THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM

There is no joy in Oilerville right now. The Oilers are playing out the string for the 4th straight year, they are 2-7 with a healthy lineup and it is so bad right now that even the patient Tom Renney vented his frustration last night.

The organization and some fans, bloggers and media felt that once the Oilers were healthy we’d get a more accurate assessment of this team, and if that is the case then this team still has lots to work on.

We can start with some of the obvious weaknesses that have plagued this team for the past five years.

  • They don’t consistently work hard enough at key times, especially in the 3rd period. Jordan Eberle agreed. "We’re there (in games) but we aren’t giving the extra effort to win games. We are tied after two periods, but we end up losing. That’s happened a few times this year, and we need to find that extra effort."
     
  • Inconsistency has been a major factor. Too many players have either had lengthy slumps, or drastic ranges in their play from game-to-game. Good teams don’t have massive dips or peaks from game-to-game, and until the players find that consistency this team will continue to flounder.
     
  • They turn the puck over way too often. Mistakes are part of the game, and every team makes them, but we aren’t seeing an improvement in this area. Last night in the final two minutes, while trailing by a goal, Corey Potter had the puck twice, with time, and both times he just fired it up the boards, essentially giving away possession. At those key times of the game the players need to hold onto the puck and make direct passes. If he was being pressured, then getting the puck out is the right play, but this team needs to start making better decisions when they have time, and even when they are being pressured.
     
  • Players need to go to the tough areas. Outside of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle this team doesn’t have many guys who can score from 20 feet out consistently. If the players don’t want to go to the tough areas to score, especially 5 on 5, then they won’t win. The Oilers are 24th in 5-on-5 goals. The players need to recognize this and start paying the price. Ryan Jones and Ryan Smyth were doing this early in the year, but in 2012 I haven’t seen them often enough in the "tough" areas around the net.
     

QUICK HITS

  • I’m surprised some were angry that Renney challenged his team to look in the mirror and give a better effort. He likely should have went off much earlier this year, but last night his team deserved to be questioned. Shawn Horcoff admitted that guys were bickering on the bench last night and he addressed that with the team. Bickering happens from time-to-time, and often it can be a healthy way to ensure the players are accountable to one another, but it’s clear they are a frustrated bunch right now.
     
  • It is obvious that Ryan Whitney is struggling to be consistent right now, but I think it is way to premature to suggest he’s done as a top defencemen. I’m not making excuses for him, just presenting some facts. Ever since he was a kid he took powerskating in the summer, but due to his ankle, he didn’t take any powerskating the past two off-seasons. His legs aren’t as strong because of his lack of training. He only skated for a few weeks leading up to camp this year, and that does impact how a player plays on the ice.
     
  • I want to see how Whitney looks next September after a summer of proper training. I think too often people make rash decisions on a player’s contributions, without recognizing how much injuries can impact their play. It is fair to question if Whitney or Ales Hemsky can return to their form of two years ago, but I will wait until they both have a summer of proper training before I write them off.
     
  • Jeff Petry impresses me more every game. He’s really learned how to use his speed to benefit his game. His gap control has improved ten-fold the past few months, and that has allowed him to be more physical. He’ll never be Jason Smith, but he’s learning how to be more involved physically, and most importantly, he recognized that he needed to add that element to his game. Self-evaluation is hard for some players, and Petry seems to have realized that using his speed to jump into the play and to step up on forwards will make him more effective. I’m curious to see if he can develop into a bonafide top-pairing D-man. 
     
  • Kevin Lowe and Daryl Katz need to look closely at their GM, coaches and pro scouts once the season is over. Those three areas need to be put under the magnifying glass and see if they are the right people moving forward. I expect some significant changes this off-season, but I’m not sure if the changes will be at all three levels, but I’ll be stunned if we don’t see changes in at least two areas.
    • Jason Gregor

      I know Smyth wants to be here and told me he wished a deal was done. I understand why he wants that, but if I’m the Oilers I’m not just doing what he wants. He wants to be here, which is great, and they will sign him, but I don’t see the need to do it now.

      First off the organization has to decide who will be the GM and coach next year. And I don’t see any reason to offer him more than a one-year deal at this point. They can do a year-by year scenario.

  • smiliegirl15

    I don’t mind the fact Renney got fired up last night but you’re right, he needed to do it months ago. More importantly, he needs to look in the mirror himself. How many times has he left us wondering just how hard that puck knocked him in the melon? Although he must have given it a good knock earlier this season too and not realized it. How many times has he set them up to fail? Belanger’s ice time vs Eberle’s, Barker over just about anyone else capable of playing the position, playing Smyth and Horcoff to the point where they’re at now – tired… the list goes on and on.

    Renney can throw his team under the bus all he likes but a winning attitude starts at the top. Every time you point a finger, there are four pointing back at you.

    • Jason Gregor

      Do you think it is possible that the guys he was loyal to early in the year aren’t playing well and he’s pissed at them not returning the loyalty.

      And did he really call them out. He said play harder, look in the mirror. The team was awful last night, what is wrong with being honest about it, rather than saying, “We tried hard, but came up short.”

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        congrats on locking down your lady!

        hockey: Good for Renney. I’m not sure the cynical reading makes sense (i.e., he is trying to save his job with a bit of vinegar at the last minute). It’s too late to make that kind of impression and he doesn’t seem like that kind of calculator. Still though… it’s pretty late in the game to shake the tree.

        89-83-23 hasn’t looked great. Dennis (at mc79) has them getting outchanced pretty good. It would be interesting to try switching 4 and 23.

  • A-Mc

    Frustraion at this time of the year? What does Renny keep saying. Patience. Process. Renny sometimes needs to look at the man in the mirror. He coachs in a manner that I do not like. He has a reactive coaching style rather than a proactive. When the other team line matches against his first line he quits playing them. He does not play his best players on the PK. “Its on his scheduel”. As he says. Hows that working for him. He plays Barker and Peckham knowing that they both are struggling. Early in the year,Belanger on the PP point? And when Belanger is at his lowest he puts him on the Shoot out. Body of work is always spoken about. He himself said it. We’ll if he believes in that himself than his body of work is lacking in the most important area. Wins.

  • Toro

    The vets on this team are disappointing only at the beginning of the season were they any good, and only at the beginning of the season were the Oilers any good, I didn’t think the Oilers would be a playoff team this year but I didn’t ever think they would be a top 2 bottom team this year, I thought they would battle for that 8th spot but just miss out and next year we would be in the playoffs for many years too come, Its looking like some major changes are needed, and it sounds like the room is starting to be divided between the youth and the vets, and we all know where the movement is going and that is with the youth.

  • A-Mc

    * slow clap – Congrats Renney, way to call out the team after losing 8 of 9 at home. Personally I think he looked at the schedule, saw Columbus coming to town and figured this would be the game to do it after since they will probably win against the Jackets and MSM-types (I’m thinking Milhouse) can toss him a meatball question like “Wow, Tom guess you lit a fire under this team after the loss to San Jose, how did you like their response tonight.” Does anyone else hear it?

  • A-Mc

    With next season essentially being the End of the Road for last place finishes, What is the likely hood Management pulls off enough key moves to get the Oilers close to a playoff contention team?

    The 3 areas often stated that need to be fixed:

    1) Players not bringing their A-Game
    2) Holes in the Defense
    3) Insufficient Goal tending

    Is it reasonable to think that Management will make real attempts at fixing all 3 of these over the summer? Or are we lucky to get a single addition/move?

    Hall Ebs, Nuge, Smid and Petry cannot win us hockey games. That’s 5 players of a 23 man Roster.

    Should Everyone else be on the Chopping block come Draft day?

    • 24% body fat

      wow did you watch the games last night. This line had some chances but were stuck in the defensive zone quite a bit. Until they have more experience they should not be played together.

      while RNH is not the reason we are losing I would argue against he being the reason when we win hockey games. His defensive game is weak right now and when on the road he gets exposed against tough competition. His scoring chance differential is one of the worst on the team as is Eberle’s.

      This difference is Eberles offence is a lot better right now and he does carry the oilers a lot. Obviously RNH is a big part of the future, but he is not winning games for us right now.

      • A-Mc

        You missed the point.

        Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Smid and Petry are NO TRADE’s. Meaning, in an attempt to fix the holes, those guys are on the list of “not available for movement”. Whether they win hockey games or not, they are the pieces that we’re counting on for the future; and hopefully we’re no longer in the business of selling away our future

  • A-Mc

    Tom is done and he knows it. His comments last night sounded desperate and I hope that he will not be renewed. He has always struck me as one of those coaches that is a great teaching assistant but not a head coach.

    Asides from his puzzling use of players, and his continuation of the coach’s pet players with his support of an AHL calibre defenceman, I also question his feel for the game. Mind you, he may also have throw in the towel a while ago since he is hanging without a contract.

    To be honest, it would be nice for Renney to step down now and let Kruger have a go of it for the rest of the season. It was interesting to watch how much more structured the team played under Kruger during his short 5 game stint a month ago vs. Renney. The Oilers actually looked like they were a team that had a system and understood it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Where will Katz draw the line, when will he realize Lowe and Tambellini are doing more harm than good? Will it be after Taylor Hall decides he wants out and demands to be traded?

    Till there’s a couple thousand empty seats every night we’re doomed.

  • Wendy01

    Smiliegirl15 is absolutely right! It’s exactly what I thought when I watched Renney’s rant this a.m. on TV. Time to start looking in the mirror Tom. This team is the way it is because you have coached it into submission or exhaustion or ambivilence or whatever… insert your own description here.
    Fact is it’s been his way or the highway (to OKC) all year long. Lots of questions from the Oiler faithful with no real answers forthcoming. All year the sports gurus in this town have been questioning coach Renney’s decisions, his vision and his execution. Time to shake hands and say “Thanks for the experience Tom but we’re going to go in a different direction.”
    As I’m sure K. Lowe reads this….. get on it sir!!

  • Talbot17

    Knowing there is some conflict going on in the dressing room makes me wonder who and how long this stuff may be going on behind the scenes. There has always been some sort of issue behind the scenes with this team but i guess when your losing that is exposed a whole lot more. Management needs to get this rebuild path revamped this offseason for sure

  • Jason Gregor

    Doesn’t work hard enough

    Inconsistency

    Turn the puck over

    Gregor, you just described Hemsky perfectly, I hope everybody is still happy with his 5 goals and new contract!!!

    • 24% body fat

      I for one, am still more than happy with his new contract, and likely production over the next 2 seasons.

      He’s still better than atleast 6 of our other forwards, and although that isn’t saying much, good luck replacing him with something better without paying $6.5-$7 million.

      • 24% body fat

        Better than 5 goals shoudn’t be too tough . But it might be hard to replace his intensity and grit and effort. All dash no flash, what are you watching???????

        • 24% body fat

          I’m watching PPG, I’m watching how many of our forwards will actually initiate contact (whether making, or taking a hit) I’m watching speed, creativity, puck possession

          ~But he is always turning over the puck!!~

          Any guesses who turns over the most pucks league wide? How about most teams top point producers, seeing as they are the ones with the puck on their stick most of the time?

          ~But he isn’t even a 20 goal scorer~

          Except he has been the Oilers leading point producer (or one of) since Weight left, and Hall was drafted.

          Hemsky will take a hit to make the play, and is a 60 point guy if not better. Hate all you want

          Oh, and don’t forget to yell “shoot” 15 times on every Oiler powerplay.

          • smiliegirl15

            PPG? 60 points if not better? 22, 42, 29 last three years. 23 goals the most he ever scored and the best years were with premium PP time which won’t ever happen with the talent ahead of him now. You can’t be the 6th best forward on the team and not score, hit, fight or check. The rest of the league, espically Modano got it right when they called it a WTF signing. Hopefully he reaches double digits in goals next year, each one will only cost 500gs!

        • smiliegirl15

          I knew somebody was going to jump on you Blg Packer. You can’t say a discouraging word about Hemsky on these sites!! But you nailed it. The $1M a goal “toe dragger”. He scored about 3 highlight goals a year and some on here think we have to pay $6M or $7M a year to replace that. Hopefully they can unload this underachiever in the off season.

      • smiliegirl15

        I hear Penner may be available July 01. Do you think the Oilers could get him for 2 years/$12 million ? That would be a great value contract in Edmonton. Remeber when he scored 30 goals? GET ON IT LOWE!

  • Jason Gregor

    I sometimes wonder about all the uproar over Eberle’s ice time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid and he has sick hands. However, he still has a tough time getting the puck out of the defensive end. I am fine with him getting sheltered still this year from himself and some of the bigger D-Men out there. Imagine if it was Ebs who got “Kronwalled” instead of Hemsky.

    • 24% body fat

      totally agree,

      side notes, please lose tomorrow. Dont want second pick as my name will show. Yaks are Murs please

      Hemsky and horcoff may not be the best players on the team but are still the main core and only remnants left from the fall apart of 06 (except smid, but he is not the problem). Easier said than done but to change culture we need to trade them for veteran players.

      Renney knew what he had for players this year and should have know tambellinis direction with this team. people who say he has not been given the tools to succeed are correct, but he took the job knowing this and can not use this as an excuse (and I dont think he has). Just saying people should not defend him with this point.

  • 24% body fat

    I cannot claim to know Tom Renny, Steve Tambellini or Kevin Lowe personally but from afar, they appear to be passionate about this team and hate losing as much as anyone else in Edmonton.

    However, we live in a results orientated world and unfortunately, the results speak for themselves.

    If I read the tea leaves, the Oilers will not be resigning the Coaching Staff and the G.M. and if that is so, I want to thank them for hanging in there.

    But as the season winds down, with the draft and free agency pending, I suggest that Mr. Katz, offer them a golden parachute and bring in the next Managment team NOW before 2011 – 12 is repeated. The clock is ticking Mr. Katz.

  • smiliegirl15

    @ Gregor

    I don’t mind he called them out but he should have done it a long time ago. This isn’t the first game where there’s been inconsistent play and lack of desire to win. The first 20 games were out of this world and then they fell back to earth as we all knew they would. It was Renney’s job to take that early momentum and foster the winning attitude, even when they were losing. (Easier said than done, I know.) Instead of bringing a dose of reality, he dreamt of the pie in the sky playoff run.

    If I had the answers then I would be the coach though. It’s all easy in hindsight and from this angle.

    You may have a point with his disappointment in lack of returned loyalty. Do the players owe their loyalty to the coach or to each other when the coach is starting to lose the room? Is that what they’re bickering about on the bench? I heard your comments this afternoon about all of them not being best buds. I don’t think they need to be either but I do think they need to like and respect each other even though they’re not all best friends.

  • smiliegirl15

    Jason, why are you giving K Lowe a free pass? He is so tied to Tambos decisions that they are one in the same. If you suggest Tambo should go then shouldn’t K Lowe as well?

  • smiliegirl15

    ^^ Oh Oh, Knight.

    Brace yourself for the ON backlash. How dare you suggest a smallish, non-physical, one dimensional offensive forward should score more than 55 points to be worth 5 million bucks per year. That just wont fly here. The rest of the world are fools, Edmontonians know the REAL story on Hemsky’s worth.

  • Jason Gregor

    Tom Renney: Dead man walking! Sad, but the NHL is a business about performance, otherwise changes happen. One of the posters mentioned the team not bringing their “A” game. This team has few “A” gamers, so don’t expect much more than what you have witnessed from a 29th place squad. They are in 29th place for a reason. Lots of rumours tonight about the Oil trading their first pick for a D. I suggest that they don’t do this. It would be an excessive overpay, to the player and the team they trade with. The next step in the rebuild should start with senior hockey operations people.

  • Benny Botts

    @Gregor

    Jason, I have heard some speculation the last couple of weeks regarding the oilers 1st round pick this year being dealt at the draft for a bonafide top 2 d-man in the NHL. Wanted to you hear your opinion on the topic, is this stricly bloggers speculation or do you think this has some actual traction behind it ? As well, if they were willing to move the pick, which teams do you think would be interested that are willing to part with a #1 or #2 d-man ?

    P.S. Great artical and great show. Glad that your back.

  • CODD_FATHER

    News flash!!!We signed Hemsky for his play making abilites.Overall its his points that we want.I dont care if he only scores 10 goals next year.I would however like to see 60 pts.Ask yourself this.If Adam Oates was a 25 yr old playing todays game would you only pay him 2-3 million?(remember he did’nt score alot but got alot of assits) I don’t think so.Some are shooters others are passers but they’re both an asset to a team.And yes I do know that Oates is a better play maker than Hemmer.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Congrats on the marriage and such.

    I do have a question for you as your show yesterday seemed quite different than usual.

    Is there a reason you came out yesterday the way you did? You really shocked me with the Belanger isn’t a good teammate comment and then the big one of looking at management, coaches and pro scouts.

    I enjoyed the fire that was coming from your mouth, but it just seemed like an out of the norm comment from you.

    I’ve heard the rumors of who could be a coach next year, but who is a candidate for GM?