Woe, thy name is Oil

The Oilers might want to try a new pre-game routine, or get a new alarm clock because they have been snoozing through most of the first periods so far this season.

The Oilers have only scored the first goal twice, both off the stick of Shawn Horcoff in their first two games of the season. Andrew Cogliano did light the lamp in the first period of game three in Calgary, but since then, the Oilers haven’t had a sniff in the first 20 minutes.

Last night against Boston, the shots at one point in the first were 12–3 in favour of the Bruins, before the Oilers managed to finish the frame down 15–10. Bad starts are plaguing this team, and they are a direct result of not working hard enough.

The Oilers might lead the league in botched three-on-twos. Last night they had five odd-man rushes that didn’t result in a shot on goal, never mind even a decent attempt at a shot. Four out of five times the puck carrier came down the wing, only to cross into the middle of the ice at the blueline and either turn the puck over or miss on a pass.

We all learned the basic 3-on-2 drill in mighty-mites (now it’s novice) for goodness sakes. Puck carrier takes the puck wide, far guy busts to the net and the trailer is the high guy. Pretty basic stuff, yet the Oilers are looking more like the Ice Capades than a hockey team when they penetrate the zone. They might as well cross the line, and try a double axle with the fancy crap they keep using.

“The issues I have right now with our team are that we are a soft, high-risk offence. We got to get harder, we need to simplify our attack, and we need to penetrate the tough areas, rather than saucer passes through those areas,” said a noticeably frustrated Craig MacTavish. “I have been patient, very patient to this point, but now I need to see results.”

Right now the Oilers aren’t paying the necessary price to win. They won’t go to the tough areas, and they seem more interested in the pretty goal rather than the garbage goal. Heck, they should take any type of goal from most of their skilled players.

  • Ales Hemsky: 0 goals in 8 games.
  • Sam Gagner: 0 goals in 8 games, and one measly point.
  • Dustin Penner: 0 goals in last 7 games.
  • Erik Cole: 1 goal in 8 games.
  • Tom Gilbert: 1 goal in 8 games.

Hemsky, Cole and Gagner have combined to score ONE goal on 61 shots. That is a gross 0.016 shooting percentage. Even Wanye has better success scoring with the ladies than those three do with putting the puck in the net.

The two worst culprits have been Gagner and Hemsky. It’s a good thing they aren’t using wood sticks, or there would be sawdust all over the ice the way those two are gripping the stick. Gagner, whose turnover in OT last night was as bad as you will see in the NHL, is clearly struggling, and it sounds like his leash will be shortened by the coach.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are. There is a right way and a wrong way to play the game, and you have to start playing the right way. Having gone through many goal-scoring slumps, when you get desperate you start to get some desperation in your game and go to those tough areas, then you give yourself a chance to get a break,” said MacTavish. “You can’t ever cheat the game and expect results. That’s what makes the game great, you get what you deserve. If you are executing you will eventually get rewarded for it. If you cut corners you see the overall reflection in your game too.”

It’s obvious that MacTavish’s patience is running thin, and rightfully so. Sheldon Souray summed up the Oilers effort lately perfectly, “We need to become more predictable. You try to be unpredictable to the other team, but right now we are unpredictable to ourselves.”

The next seven games will go a long way in deciding if the Oilers are legitimate division contenders, or that once again they are just middle-of-the-road, battle-for-your-life playoff hopefuls.

—Listen to Gregor weekdays from 3 to 6pm on the TEAM 1260 or online at justagame.ca.

  • Deep Oil

    trade time – shake it up – hemsky for gaborik and a second rounder – after taling to his agent for a long term deal – who care if he's hurt – 40 goals is better than penner and hemsky combined for the same or less money

  • "They might as well cross the line, and try a double axle with the fancy crap they keep using."

    At least that would mean something interesting would happen in the game. These last few games, with exception to the Vancouver game, were so dull that I paid more attention to the rain storm in Philly last night. I don't even like baseball that much either.
    It almost feels like three quarters of the team has taken the Ales Hemsky approach to offense. Make a too many moves, never shoot, and try and make 80 percent of your passes through heavy traffic. I'm referring to slumping Ales Hemsky of course, not boner inducing deke Ales Hemsky.
    Brule, Shremp, Trukhno, etc must be chomping at the bit right now because it looks like their chance might come sooner than later.

  • pdan

    I like Mact but honestly it's time for a coaching change. It's been years. Of course KLowe won't since he's best buds with MacT. … It's not just based on this year, the up down up down up down of the team for the last few years … get tortorella.

  • Wanye Gretz

    "Even Wanye has better success scoring with the ladies than those three do with putting the puck in the net."

    That depends on how you define "lady" I suppose. If drinking 15 beers and watching reruns of The Golden Girls counts as a lady – I have a 100% shooting percentage.

  • Ender the Dragon

    While I admit I wouldn't mind seeing Gaborik skating in Oilers silks, lets not get carried away here. Gaborik for a couple of medium pieces that we can replace from depth; that I can see. But trading away irreplacable top talent (yes, I'm still referring to Hemsky that way) for someone that Minnisota doesn't seem to want to keep too badly? That's craziness, sir.

  • Although Gaborik would be nice, it's less than 10 games into the season and he's already hurt. You don't want to pay league max for a dude that won't even give you full seasons. He's made of glass, and losing Hemsky for him just isn't worth it.

  • Chris

    The Oil have played like a 500 team and are a 500 team…Hockey justice 101. They will play better. Really….

    Let's win 21 of 23 down the stretch and miss by 1 point.

  • Wanye Gretz

    Good Lord we need to work out some practice drills on how to chirp people for heaven's sakes.

    Here observe:

    1. Make sense
    2. Beak OTHERS not self
    3. Always end with three exclamation points.

    You're welcome

  • Smokin' Ray Burnt

    baggedmilk Says:
    October 28th, 2008 at 4:12 pm
    Robin, Betty White has taken more shots to the face than Jenna Jameson. Let’s not kid ourselves. What? Too Far?

    ROFL. Classic…

  • Sing A Song For Sing Sing

    I love this team to death, but if we don't come out of this upcoming roadtrip at least sitting at .500, and competing more consistantly on a night to night basic (literally, considering all the back2backs we have)… I really don't know what I'm going to do, being that I know what the management will do – absolutely nothing.

  • Douggy

    no, the flames suck! stop blaming it all on hemmer and mac t! hemmers leading in points, and mac t is doing a good job! it's oilers fans like you who bitch and moan, and make it so nylanders, kariyas, gaboriks and hossa's dont want to play in edmonton! lets start believing in our team instead of crucifying them! even flames fans show more class! u bandwagon jumpers disgust me! cant wait for the oil to light it up in nashville!

  • Hardy har har Dougggggy. The reason big free agents don't want to come to Edmonton is because it's Edmonton, not because of its fans. It's like playing in Moose Jaw.

    Admirable take on the situation, you would n't ever want to critique your team especially if they're playing poorly. Jesus.