on off days they won't be fresh on game days.

You can interpret it however you like, but the fact remains this team's lack of size and aggression is equal in games and practice. I also don't expect a coach to magically make a D team into a B or A team. Eakins might not be the solution, but putting more of the blame on the coach than the players and management is ridiculous. We've seen how that works... Some don't want to face the truth that this group of players don't have the right mix to win, regardless of who is coaching them. Hopefully MacTavish sees it and makes more changes. I suspect he will.

i think people knew LONG ago this wasnt the right mix while media like you were propping up Sam Gagner to be a potential 70 point player while touting the "he's only __ years old..." BS.

his game was apparent in deficiencies that his size and strength are never going to over come at 21+ years old. but people still held that hope there and then they overpaid him at 5 million bucks. then this season "everyone finally comes around". too late, geniuses.

as for the rest of the group, we've known for multiple seasons that this was children mixed with very mediocre-to-poor vets that are forced into roles they can't handle.

and still we had to have the "sexy" coach come in while nothing got fixed on the roster in any qualitative/substantial way.

it's obviously a delicate/micro situation when you're this horrendous but the management has done itself little favor when it falls in love with sad players for too long... we're seeing this trend constantly as they try to think they can outsmart the rest of the league using trash to improve.

if i had to guess, this group of "smart guys" over thinks how to put a team together. they dig so far into detail that they start to sell themselves on mediocre as hell players (Horcoff, Ference, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc) and then just sit in the tar pit. it's time outside perspectives come into this group. their thinking is way too stale. whether it's through firings, etc...

drown in a fishbowl

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#16 Bucky
March 10 2014, 11:48AM
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Best way to fix boring defensive hockey.

Give an extra point in the standing for every 5 goals scored in a game.

Win 5-0 Winner gets 3 points loser zero points. Win 10-5 Winner gets 4 points loser gets one point

Teams will try to score more. Fans will be happier and it would be prudent for the coach to think more offensive

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#17 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 02:11PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Oh and I HATE the fact I haven't watched an Oiler playoff game since I was 24, and I'm now 31.

I HATE the fact I havent watched my favorite team play a meaningful game in almost a decade.

I am starting to HATE myself for still caring this much- when most nights the team doesn't seem to care at all...

That's the sad part.

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#18 nunyour
March 10 2014, 02:13PM
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Joensuu is big enough to look after himself,he needs to grow a pair.Where is all this talent in our top 6 everyone talks about?

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#19 R U Kidding Me!
March 10 2014, 11:21AM
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As always I encourage adding to the conversation by saying more than a reference to a clenched hand. Edited with much love by Gregor.

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#20 oiler_head
March 10 2014, 12:22PM
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Thought fersur Gazdic was going to tune Nolan. Its amazing to me that Eakins who played that tough role during his hockey career doesn't appreciate the value of sending those messages now that he's coach.

I was at the PDX Winterhawks game on Friday night against the hated Seattle Thunderbirds. As my friend and I were noting the size difference in teams (Seattle much bigger), one of their big guys hit our guys flush in the numbers into the boards. Who showed up? Dominic Turgeon - that's who. Not a fighter but showed up for his team and team mate. He got pasted (and kudos to the Seattle player who recognized the mismatch and didn't go all out) but was the first person on the scene.

Where has that gone in this version of the Oilers? Why didn't Ference, Hendricks, Fraser, Perron, Smyth, Jones, Joensuu, or are skill guys stand up to Nolan?

Disappointing....

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#21 D-Unit
March 10 2014, 03:11PM
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In my opinion, Coaching isn't on the verge or ruining hockey, it is well into the process of ruining it.

The neutral zone trap wasn't thought up by players. This is the type of thing that ruins a game.

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#22 Dog Train
March 10 2014, 12:25PM
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I know that we've had a bunch of different coaches over the years but how long does it take to learn a new system? I understand that there is always teaching to be done but we are 65 games into this coach and we are still hammering on the Xs and Os. Systems are important but bottom line is I want to see more passion out of this hockey club. Nobody sticking up for JJ after taking that sucker punch was a joke.

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#23 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 12:49PM
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sizzay wrote:

Gregor, give me your thoughts here:

2014 1st pick (likely 2nd overall) for Sean Couturier and a second round pick. Perhaps Philly really likes Ekblad and can live with Giroux and Schenn as its 1-2 punch

Gagner + Klefbom + a couple mid round picks for Yandle

Then you take a run at Winnik, Goc and Kulemin this summer

Hall/Couturier/Yakupov

Kulemin/RNH/Eberle

Perron/Goc/Winnik

Smyth/Gordon/Hendricks

Yandle/Petry

Marincin/Schultz

Ference/Fedun or Fraser

I don't know if Yandle is the guy we need but he is an improvement and has been rumored to be available for a couple years.

Oiler Domination To Follow

I would rather overpay for a center like Statsny and keep the draft pick.

Draft Bennett or Reinhert and we finally have some depth at center.

Hopkins - Statsny - Bennett - Gordan

Trade Gagner for a #3-#4 defenseman.

Spend the remaining 30+ million in cap space on Defense, preferably on 2-3 year deals.

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#24 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 02:06PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

No hate is a strong word. I do not hate him at all in fact I like his personality for the most part.

What I HATE is not seeing any improvement and the general inability to motivate his star players.

If the players are to blame ( including the stars of the team) then bench them. Bring in AHL players to send the message to the stars that NOT giving a total effort has ramifications!!

Has Dallas done that.........no and that's a big part of coaching, do you not agree?

Oiler Domination To Follow

I HATE when Eakins preaches accountability but favours players like Gagner and uses players like Yakupov as a punching bag.

What I HATE is not seeing Eberle get benched after a no look pass on the tape of the opponents stick.

I HATE the 1-3-1 power play Eakins seems to think is hard to defend.

Other than that I actually like Eakins personality.

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#25 A-Mc
March 10 2014, 02:51PM
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Still Hoping wrote:

I do understand everyone's frustration about the coach.

But.... WHO HIRED the Coach?

Who drafted the players?

Who makes the trades and sign's the overpaid contracts?

This is where the problem lies.. It is not the coach. It is the leadership and management of the team.

All you problems will not get better until Lowe et al. (including Mac T) are gone.

The Oilers are a recycle plant for all the NHL garbage (a personal quote from an individual friend who is in management of another NHL club).

The Oilers will not get better until they have new management to introduce a culture change ie not losing and then can gain some respect of the other teams management to attempt some decent trades.

I want to agree with your statement, on a philosophical level, but i just can't right now. MacT continues to earn more of my respect with each move he's made since he arrived here.

The players has has brought in are clearly better than what we were working with before.

The coaching situation has been a revolving door since MacT left and it's a total no brainer that it will take some serious time and effort to work out all the bad habits this team has perpetuated over the last 4 years.

I don't think Eakins has been afforded any real coaching time yet with relation to making the team better. I think this year has been more about putting out fires and breaking bad habits. Things always get worse before they get better. I expect a better team next year, based on coaching continuity alone.

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#26 Zarny
March 10 2014, 03:09PM
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We have Nick Lidstrom stating it was the players in Detroit, not Mike Babcock, that held each other accountable and demanded more.

And yet we still have drivel about the Oilers' coaching.

It's the players, stupid.

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#27 #ThereGoesTheOilers
March 10 2014, 12:18PM
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It's fair to ask if our practices compare to other teams, but with due respect to our writers, I can't help but think that there's no substance to this story surrounding Bryz and Smid.

I read both interviews. Both said their new practices were more intense than they're used to. I don't see how this translates into 'shots' at their former organization.

Maybe we're all just a bit insecure as the losingest fans in hockey.

Afterall, if I complement someone else's baking, my wife doesn't automatically assume there's something wrong with hers.

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#28 A-Mc
March 10 2014, 01:53PM
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@@Oilanderp

I gripe about this as well.

Often the forwards have blown the zone, leaving the 2 defensemen to pass the puck back and forth to one another. As soon as those defensemen are pressured for any reason, the likelihood of a successful pass up to the forwards takes a huge hit.

The other part of this (and you touched on this a little) is that when a forward DOES get the puck, he has no real passing options because his line mates are perfectly horizontal to him. Moving the puck laterally doesn't progress the play forward at all.

Good teams design break outs where the puck carrier moves around to draw defenders and create holes in the coverage. The set play banks on these holes and dictates that another player be crossing over to get open in said hole. Currently, when the Oilers DO attempt to dart laterally and head for open ice, the play goes offside. I BELIEVE this is because (see Point #1) the forwards are getting the puck too far down the ice and now have no room to make a play. The Blueline is a brick wall until the puck crosses it, so 2 of the 3 forwards should be well back of the centerline so that most of the neutral zone can be used to create a clean entry into the offensive zone.

The Oilers don't seem to do this very well. They attempt it with a drop pass but with the puck carrier not really crossing over at all, the drop pass goes to a player that is still being covered by the same Defender that was covering the previous puck carrier. Ie: They are dropping the puck back to players that are already in lanes being covered by a player. The 1st part is being missed entirely - the creation of an open lane.

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#29 HugThePost
March 10 2014, 11:57AM
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Bucky wrote:

Best way to fix boring defensive hockey.

Give an extra point in the standing for every 5 goals scored in a game.

Win 5-0 Winner gets 3 points loser zero points. Win 10-5 Winner gets 4 points loser gets one point

Teams will try to score more. Fans will be happier and it would be prudent for the coach to think more offensive

Don't think I agree.

There's nothing boring about a team that forechecks and backchecks hard and plays a possession game (see Chicago).

Do you think giving extra reward for more offense will make watching guys like JShultz and Gagner and Eberle (all of whom probably play better defense on NHL14 than in real life) better more entertaining players to watch? Right now all they think about is offense, and they are horrible to watch.

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#30 **
March 10 2014, 01:09PM
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HugThePost wrote:

The Canadian Men's hockey team in Sochi did not score much and they played a possession game featuring heavy backcheck/forecheck (ie. every puck was challenged).

Assuming you watched them, did you find them boring at all?

I would give my left nut to have the Oilers break up the cycle, retrieve the puck and break it out of their zone like Team Canada did, just once per game at this point. It was poetry to watch.

To me the most remarkable achievement of team Canada was how they played their systems to perfection without really practicing much and barely playing together at all.

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#31 **
March 10 2014, 01:23PM
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A-Mc wrote:

I dont know if that's the solution but i certainly appreciate the suggestion!

Interesting... I must let my mind wander a bit to contemplate what that'd look like over 82 games.

Getting rid of the Bettman extra point for surviving until the end of regulation would go a long ways. Winner takes all, no loser points.

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#32 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 12:39PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Great article.

Now if you can set up an interview with MacT next and find out what he thinks of his current defense and how he plans on improving it.

That should be an interesting read.

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#33 @Oilanderp
March 10 2014, 12:40PM
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Edmonton has scored more goals than LA this year. I wonder why there is such a discrepancy in the standings? ;) LA makes a concerted effort to not let you into the high scoring areas. You know, defense....

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#34 HugThePost
March 10 2014, 12:57PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

I would argue that the point he is trying to make is that teams would put more effort in scoring tons of goals as opposed to closing up the doors and windows and holding strong when they get the 1-0 lead.

Watching a 1-0 game is the most boring hockey for fans, so what he's suggesting is giving an incentive for teams to try and open up and force the offensive side of the game.

Now maybe a scaling of 1 point for every 5 goals is a bit ridiculous...but it is one possible solution to what is becoming boring hockey to watch.

The Canadian Men's hockey team in Sochi did not score much and they played a possession game featuring heavy backcheck/forecheck (ie. every puck was challenged).

Assuming you watched them, did you find them boring at all?

I would give my left nut to have the Oilers break up the cycle, retrieve the puck and break it out of their zone like Team Canada did, just once per game at this point. It was poetry to watch.

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#35 Oiler Al
March 10 2014, 01:16PM
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Gregor, great write up , always appreciate you never being shy to ask the question. This was a topic that was bein kicked around by the fans here, without really getting into the in's and out's of the issue.

Thanks. Well done.

PS.. very disappointed Fraser or Gadzic didnt take care of Nolan... he is a bit of a punk that needs a lesson on sucker punching an opponent.

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#36 admiralmark
March 10 2014, 01:48PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Edmonton has scored more goals than LA this year. I wonder why there is such a discrepancy in the standings? ;) LA makes a concerted effort to not let you into the high scoring areas. You know, defense....

Maybe someday when all our D pairings are not made up of 3rd pairing D men we will see what good defense looks like?

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#37 Taylor Gang
March 10 2014, 02:07PM
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Will wrote:

It will be interesting to see what he can do with the team next year. I'm equally as excited about Fasth. I know he had a crap showing this year in five games, but last year the guy was incredible. We may have just nabbed the next Ben Bishop.

I'd argue that Scrivens is a better goalie than Fasth, but hey, I also thought Lu would get traded before Schnieder.

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#38 westcoastoil
March 10 2014, 02:26PM
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JG - I (thankfully) didn't see the game. Q: Did JJ return to the game after the sucker punch? If he did then there's no reason for him not to stick up for himself when he gets back out. I agree that the team as a whole needs to be tougher and stick up for each other, but JJ's a big boy and him going back out there to make a statement for himself can go a long way to getting the others to join in the fray and how the team gets viewed by their opponents.

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#39 Still Hoping
March 10 2014, 02:38PM
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I do understand everyone's frustration about the coach.

But.... WHO HIRED the Coach?

Who drafted the players?

Who makes the trades and sign's the overpaid contracts?

This is where the problem lies.. It is not the coach. It is the leadership and management of the team.

All you problems will not get better until Lowe et al. (including Mac T) are gone.

The Oilers are a recycle plant for all the NHL garbage (a personal quote from an individual friend who is in management of another NHL club).

The Oilers will not get better until they have new management to introduce a culture change ie not losing and then can gain some respect of the other teams management to attempt some decent trades.

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#40 OilClog
March 10 2014, 12:29PM
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Rules apply to everything.

Practice the way you play.

Best teams I was ever part of, also practiced their asses off harder then the rest. Everytime regardless of talent.

No one on this team is improving under any of the assistant coaches of this team, can them all.

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#41 sizzay
March 10 2014, 12:30PM
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Gregor, give me your thoughts here:

2014 1st pick (likely 2nd overall) for Sean Couturier and a second round pick. Perhaps Philly really likes Ekblad and can live with Giroux and Schenn as its 1-2 punch

Gagner + Klefbom + a couple mid round picks for Yandle

Then you take a run at Winnik, Goc and Kulemin this summer

Hall/Couturier/Yakupov

Kulemin/RNH/Eberle

Perron/Goc/Winnik

Smyth/Gordon/Hendricks

Yandle/Petry

Marincin/Schultz

Ference/Fedun or Fraser

I don't know if Yandle is the guy we need but he is an improvement and has been rumored to be available for a couple years.

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#42 Will
March 10 2014, 01:10PM
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sizzay wrote:

Also that centre depth would get crushed the same as ours right now. Statsny wouldn't thrive here and Bennett is another young guy. We need vets, no more rookie.

I'm not so sure another rookie would be terrible. It all depends on the rookie. Look at Monahan, that kid is thriving.

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#43 **
March 10 2014, 01:12PM
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With Lander going back down I guess the great Nordic purge continues.

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#44 @Oilanderp
March 10 2014, 01:31PM
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I am not surprised at all that a lot of time is spent on the whiteboard and diagrams and the teaching aspect. A lot of the players are lost in their own zone. The breakouts are laughable.

As much as everyone likes to talk about how bad our d-men are, I would bet $$$ that even if we had a hall of famer at every position in our top 6 defence we would still not be a playoff team.

Why? Well, imagine the puck is dumped into our zone and YOU are the first d-man on the scene. You have 2 real options:

1. Pass to your d-partner behind the net.

2. Pass to your winger on the half-wall.

3. Pass to your center in front of your own net.

4. Try a stretch pass through many opposition players or ice the puck or put it hard off the glass and out and hope it's not icing.

5. Deke a guy.

If you choose #1, then you are simply restarting this process, and THAT d-man has the same 2 choices.

So pretty much, it is option #2 ALL DAY: move it along the boards to your winger.

And here is where the problems begin. Most of the time the strong-side winger isn't even there. Even when he is there he is usually at a stand-still and easy pickings for a forechecker, or worse the winger is on the wrong side of the puck and is cheating for offence resulting in an easy pickoff and odd-man rush against.

But let's pretend the winger gets the puck on the half-wall. He has 1 real option:

1. Kick it square across to the center.

2. Chip it past the opposing d-man and out, icing it or otherwise relinquishing posession.

3. Try a risky stretch pass cross-ice to the other winger which even if successful will only result in a 1 on 2 attack.

4. Deke a guy.

5. Drop it back to the d-man in which case we repeat the first process all over.

Not many choices are there? The solution? Puck support.The Oilers break out too far apart from each other, leaving the puck carrier with few options. These young forwards seem to think that the only way to score is on the rush and by leaving the zone early.

Until these top 6ers, the core of our team, realize how to defend and support the puck together in their own zone, little progress is going to be made. Until that time, Eakins is going to have to spank these kids and put them to bed without their supper for not doing their homework.

THIS is why teams focus on defense. All the firepower in the world can't help you get out of your own zone. Ekblad or Ehrhoff or both won't change that.

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#45 They're $hittie
March 10 2014, 02:52PM
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In that Parise article he says that forwards who are offensive and arent good defensively are critisized but forwards who are good defensively and not offensively arent.

Lets look at this.

1. Offensive players are paid more, therefore more should be expected from them.

2. More often than not elite forwards who have no defensive game is from lack of trying. If you have a good enough knowledge of the game to be a top point producer can you not think like that in your defensive zone (wait for the Gagner comment) and make your coverage.

3. Forwards that can't produce offense but play very good defensively have usually made the effort to adapt their game. They can not be taught how to score so the work hard to stay in the league and have a role carved out for them. Giving up the glory of what you were in junior so you can stay in the NHL as opposed to the Robbie Schremp one dimension all or nothing shows that you will do what it takes to stay in the league.

I get what Parise was getting at with coaching offense out of the game, but the way he backed it up was ridiculous. Me thinks he is mad that the States can't get through a sound defense to win a medal.

We expect more from people who get paid more! We applaud people who adapt to achieve! We don't have time for talented over priced people who do not put in effort when they have been given everything to succeed while we work our but off for what we have and who we love.

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#46 Will
March 10 2014, 12:24PM
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Ugh, I mean I know the rest of the season will be spent again wondering what the Oilers do at the draft but are there no better story lines to follow? How far away is Nuge on his two way play from say, Datsyuk?

This many years into his NHL career, how is Hall stacking up as an LW?

Eberle or Yak, make a case to trade one and what could they net?

Addition by subtraction, just how better off would the OIlers be if Arcobello took over the second line centre job?

Free agent shopping list, is it time to overpay? And if so, who is going to shake lose, and how much money will it cost to gets them? Who are these players? Are they stop gaps until we can develop some of our D prospects or are they long term solutions?

Given the small sample size, just how good is Scrivens anyway? Are we talking Schnider territory?

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#47 toprightcorner
March 10 2014, 12:43PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

JG...........I respect your need to defend Dallas.

I for one do not give a rat's ass how the team practices or what the players say about practicing on other teams.

What most fans care about is seeing improvement...........even incremental improvement. If we improved in any metric, fans would probably lay off this guy. The sad fact is we have NOT improved in any area of the game, except dietary may be.

True the team is still not very good but if you think the team has not improved you are mistaken. The team is 1 game under .500 since Dec 27th. Sure it still isn't playoff making winning percentage but it is an improvement.

You have a hate on the coach and you will always be biased by that when having an opinion.

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#48 sizzay
March 10 2014, 01:03PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

I would rather overpay for a center like Statsny and keep the draft pick.

Draft Bennett or Reinhert and we finally have some depth at center.

Hopkins - Statsny - Bennett - Gordan

Trade Gagner for a #3-#4 defenseman.

Spend the remaining 30+ million in cap space on Defense, preferably on 2-3 year deals.

Also that centre depth would get crushed the same as ours right now. Statsny wouldn't thrive here and Bennett is another young guy. We need vets, no more rookie.

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#49 YAKCITY64
March 10 2014, 01:11PM
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Man it's like this is Russia and Eakins and his buddies in the media are Putin and the oiler fans are the Russian people. We have lived through all of your promises and propaganda and nothing has changed. The worst thing is like all regimes is you think the people are idiots and you can fool us with your propaganda sorry guys WE ARE NOT FOOLED.

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#50 CaptainLander
March 10 2014, 01:25PM
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You make a great point about the Oil D, never really thought about how having a weak d makes it harder for the forwards to improve as they do not get a regular opportunity to play against really good players.

Same can be said for the d, when the Oil top player are not driving to the net on every play in practice how does the d learn to defend against the Toews of the NHL.

Just a perpetual motion machine of suck.

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