As a player I always knew Oiler fans were passionate but now that I am a member of the media I am getting an even deeper understanding of their passion for this team. I get a ton of texts and emails while doing my show. They are full of ideas from trades to line combos. I like getting them but it is hard to fully express passion through texts. That is why I love getting all the phone calls!
Callers are the best!!! After an Oilers game, when I do the post-game show, the real passion comes out. Win or lose, especially lose though, the callers are fired up! I love that interaction. Nearly every caller is expressing the same concern… why are the Oilers not winning more games this year???
The frustration is becoming increasingly clear. Oilers fans expect a playoff team this year. All the skill that has been acquired through the high draft picks and the signing of Justin Schultz should be translating to more wins they feel. I get asked all the time why this team isn’t winning games at a playoff-making rate. Fans want answers.
There are answers as to why more wins have eluded the team. This team is half way through a rebuild so there are still holes through this lineup. Injuries to both Horcoff and Jones have not helped the grit factor for the top three lines. Even strength scoring hasn’t been there so far. These are the most obvious.
Some of these issues will be remedied this year and some won’t. The issue I believe is more with the fans and media then with the team though.
You want to know why the team is losing more? Why are you so frustrated with the start with the Oilers? What can be done for the fans to feel better about it?
I have got an answer for you… Lower your expectations. The bar was set to high for this club.
I will agree that this team is ready to make a step forward. Here are some of the bright spots I have seen this year.
- Devan Dubnyk is establishing himself as a solid goaltender. There is not one game you can totally pin on him as a loss. He is giving his team a chance to win every night. At this point in his development what more do you want from him?
- Ralph Krueger is holding players accountable for their play. This is a big step forward for the organization. Gone are the days of players being sent out on the ice regardless of results. The whole team took notice when the two Ryans were sat out. That will pay dividends going forward.
- The specialty teams are looking strong.
- Justin Schultz has been good offensively and not hurt the group defensively. I have really been surprised by his poise on the defensive side of the puck.
All these add up to an improved season but does it catapult them into the playoffs?
Is it really reasonable to expect this team to go from 29th place to 16th or better? Last year they had 74 points. The 8th spot in the Western conference was taken by the LA KINGS with 95 points. We are talking about a 21 point improvement that would be needed to jump into the playoffs! 21 points! 10 wins plus a tie! That is a huge jump to make.
The Oilers have played 13 games this season. They have 13 points. If we stretch that out over a full 82 game season that equals 82 points. Last season that would have put them in 12th place in the western conference – still 13 points out of the 8th spot.
If the Oilers continue to go at this pace for the rest of the season, they will end of somewhere around 11th or 12th in the west. Those are reasonable expectations. Jumping from 14th to 8th or better is not. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is reality.
Step back from the ledge! Not because you are getting off the bandwagon. Step back because the playoffs are a stretch this year, they would be a bonus! Patience my friends, patience.
If in a year to eighteen months from now we are still having this conversation then I will join you on that ledge!
Matt Cooke was involved in a pretty nasty incident versus the Ottawa Senators the other night. As he was riding Erik Karlsson into the boards his skate came down on Karlsson’s leg and caused a major injury. Erik is out for the season.
I don’t want to believe and can’t believe Cooke had any intention in causing harm to Karlsson on the play. It would just be too hard to do. He won’t be and shouldn’t be suspended.
I think the NHL should take a hard look at the socks that NHL players now use. Right after the last lockout the NHL went with very thin socks that look good but provide ZERO protection from skates. They got rid of the bulkier wool socks that did the trick for time eternal.
As soon as we all got these new socks we commented on how much more dangerous it would be to wear them. Many players have no long underwear under their knee pads. There is nothing between them and the sharp blade of a skate.
I am not saying that if Karlsson had been wearing wool socks he would not have been injured. But it would not be a stretch to suggest that instead of having cut his Achilles 75% he might have only cut it 30%. Big difference.
This incident was a one in a million occurrence, might not ever see it again. But the NHL needs to do something about the socks the players wear. I doubt that we will ever see wool socks back on players legs. Is there not something else that can be done?