GROUNDHOG YEAR

When the Oilers lost in Boston, Detroit and Chicago many felt it was a sign of how far they had to go to become a contender? Well then what about last night v. the Ottawa Senators?

The Oilers dominated the first 7 1/2 minutes. They swarmed the Sens, but couldn’t beat Craig Anderson. Then the Sens scored two goals on two shots in nine seconds and the game was over. The Oilers got frustrated and abandoned their game plan.

And they set a new low in injuries, as Andy Sutton tweaked his groin in warm up, came out for the start of the game but never took a shift.

UH-OH!

 

If you woke up today worried that you were on the road to another 30th place finish I sympathize with you. The good news is that the Oilers would really have to suck to be passed by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but I digress.

For the past few seasons we’ve seen a team that consistently was inconsistent. They’d have stretches that made you believe they were ready to take the next step, only to crush your hopes and dreams of the playoffs by getting dominated for the next month.

I understand it is a learning process for this team, but are they actually progressing?

They have better skill in Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle, but this team is still lacking in size in their top-nine. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

For reasons unexplained this organization can’t stay healthy. The Oilers lost Sutton and Corey Potter last night. Potter has a sprained ankle and will be re-evaluated today, while Sutton pulled his groin and as of now there was no timetable for his return. Cam Barker is gone until March, Ryan Whitney is getting closer, but how long will he stay in the lineup?

The Oilers recalled Colten Teubert and Taylor Chorney from OKC this morning, and while that’s great for those two the Oilers will face the best team in the West tomorrow night with Teubert, Chorney, Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham as their 2nd and 3rd pairings.

It is hard to expect this team to win moving forward with that much inexperience on the blueline. I don’t blame the players if they make key mistakes or get overwhelmed, because you shouldn’t have four D-men that young in your lineup. Injuries forced this, but excluding Potter, the other three have had a history of injuries.

At some point you the Oilers brass needs to start looking at previous injury history as much as salary and usefulness when going after free agents or trades.

The forwards, excluding Hemsky, haven’t been banged up, but they haven’t banged anyone either.

Lennart Petrell is doing is best in limited minutes, and while Tom Renney felt Ben Eager tried to make his presence known last night, I don’t think he has done it often enough this season. Of course we shouldn’t ask one 4th line player to be the only physical player, because that is a recipe for disaster, and so far that’s what we’ve seen.

The Oilers were winning early because their goaltending was off the charts. Now that Khabibulin has come down to earth the Oilers have got blown out four straight games.

DO SOMETHING

I know trades aren’t easy, but the Oilers can’t afford to sit around anymore. They have to do something.

It is clear they need to do more offensively, but it is time for Steve Tambellini to make a move and shake things up. Sure, he is dealing from a position of weakness, but sitting around and doing nothing isn’t going to solve the problem. But do they honestly think the players will collectively learn to play grittier at all once? No chance.

For the past five years, I’ve said the Oilers need more size in their top-nine. Not every player needs to be big, but they need to find someone with size and skill. Of course it isn’t easy, but winning isn’t easy either, and if they want to win then Tambellini needs to give Renney some help.

This team needs more DESIRE. You can’t fold your tent because you aren’t rewarded in the first seven minutes. Winning is hard. It takes heart, desire and an inner fire not to give up. I’m not sure they have enough of that right now.

If you bring in one or two free agents and they don’t work out that is fine, but in the past three years the Oilers have signed or traded for Khabibulin, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk, Eric Belanger, Corey Potter, Andy Sutton and Ryan Smyth.

Smyth has been great since coming back. Potter had a great start, but he isn’t a top-four D-man. The rest haven’t done much, if anything.

Losing becomes a habit, and while the players, coaches and management continually say it isn’t acceptable, it sure looks like they are better at losing than winning, and that they don’t know how to deal with adversity.

They gave up two goals in nine seconds and they fell apart.

That needs to change.

It is time Tambellini makes a move.

DROWN YOUR SORROWS

I will be guest Bartending at the Boston Pizza on 23rd ave and 50th street tonight from 7 to 9 or maybe later. All of my tips and wages will go to Cancer research. Stop in say hi, and have a pint. We can solve all of the Oilers issues over a few beers. We might need a keg to solve all of them, but what the hell, it is Friday.

See you then.

  • Brew46

    if this team doesnt right the ship again and goes back down to where all the “experts” predicted them to finish. How long can tamby continue to run a re-building franchise? i mean theres gotta be a point where even k-lowe and katz realize that you cant just wait and see if this team ever gets it.

    side note, is renney going to continue to beat a dead horse with the Paajarvi, belanger, jones line…. TRY SOMETHING NEW!

  • A-Mc

    The second goal in nine seconds pretty much killed the Oil’s spirits after they came up with nothing in the first seven minute push. Good teams persevere and fight through adversity; great teams succeed and find a way to win dispite adversity.

    Is there a problem with the coaches getting the game plan through to the players? If so, sit the lines that aren’t listening and play the ones that are, even if it means that I have to watch Lander and Petrell for 25 minutes a game. Ice time is a privilege and not a right (unless you’re a defenceman, in which case, we’re just happy that you are not on the injured reserve list).

    As for the goaltending, Khabibulin and Dubyk were punching out of their weight class to start the season and have now come back to earth. Part of it may be the defence that’s playing in front of them, but part of it is that neither of them can sustain any consistency.

    Tambi, make a few phone calls around the league and find out what’s out there for help on defence or in goal.

  • Yah that was a brutal effort. Reminiscent of the Ethan Moreau led death marches of recent times.

    Oh well. Hope the bag skate does em some good. Perhaps the trainer can give Taylor Hall a stick that actually fits him… just as an exercise.. u know.. change it up kinda thing.

    The lack of physicality is almost shocking, get mad and cream someone, its the best part of the game… but no…. lets dither and dangle about until the other team has an odd man rush.

    Drinking sounds good!!

  • A-Mc

    The second goal in nine seconds pretty much killed the Oil’s spirits after they came up with nothing in the first seven minute push. Good teams persevere and fight through adversity; great teams succeed and find a way to win dispite adversity.

    Is there a problem with the coaches getting the game plan through to the players? If so, sit the lines that aren’t listening and play the ones that are, even if it means that I have to watch Lander and Petrell for 25 minutes a game. Ice time is a privilege and not a right (unless you’re a defenceman, in which case, we’re just happy that you are not on the injured reserve list).

    As for the goaltending, Khabibulin and Dubyk were punching out of their weight class to start the season and have now come back to earth. Part of it may be the defence that’s playing in front of them, but part of it is that neither of them can sustain any consistency.

    Tambi, make a few phone calls around the league and find out what’s out there for help on defence or in goal.

  • A-Mc

    Do all the injuries reflect on the training staff and strength and conditioning staff that the Oilers have..several players (current or ex) have seemed to be always hurt (maybe coming back too early?)

    An example, the Phoenix Suns in the NBA are considered to have the best training staff in the league and several older players have revived years when they play in that city (i.e Shaq). Is this a topic of discussion or a non issues?

  • shanetrain

    I like the Matt Dumba comment, as he’d be a great addition, but I don’t want to draft that high…ever again…or I would at least find it unacceptable in the next 10 years with the talent we have. We have too many assets at forward, we have a few at defense who are coming up…I agree with Gregor…time to make a deal. Everyone is expendable, but we need to get a good return. I dont’ think we’ll get another “Smyth for Fraser” kind of deal, but I would be choked to see another “Pronger for Smid” deal too…anyways…Rundblad has been a healthy scrath…he needs a change of scenery…Omark (another Swede for Ott) and maybe something small on top of that (like 3rd rounder) should be comparable…

  • The reason rnh doesn’t carry the puck more is because he doesn’t make himself an available outlet pass on the breakout.

    I love the guy and he has piles of potential but that part of his game drives me nuts. Am I wrong ? Has anyone else noticed this?

    • A-Mc

      I think the reason for this is he is trying to compensate for other players……….good observation!

      As all young players, they tend to follow the puck around, this will change over time.

      I observe the top line doing much the same……..positional play is not our strength.

    • A-Mc

      i do agree and have noticed the speed at which he breaks out and where he positions himself. often to close to the passer. i don’t think it’s all him tho i do think the D needs to make the pass quicker and stop looking for everyone first.

      good notice.

  • shanetrain

    I mentioned this on Lowetide. What do you think about giving Eager a look with Horcoff and Smyth?

    Would love to see that all Swede line at some point. Obviously Omark being hurt right now it’s not going to happen yet.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It is always better to give than to receive……there could be an opportunity to do something bigger here. Instead of the expected SOS phone calls for help, why not come bearing gifts instead. I’ll give you any of 6,24,83,89,91 in exchange for first round selections next June.

    Sell the farm for one last kick at premium selections in next summers draft. The Oilers will have 7 months to try to improve on those selections obtained as well. This hockey club can’t seem to win anything unless their goaltenders do it for them anyways. Lottery selections have been just yummy the last couple years.

    Paajarvi should be a top six forward. He’s not going to get that chance here playing behind 4 and 94 for the forseeable future. To peg him as an underacheiving 3rd liner isn’t fair to Magnus. Move him to a club where he’ll get those minutes he needs to progress. It isn’t going to happen here for 91 at 7 minutes a night on the 3rd line.

        • I can expect more points BECAUSE he’s on the third line. He’s not playing against top lines or top pairings and he’s still not putting up points but you’d expect him to have a career against the Chara’s and Keith’s of the league? He doesn’t have a top six caliber shot in his range of skills. Great 2 way player with a little bit of an offensive upside and can plug into the top six when injurys occur is my prediction for him. Perfect for our third line for years to come(assuming we’re going to have a really good top six for years to come)

  • Khabibulin he is fooling! This guy got lucky for a few games………his luck came to an end three games ago and now for the rest of the year he will be brutal.

    Hemsky and Horcoff are accomplishing ver little and they are supposed to be our top line…….what a joke!

    Lowe and Tamby have failed to find talent on the back end that can help us turn the page. Their fixation on small fast players has to end……the last time I checked fast is not a play. We have plenty of fast players that cannot convert a play. It’s time to start selecting players that can shoot! Like Gretzky said,” 100 percent of all shots not taken result in no goals!

    Time to make some trades.

    Rama has spoken

  • OilFan

    The players are being hurt because they are being asked to do things above or outside of their range of abilities. Gagner’s being told to go to the hard areas; Potter’s playing top-pairing matchups at 20 plus minutes/night; Hemsky has been asked to single-handedly take over games as our most offensive player.

    Paajarvi will be next–he’s struggling, so they will apply pressure and he’ll do something to put himself in a vulnerable position and then be down with an ankle injury or worse. Book it.

  • OilFan

    good read JG and completely agree.

    i’m not certain mr. Dithers has the cahooneys to do anything for fear of breaking up the lack of poor play we have seen as of late. how do we continually re-build by re-building with something other than draft picks, can’t happen. he won’t do it.

    when will Renney realize that Hemsky should NOT play with Horcoff and Smytty. they are NOT a good fit whatsoever. maybe playing Horcoff in so many mnutes is kicking his ass because he is starting to look worn down.

    with both Renney and Mr. Dithers at the helm guiding this ship me fears another sunken ship. blown apart by status quo.

  • Spaghetti - Team Facalto

    Eagers ineffectiveness drives me up the wall, someone need to tell him to wakeup, smell the trees through the forest and take a number hit somebody and maybe if you are losing 5 – 1 inject some energy, with a fight or something…DAMN!!!!

    Also, Gregor i know you said Hordichuk needs to build some stability in his knee, but is there a chance he maybe ready to go for Saturday?

  • A-Mc

    To quote myself everytime I whoop my little bros ass in NHL08,09,10,11,12

    “just because you lost doesn’t mean you’re a loser… It just means your the last winner”

    Yes I’m a funny guy

    But about last nights game wtf is up with Egghead eager? Your teams down 3 goals why not throw a big hit or drop the mitts with Quazimodo aka Konopka? I can’t wait til we get My hero hordichuk back

  • OilFan

    who here thinks jeff skinner would look great with rnh. I dont understand why taylor hall doesnt let rnh carry the puck more hall could simply just get open and rnh could find him with his unreal vision its pretty hard to beat everybody on the ice by yourself look at ovechkin for instance. Dont get me wrong hall has all the tools to be a great player but he dosent seem to know how to use them. Just saying

  • OilFan

    I’ll be the SECOND to say good read Jason. Renney has a proven track record of losing ! Or wait he is a good coach on a bad team again
    EDIT Oilerbill beat me to it