The Oilers are in the middle of a tough stretch. They have dropped 5 of their last 7 and a quick look at the upcoming schedule suggests it doesn’t get any easier.
In general, when a team is on a slide the players, coaches, media and fans come up with reasons for the lack of success. Power play, goaltending and mental breakdowns are just three examples we will hear often.
All good areas to look at but I believe the biggest issue preventing a team from turning it around is the ability to generate energy or passion from within the team.
When a team is winning the players can’t wait to get to the rink. They feel fresher, the practices seem shorter and every game feels like it will turn into a win. Ask medical staff and they will tell you that they hand out less ice bags after wins.
After losses players sleep worse, some have trouble eating, the flights seem longer and the medical staff is way busier.
So the million dollar question is ‘where does the energy come from to turn the ship around?’
LET’S ASK THE BOSS
This Bruce Springsteen song is one of my favourites. One line of the chorus is ‘you can’t start a fire without a spark.’ I love this line. The Oilers need a spark and I know who can provide it.
GUY #1: EAGER
GUY #2: HORDICHUK
These two were brought in to not only keep the opposing teams honest but to instigate physical play. They can get the passion flowing for the rest of the team with some hard hits, fights and chirping. These actions will get the bench going. Winning teams have a very vocal bench.
Eager is playing around eight mins a night and Hordichuk about five. Getting these two more ice time is a move I think is important. Yes, it will have to be taken from some other players but when the team gets rolling their time can be adjusted.
I firmly believe hockey is a game that requires both energy and passion. Without them digging out of a hole seems like a tough assignment.
Time to let Eager and Hordichuk run.
Patrick Kane’s shootout move here against the Wild was one of the best I have ever seen.