THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER THING

Robin Brownlee
March 14 2014 11:54AM

93-RNH-8

I'm not sure if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is playing banged up, if he's worn down mentally or if he's simply in the middle of the kind of slump every player goes through from time to time, but it doesn't take a vast intellect to figure out he's struggling mightily.

Maybe it's a combination of all the above – pure speculation on my point because we aren't hearing anything concrete from media travelling with the Edmonton Oilers – but RNH clearly isn't himself these days. That was abundantly clear in Thursday's 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Held off the score sheet again in a game where the Blues got around to beating the Oilers for fun like they always do with four goals in the third period, Nugent-Hopkins now has just two assists to show for the last 11 games he's played.

RNH seemed particularly listless against the Blues and finished up 22.2 in the face-off circles to go with his bagels on the sheet. Still no wiz on the dot with percentages of 41.8 this season, 41.0 in 2012-13 and 37.5 in 2011-12, that's lousy, even for him. He's just 30.2 overall in his last five games.

Nugent-Hopkins, who has scored 15-29-44 in 65 games, started this 11-game slide by playing a season-high 25:51 against the Boston Bruins back on Feb. 1. He really hasn't shown much since then.

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

19-Schultz-5

The Oilers unwillingness to stand up for each other was on display again last night against the Blues and it really is getting sickening to watch them shrug their shoulders and turn away when a teammate is getting roughed up.

Taylor Hall drew a crowd, as you'd expect, when he directed a puck toward Ryan Miller on a play that was called offside. While Jay Bouwmeester and Vladimir Tarasenko were giving Hall the stinky glove treatment – Hall already had a busted lip from a high stick earlier – the Oilers offered a whole lot of nothing in terms of push-back.

Most notable in that was Justin Schultz, who stood around counting the crowd while Hall took your-mommas from the Blues. In that situation, players don't have to drop the gloves and start a brawl, but they damn sure better get in the mix and stick their noses in.

It can't always be Luke Gazdic or Matt Hendricks – how often are they even on the ice when Hall or RNH or Jordan Eberle are on? – wading in. Others, it's obvious, are hesitant to do it. That's the book on the Oilers and it's a book every opponent in the NHL has read cover-to-cover.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .

Nail Yakupov

. . . I've lost track of the number of odd-man rushes Edmonton's power play has given up this season, but if fans took a drink every time it happened, they'd never make it off the floor. At what point will coach Dallas Eakins stop being stubborn and abandon his 1-3-1 alignment on the PP?

. . . Is it any surprise Nail Yakupov looks totally lost out on the ice right now? Coaches can draw up schemes until they're blue in the face, but the learning process is cemented by what happens on the ice. Given all the Oiler breakdowns we see from players far more experienced than Yakupov, who is showing him how it's done?

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.
Avatar
#51 BingBong
March 14 2014, 03:57PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
27
cheers

Wow, that post was depressing. And true. Which makes it more depressing.

Avatar
#52 Rama Lama
March 14 2014, 04:04PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers

Is it not the responsibility of the coach to ensure that the team plays like a team??

If no one comes to RNH's defense, eventually he will have to take matters into his own hands ........maybe that's the instructions given by the coach to all the players, fight your own battles!

I for one believe that the team is not playing like a team because we have a coach that has lost the room. He could have and should have benched a bunch of players NOT named Hall.

Instead he only benches Yaks.........yea that will solve everything.

Avatar
#53 Oiler Al
March 14 2014, 04:11PM
Trash it!
16
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

Oilers need to jetison the following this post season: Faser, Joensus, Gadzick, Gagner, Smyth, Larsen.

Never taught I d say this, but Petry, Eberle, and maybe even Yak have to be in play in some kind of a mega trade.

Send : Marincin , Hall, Schultz and RNH, to Gary Roberts, school of hard knock this summer.If Eberle stays, hes on the first bus to the school.

Avatar
#54 keats
March 14 2014, 04:37PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers
Oiler Al wrote:

Oilers need to jetison the following this post season: Faser, Joensus, Gadzick, Gagner, Smyth, Larsen.

Never taught I d say this, but Petry, Eberle, and maybe even Yak have to be in play in some kind of a mega trade.

Send : Marincin , Hall, Schultz and RNH, to Gary Roberts, school of hard knock this summer.If Eberle stays, hes on the first bus to the school.

So you want to jetison 2 of the players on the team that actually play the game tough in Gadzick and Fraser. Gadzick has shown he is now one of the heavyweights in the league and Gregor has mentioned that Fraser is the one defenceman who plays the Oilers forwards tough in practice. I think there are more important things lacking with this team than the minor pieces you speak of, which is what management has been doing for years and we all know how well that has worked out.

Avatar
#55 John
March 14 2014, 04:38PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

Eakins is turning a team of Offensive stars into bunch of pluggers .This is a team built to be a Detroit or Chicago "possession " team not a bunch of plug and play defensive players like St Louis and Los Angles that dump and chase. He is losing this team if he already hasn't . I think we need to bring the AHL coaches up to show him how to build a team and the team Atmosphere like they are doing down there right now . They being Nelson and crew are Schooling Eakins and team on Team building .

Avatar
#56 Lando
March 14 2014, 04:52PM
Trash it!
39
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Oh so sad...... Nuge ain't never gonna be a first line center. He's too small to be a second, third, or fourth line centre. Where does that leave him? I predict a short NHL career, maybe two or three more years and the rest in the AHL. Don't think he'll ever hit 50pts again in his career. I wonder if any other team would give up a 1st round pick for him? Better do it soon cause it's all down hill from here for Ryan. At least we have Taylor Hall......

Avatar
#58 nunyour
March 14 2014, 05:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

The boys on the bus got their lunch money stolen by the senior hockey team.

Avatar
#59 Lando
March 14 2014, 05:14PM
Trash it!
12
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

@Robin

Sorry Robin, not trolling, I just can't see Nuge developing into the player everyone thinks he will. I had high hopes at first but it just seems like he has no compete in him and no natural athletic ability. I really hope I'm wrong on this one..... Maybe I'm just focusing all my Oiler negativity at poor baby Nuge..

Avatar
#60 oilerman53
March 14 2014, 05:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

This whole not standing up for your teammates is an internal issue. How many times have we seen trade rumors being reported by the team itself. The management coming out and calling out this player and that player? The management from Kevin Lowe down has no effin accountability!!! They're here by virtue of being a solid group of players who won cups thirty odd years ago. They have done nothing in the way of instilling anything but a losing no accountability culture here. You're supposed to trust and accept the fact that these are guys you go into battle with and none of them have learned it yet. Anytime there has been vocal players wanting to upset the establishment they simply trade them away. Look at Cogliano in Anaheim he calls out his team and hes applauded for it. These Oilers are a bunch of pansies who obviously answer go a guy who is basically a dictator in Kevin Lowe. He throws players under the bus and his crack team of coaches and managers have done the same.

Avatar
#61 toprightcorner
March 14 2014, 06:06PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Lando wrote:

Oh so sad...... Nuge ain't never gonna be a first line center. He's too small to be a second, third, or fourth line centre. Where does that leave him? I predict a short NHL career, maybe two or three more years and the rest in the AHL. Don't think he'll ever hit 50pts again in his career. I wonder if any other team would give up a 1st round pick for him? Better do it soon cause it's all down hill from here for Ryan. At least we have Taylor Hall......

So you don't think Nuge will get 50 points again in his career? I bet you he gets 50 points this year, only needs 6 points in 16 games. Before you go ahead and make big statements like that you should have probably looked at how many points he already had.

You also need to remember he came off shoulder surgery, it took Hall a lot longer to return and even then it took him a while in the AHL to get going again. Doing rehab for 5 months and playing, he is probably worn out or could possibly be playing through a different injury.

Sure not his best year or the productive type of year fans were looking for but I think it is premature to write off his career. I still beleive that within 5 years Nuge will be the best all around player on this team.

Avatar
#62 Rod from Viking
March 14 2014, 06:28PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
dougtheslug wrote:

I remember Eakins saying in an interview earlier this year that the PP was going to be "impossible to defend".

Everytime I see Schulz alone back on the blueline on the PP , with two opposition forwards hovering shark-like up high, I channel Han Solo from Star Wars - " I have a bad feeling about this"

Eakins' persistence with this failing strategy is indicative of his self-perception, it seems to me. He cleared the locker room of Oiler memorabilia, because he was, in his humble opinion, going to make everyone forget about the 1980's. His insistence on matching the players to his systems, rather than match his systems to the skills of his players, has set everyone into regress mode. And this delusional insistence that an easily defended PP strategy will work eventually, because the way it is drawn up in his head it works every time there, is more evidence that he is not ready for prim-time.

And MacT insisting that "Eakins is not going anywhere" fills me with dread.

Mac T has to just admit he made a mistake and give Eakins the axe(then he can go chop wood and carry water). One of his statements was that he and Yak were "joined at the hip" so why wasn't he up in the press box with him or beside him stapled to the end of the bench. When Yak gets roasted like he did on TSN last night someone needs to have something to say to the media defending the 20 year old.

Avatar
#63 The Real Scuba Steve
March 14 2014, 06:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
dougtheslug wrote:

I remember Eakins saying in an interview earlier this year that the PP was going to be "impossible to defend".

Everytime I see Schulz alone back on the blueline on the PP , with two opposition forwards hovering shark-like up high, I channel Han Solo from Star Wars - " I have a bad feeling about this"

Eakins' persistence with this failing strategy is indicative of his self-perception, it seems to me. He cleared the locker room of Oiler memorabilia, because he was, in his humble opinion, going to make everyone forget about the 1980's. His insistence on matching the players to his systems, rather than match his systems to the skills of his players, has set everyone into regress mode. And this delusional insistence that an easily defended PP strategy will work eventually, because the way it is drawn up in his head it works every time there, is more evidence that he is not ready for prim-time.

And MacT insisting that "Eakins is not going anywhere" fills me with dread.

They need to get rid of Eakins or get him some real help, Smith and Bucky are a joke. If team can't play system now it's most likely not happen next year either. Eakins needs help or shown the door.

Avatar
#64 Spydyr
March 14 2014, 08:17PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

I used to think Gilbert was the biggest pussy to ever play defence for the OIlers.Then Shultz came along.

Avatar
#66 Spydyr
March 14 2014, 08:25PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

Gilbert was, but there's always another one on the way. Tom Poti came along way before either of them.

Old spaghetti and butter himself.

Avatar
#67 Spydyr
March 14 2014, 08:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

The team needs a modern Gator or three.

Avatar
#68 toprightcorner
March 14 2014, 10:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

I sure hope Eakins and MacT are keeping a close eye on the players who really have not interest in standing up for their teamates. Not everyone had to be a tough guy but just grab someone from behind now and then. It is the heart of a lion you want.

Guys I think that Eberle, Schultz and Petry need to improve in this area or it would make sense to trade them for players who can fill our holes, increase size in the top 6 and get a bonifide top pairing dman. If the Oilers are able to get a dman that can QB the PP and also be defensively responsible like Josi, Yandle or Tuytin I think the Oilers should seriously look at trading Schultz as he would have a lot of value to fill a hole.

Avatar
#69 GoCanadaGo
March 18 2014, 09:59PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

.

Comments are closed for this article.